Rapunzel In Tangled (2010)
Back in 2004, a very talented illustrator called Claire Keane started working at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a concept artist. Being the daughter of the very talented animator Glen Keane, Claire was surrounded by this type of art her entire life. In 2006, Claire started working on Tangled. Claire had an amazing opportunity to work alongside her talented father who was the director of Tangled, so it’s safe to say that we should be very thankful for the Keane family that this incredible movie exists. In one of the interviews, Glen Keane even said that Rapunzel’s personality was very much based on Claire’s childhood persona.
While working on this animation, Claire studied a lot of Scandinavian and medieval arts, she was also heavily inspired by Charley Harper.
This particular concept art of Rapunzel was inspired by a painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau who used mythological themes in his realistic paintings and emphasized the female body in his work. While describing her creative journey Claire said:
“While working on Tangled, I wanted to better understand the character of Rapunzel and what she did all day so I kept a journal of the things I did at home and translated it into Rapunzel’s world. It helped me see her as a real person who lived beyond the scenes and plot points of the movie. Rapunzel became somebody I could relate to even though our circumstances were worlds apart. This research helped me later on when I designed her murals.”
Tinker Bell In Peter Pan (1953)
It was Marc Davis’s (the man behind Cruella De Vil’s character) task to create Tinker Bell’s look since Davis has already proven his talent in creating outstanding female characters. Because Tinker Bell didn’t speak, animating her was a bit different than what Davis was used to, there was a need for a very strong expression of emotions through movement which wasn’t easy to portray. Tinker Bell’s character was a bit different than what we were usually used to seeing in Disney movies, she was a modern and independent woman. The pixie’s look resembled pin-up girls that were popular in the media at that time, many even compared her to Marilyn Monroe.
Pocahontas In Pocahontas (1995)
It seems impossible to talk about Disney and not mention Glen Keane. Just like many other famous characters, Pocahontas’s portrayal was also the work of Keane. What’s interesting is that while creating this persona, the artist faced a rather difficult task, he was asked by Jeffrey Katzenberg to create “the most idealized and finest woman ever made.” To complete this request Keane took inspiration from such women as Filipino model Dyna Taylor, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, he also used a 1620 depiction of Pocahontas from a history book, though he later explained that she was “not exactly a candidate for People’s ‘Most Beautiful’ issue.” It took 55 animators to create the final Pocahontas.
Ursula In The Little Mermaid (1989)
Ursula’s character was at first designed to look like a “tall, thin regal-looking sea witch” and was based on a scorpion fish. Later, the animator behind this character Glen Keane took inspiration from a drag queen named Divine and decided to make Ursula look more like a “vampy overweight matron.” The final character even has Divine’s signature makeup, jewelry, and body type.
Carl Fredricksen In Up (2009)
After Disney bought Pixar back in 2006, movies that are now considered to belong to Disney started carrying very Pixar-like features that are usually quite different from what we’re used to seeing in Disney movies. For example, Pixar usually tends to design their characters to be caricatured. Even though the adorable Carl’s character from the movie Up wasn’t really supposed to be a caricature, it still has some features that clearly belong to the Pixar tradition; such as a nose shaped like a balloon and a not proportional head that is definitely not natural-looking, and definitely not something we are used to seeing in Disney movies.
Jane Porter In Tarzan (1999)
Tarzan is the 37th full-length Disney movie and was animated in two different countries at the same time, one part was done in California while another part was produced in Paris. Animator Glen Keane worked on Tarzan’s portrayal in California, and Ken Duncan worked on Jane’s character in Paris, this type of team-work caused a lot of inconveniences when it came to creating scenes of Jane and Tarzan together. The teams managed to co-operate by sending each other hundreds of animations and constantly organizing video conferences. Another interesting fact, Jane’s characteristics and mannerisms in the movie were also based on Minnie Driver that served as a voice actress for the movie.
Belle In Beauty And The Beast (1991)
Belle’s character was created by James Baxter and Mark Henn. This was not the first Disney princess for Henn, he had previously worked on Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan, and Tiana. Because of his achievements Henn was considered the “go-to man behind many Disney princesses.” One of the main goals was to give Belle a more European-look, so they added fuller lips, narrower eyes and darker eyebrows, she also had “a little wisp of hair that kept falling in her face”, as it was previously described by Woolverton. One of the main inspirations behind Belle’s look was Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn.
