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The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book Three: Change is an art book written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Joaquim Dos Santos that is based on the third book of The Legend of Korra. Similar to its predecessor, the volume offers an inside look at the developmental and creative process that Book Three underwent prior to its release through a series of preliminary artworks supplemented by commentary from the creators.

The third of four art books, this book spans 184 pages, and it was released in comic book stores on January 21, 2015,[1] and in mass-market retailers on January 27 of the same year.[2] A second edition of the art book was released on February 23, 2022. It features a new foreword by Mako's voice actor, David Faustino, and is also available in a deluxe edition, which includes a slipcase and a commemorative lithograph of the book's original cover art.[5] Its new cover art was drawn by Lauren Montgomery and colored by Bryan Konietzko.[6]


This book contains fifteen chapters:

  1. A Breath of Fresh Air (pages 8 through 23)
  2. Rebirth (pages 24 through 43)
  3. The Earth Queen (pages 44 through 57)
  4. In Harm's Way (pages 56 through 65)
  5. The Metal Clan (pages 66 through 79)
  6. Old Wounds (pages 80 through 91)
  7. Original Airbenders (pages 92 through 103)
  8. The Terror Within (pages 104 through 111)
  9. The Stakeout (pages 112 through 125)
  10. Long Live the Queen (pages 126 through 137)
  11. The Ultimatum (pages 138 through 149)
  12. Enter the Void (pages 150 through 159)
  13. Venom of the Red Lotus (pages 160 through 175)
  14. Ancillary Art (pages 176 through 187)

It also includes an introduction by Avatar creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino on pages six and seven, respectively. A foreword by Mako's voice actor, David Faustino, is located on page six and seven in the book's second edition.

Chapter One: A Breath of Fresh Air[]

Art of the Animated Series Zaheer sketches

Page dedicated to the making of Zaheer. Concept art by Bryan Konietzko and Ki Hyun Ryu.

Zaheer was one of Michael Dante DiMartino's favorite villains ever created because he was a warrior, philosopher, poet, and voiced by Henry Rollins. Even back when Avatar: The Last Airbender was still airing, writers would attempt to pitch evil airbender ideas. No matter how interesting, both DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko would shoot them down, stating that Aang was the last airbender. However, Harmonic Convergence finally gave them the opportunity to explore such a character, namely Zaheer. Since the designs for Tarrlok and Unalaq were so similar, giving Zaheer a new one was refreshing.

Tim Hedrick created Daw; a simple shopkeeper thrust into a life of excitement when he discovers his ability to airbend. Daw and his brother were designed by Angela Song Mueller; the former's hair was only initially meant to be in a disheveled state. However, everyone kept drawing him that way for future episodes, so it became his signature look until Tenzin shaved it off. In spite of their limited screen time in the episode, Joaquim Dos Santos praises supervising producer Ki Hyun Ryu's talent for infusing such minor characters with memorable poses and facial expressions in his storyboards.

Konietzko mentions his belief that a fruithog, a hedgehog crossed with a tropical fruit is what the world needed to see, noting that people would be able to sleep a little easier at night.

Dos Santos, DiMartino, and Konietzko all express their fondness for drawing spirits, noting they all wanted them to have a presence in the Book. Bryan also mentions that during the first scene of the episode, the point was to try and mislead the viewer by making it seem like the Spirit Wilds were growing atop ancient ruins.

The architectural aspects of the episode are also discussed, such as the meditating gazebo on Air Temple Island, Kyoshi Bridge, and Zaheer's prison. The gazebo, painted by Lauren Zurcher and Emily Tetri, was deliberately built facing away from Republic City to remove any distractions for meditators. William Nanqing Niu's designs for Kyoshi Bridge and the surrounding cityscape, using techniques like three-point perspective, helped to enhance the depth and authenticity of the setting for Konietzko. Niu's design notes for how the door to Zaheer's cell operates were used when the scene was staged by other artists, a rare inclusion according to Konietzko.

Finally, aspects of Zaheer's escape are discussed, which they made to be epic, as it was their first time showing Zaheer, a powerful villain even as a nonbender, making the animation process intense. Because of the scene's importance, staff and departments from other levels of the production came forward to assist, with Dos Santos and supervising producer Lauren Montgomery aiding director Melchior Zwyer in storyboard revisions. Key animation for the action sequence was done by Studio Reve, who further revised the storyboards by providing more detail to the drawings. As friends of Studio Mir, the animation studio for Korra, the smaller Studio Reve was brought on to the production to support Mir in their work for the show's third and fourth seasons.

