Do you know someone’s just finished an epic game, film or comic series and is looking for the next best thing? This Christmas, you can help them fill that void by gifting them with one of these stunning pop culture art books to lose themselves in.
Below you’ll find a collection of our favourite art books, across a range of games, movies, comics, manga and anime that will be sure to surprise and delight.
Inside, you’ll find stunning illustrations of key moments from the game as well as an array of detailed artwork on mythical creatures from Fenyx‘s world. If you’re a big fan of Greek mythology, you’ll deeply appreciate the way the artists have brought creatures from myth and legend to life not only in the game, but in this art book.
Dark Horse Books’ trilogy of The Legend of Zelda hardcovers are some of the best video game companion books ever, but 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.
Ah, Spyro. A sense of nostalgic pleasure for many PlayStation gamers. When the Spyro trilogy remake was announced, many avid fans shouted “shut up and take my money.” Which was all the more evident when the remake sold 1.04 million units in its first week, boasting a stronger opening week than all of the other Spyro games combined.
This definitive guide to The Art of Spyro: Reignited Trilogy contains never-before-seen concept art for this stunning remake. It also contains an array of behind-the-scenes content from the industry’s top illustrators as well as a bunch of anecdotes from the developers.
Inspired by the original video games, the Castlevania series was a smash hit on Netflix. Now fans can enjoy a beautifully rendered hardcover art book containing expertly designed concept art and commentary from its four seasons.
While you’re waiting for the spin-off series to release, take a behind-the-scenes look at these never-before-seen illustrations of its monsters, characters and locations.
This art book has 358 pages full of fun illustrations, concept art and comments from the designers. A huge bonus is that it contains insights into early ideas that didn’t make it into the game!
If you’re a die-hard fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you definitely can’t miss this bestselling art book.
Avatar: The Airbender The Art of the Animated Series was compiled by the show’s creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. You can discover how their initial sketches transformed into a worldwide phenomenon inside this exquisitely detailed concept book. Within, you’ll find a number of illustrations on the Avatar world’s adorable hybrid animals as well as real-life martial arts sketches that informed the TV show‘s various bending styles.
In this special second edition, you’ll also get a chance to read an exclusive foreword by the sequel comic series’ writer, Gene Luen Yang.
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 your purchase may be hard to validate.
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 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 this art book 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.
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.