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‘The Art of Aardman’ Book Review

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This year marked the official 40th anniversary for UK based animation studio Aardman Animations. The world renowned company who came from humble origins have made some of the most highly regarded and beloved animated films of all time – but where did it all come from? The Art of Aardman is a reflective memoir, collecting the sketches, doodles and one-off artworks that influenced some of the studio most responsible films and characters. From Morph to Shaun and everything in-between, we see just what’s in an idea and why it’s important to keep those scrappy pieces of paper, backs of receipts and napkin drawings, as you just don’t know which little idea will grow into a fantastic (maybe even Oscar winning) film.


Taken from the Aardman archive as well as some of the top directors’ own personal sketchbooks, we take a look into the ways they have started work from idea generation, character development, world dynamics, the unique adventure and the use of light in the studio’s feature, shorts and series work. There is a wide range of work in the 125 pages ranging from the smallest ballpoint pen doodles to the final finished frames.


If you are buying this book to get a more detailed look at sets, puppets and the level of model-making skills that have gone into the stop-frame worlds the studio is known for, you may be better off looking to previous books such as Peter Lord and Brian Sibley’s Cracking Animation. However if you wish to catch a glimpse at the true origins of their most prominent works then look no further.

Beautifully preserved and reproduced to the high quality you’d come to expect of this studio, the images presented in the book give a real sense of the history and strength the studio has at its disposal. Their countless technical drawings, storyboards, sets and inventive layouts give a genuine understanding of the hard work that goes into the making of the miniature worlds you see every Christmas in those classic and current films. As an old animation tutor once told me, “Everything starts with an idea – but is quickly followed by a sketch/drawing” this book really brings this idea home and goes a way to show just how visually led the animation world is. In a small way this book shines a light on perhaps the lesser known or appreciated side of Aardman, the people who take the directors’ ideas, pull them apart and build them up into something that can be made a reali1ty. From drafts-person to layout artist, every member of the studio has a part to play and is integral to bring a huge, lumbering beast like an animated production together for the rest of the world to enjoy

With a focus largely on illustration – perh­aps due to their recent exhibition at The Illustration Cupboard in London – with nods toward the idea of visual problem solving, The Art of Aardman would be a smashing gift to anyone with a deep seated love for the studio and all that they have come to represent – family, entertainment, laughter and tenacity. The hard work doesn’t stop here however as, if the last 40 years are anything to go by, we have much to look forward to.

The Art of Aardman is available now from Simon & Schuster

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Joanne Best
@skwigly @BAAwards Where will we able to see Poles Apart? It looks lovely.
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@pencilbandit @skwigly Cheers bro. Well done! ✌🏻
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Pencil Bandit
PLUS a big whoop whoop to all the other winners from Thursday's event, including the lovely @willanderson_ for 'Bes…
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UWE Animation
Congratulations @HelenBrunsdon and all the winners
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