Chapter Two: Rebirth[]

Konietzko describes how villains are fun to create. Ghazan's basic look came together fast but the tattoo designs took far more time. Despite the effort put into them, the tattoos were only seen in their totality in "Rebirth", which Konietzko saw as a blessing for the animators. The idea for Ming-Hua to have no arms came from a joke about Amon having lost his arms after the explosion on the boat and having to bend water for his limbs. Katara had bent in a similar manner, but nothing to the extent of Ming-Hua. Ming-Hua's face and build were based off of a friend of Konietzko's. Dos Santos also enjoyed how the villains and their fighting styles were introduced in the episode, noting how Zaheer used his parkour-style of martial arts in conjunction with his newfound airbending abilities to give Ghazan three small rocks, which the lavabender transformed into a molten glaive as part of his escape.

Much like the original Team Avatar, Korra and her friends had to travel to various Earth Kingdom villages as part of their journey, necessitating the creation of villagers for these settlements. A spread of character models for the audience of Team Avatar's street performance is shown, all designed by Christie Tseng, who is lauded by Konietzko for giving the myriad characters unique personality traits.

Named after Joshua Hamilton's son, DiMartino described Kai as a fun addition to Team Avatar. Kai's voice and personality were reminiscent of Aang. Designing an adult version of Zuko proved to be a challenge. Zuko's design by Angela Song Mueller was influenced by Roku and Iroh, as well as Dos Santos' adult version of the character in a promotional poster. Konietzko then refined the design by giving Zuko a slightly more angular look. Druk, Zuko's dragon, is revealed to be a descendant of Ran and Shaw. Ryu was designed to be a caricature of Ki Hyun Ryu, a producer for the series. As Ki Hyun loved to draw caricatures of the rest of the crew, Konietzko viewed the airbender's likeness as "good, clean, fun revenge". DiMartino compliments William Nanqing Niu and Emily Tetri's work designing and painting Ryu's house, noting how the setting feels like a real place, and how the interior view of the gate and trees in the distance appears muted in color from the atmospheric perspective.

For Book Three, the in-house crew was bolstered by storyboard artists from throughout the animation industry. Dos Santos expands on the storyboards done by one such artist, Natasha Wicke, labeling her work on Team Avatar's dinner with an airbender farmer as "super-charming".

Future Industries airship designs

Designs for the exterior of Asami's airship by Christine Bian.

Designing the Future Industries airship was challenging due to the intricacies required. Given the Metal Clan was going to be "steeped in an Art Deco style", Konietzko directed Christine Bian to use an Art Nouveau style. Props designed for the airship required higher detail because it was rendered in CG. The atrium and lounge designs were done after the exterior so the shape and volume would be consistent. The interior was designed by William Nanqing Niu, who based his work not just on the boundaries of the airship's exterior, but also a CG render of the space developed by Nickelodeon's CG department.

In regards to a painting of an Earth Kingdom farming village Korra and her friends visit, Konietzko relates how he encourages the crew's background artists to depict their scenes in specific times of day and weather events. In this painting's case, Fred Stewart opted to depict the village at sunset as a mist partially obscured the surrounding landscape.

Key frame animation by Studio Mir shows Korra transitioning from a front roll on her shoulder to a jumping, spinning hook kick. The complexity and fluidity of Korra's movement is lauded by Dos Santos, who also imparts that he is a sucker for shoulder rolls.

For the montage scene, the writers wanted to have fun and chose to use chibi heads of the characters. For each of the characters, three expressions, excited, cautious, and dejected were designed, save for Oogi who kept the same expression. Buttons were made based on these chibi for the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con.

Chapter Three: The Earth Queen[]

Mako and Bolin's family picture

San and Naoki, the bequeathers of Mako and Bolin's "signature" eyebrows. Created collaboratively by Chris Palmer, Christie Tseng, Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf, and Emily Tetri.

Angela Song Mueller and Christie Tseng created the designs for Mako and Bolin's family, including Chow, Tu, and Grandma Yin. Character cleanup was done by Evon Freeman for the extended family, while Sylvian Filcak-Blackwolf worked on color for both the extended family and Grandma Yin.

The first and only glimpse of Mako and Bolin's parents is seen in a family portrait of the four of them. Konietzko comments on Mako and Bolin's signature eyebrows being inherited from their parents San and Naoki.

Many of the Ba Sing Se backgrounds were based on designs from Avatar: The Last Airbender with some new updates, representing how the city had become even more overcrowded over the last seven decades. Inspired by Kowloon, a densely populated area in Hong Kong, the Lower Ring was designed to look like people built on top of what already existed.

