Facsimile Sketchbooks and Other Sketching Wonders

June 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I was reading the blog of the fabulously talented artist Peter de Sève. He mentioned Nicolas Marlet’s work as an character designer on the delightful and visually stunning “How To Train Your Dragon.” De Sève mentioned that Marlet had a sketchbook facsimile available and of course I had to investigate. I ordered “Sketchbook: Nicolas Marlet” here.

The book is 4.25 x 6.25 inches and casebound book with black bookcloth covers with silkscreened white type. The copy is signed by the artist. (There were only 1500 and mine is 1379 so you do the math.) Each page is a wonderful sketch in black and sanguine (and sometimes a little blue, and sometimes just sanguine) of characters so expressive that you understand everything about them on first glance. I can’t say enough good things about this delightful gem. There is a leaping bunny going for a carrot that will cause anyone to reconsider his own pedestrian approaches to the picture plane. The sketches are filled with humor, intrigue, and energy.

At the same time I ordered this book I also picked up, “The Art of Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon.” De Sève had also mentioned this book in his discussion of Marlet. It is filled with Marlet’s drawings for the movie, as well as final digital renderings from the movie. If you are interested in animation and character design you need to look at this book. And if you loved the movie as I did…well, let’s just say I get it out and look at it every few days. It impresses and inspires me every time.

While poking around on the site and ordering the above two books, I found a journal facsimile from Alessandro Carloni. This thin volume is set up like a soft-covered Moleskine, with a black soft cover and a black elastic band at the fore edge. There’s an interview with the artist and then page after page of selected page spreads from his actual Moleskine—black ink sketches on the slightly yellow pages of the sketchbook. Most selections are presented across the full page spread at a size that is easy to view details. Carloni is another of the great crop of Hollywood artists you catch glimpses of here and there on the internet (and of course at the movies). He works as head of story and animation supervisor for Dreamworks Animation Studios. My only wish is that this book was thicker. I hope there are more volumes offered in the future.

If you like looking into people’s sketchbooks I recommend the above facsimile sketchbooks and the “making of” book mentioned above.

If you love these types of books as much as I do, you will also find Peter de Seve’s "A Sketchy Past" and his sketchbook facsimile will engage and inspire you as well.

    • Jeff Chapman
    • June 21, 2010

    Yes! I love collecting sketchbooks and Alessandro Carloni’s little book is one of my very favorites on my shelf. I happened across it at the San Diego Comic Con a couple years back and it blew me away. Great, great work with (I assume) a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

    Thanks for bringing more attention to this!

    • Jeff Chapman
    • June 23, 2010

    That makes sense about the brush pen. As much as I love, love, love my Pentel Brush Pens, I think there’s a greater sensitivity in Alessandro’s drawings than they afford. Or maybe it’s just more sensitivity than I achieve. 🙂

    Have you seen Christian Schellewald’s LA/SF? This is one of the most amazing sketchbooks I know. If you haven’t seen is, I really advise checking it out!



  1. Reply

    Jeff, I think the only way you’ll know for sure is to get your hands on one of these other brush pens and try it out—how it balances in the hand, how resilient the bristles are, how the ink flows. Let me know if you fall in love with one.

    And thanks for the sketchbook link. I didn’t know of it and the cover is inviting. I am going to have to check it out. Thank you.

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