Any good art books on world-building?

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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And by this, I don't mean books that teach how to write and structure world-building, which might otherwise go in the Writing Forums section - no, I just mean a book with lavish illustrations to awe the reader with a sense of other worlds and world-building, without too much in the way of text about it.

And preferably not too expensive!

Any suggestions? :)
 
I'm thinking of manga, though perhaps you're looking for illustrated novels; but if manga's okay, you cannot do much better than Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, by Miyazaki. Phenomenal world-building, and a remarkably unique story, and look. There's atmosphere galore imparted to the story, because of that artwork.

The Mouse Guard comics by David Petersen have beautiful artwork, that truly immerse you in the world of the books from the first page. Hope these might help. :)
 
I don't recall ever hearing of such a thing.
The closest I can come to is perhaps books of Story-boarding.

or these prints from Jack Kirby for Lord of Light by Zelazny
 
Take a look at

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
available used from around $10 US I think it's about $20 new
 
I don't recall ever hearing of such a thing.
The closest I can come to is perhaps books of Story-boarding.

or these prints from Jack Kirby for Lord of Light by Zelazny

If you go to Forbidden Planet London - I assume that's the biggest SF&F book and comic shop they have - the shelves are groaning in 'The art of...' books. Of all sorts of themes, many specific to well-known fictional universes, bound to be some that fit the OP brief. But big, thick, very expensive coffee table sort of books. I guess the problem with them is that they probably don't publish them in great numbers and they look very lavish.
 
something to look at....
 
I've found copies of the art for Fallout 4, Alien: Isolation and American Mc'Gee's Alice online and they've very good, especially for pinning down the aspects that distinguish a particular style. Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?

Wayne Barlowe and Dougal Dixon both produced "guides" to fictional places: Barlowe did one to space and to Hell, and Dixon produced books about imaginary animals extrapolated from dinosaurs and so on. They might be worth a look. Warhammer also produced some very nice art books - usually design sketches - some of which are currently out of print but might be available second hand.
 
Not a book, but a forum: Image Sharing

It belongs to a terrain generating software (Terragen), and won't be as much of an instant gratification experience as a book would be, but some of the creations there are truly spectacular.
 
I suggest a Roger Dean book


 
There are many, many fine sources of 'alien art'. I suggested Expedition and Blame! because they focus entirely on one place with consistent biology or environmental rules that unite all the images.

I have a book of Roger Dean illustrations, as well as Geiger and several others, but they don't have to play by any worldbuilding 'rules' from one image to the next - if your goal is to learn something about worldbuilding through successive images. Manga and anime are excellent resources for this, since that design aspect is something of a preoccupation in that industry, albeit with that particular Japanese style.

There are also third party "guide" books, like a Tolkien illustrated encyclopedia, but then the images aren't really guided by the creator's vision but someone's impression of them - which also makes them suffer from not really being part of a single world vision but more just the artist's style applied to what they read.
 
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Maybe not what you're after, but I got some cheap second hand copies for about a fiver combined: Rob Alexander's books on drawing and painting fantasy architecture, and drawing and painting fantasy landscapes and cityscapes have, unsurprisingly, some great artwork.

Should stress I discovered these were miles above my head (reminds me, I might need to upload another pencil sketch or two) in terms of emulating the artwork but they were pretty fantastic to look at. I know one, and probably both, also had mini-galleries at the back where it was just finished artwork of fantastical worlds.

Edited extra bit: hey, did the media section go missing?
 
It's not fantasy but I found The Middle Ages: Everyday Life in Medieval Europe by Jeffrey Singman to be great for information on daily life in medieval settings (village, castle, town, monastery).
 
It's not fantasy but I found The Middle Ages: Everyday Life in Medieval Europe by Jeffrey Singman to be great for information on daily life in medieval settings (village, castle, town, monastery).

Shame it's not currently available, even though there's supposed to be a Kindle version. :(
 

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