Dos Santos created the concepts for Gombo and his barbarians, citing his love for all things Mad Max as inspiration. These concepts were finished by Christie Tseng; the red streak in the bandit's hair was changed to an Earth Kingdom green by Konietzko. DiMartino mentions he liked that these barbarians were fighting for the common good of all people and working against the Earth Queen, even though they were still a gang of rabble-rousers.

Chapter Four: In Harm's Way[]

P'Li's tattoo

P'Li's third eye tattoo. Design by Angela Song Mueller and Bryan Konietzko.

The final villain introduced was P'Li. Konietzko wanted to fight back on stereotypes of females being small and short and chose to design P'Li as an exceptionally tall woman, based on tall female athletes. DiMartino discusses her backstory. As a child, she was captured by a warlord who trained her to become an assassin after seeing her combustionbending. Zaheer rescued her from the warlord and soon they fell in love, fighting oppressive leaders together. P'Li's third-eye tattoo was based on the Hindu god, Shiva, and is slightly different from Combustion Man.

This episode features characters from all three rings of Ba Sing Se, and therefore required more work from the animation team. They wanted to emphasize how the wealth disparity has only grown since Aang first visited the city. Nearly 70 character designs are presented in this book. In reference to the Earth Queen's palanquin being shown, Konietzko describes having flashbacks to Avatar: The Last Airbender's production, jokingly asking for someone to tell him the year is not 2006.

Chapter Five: The Metal Clan[]

DiMartino notes that Suyin's creation was a highlight of Book Three. The idea of an elite metal clan was developed early on in the ideas for The Legend of Korra, and finally introduced in the form of Suyin and her family. The creators wanted Suyin to be very different from Lin, so they gave her an outgoing personality, a sprawling, luxurious homestead, and five children. Opal was made an airbender to tie the Beifongs to the main story of rebuilding the Air Nation. The family photo in Suyin's house conveys a lot about their personalities, such as Wei and Wing being one unit, Opal being eager to please, Suyin radiating confidence and mischief, Baatar Sr. leaning on the strength of his wife, Huan enveloped in ennui, and Baatar Jr. standing in the shadow of his father. DiMartino also makes note on the recurring theme of twins in Avatar, comparing Wing and Wei to Lo and Li, as well as Desna and Eska.

As stated by DiMartino, every character and prop is designed and created to support the main storyline. This episode is Kuvira's first appearance, whose design is shown alongside Varrick, Zhu Li, and Aiwei's. Suyin's chef once being a pirate shows Su's personal philosophy of people being able to better themselves. The dinner plates and cutlery of Zaofu reflect the Art Deco aesthetic of the city.

Konietzko made constant reference to Art Deco architecture, lighting fixtures, furniture, clothing, and sculptures for the episode, going through a folder with design elements for each. The details were then streamlined for animation, with the design team rising to the challenge remarkably.

Zaofu airship concept art

Concept art of the Zaofu airship by Christine Bian and Bryan Konietzko.

In order to save budget on CG, Amon's airship was retouched and given an Art Deco and Earth Kingdom makeover in order to become a Zaofu airship; the tram system in the city was built by Baatar and Baatar Jr., removing the need for Satomobiles for transportation. Konietzko wanted Zaofu to feel like a 1920s utopian view of the "City of the Future", which involved citizens wearing robes and walking around a pristine plaza. The attire in the city is not a uniform, but rather a fashion statement to show the forward-thinking attitudes of the city. When conceptualizing the Metal Clan's robes, Konietzko first created Su's relatively uncomplicated garb, and then used their design as a template for the other Zaofu citizens' apparel.

In response to fan speculation if the man holding a young Su in a photo of her time at the circus is Zaheer, DiMartino states that it was not the crew's intention to indicate such a connection; instead, the photo was meant to show a particular chapter in Su's journey toward self-discovery. Konietzko is more unequivocal in denying the man is Zaheer, as the performer in question is around a foot taller than the renegade airbender. The amount of time and effort put in to making such a photo is quantified as inordinate by Konietzko, especially when the photo only briefly appears for a few seconds at a distance from the camera. Thus, the crew opted to cut down on work by recycling an old background for the photo, using an exterior view of the circus tent that Ty Lee performed in.

Several background paintings and designs are shown of Zaofu. The view of Korra and Opal's airbending training site, and the mountains in the distance hued by the setting sun, was inspired by the works of painter Maxfield Parrish. A statue of Toph overlooking the city's downtown area is shown, a tribute by Su to her mother for her role as the world's first metalbender, which facilitated the creation of Zaofu.

