Book Review: “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon” Showcases Gorgeous Artwork from Animated Disney Film

Hi everyone!

I received the book “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon” to review. This is the latest of the “Art of” books from Chronicle Books, we own so many of them. The book by authors Kalikolehua Hurley and Osnat Shurer showcases the concept art of the visually stunning animated film.


Chronicle Books says of “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon“: With never-before-seen development art, character sketches, storyboards, and color scripts, The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon gives fans a front-row view of the making of the Disney animated feature.

The book cover is beautiful, with Raya and Sisu gracing it. The book itself underneath the jacket is green with a dragon.

The Foreward of “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon” is by Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs and John Ripa. It is a quick one page long, talking about how the teams visited Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries for cultural insights. From those countries to their own homes due to the pandemic, the team worked hard to honor the film’s Southeast Asian roots.

The Introduction explains a bit about the film, including how Raya is a princess and a warrior and the opposing philosophies of trust that Raya and her father hold. And it talks about Kumandra and how the world where the story takes place was fractured into Heart, Tail, Talon, Spine and Fang. Those are also some of the chapters in the book.

One thing I love about “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon” is the amount of text in the book. While the bulk of the 168 page book is concept art and illustrations, there is a lot of great information about the movie and characters here. The book says that “Early on, the visual development team explored designs for Raya and Sisu on separate tracks, yielding a rich array of diverse shape and look options on each character, including Sisu as a dragon and in her human form.” But they soon realized that they couldn’t design just one without visualizing them together first.

There are character studies on some pages, even explaining Raya’s clothing and swords. There are both young Raya and older Raya. Tuk Tuk is next. Director Don Hall says of Baby Tuk Tuk, “When the story called for a baby version of Tuk Tuk, production designer Cory Loftis whipped up this tiny, furry ball of love, and it took an extraordinary amount of discipline not to turn the film into Baby Tuk Tuk and the Last Dragon”. And of course, the fun and wise Sisu in both dragon and human form.

Each of the lands and the characters from those lands are profiled. For example, Talon’s inspiration was the water markets on the Mekong River in Vietnam, and the night markets in Thailand and Laos. The characters here include the Ongis, part-monkey, part catfish. And Fang includes Namaari, who is prominent in the film.

The art in “The Art of Raya and the Last Dragon” is gorgeous, just like the film. And there are some fun illustrations of the filmmakers at the end. This is one of my favorite of the recent “Art of” books as well as one of my favorite animated films in recent years.


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