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When it comes honouring the lives of friends and family members who have passed away, the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) does so with exuberant and colourful traditions instead of sombreness. These vivid celebrations are at the centre of Coco, Pixar’s latest cinematic release.

In a brief foreword to the film’s art book, The Art of Coco, John Lasseter – who was until recently chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation – explains that the filmmaking team went to great efforts to ensure that they got the look of the film right while respecting Mexican traditions. And in this book, we see how the team’s research paid off.

The bulk of the book takes us on a tour of the characters and locations in Coco. This includes concept art sketches, environment illustrations of the Land of the Dead, and even character design insight such as clay sculpts of the film’s skeletal cast.

Spread of the Art of Coco

The book explores how folklore influenced the design of Coco

But there’s more to enjoy here than high-quality visuals. Thanks to regular insights from story artists and production designers, you also get an understanding of Mexico’s fascinating folklore, and learn how it’s cleverly and tastefully used to inform the artistic direction of the film. Coco looks like one to remember.

This article was originally published in issue 159 of ImagineFX; subscribe here.

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