Kya's waterbending abilities are shown off to the fullest extent in this episode and its key frame animation by Studio Reve, with Dos Santos commenting on the difficulties of water in animation, especially if the water is dependent on someone's movements. Though Kya did not receive a large amount of screen time in Book Three, Dos Santos found her onscreen moments impactful, in this case how she went on the offensive against Zaheer, creatively using the water around her every time their battlefield changed in location.

Chapter Six: Old Wounds[]

P'Li's final design is shown at the start of the chapter. She was initially designed as a "female firebending assassin" before she was a combustionbender. Konietzko worked with the concept art from Angela Song Mueller to create the finalized character, noting that he particularly loved P'Li's outfit and punk hairstyle. The other Red Lotus members also had their normal clothing finalized after several episodes of wearing other various outfits. Zaheer's simple monk garb was said to have helped him infiltrate Air Temple Island.

DiMartino comments on some of the background paintings featured in the episode, including the Beifong gym, where he guessed Wei and Wing spent much of their time.

The backstory behind Lin's scar was an important part of the episode. The creators wanted it to be an accident on Suyin's part, but also indicative of the pair's relationship reaching a breaking point. This was conveyed in part by Lin's cable being pulled taut between the sisters in the scene. The flashback chase scene required many different backgrounds, with many only appearing for a short time as the chase unfolded. A looser style of painting was used for locations that were not vital or only appeared briefly during the scene, which the team called "rough color comps". These background paintings by Emily Tetri established the color and lighting before being passed on to the skilled team at Studio Mir to flesh out the details.

Toph's statue (Zaofu)

A design for Toph Beifong's statue at Zaofu. Painted by Fred Stewart.

Konietzko mentions how out of all the Avatar: The Last Airbender characters, Toph probably has the most representation in statue form. Suyin had a smaller, more naturalistic statue of their mother placed in a quiet corner of the family garden. The statue's presence helped Lin and Suyin reconnect after their fight had come to a head violently. This statue was not destroyed in their fight, unlike Huan's sculpture, which was used in one of Lin's attacks.

Ghazan's lavabending form was based on Bajiquan, a martial art form that utilizes shorter, more explosive elbow and knee strikes, especially when in close quarters. However, Dos Santos emphasizes that Ghazan's form was "loosely" based on Bajiquan, explaining that at other times Ghazan used bigger motions in some situations, and that the four main Red Lotus members all used more of a vagabond style of combat that incorporated different moves and concepts picked up from their travels.

Chapter Seven: Original Airbenders[]

As potential stories were suggested for Book Three, a slot was put aside for focusing on the new airbenders. The episode would explore Bumi and how he felt about his new abilities, as well as the new recruits adjusting to their life as airbenders. The writers included the character Otaku to show that at least one Air Acolyte had become a fully-fledged airbender.

Air Nation designs

Christie Tseng's height-comparison sheet for Korra, Tenzin's family, and the new airbenders.

Christie Tseng put together a character size-comparison sheet of the new airbenders, Tenzin and his family, and Korra. Konietzko explains that these sheets were useful in keeping characters' relative heights consistent when animating, which can be a challenge as many artists were involved in drawing the same characters.

Locations in the Northern Air Temple were updated from the original series, a process which Konietzko recalls felt like his life was "going in a big, inescapable circle". One such update included adding new buildings to the holes and crevasses along the mountainside which were caused by the explosion in "The Northern Air Temple". Other additions to the updated Northern Air Temple included the airbender obstacle course, designed by William Nanqing Niu and Christine Bian, and the airbending canon, by Christine Bian and colored by Sylvia Filack-Blackwolf.

The scene where Tenzin demanded Bumi get back up after the latter failed his training exercise was storyboarded by Shaun O'Neil; DiMartino enjoyed the sibling rivalry between the two characters. There was also a number of new spirits designed for the episode. Konietzko remarks at how Christie Tseng seemed to have an endless supply of cute and creative spirit ideas in her head. The valley surrounding the temple is where many of these spirits were featured.

Dos Santos describes the Northern Air Temple in general and the specific background as his favourite set piece in all his time working on The Legend of Korra because of the opportunities to stage compelling action scenes on a set so deeply connected to the mythology of the Avatar world. He adds that both Konietzko and DiMartino could also speak volumes on the location as it holds a special place in their hearts, a notion to which the latter co-creator affirms by wishing he could step into the temple backgrounds overlooking the surrounding valley.

