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Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Wow.Wow. Wow. That's one "Wow" for each of the Hobbit artbooks that were published so far.

This artbook is still hardcover, 208 pages, and is as detailed and packed as the earlier Hobbit Chronicles books.

Featured in this particular book are the environment, props, character and creature designs. It's predominantly hand drawn plus digital painting art with some 3D renders, and a few photos of miniature props. The art is fantastic.

Covered, of course, are the locations as they appear in the film, such as Mirkwood, the Elven kingdom, Lake-town and the others. The designs are wonderful and really set the tone for the movies.

Character art are for the new characters, such as Beorn, Evangeline Lilly's Tauriel, Legolas, the many orcs, creatures like the spiders and other miscellaneous characters of which there are a lot. Strangely, there are only a few pages of art for Smaug the dragon.

You'll see quite of a lot of pencil sketched concept art from Alan Lee and John Howe, who are both concept art directors for the film. The other contributing artists are also quite amazing as to the quality of work they are putting out. It's nice to see a good mix of pencil and coloured artworks.

This is mostly a showcase of the concept artworks of Weta Workshop and 3 Foot 7 Art Department. The environment and character designs are from Weta, while the sets, props and dressings are from 3 Foot 7.

The writeup is also very extensive. Usually for each subject, be it character or location, there will be a few designers giving their own views and elaboration on the designs. It's very insightful as there are inputs from lots of the artists that work behind the scenes.

By the way, there's going to be another artbook for this film coming out later called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers. Very good.

This artbook is really worth the money. Highly recommended to fans of the film and concept art. There's plenty to see and read.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2014
For anyone that can't bring themselves to read the lengthy reviews of others I supply this condensed version: Quite simply an amazing artbook, perfect for Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork, and very, VERY much worth the price. For those who'd like to read more, read on...

Anyone who has already bought a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit artbook will already know both the quality and style of this book. While I maintain that I would have preferred the books to be portrait format rather than landscape, so as to better fit in with my other books, I must admit that the Hobbit artbooks do look very nice.

As to the interior I was more than pleased when I first flicked through the pages. As ever there are the stunning location designs; moody forests, soaring mountains and towns and villages that frankly make you want to pack your things and move there this afternoon. Gus Hunter's image of the Ancient Dale is easily worthy of gracing anyone's living room wall, right next to Eduardo Pena's picture of the same. What I'm saying is that there isn't just rough design work, as you'd expect from concept art books, but gallery-quality art too.

The Orcs get a nice section to themselves this time around as there are three characters in particular that play a major part in the film. Once more the designs show a lot of thought and consideration behind why the Orcs would dress the way they do or have what they have. At the heart of it I would say it's this fact which gives the work from Weta's art department so much life and realism. Things have a reason for being there, not just because they look cool, but because there's a history and a story to everything. If a creature is shown wearing a fur hide then someone, somewhere, has thought about where it came from and how the wearer came to possess it.

There is also a decent chunk of the book dedicated to Beorn; his home, his lands and, of course, the man himself. This is where we find a lot of the John Howe and Alan Lee sketch work and I'm not sure I've ever wanted a timber framed house more than I do when I look at it. They should go into business with Ikea to make a range of Middle Earth flatpack wooden houses. As ever it's not just the big picture that warrants attention but, again, it's all the little details. Things that you might not even notice when watching the film, such as the chair backs, a hand-carved chess board, archways and mantelpiece ornamentation, which the artists focus upon to make the world a living, breathing place.

But by far my favourite section of this book is the Mirkwood Elves. Forget what you know about glamorous High Elves with fine clothes and ornate buildings. What we see here is considerably moodier, darker and more menacing, yet still with the signature Elven grace and elegance. A fine balancing act for the artists to accomplish. While there is much in Middle Earth that I wish I could see with my own eyes, Mirkwood is not one of them. The images found here will leave you in no doubt that it is a hostile place and even if there weren't elves to contend with then you'd still do well to heed Gandalf's advice and 'stick to the path'.

Mixed in with all of this is the usual cornucopia of costume designs, interior and exterior building sketches, the always reassuring pencil work of Alan Lee and John Howe (which some might say is worth the price of the book alone), superbly realised tools, weapons and other sundry items and, if that weren't enough for you, there's even some work involving a dragon.

In truth there's too much amazing artwork here to talk about it all and still do it justice. Suffice to say that it is all a treat for the eyes and imagination. The work doesn't so much show you the world of Middle Earth as invite you to the table with it. This book is a must-have for any Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork. Buy it and be happy.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is the official book of the art and design of the second The Hobbit movie 'The desolation of Smaug'. It follows from the first book Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). I bought this book for my 17 year old son, who being dyslexic doesn't read books, but loves drawing, dragons and art/comic books (mostly Manga ones) - he also loved the first Hobbit movie. This hard back book is very well presented and well bound with the little bits of cotton on the spine with good quality shiny paper pages, plus it's very substantial at 12" x 10" x 3/4". The book is the art work used to create the sets, characters, costumes and creatures in the movie, and it has over 1,000 coloured drawings and B&W sketches. There's also some interesting text discussing the pictures, but mostly the pages are filled with pretty illustrations. These were most likely specially commissioned with an eye for the book as much as setting the style for the movie, as they are of such high quality. The chapters include: Beorns house, Beorn & his props, Lost in the forest of Mirkwood (flies & spiders), Mirkwood Elf Hunters, Thranduils Halls & Throne Room, The Woodland Realm, Lake-town & its props, Ancient Dale, The coming of Smaug, The lonely Mountain, The Hill of Sorcery, Inside Dol Guldur, and Erebor - Smaug's lair. I've posted a few example pages from the book under customer images.

