The sketches in the book were either Gerald Scarfe or a very good imitation.
Originally Posted by AeglosIstarion
Just an example, but another thing I loved about this movie is how the dragons, and Toothless in particular, weren't overly anthropomorphized or turned into cartoon characters, instead being portrayed as (very intelligent) animals, with their own thought processes and behaviour - and the animation captures this inner life, with its conflicting instincts and emotions, some closely related to what we know and understand, some completely alien and unknowable, admirably well. It's of course all based on studying animal behaviour in real life, but that's my point: It's all in the little details, and they get it right - it's just a pleasure to watch, whether you know what you're looking for or not.
To me that's not just a nice detail, it's the heart of the film. The movie is about understanding animals, be they pets or otherwise, and realizing that, while you can train them and co-exist with them, they aren't going to dance in tutus for your amusement the way they do in cartoons. (Uh, most cartoons.)
I actually thought it was kind of a dick move that they killed off the "queen" and thereby presumably fucked up the dragon ecology, which undermines the message a little. Of course, it's not hard to conclude that Hiccup has a lousy handle on biology and that the "queen" wasn't a "queen" at all but just a bullying parasite like a cuckoo. That sure makes a lot more sense, given that these are clearly multiple species of dragons.
...Which is certainly the film's masterstroke, and will assure nerd loyalty from a generation of kids. I skipped the trailer, so when I realized that the movie was going to feature a whole array of different dragon designs, I had a little geek out, I don't mind telling you. Dreamworks should make a mint on the inevitable "guide to dragons" spinoff book.
Not quite equal to Kung Fu Panda--that movie had an effortless charm that this movie lacks due to its reliance on formula--but it's extremely encouraging to see Dreamworks continuing its run of successful films. It's also interesting that they seem to have a better handle on the awesome nerdy stuff kids want to see on screen than Pixar does: kung fu, 50s movie monsters, and dragons. I love Up to death, but it's not surprising people were concerned about that movie's prospects. Of course, I'd actually like to see Pixar push harder for less commercial work and leave the blockbuster geekery to Dreamworks.