The bison rustlers were another notable addition to the episode. Dos Santos explains how he felt guilty adding Ganbat to the storyboard, given his disturbing attire of wearing a bison pelt over his shoulders and back. Konietzko also adds that as adept Christie Tseng was at designing spirits, she was also proficient at designing the seedy-looking bison rustlers as well.

Chapter Eight: The Terror Within[]

The episode features designs for Team Avatar in their pajamas, which added to the tension of the scene as it showed the good guys were caught off-guard by the kidnapping.

William Nanqing Niu and Lauren Zurcher worked on some of the backgrounds and paintings of the Beifong estate at night, which Konietzko considered a stellar job for the images' subtle, recessed lights and brushed-metal surfaces, giving the kidnapping scene an unsettling mood.

Zaofu jeep designs

Designs for a Zaofu jeep by Christine Bian.

Konietzko also describes the process of creating a prop in CG, using the example of a Zaofu jeep first seen at the end of the episode. The artist typically creates an orthographic projection, or "orthos" for short, which depicts the prop with flat views without any optical distortion. This allows the CG modeler to follow the designs much more closely.

Hong Li's apartment is also mentioned in the chapter, which Konietzko comments was much tidier than when he was a freshman art student. He was also happy that designer Angela Sung incorporated Art Deco into more humble interiors like the apartment, and not only the grandiose locations in Zaofu.

The fight scene where the Red Lotus attempt to kidnap Korra was a "doozey" to storyboard, according to Dos Santos. There were many characters and moving elements to consider, such as the Red Lotus being pinned down in the courtyard, Suyin and Lin descending from the dome roof to distract P'Li, and Bolin aiming a pebble at P'Li to take out her combustionbending. DiMartino also agrees that the episode was a big challenge due to all the crazy action, commenting on the before and after shots of the Beifong estate courtyard.

Chapter Nine: The Stakeout[]

The innkeeper and tavern owner in Misty Palms Oasis were designed by Angela Song Mueller. Mako and Bolin in their disguises were done by Christie Tseng, as well as Korra in a straightjacket near the end of the episode. The prison cart was designed by Christie Tseng, cleanup by Steve Hirt, and colored by Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf.

The episode also features wanted posters for each member of Team Avatar. The translation and calligraphy reads, "By Royal Decree of the Earth Queen: Wanted by Her Majesty, the Earth Queen, for crimes against the Kingdom. You will be rewarded handsomely for information leading to this criminal's capture."

Angela Song Mueller and Christine Bian worked on background designs for the Misty Palms Inn that is seen during the morning, afternoon, and at night in the episode. Paintings were done by Emily Tetri.

Nuktuk doll

A Nuktuk doll by Christine Bian.

When designing Macao and Lily's Nuktuk doll, Konietzko referenced a photo of a Bolin doll made by luviX3 on deviantART, forwarded to him by a friend. He also emphasizes that the way Macao and Lily were depicted was not meant to be a negative commentary on real life Avatar fans, and the thought had not even occurred to him until concerns were voiced by a network executive. Some "con culture" tropes did seep into the characters for humor's sake, though the broad notion was to have Macao and Lily appear as scary bounty hunters, only to be revealed as scary stalkers instead.

Aiwei's inn room was designed by Angela Song Mueller and paintings done by Lauren Zurcher. DiMartino comments that it was not the most luxurious accommodation, though given that Aiwei was on the run as a fugitive he could not be too picky. Background characters at the oasis were designed by Christie Tseng and Angela Song Mueller, while their cleanup and coloring were done by by Steve Hirt and Sylvia Filcak-Blackwolf, respectively.

Misty Palms Oasis had gone through a resurgence since the original series according to DiMartino, although the settlement still had a seedy side. Harmonic Convergence saw the oasis become home to a variety of spirits. Konietzko mentions how even though they revisited another location from the original series, there were significant updates to not feel like he was reliving past toils. He also suggested that the chunk of ice must have some spiritual properties to it, given that it is such a geological anomaly to have it jutting from the desert floor and never melting entirely. Not only were spirits attracted to it, but also Aiwei for his nefarious meditation. Background design of the Misty Palms Oasis was done by Konietzko and William Nanqing Niu, and painted by Lauren Zurcher. The market was designed by Christine Bian, and painted by Emily Tetri.

The storyboard for the encounter at Xai Bau's Grove was done by Chris Palmer, Ki-Hyun Ryu, and Lauren Montgomery. Dos Santos comments that this moment was the first time where the audience saw just how ruthless Zaheer was in the name of his cause.

