I’m trying to do one Masterpiece Monday for every princess, and today I’m focusing on Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. This sketch of Jasmine is a little closer to the final style of the film than some other pieces of concept art you might find ou there, but you’ll notice it still contains a number of differences from Jasmine’s final design. I am not 100% sure who the artist of this particular sketch is, but judging by the style of drawing and what I know about Aladdin’s animation team, there’s a pretty good chance that it was drawn by Mark Henn or someone who worked under him (don’t cite me as a source on that though).
The first thing I want to point out about this particular drawing is just how young Jasmine looks. Initially both Aladdin and Jasmine were going to be a lot younger than they ended up being in the final film. This was the case until until a day very late in the film’s production that Disney animators still refer to as “Black Friday”. That was the day that Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg watched the story reals for Aladdin and decided the whole thing wasn’t working for him. He told the directors that Aladdin and Jasmine needed to be made into older Hollywood types like Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts and the whole film then needed to be rewritten.It was a pretty devastating event for the animators, one I’ll get more into another time, but the character design changes clearly worked.
Another element of this drawing that I want to discuss is Jasmine’s extremely long full dark hair. It’s the focus of this drawing and many other concept sketches made of the princess.It was one of the earliest design elements solidified for Jasmine’s character.There is actually a really cute story behind how the animators decided to give her such long, full hair. Jasmine’s supervising animator Mark Henn worked at the animation studio located in what was then called Disney’s MGM Studios in Florida. That studio was nicknamed the “fish bowl” because theme park guests could walk through the studio and watch the animators at work from behind large windows. One day Mark Henn saw a girl with long black hair that reached almost down to the floor watchinmg him work through the window. He immediately thought that Jasmine should have hair just like hers. And of course that design element, inspired by a random theme park guest, made into Jasmine’s final design.
Hope you enjoy this interesting concept sketch and the little window it provides into the design process for Disney’s 5th princess, Jasmine.