Updated: Feb 24, 2021
There's a lot of great books that cover all sorts of topics in Art Direction. Here's a list of some of our favorites!
FILM & TV
What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design
Starting with a brief history of the field, Mr. Preston’s lively, well-written text leads the reader through the ins and outs of all the responsibilities and duties that fall on the art director’s shoulders. A wealth of information on preparing script breakdowns, research, design and presentation, scouting and working on locations, set designs and construction, working as part of a team, and much more is coupled with examples drawn from the author’s own experiences. This book is a must-read for all aspiring production designers and all filmmakers who desire a firm understanding of the physical process of film production.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/35QtQzE
The Art Direction Handbook for Film & Television 2nd Edition
In this new and expanded edition of The Art Direction Handbook, author Michael Rizzo now covers art direction for television, in addition to updated coverage of film design. This comprehensive, professional manual details the set-up of the art department and the day-to-day job duties: scouting for locations, research, executing the design concept, supervising scenery construction, and surviving production. Beyond that, there is an emphasis on not just how to do the job, but how to succeed and secure other jobs. Rounding out the text is an extensive collection of useful forms and checklists, as well as interviews with prominent art directors.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/38OXcjO
Production Design and Art Direction (Screencraft Series)
In Production Design and Art Direction sixteen of the world's greatest production designers discuss their craft, revealing the creative process which led to the look of the most memorable films of our time. Contributors include Dean Tavoularis (Godfather Trilogy), Dante Ferretti (whose work with Fellini, Pasolini and Scorsese covers the span of the best of Italian cinema) and Anna Asp (Fanny and Alexander). As aesthetically appealing as any art book, Production Design and Art Direction is densely illustrated with drawings, scripts, storyboards and models, as well as stills from the films. This book is part of the Screencraft series, which includes the enormously successful Cinematography, also by Peter Ettedgui and published by Focal Press in the US.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3nR3lAk
Stage Design: A Practical Guide
Stage Design: A Practical Guide is designed to meet the needs of students and amateurs as well as professionals. Written in non-technical language, and with an emphasis on scenery design, it provides a comprehensive guide to the artistic and technical aspects of the subject. Each chapter contains clear, concise information and instructive photos, concluding with practical exercises to stimulate inquiry and creativity. Among the topics covered are the foundations of stage art and design; theater types; the use of color; art and design materials; understanding stage dynamics; saving money through innovation and invention; planning and making small scale models of stage designs; scaling up and implementing a stage design in a theater; and analyzing the script for design pointers. Gary Thorne is a professional costume and set designer.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/2NeteNZ
The Art of Theatrical Design: Elements of Visual Composition, Methods, and Practice
The Art of Theatrical Design: Elements of Visual Composition, Methods, and Practice addresses the core principles that develop the student designer into a true artist, providing a foundation that ensures success with each production design.This text concentrates on the skills necessary to create effective, evocative, and engaging theatrical designs that support the play contextually, thematically, and visually. It gives students the grounding in core design principles they need to approach design challenges and make design decisions in both assigned class projects and realized productions.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3qqVICh
Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment Paperback
Over the past century, theme parks have created worlds where pirates still loot Caribbean towns, where daring adventurers explore booby-trapped temples, and where superheroes swing from New York skyscrapers - and allowed us to step into them too. This is a book about how to design those fantastic places, and the ingenuity that goes into their creation.
This is a handbook for the practicing designer, a textbook for the aspiring student, and a behind the scenes guidebook for the theme park fan, building on hundreds of interviews with accomplished designers from Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Merlin Entertainments, and more. Theme Park Design & The Art of Themed Entertainment explores everything from the stories, themes, and characters that theme parks bring to life, to the business models, processes, and techniques that allow them to do it.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/36562Zh
The Prop Building Guidebook for Theatre, Film, and TV (Second Edition)
Theatre and film frequently require replicas of three-dimensional objects built for actors to use. This book lays the groundwork for an artisan to determine what materials and techniques to use to build these props. Walking the reader through the various tools and techniques used in historical and contemporary prop-making, the author present a process for deciding the materials and methods to build any prop. With an explanation of how the craft and its products have developed over time, the budding artisan will understand not just how and when to use certain techniques or materials, but also why to use them and what advantages they give. It arms the prop maker with a structured procedure for approaching the construction of any prop. Illustrated with step-by-step examples of how to use each construction method, and explanations of different types of materials, this book gives the beginner prop artisan a strong foundation to approach the construction of props and answers the question, "How should I begin?"
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3qrTW3V
Designer Drafting and Visualizing for the Entertainment World (Second Edition)
In the second edition of Designer Drafting and Visualization for the Entertainment World , world-class Hollywood production designer and art director Patricia Woodbridge teams up with nationally-renowned scenic designer and SCAD professor Hal Tine to give you a dynamic glimpse into the world of designing for mainstream entertainment including theatre, film, tv, and corporate events. Drawing on designs from real Hollywood and Broadway blockbusters, this book provides you with the basic tools and principles of scenic drafting and rendering, beginning with pencil drafting and culminating with the latest information on CAD drafting, digital 3D modeling, digital and hand/digital rendering, and digital graphics for sets.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3ijAMua
Fake Love Letters, Forged Telegrams, and Prison Escape Maps: Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking
Although graphic props such as invitations, letters, tickets, and packaging are rarely seen close-up by a cinema audience, they are designed in painstaking detail. Dublin-based designer Annie Atkins invites readers into the creative process behind her intricately designed, rigorously researched, and visually stunning graphic props. These objects may be given just a fleeting moment of screen time, but their authenticity is vital and their role is crucial: to nudge both the actors on set and the audience just that much further into the fictional world of the film.
Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/3sz6LeM