Konietzko explains how the Dracaena cinnabari, or dragon blood tree, was an inspiration for the design of Xai Bau's Grove. While working on Book Three, he came across a photo of the plant in a folder of stunning landscapes and flora used it for inspiration. He also reaffirms that when wanting to design something weird and creepy then one cannot beat Mother Nature. Background design for Xai Bau's grove was done by Konietzko and Jonard Soriano, and painted by Fredrick Stewart. The surrounding desert background was designed by William Nanqing Niu, and painted by Lauren Zurcher.

Young-Ki Yoon at Tin House Studios was the animation director for the original pilot of Avatar, and DiMartino comments that they were lucky to be working with him again after moving to Los Angeles. The storyboard for Mako's fight with Ming-Hua was done by Young-Ki and Dos Santos. According to DiMartino, the poolside action scene was both fun to write and enjoyable to see the key frame and final animation of. Dos Santos comments on how the tension of the scene is momentarily broken by Bolin's hilarious expression as he dives into the pool to escape Ghazan's lavabending onslaught.

Chapter Ten: Long Live the Queen[]

Konietzko explains that Ming-Hua's costume design for the episode was to help conceal the large amount of water she had on person. The longer, baggy sleeves hid leather water skins where they were kept. The chapter also features designs for the Earth Queen's soldiers that Korra and Asami travel with, namely the airship captain, Arik, Kong, and the airship's copilot.

DiMartino comments on how the Si Wong Desert was another revisited location from the original series, and how Fort Bosco was named in honor of Kuei's loyal companion and pet.

The episode also showcases Asami's engineering skills, since she managed to put together a sand-sailer from pieces of the destroyed airship. While escaping the Si Wong Desert, the group also encountered a sand shark. Konietzko recalls that his original concept sketch was of a hammerhead shark monster, though after learning about the sarcastic fringehead fish and its multicolored tent-like jaw, he had Christine Bian and Christie Tseng change direction for the design of the creature's maw.

Emily Tetri worked on two paintings of Earth Kingdom walls, one of Ba Sing Se and the second of Misty Palms Oasis at sunset. Konietzko was, and still is, particularly happy with the results, and the Misty Palms Oasis painting was used for the final shot of the episode. The background shots of the Lower Ring in Ba Sing Se were amazingly detailed according to DiMartino, and he also mentions how he loved the moody, stormy skies of the Middle Ring background where Ghazan tore down the wall.

The Earth Kingdom Royal Palace was also a location featured in the episode. DiMartino comments on a background image of the throne room where Zaheer overheard that the Avatar had escaped custody, explaining that even though the original series had background designs for the throne room, more backgrounds with new details had to be added to accommodate the new angles in the scene. The Earth Queen's prisons are also featured, and Konietzko mentions how they felt realistic. He also suggests that the inmates appearing in the episode were probably all incarcerated for innocuous reasons, thanks to the draconian Earth Queen and the Dai Li. One of the prisoners featured kept having his mole drawn on the wrong side of his face in the reflection of his mirror, and Konietzko explains that mirrors in hand-drawn animation almost always result in retakes. The studios at Radio Ba Sing Se were a favorite background for DiMartino, though Konietzko assumed that they would be playing a lot of pro-queen propaganda.

Bolin bending key frames

Studio Mir's key frames for Bolin's attempts at metalbending.

Near the end of the episode, Bolin unsuccessfully attempted to metalbend out of the prison. Konietzko explains how Shaun O'Neil, who worked on the storyboard for this scene, had a knack for capturing Bolin's earnest and blissfully ignorant side in his hilarious acting and action poses. DiMartino comments on the key animation from Studio Mir, pointing out how closely the animators followed the original storyboard while adding their own flare and interpretation of the action scene.

Chapter Eleven: The Ultimatum[]

The apartment that Mako and Bolin's family reside in, and are evacuated from during the events of the episode, was designed by William Nanqing Niu. DiMartino reveals that the complex was the same one Iroh and Zuko stayed in during their temporary stay in the city's Lower Ring.

Konietzko explains how the final episodes of Book Two were some of the most colorful he had been a part of in his art directing career, supporting the supernatural events that occurred in that season. The Book Three final episodes were a contrast to this, featuring a heavy and dramatic color palette to allude to the grim events unfolding. The Northern Air Temple was one location featured in the episode, and while it was a dynamic and picturesque setting with stunning views and interesting angles, Konietzko mentions how he and the other designers, image-board artists, and background painters, were all pulling their hair out trying to keep the various locations and their light directions consistent.

