The Art of Finding Dory, Foreword by Andrew Stanton – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

414KAEEKD5L._SY379_BO1,204,203,200_The Art of Finding Dory. Preface by John Lasseter. Foreword by Andrew Stanton. Intro by Steve Pilcher.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, May 2016, hardcover $40.00 (176 pages), Kindle $17.49.

Here is another “all about” coffee-table art book about the making of a high-profile animated feature: Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, the sequel to the studio’s 2003 award-winning Finding Nemo, released on June 17, 2016.

But this is about the art, not the story of the movie. Since the movie takes place almost entirely underwater, there is a tremendous emphasis on the underwater lighting. Steve Pilcher, the production designer, explains how the lighting constantly changes more than out-of-the-water lighting. Not only is there different lighting for the different levels of depth in the ocean; between really deep and among the coral reefs near the surface (there is much more light closer to the surface), there is a big difference between underwater in the ocean and underwater in the tanks of the Marine Life Institute.

Even though there is no formal plot synopsis, you can figure out most of it from what is shown in this book. Dory, the blue tang fish who suffers from short-term memory loss, goes looking for her parents even though she remembers nothing about them. Her mental condition is presented less comically and more sympathetically than in Finding Nemo. Her disappearance from clownfish Nemo’s and his father Marlin’s home sets off a panicked search on their part to find her. Dory is captured by the Marine Life Institute, a research aquarium; and although this is a much friendlier environment than the dentist office fish tank in Finding Nemo, Dory must still escape if she is to find her parents in the ocean.

Art of Finding Dory_Interior 1

Ralph Eggleston, Digital painting

The Art of Finding Dory is presented in three acts, plus a long introduction by Pilcher to describe the challenges that the lighting presented. Act One describes Dory’s life around Nemo’s and Marlin’s coral reef community as the assistant to Mr. Ray, the sting ray schoolteacher. She gets separated and is quickly found again, but the experience has awakened dim memories of her parents. She leaves to find them. Act Two, set at the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay in Northern California, has many of the above-water scenes and most of the new characters, such as Hank the octopus, Destiny the whale shark, Bailey the beluga whale, Becky the loon, and all of the sea lions, otters, hermit crabs – and humans in the film. Dory escapes back into the ocean with the help of her new friends; but Marlin and Nemo, looking for her, are captured by the Institute and destined to be sent off to another aquarium in Cleveland. In Act Three, Dory almost immediately finds her parents. Now they must rescue Marlin and Nemo from being sent far inland to Cleveland, with the aid of all Dory’s new fish and aquatic mammal friends from the Institute.

As usual with these coffee-table art books about animated features, there is an abundance of art by the production staff, from rough character sketches to storyboards to color and lighting guides to clay maquettes. Each piece of art is credited to its artist: Paul Abadilla, Max Brace, Sharon Calahan, Jim Capobianco, Jason Deamer, Greg Dykstra, Tim Evatt, Marceline Gagnon-Tanguay, Tom Gately, Annee Jonjai, Vladimir Kooperman, Rona Liu, Angus MacLane, Kyle MacNaughton, Deanna Marsigliese, Ted Mathot, Daniel López Muñoz, Matt Nolte, Brian Kalin O’Connell, Steve Pilcher, James Robertson, Dale Ruffalo, Don Shank, Andrew Stanton, Shelley Wan, Alex Woo, and more.


The Art of Finding Dory is not a collection of finished full-color stills from the movie. It is a fine behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s production.

Fred Patten