Alice In Alice In Wonderland (1951)
The mysterious Alice character was created by Mary Blair, an extremely talented artist who worked on other outstanding Disney films such as Pinocchio and Peter Pan. What had the biggest impact to Blair’s style was a trip to South Africa alongside Walt Disney where she fell in love with the colors and forms of their mesmerizing culture. For the next 10 years after her trip Mary used a lot of motifs in her work that were taken from South American cultures. Since the story of Alice In Wonderland is often described using a french word loufoques (meaning very strange or even ridiculous), it was rather difficult for Walt Disney to find a way to portray the story the way it is written in the original book. To find the best artistic solutions he invited Mary Blair since he considered her to be the most talented artists to work there. It’s safe to say, that Mary definitely delivered an outstanding art piece that is absolutely ageless.
Maleficent In Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Maleficent’s character was created by Marc Davis who is also responsible for Cruella De Vil’s and Tinker Bell’s characters. Andreas Deja, a man who worked at Walt Disney for 30 years, created a blog post dedicated to Marc Davi’s concept of Maleficent. According to him, the first sketches showed Maleficent wearing black and red since it had a strong meaning to Davis but the background stylist Eyving Earle was keen to use other colors so they settled for black with purple. As Andreas says, “Sometimes teamwork isn’t easy.”
Aristocats In The Aristocats (1970)
It took around eighteen months for Ken Anderson to finish developing the characters in the Aristocats. Five of Disney’s legendary “nine old men” worked on the movie, while the rest of the crew had the experience of over 25 years on average. It was definitely a movie full of skill and talent, and it clearly shows.
Cruella De Vil In One Hundred And One Dalmatians (1961)
The genius behind the iconic Cruella De Vil is Marc Davis. This extremely talented illustrator was also the one who helped Walt Disney to created his first Disneyland theme park that many of us wish to visit one day. Marc had the incredible skill in creating incredible females characters in many iconic Disney movies, he is the author of not only Cruella De Vil but also Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Tinker Bell in Peter Pan. When asked which female persona he admires the most, Davis explained that every one of his female characters is unique and carries a different style, and he admires all of them but in a different way.
Mulan In Mulan (1998)
It’s clear that Mulan’s look was inspired by traditional Japanese and Chinese artwork. The character was designed to resemble figures in traditional Asian paintings. Mulan was also drawn less feminine than the original Disney princesses simply because “you can’t pass as a man in the army with a Barbie-style figure.”
Beast From Beauty And The Beast (1991)
Beauty and The Beast is considered to be one of the most successful movies in the history of animation, it was the first animated movie to be nominated for an Oscar and grossed 403 million dollars, making it the most successful animated movie of its time. Funny enough, Beauty and The Beast had a serious deadline, animators were ordered to finish the movie in two years rather than the traditional Disney four-year period. Animators and producers were in such a rush they first premiered the movie in New York even though it was not totally finished. Oh, and the iconic ballroom dancing scene? It’s actually just an exact copy of the dance sequence between Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty, the animators just didn’t have enough time to create a new one.
Princess Jasmine In Aladdin (1992)
The supervising animator behind Jasmine’s portrayal was Mark Henn, who was originally hired to illustrate Aladdin’s mother but since she was later removed from the script, he landed an even better role. Since there was a great desire to incorporate Arabian architecture into the film, Jasmine’s aesthetic was based on the famous mausoleum the Taj Mahal, the inspiration is visible in the character’s hair, clothes, and jewelry.
Anna In Frozen (2013)
Anna’s look is often compared to Rapunzel by many people, who think the two Disney princesses look similar. But if you look closer you will notice that they are actually quite different, Anna has fuller cheeks, her face and chin is rounder, her eyebrows and eyelashes are also bigger than Rapunzel’s. Despite these differences, they do have some things in common. When it comes to Anna’s costume in the film, creators of the movie analyzed traditional Norwegian clothing styles and used them for Anna’s look. Because of the Scandinavian weather, Anna was dressed in heavy wools and velvets.
Flynn Rider In Rapunzel (2010)
This one is particularly funny… While creating Flynn’s character, animators set out to create a “dashing thief.” Since Rapunzel’s look was so well thought out and she looked so stunning, there was an effort to make Flynn as beautiful as possible. To help out, producers and animators invited all of the women from the office to a “Hot Man Meeting” where ladies had to bring a picture of the hottest man in their opinion, after the meeting, the creators settled with Clark Gable and David Beckham for inspiration.