The courtyard where Aang, Katara, and Sokka, first met the mechanist was featured in the episode. In addition, one of the cloisters where airbenders in training used to live was also seen. In present times, it is home to the Air Acolytes.

Si Wong Desert dunes

A background painting of the Si Wong Desert by Lauren Zurcher.

Because Lauren Zurcher had such a knack for painting sand dunes, Konietzko assigned her an inordinate number of backgrounds featuring dunes throughout the season. The last one Zurcher had to paint was featured in episode eleven. In jest, Koneitzko quotes the virologist Jonas Salk, "The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more."

Dos Santos explains that while Eugene Lee was working on the storyboard for the fight scene between Bumi and Ghazan, it became clear that the storyboard student had become a master.

Chapter Twelve: Enter the Void[]

Suyin has an alternate design for this episode. In the original storyboard, Suyin was meant to use her metal necklace and bracelets to save her sister Lin. However, it was clear that there would not be enough metal to encapsulate P'Li's head with this alone, and so she was given a battle-ready outfit similar to the Zaofu guard.

Northern Air Temple topographical map

A topographical map of the surrounding area by the Northern Air Temple. Design by Christine Bian.

DiMartino explains that he wanted a topographical map for Team Avatar, partly because he loves the way these maps look, but also because it would be useful for Team Avatar to know the heights of the surrounding mountains for an assault on the Northern Air Temple.

Three more "rough color comps" of Northern Air Temple backgrounds are featured in the chapter. These pieces focus more on color, mood, and lighting, rather than refined detail. Konietzko explains that they were done to stay on schedule, which he admits the crew was always behind on, but he also appreciates the expressive energy conveyed through them. As well as schedule pressures, the final episodes often required more detail than previous ones. Konietzko explains that Christine Bian was also a talented background designer and enthusiastic to help out, and some of Northern Air Temple and Zaofu airship interior backgrounds from her are featured. DiMartino comments on how "Enter the Void" was one of his favorite episodes to write, since it is all about Korra stepping up as a selfless Avatar, willing to do whatever it took to save the new airbenders and move the world toward balance.

Being such an important location in Book Three, the creators wanted to give the Northern Air Temple a proper send-off. After the mountain and temple start to collapse because of Ghazan's lavabending, Tenzin looks back upon the temple after being rescued by Kai. DiMartino explains that for Tenzin, it was not just about the destruction of temple, but also of his way of life, and the foreshadowing of the possible elimination of the missing airbenders. The episode also featured the death of P'Li, and Zaheer reacting with an uncharacteristic display of fear and heartbreak. Dos Santos comments that they knew they had done a good job of creating a sympathetic villain when an audible gasp followed by silence was heard in the animation pitch.

The creators knew that Kuvira was going to have a major role in the next book, and so they wove her into a number of scenes and events throughout Book Three such as the battle at Laghima's Peak. Toward the end of the episode, Kuvira is given a proper and somewhat ambiguous introduction.

Konietzko concludes the chapter by discussing some of the statues in Avatar world, and reminiscing about his time visiting the Buddhist country of Bhutan in 2007. The Tiger's Nest monastery served as an inspiration for the altar to Guru Laghima, and just as Konietzko had to duck down when entering the monastery, so too did P'Li during the episode. Laghima's statue was designed by Angela Sung and painted by Lauren Zurcher.

Chapter Thirteen: Venom of the Red Lotus[]

Rock column background

An early iteration, or "rough color comp", for the background used in the tracking shot during Korra's aerial pursuit of Zaheer. Painting by Emily Tetri.

The crystal cave which serves as the setting for the final showdown where Zaheer attempts to end the Avatar Cycle, is inspired by the real-world Cave of the Crystals discovered in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2007.

Dos Santos and DiMartino comment on the final battle between Korra and Zaheer. Dos Santos feels that the final fight scene was epic, with Korra pulling off some massive Avatar moves and Zaheer's newfound mastery of airbending both giving the sequence a fresh dynamic, that truly captures the giant sense of scale. He then goes on record to say that this is his favorite fight scene in the entire The Legend of Korra series, and one to show the grandkids. DiMartino praises Dos Santos for continually pulling off dynamic and exciting action sequences, in particular a twenty-second shot of Korra and Zaheer flying through the air, and even though he had worked on countless action scenes over the course of his career, Dos Santos never seems to repeat himself.

