So I finally received my very own copy of "My Little Pony: The Art of Equestria"! I ordered it off Amazon for the sweet deal of roughly US$16, which is much better than paying MSRP of $29.99. First off, this book comes in a lovely foil cover so it shimmers in the light, but it's kind of hard to tell unless you see it in person. The book itself is kind of thick and heavy at 216 pages. Pictured on the cover is alicorn princess Twilight Sparkle over a expanded map of Equestria that covers the geography explored in MLP seasons 1-5. This book looks as though it's meant for kids, but while there are many colorful illustrations inside and few captions on some of the pages, this book was made with the fandom in mind and includes interviews with Hasbro employees and the show's creator Lauren Faust, as well as selected fanart from the adult fans at the back of the book. (For closer details of every photo, right click--> view image)
Title page shows the mane six, uncolored, in line art. As this art book covers developmental concepts and artwork, this uncolored sketch doesn't seem too out of place, and is a good opening to this fandom-oriented book.
Included also in this book is an updated map of Equestria (the previous map, found on free Walmart posters, only covers locations up to season 3, new places were added since then). New additions include Griffonstone, Yakyakistan, and Twilight Sparkle's new castle.
The book itself is split into 7 sections. "Pony Evolution" tells the story of how My Little Pony came to be, in essence, the history of the franchise from the 80's to the present, with an exclusive interview with Lauren Faust regarding her childhood and how she came to work on My Little Pony. Included in that section is a timeline showing how pony designs changed over time. "Everypony" covers concept art and provides a montage of stills of every one of the mane six a well as other major background characters, "Foils and Foes" and "Creatures and Mythical Beasts" does about the same thing for the other creatures shown in the series. "Exploring Equestria" takes us on a journey from line-art to final animation so you can see the process unfolding to make the backgrounds and places shown in the show, and "Behind the Scene" hosts storyboards from a sample of episodes, and occasionally compares them to the final Flash animation that is aired. Finally, Pony Revolution includes anoher interview from an Hasbro employee himself regarding his thoughts on the fandom, and concludes with pony fanart submitted for a t-shirt design company WeLoveFine which sports a wide variety of fandom related clothing for males and females alike. (I got a Pinkie Pie t-shirt from them I still wear, and if you buy enough of their shirts, WeLoveFine includes freebies like posters and GINORMOUS tote bags for your patronage with your order. Always say yes to freebies!)
Interview with Lauren Faust, with accompanying scans of her original design concepts and sketches. Some of the mane six looked very different from what their final form looks like. Pinkie even originally had wings. I think it's better she's not one now... imagine the havoc wrecked by a sugar high pegasus. @_@
Timeline and blub showing the evolution of ponies from the 80's to present. The current generation looks very different from the original body shapes.
Early developmental color artwork. The designs were not final at this point, you can see Twilight Sparkle's butt and mane are different from her final form.
Sample page from "Everypony" showing the general layout for the mane six, with concept art and remarks from the people who worked on the show in the corner, and the final pony design on the right. Twilight Sparkle has wings now, having earned them at the end of season 3.
Sample of the montage pages for characters. I chose Pinkie, because,, well, why not. XD
It's interesting to note this book was published before this episode aired, so it was meant to be a sneak peek at this very special episode made with the fans in mind, showing off most of the important background characters which the adult fans have come to love, such as Doctor Whooves and Derpy, and DJ-Pon-3 and Octavia. Yes, there are Doctor Who references in the episode that plenty of picked up on... ALLONSY!
Discord is one of my favorite villains from the show. He's like Loki, the trickster, and does all sorts of outrageous things that just absolutely leave me dying of laughter by the time the episode is done.
A couple sample pages shows off many concept art designs for many of the major recurring locations featured in the show. Some of these designs were of course dropped before the final product was produced.
From storyboard to final animation samples. It's pretty interesting to see how a show is developed from concept art and storyboard sketch, to final Flash animation.
The book ends with a sample of fanart from artists involved in the fandom, each credited and displayed on the glossy pages of the book.
Also, as a final nice touch, Spike the dragon is shown blowing his fire at a scroll containing a letter to the ruler of Equestria, Princess Celestia. It's a fitting way to symbolize you're done reading this book, and now you're ready to move on.
Overall, I really liked this book, and I recommend it to any MLP fan. For a moment I was worried this might be convention exclusive or available only in limited quantity, and I am glad that I was able to get a copy of this. Since most of the book is fraught with illustrations, it should make for quick reading, and Lauren Faust's interview has plenty of pictures of her original concept art, complete with notes, so you see how her vision for MLP developed initially. You also gain snippets of information not seen in other MLP books, and as Pinkie Pie would probably put it, this is the BEST ART BOOK EVER!