The Evil Queen In Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Back in 1934 Walt Disney came up with the idea to create a film adaption of a wonderful tale by Brothers Grimm called “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs”. Inspired by this incredible story Walt Disney created a 4th full-length animated film in the history of animated movies. It took three long years to finish this project that at first many people considered to be absolutely crazy (mainly because the studio used all their money for this production). Soon after the premiere, people called this movie Walt Disney’s absolute chef-d’œuvre. Even though it cost the studio approximately 1,5 million dollars, only six months later Walt Disney had gained enough money from this movie to open a new studio in Burbank.
Ariel In The Little Mermaid (1989)
Ariel’s look was created by Glen Keane who jokingly said that his wife looks exactly like Ariel but without the fins. He also stated that Ariel’s characteristics were based on Alyssa Milano, and the underwater hair effect was based on footage of Sally Ride when she was in space.
Aladdin In Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin is the 31st full-length movie created by Walt Disney Animation Studios, it was inspired by a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales “One Thousand and One Nights”. The story of Aladdin has been changed quite a bit while turning it into a movie. For example, in the original tale, there was no magical carpet, Aladdin actually had a mother even though his father was deceased, and Genie actually was able to grant more than three wishes.
Aladdin was released in 1992, quickly after the huge success of the Little Mermaid. In 1991, Disney also released one if its most famous movies Beauty And The Beast, now all of these magical movies belong to the Renaissance Era of Disney that took place from 1989 to 1999.
Genie In Aladdin (1992)
Genie in the Aladdin was created by Eric Goldberg who was just starting to take his first steps in the Walt Disney world. It is believed that Eric’s cheerful personality and humor had a very big impact on creating the Genie character in the movie. When it comes to graphics, Goldberg was mainly inspired by a famous caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. The entire style of the movie Aladdin was very “cartoonish” meaning it had deformed buildings, everything was round and often misshaped. This type of style was chosen in order to create a stronger effect of an imaginary Agrabah kingdom.
Cinderella In Cinderella (1950)
It’s impossible to talk about the concept art of Disney and not mention Mary Blair at least a couple of times, this incredibly talented woman is the genius behind many iconic Disney movies, and Cinderella is one of them. This animation was a second full-length movie created by Walt Disney and is probably the most popular one to this day. Back in 1945, after the WWII was coming to its end, artists at Walt Disney studio were able to get back to their regular work, which meant it was time for another iconic movie to be presented to the world. The artistic part of the movie was in Mary Blair’s hands since Walt was very much amazed by Blair’s unique use of style and color that was mainly inspired by her trip to South America in 1941. Cinderella was released on 15th of February, 1950, and it was a massive success. It was safe to say that Blair’s theatrical and colorful approach was definitely what the public wanted. Cinderella started the Silver Era of Disney movies that lasted until 1959 when the movie Sleeping Beauty was released.
King Triton In The Little Mermaid (1989)
In the original version by Hans Christian Andersen, Triton doesn’t have a name and is not prejudice towards humans. Producers explained that the conflicts in the movie between Ariel and her father often occur mainly because they are such strong personalities. Triton’s character is inspired by the song of the Greek sea god Poseidon.
Princess Aurora In Sleeping Beauty (1959)
While creating Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney challenged his animators to make the film’s characters as realistic as possible. The animator behind Aurora is Marc Davis, who was already known as Disney’s go-to guy for drawing lovely leading ladies. Davis was responsible for such beauties as Cinderella, Alice, Snow White, and Tinker Bell. Aurora was the first princess to have violet eyes, and her figure was mainly inspired by Audrey Hepburn.
Snow White In Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated movie created by Walt Disney and was a massive success. The movie was created with the help of such talented illustrators like Albert Hurter, Gustaf Tenggren and Joe Grant. The concept of Snow White isn’t that different from the final result except her eyes got way smaller and more realistic (which is typical for Disney to avoid over exaggerated features that make characters look less realistic).
Peter Pan In Peter Pan (1953)
Mit Kahl was assigned to animate Peter Pan even though he initially wished to animate Captain Hook. According to him, the most difficult part was to animate the character floating in mid-air.