[BOOK REVIEW] The book is better: check out The Art of Encanto


Fair Use Image: Illustrations by Samatha Vilfort, Lior Lev, Nicole Mitchell, and Lorelay Bové, screenshot from Encanto

TO THE BIG SCREEN. All of the musical sequences in Encanto go through a creative process; the storyboarding stage, color keys to set the tone, and then animated for the final product.

Disney’s latest animated feature Encanto has taken the world by storm after its release on Disney Plus, including landing Academy Award nominations for the movie, song, and score. With an already fantastical, character-driven film to showcase, The Art of Encanto, available online for free, details just how much time and effort went into making this film happen. Portraying human emotion, Colombian culture, and character development with its majestic camera angles and colors alone, the book is an insightful showcase to people interested in art who want to learn something new about film production or design.

The Art of Encanto introduces you to the film’s Colombian background, including photographs of specific places that inspired aspects of the final product. The attention to detail in the character’s costumes, setting, and even their color schemes open the reader’s eyes to the creative process of how the movie was produced. An element where color and culture become immediately prominent is in the styling of the characters themselves. A single look at the lively Madrigal family will show you a cast whose identities are directly tied into their outfits. With each member of the family, their magical powers are displayed on their clothing through symbols and tell their story. Mirabel, the protagonist of the film and the only one in her family who was not given a gift, wears an embroidered skirt with different symbols representing all of her family members.

The attention to detail in the character’s costumes, setting, and even their color schemes open the reader’s eyes to the creative process of how the movie was produced.”

Artists and designers take readers through their art journey from clothing design to backgrounds, ranging from incredibly detailed environmental art to conceptual sketches of character expressions. On top of this, the quotes from the artists on how these characters and stories came to be over time add to the experience. The film production process isn’t all perfect; the messy storyboards convey movement with vivid lines and simplified expressions, while other artworks have handwritten notes over dozens of scrapped concept sketches, really letting readers gain introspect on how Encanto was created.

Truly one of the most stunning and insightful pieces of art in the book are the sections dedicated to the storyboarding of the musical sequences. The artists and directors bring up through the quotes laid beside the images how crucial it is to convey the character’s emotions and story through the songs. The artwork behind these memorable film moments shines through in the vivid color keys and storyboards, which often incorporate color and lighting into more complex scenes. One of the cultural aspects the artists brought into the film was the theme of nature, which is a pride for many Colombians, represented through the bold and brilliant colors of the flowers featured in its songs and environments.

Disney’s Encanto not only brings much-needed representation to Latin American culture but also uses the intricacies of Colombian history and traditions to show the darker and more nuanced themes that each character traverses throughout the film. Whether it’s the easter egg style hints in each character’s clothing or the beautiful, rickety, and mismatched style of the Madrigal’s home, the design elements of Encanto are unmatched in its meaning and remarkable prowess. The Art of Encanto is a must-read for any art enthusiast or anybody interested in learning more about film production. Readers of any artistic interest are sure to enjoy the artwork and lessons taught through the book and the film and remember, most importantly, that imperfections must come along for the ride.