One of the earliest ideas for Book Three was to include Jinora getting her airbending tattoos. In the creator's eyes, this was the perfect symbol for the return of the airbenders. The plan was to wait until the end of the book to have Jinora earn her tattoos, and so she was the one to rally the airbenders together to save Korra, proving to Tenzin that she had become a true airbending master and leader. Konietzko comments that with her shaved hair look, Jinora looks like her grandfather. Ryu is included in the final episode as well, joining the Air Nation for Jinora's ceremony after hearing about what happened at the Northern Air Temple, and further pestering from his mom.

The final scene of the episode was the first to feature the main shrine on Air Temple Island. Konietzko praises William Nanqing Niu for his sensational and well-researched designing of the interior, commenting on how detail like this makes the Avatar world feel like it has a rich cultural history. Nearly every reference photo of Buddhist temples were red in color, and Lauren Zurcher had the challenge of converting the color scheme to fit the Air Nomad aesthetic while conveying the same feeling as those temples. DiMartino explains how he gets a little choked up every time he watches the final ceremony scene, since it is both uplifting to see Jinora with her tattoos but heartbreaking to see how pained Korra is.

The following two pages showcase some of the backgrounds by William Nanqing Niu and paintings by Lauren Zurcher. These pieces are of the cavern entrance where the Red Lotus held Korra. The Air Nomad statues along the rock faces over the entrance were based on reference art Konietzko had drawn for the crew of ancient airbender statues carved into a desert valley. Niu then took the co-creators designs and refined the geological details in the background. Like spiritual sites in the real world such as the ones at Machu Picchu and Easter Island, DiMartino imagines that the caves were where Air Nomads meditated on concepts relating to life and the universe.

The final segment of the chapter looks at some of the storyboards of Korra fighting off the Red Lotus' poison. Dos Santos reckons this is probably the creepiest moment in The Legend of Korra, with Korra hallucinating while her past enemies return in her mind one last time. The memories of her enemies are something that will return in Book Four: Balance. Konietzko explains that while he never enjoys torture scenes of any kind, sometimes they are necessary if a story calls for it. What makes the scene easier for him was the knowledge that the Red Lotus underestimate Korra and she would be walloping them soon after, and also how beautifully the moment is executed by Ki Hyun Ryu and Studio Reve even being as grim as it is. DiMartino explains that Korra not using the Avatar State is something that shows how Korra had grown to respect her connection to Raava, which is quite a change from Book Two where she used it to win an air-scooter race.

Chapter Fourteen: Ancillary Art[]

The final version of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con poster is shown in the chapter, as well as an excerpt from the rough draft. Konietzko mentions how he wanted to display some of the new characters introduced in the season, and went with Kai and Opal. The following page features illustrations of a young Korra and Naga, Suyin Beifong, Eska and Desna, and a piece with Korra on a motorcycle next to Zaheer, with Vaatu tangled in the back wheel. Konietzko admits that he has no idea what is going on in that illustration.

Young Red Lotus members

A non-canon depiction of Zaheer, P'Li, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan as youths by Eugene Lee.

On the next page is an illustration by Cheong-Il Han, featuring Korra. Ki Hyun Ryu also included an epic caricature of the entire Burbank-based crew who worked on Book Three. The crew in turn each drew their own caricatures of Ki Hyun, all of them capturing some sort of truth about their colleague.

The final two pages feature illustrations of the Red Lotus. Ki-Hyun Ryu depicted the group as a punk rock band, paying homage to Henry Rollin's punk days as part of Black Flag. DiMartino suggests that Zaheer would probably sing about freedom, heartbreak, and tearing down the establishment, just like most punk singers. The next page features a young Red Lotus by Eugene Lee. Konietzko clarifies that Ming-Hua was born without arms because of a congenial disorder, as Ming-Hua is drawn with arms in this illustration. Dos Santos suggests that if the story did not make the viewers sympathetic toward Zaheer and his gang, then perhaps this image of them before they were hardened by life's trials and tribulations, would do so. Konietzko closes the chapter by saying how just like they did, the other artists on the crew had fun with the villains in Book Three, and two final images of Zaheer and P'Li are featured.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series--Book Three: Change HC. Dark Horse. Retrieved on November 25, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book Three: Change. Amazon. Retrieved on November 25, 2021.
  3. The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series--Book Three: Change HC (Second Edition) (Deluxe Edition). DarkHorse.com. Retrieved on March 22, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dark Horse's Twitter. Twitter (March 1, 2022). Retrieved on March 22, 2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series–Book Three: Change (Second Edition). PenguinRandomHouse. Retrieved on February 9, 2022.
  6. Bryan Konietzko's Instagram (July 27, 2021). Retrieved on March 6, 2022.