Doing a little bit of a different Masterpiece Monday today by featuring this beautiful maquette of Pocahontas. I’m not sure how many people know what maquettes are, so I’ll fill you in. After a character’s final design is decided upon, maquettes are made up of all of the major characters. These are 3D sculptures made of clay that show the character in a pose characteristic of their personality. Animators then keep these sculptures on their desks to use as a guide for their drawings. It helps them visualize the characters designs from every angle in a more concrete way than would be possible in just plain flat model sheets. This practice of making maquettes for the animators is one that has been around for at least as long as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs if not even longer. Clearly their helpful for the animators as they’re still used today.
Normally maquettes are plain grey, but for Pocahontas many of the maquettes were hand painted by the ink and paint department. I have yet to find out exactly why this was done, but I do think they did a beautiful job. Pocahontas is not the only one to ever be painted though, many of the maquettes from Fantasia were painted, and a full colour working puppet version of Pinnochio was made in the 1940s as well. Besides the beautiful colours, one of the other things I really enjoy about Pocahontas’s maquette is her strong pose, with her head held high and her feet almost in ballet 4th position. This pose actually came to be used in a lot of the merchandise that came out for Pocahontas. This is a common occurrence as maquettes are usually easily available for merchandise designers to use as a reference. That’s part of why maquette’s are so important, because they help keep Pocahontas and other characters looking consistent even when being drawn by a hundred different artists in different branches of the company.
So now you know all about maquettes and their purpose thanks to this beautiful hand-painted maquette of Pocahontas.