I particularly liked the drawings of the houses and the towns (not so sure about the rather realistic giant spiders though). All the costumes are typical gothic/wizard fantasy outfits, but none the worse for that. Perhaps some of the pictures of Smaug were a bit dissapointing as we didn't get too many of them (mostly in the last few pages). Apparently it was the film-makers decision to limit images of Smaug prior to the general release of the movie (i.e. spoilers), so Smaug gets his own book, Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon (The Desolation of Smaug) in April 2014, once the main film release in the cinemas is over. But overall it's 226 pages of delightful illustrations and well worth the £13 we paid on preorder (the low price being the reason we bought this Hobbit Art & Design book first). My son loved this book, and the front hard cover is even simulated Dragon skin. So 5*.

The pictures here are only a small selection of the total movie archive of artwork, and more books will appear, but this is intended to provide a good cross-section of all the material created for the film, and we think it succeeds in that. As well as the 'Art & Design' book per Hobbit film, there is also the companion 'Creatures and Characters' book - but we fancied this 'houses and set design' one (which includes many of the film characters and their costumes anyway). Sufficiently impressed, we ordered the first films Hobbit Art & Design book: An Unexpected Journey for £16 and weren't disappointed. I guess these books were inspired by Alan Lee's excellent The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook: Portfolio which presents the sketches and final illustrations for the 1991 'centenary' edition of Lord of the Rings - Lee and John Howe subesquently became the lead concept artists for Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' movies (2001-2003) and they were consulted to ensure continuity of design in the new Hobbit films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2013
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Art & Design" by Weta Workshop is a behind-the-scenes book about the making of the awaited second part of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy.

As is the case with most behind-the-scenes book its reading is recommended after watching the movie because of the numerous spoilers.
The movie fans will be pleased, because besides this book being delivered in nicely bound, it brings well-made and detailed artwork in so much depth that will certainly have appeal to all those in love with Jackson's latest movie.

On its more than 200 pages, reader can find conceptual design and the manufacturing of weapons and armors, vehicles, costumes, small and miniature models, prosthetics, makeup and other that makes this movie so much superior to all previously seen.

"The Hobbit: Art & Design" provides good sneak peek chance to experience the designing phase of movie production, giving wealth of information about characters, weapons and costumes art creation.

Therefore, this behind-the-scenes book of art will be a nice addition for those who enjoyed the movie, and as beautifully designed product full of information will certainly serve that time until the next sequel will be released go faster...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2013
well i gave this product five gold after seeing the movie it is a worthy companion to the said movie i also found it very informative as it shows how much effort went into bringing the novel to the big screen i recommend this book to any one as it shows what can be done with a humble pencil worth every star or more it also gives you an insight what to expect in the next chapter hmmm can,t wait well that is all for now as i could go on for ever bye for now and mani thanks
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 March 2015
Weta is an amazing company that does most of the design work on the "Hobbit" films. They do everything from practical effects (prosthetics to miniatures) to digital effects (CGI simulations and character animation). It's important to note that the people that work on these films are not only master technicians, but they are very creative artists as well.

This is the 3rd book in what will be a 6-book series of Weta's chronicles of the Hobbit trilogy. This book features the character sketches, production design and concept art of "The Desolation of Smaug".

There are plenty of high quality images that fans of the film will be interested in. The books goes in depth about every aspect of visual characterization, but particular emphasis is placed on the characters, creatures, and the variety of locations in Middle Earth.

I highly recommend this book (and its companion books as well). As someone who enjoyed the Tolkien novel, I find it fascinating to see how the filmmakers and the creative team took what was on the page and translated it visually into a movie - and I'm happy to own a book that provides an inside look at that process.
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on 27 April 2014
I have only recently become a fan of Peter Jackson's LOTR movies and tried to purchase all the movie books that covered the making of these magnificient films. I have now a collection of all the Movie Guides and Visual Companions, but these Hobbit CHRONICLES are far-far better than any of the other books in design, content, and artistic value! They are amazingly well illustrated with original pieces of art, and hundreds of illustrations telling us the story how characters and places were designed. It's amazing, how much effort was put into these books. It's not just some cutscenes from the films, but rather tons of original art. I have bought the other 2 Hobbit Chronicle books which are equally amazing. This one has "The Master's portrait" a prop-replica as an extra with it. It far exceeded my expectations in content. It's an absolute MUST for any fan of Peter Jackson's Hobbit. Published by the WETA Workshop, it's absolutely outstanding, like everything they did related to these films.
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on 21 February 2014
As a big fan of Tolkien and being the proud owner of the LOTR art books I know that these art books are well worth getting. The level of detail is amazing, every page is beautiful art with fascinating snippets of information on the conception of the subject. It really makes you think about the artists, set designers, costume designers etc that made these movies so brilliant for us with their hard work & passion not to mention their complete dedication to their craft.
If you like the films and you're interested in the art, get the books and don't hesitate. You will not be disappointed.
I have not been able to put my copy down, it quickly became my preciousss.
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on 7 February 2014
This and it's companion books are superb. Well produced and filled with high quality artwork, designs and images. There are also insightful comments from crew and cast. In particular Alan Lee and John Howe. This book is a mine of information and inspiration to anyone whether a Tolkien fan or simply anyone who seeks inspiration for there own creative ends.
There is only one small let down. It is a personal one, but the fold out print inside the back cover of that insufferable 'luvvie' Stephen Fry will, in my copy, remain folded up.
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on 14 March 2014
I could stare at this book for hours, incredible art work! I own all three of the Lord of the Rings concept art books, and the first Hobbit book also. I love to see how Tolkien's masterpiece has been realised on screen, from the Alan Lee and John Howe conceptual sketches to the digital representations. A magnificent amount of work went into these films!
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Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
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