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.