If there’s a game, film or comic series you love, there’s no better way to celebrate the craft put into it by cracking open a making of art book and pouring over the gorgeous pieces inside. So clear some space on your coffee table and book shelf, because we’ve put together a collection of our favourite art books, across a range of games, movies, comics, manga and anime.
Dark Horse Books’ trilogy of The Legend of Zelda hardcovers are some of the best videogame companion books ever, but since it’s World Art Day I want to give a specific shoutout to Art and Artifacts.
This collection covers everything from the original The Legend of Zelda, all the way up to 2015’s Tri Force Heroes, and chock full of art work, including character designs and promo pieces. It even has sprite turnarounds, and those super detailed art pieces that would appear in instruction booklets (remember those?).
Art and Artifacts is a fascinating overview of how the aesthetics of The Legend of Zelda have evolved over time.
Hot take: everybody likes Dragon Ball, and anyone who says otherwise is just being contrarian.
This visual history covers everything Dragon Ball-related that creator Akira Toriyama worked on, from the original manga up until Super (although the actual Super content is quite small). This art book also includes some interviews with Toriyama himself, where he reflects on the impact of Dragon Ball.
Just flicking through this, you get a real feel for how Toriyama’s sense of style and design evolved over almost four decades. As a big Dragon Ball fan, I was surprised by how much art I’d never seen before.
This art book goes hard in collecting everything you’d want to see from Into the Spider-Verse, from gorgeous backgrounds, a heap of character designs and storyboards for various sequences. It also includes commentary from the production team that explains so many of the film’s great design choices. If you love animation at all … you probably already have this book.
IDW’s long running series of Artist Editions, which reprint the original art pages from various comics, are truly great. However, they’re both super expensive and the size of a small coffee table, so buying them can be a bit hard to validate at times.
Thankfully, IDW have been releasing a series of Artisan Editions, which reprint these collections of original comic art at a more manageable price and size.
Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again is my favourite comic that Marvel has ever published and stands as one of the high watermark moments of the company’s long history. This Artisan Edition collects every one of Mazzucchelli’s pages for the series, so not only do you get to see all the detail that goes into his pages, you can also read the story from start-to-finish.
When you finish an episode of The Mandalorian, do you ever think to yourself, “Gee, I sure wish there was a way for me to look at this great concept art without the end credits superimposed over the top of them.” Firstly, what a weirdly specific thing to think. Secondly, the Art of The Mandalorian is the solution to your problem.
This collection of concept art and sketches also includes commentary from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, which give a good insight to a lot of the show’s design choices. Unsurprisingly, Filoni has plenty of interesting things to say.
This art book only covers the first season of the show, so don’t expect to see anything for Ahsoka Tano or Old Man Fett. Star Wars art books usually drop around the end of the year, so I can only assume something for the second season is on its way.
Hayao Miyazaki’s movies are already overflowing with rich, visuals, so grabbing an art book for any of them is a no brainer. The Art of Spirited Away collects various character sketches, storyboards, and watercolour illustrations for the Academy Award-winning anime. It’s flat out gorgeous from cover to cover.
If Spirited Away isn’t your vibe, there are art books for all of Miyazaki’s films.
If you’re a Dungeons and Dragons fan, this art book is essential. Art and Arcana is a comprehensive visual history of the iconic tabletop game, and is overflowing with art and photographs from its almost 50-year life. No stone has been left unturned in this book, and it includes the art from core books, adventure modules and rare concept sketches.
It even reprints merchandise packaging, foreign promotional material and those print ads you’d see in the back of old comicbooks.
This mighty tome also includes a stack of interviews with various designers and artists, and it’s so interesting to see them discuss how the aesthetics of Dungeons and Dragons has evolved over time.
Say what you want about Cyberpunk 2077 as a game, you can’t deny that it looks great. The World of Cyberpunk 2077 is both an art book collecting various pieces of concept art for Projekt Red’s take on the tabletop RPG, and a companion piece that elaborates on the games’ setting and history.
If you’re someone who really enjoyed Cyberpunk 2077, or you just love getting lost in a game’s lore, this is pretty hard to miss.
Batman: The Animated Series? Very good.
Phantom City Creative’s B:TAS inspired posters for Mondo? Extremely good.
A big art book that collects all of PCC’s Batman work, including long out-of-print pieces? Absolute chef’s kiss. Grab it here.