Saturday, 21 September 2013

Something New

The Noble Approach: 
Maurice Noble
 and the Zen of Animation Design


  This extraordinary volume examines the life and animation philosophy of Maurice Noble, the noted American animation background artist and layout designer whose contributions to the industry span more than 60 years and include such cartoon classics as Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century, What's Opera, Doc?, and The Road Runner Show. Revered throughout the animation world, his work serves as a foundation and reference point for the current generation of animators, story artists, and designers. Written by Noble's longtime friend and colleague Tod Polson and based on the draft manuscript Noble worked on in the years before his death, this illuminating book passes on his approach to animation design from concept to final frame, illustrated with sketches and stunning original artwork spanning the full breadth of his career.

 This is a stunningly beautiful book. That's the first thing that stands out when you pick it up, before you even notice the content within. Each page layout is designed not just to be informative, but pleasing on the eye as well, and easy to follow for both seasoned animation veterans and enthusiastic laypeople like myself. Equal parts biography and behind the scenes guide, this is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the history of animation and learning the step by step process to bringing animated shorts and films to life.

Noble's early work at Disney on films like Snow White and Dumbo is discussed (including several pages of his gorgeous concept sketches for Bambi) but the main body of work is his time at Warner Bros, with comprehensive breakdowns on the use of visual storytelling, composition, lighting, layout and design for favourites such as What's Opera, Doc and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As a fan of Mary Blair's work for Disney, Noble's exuberant use of colour appealed most to me, and certainly the detailed descriptions on utilizing colour personalities, sketches and themes was fascinating to read.  Aspiring animation students also have a helpful chapter devoted to practical tips how to begin in the industry, from what to expect from the studio to working within a team.

The Noble Approach is an art book with everything to recommend it - an invaluable resource for professionals, a luscious visual encyclopaedia for animation fans, and an absolute joy to read.



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