A Princess and the Frog Masterpiece Monday



I am continuing my mission to have one post highlighting every Disney princess on this blog by featuring a piece of artworks showcasing Tiana today. Today’s featured art work is a piece of costume design art created in gouache by Disney artist Lorelay Bove. It explores several possible designs for Tiana’s bayou wedding dress, the gown in which Tiana is most often seen wearing in merchandise and at the Disney parks. I find this particular piece of concept art to be incredibly gorgeous and also very illustrative of the specific role costume design art plays in creating the look of a Disney princess, especially in more recent years when animators began making their films with an awareness of the growing popularity of the Disney Princess franchise.

Lorelay Bove is a fantastic Disney artist who has worked on the vast majority of the films made by Disney Animation in the last decade. She was a visual development artist on Tangled, Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck it Ralph, and several recent Disney animated shorts. She has also become one of the top artists currently working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and her work is often sold in Disney owned galleries and on merchandise. She played a significant role on The Princess and the Frog, creating not only visual development art for the film, but also designing many of the film’s props and costumes, as you can see in this piece. Her unique art was also displayed in the final film during the  end credits sequence. Bove has a very modernist style  that is  reminiscent of the work of Mary Blair, who she herself sites as a major influence. I think her modernist and abstract approach to costume designs was perfectly suited for a  1920s american princess like Tiana.

What I love about all of Bove’s costume designs in this piece is they are clearly art deco inspired and reflect the fashions of the 1920s, while still being influenced by classic Disney fairytales and the film’s bayou settings. I love the draping vine sleeves on all of the gowns, they remind me of the fringe sleeves and trailing trains I’ve seen on many real vintage dresses from the late 1920s. The silhouettes and hairstyles are also period influenced, and are reminiscent of 1920s jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald. All the details in this concept art, the focus on period silhouettes, fabric drapery, hairstyles, and accessories are what set costume design art apart from regular visual development art, which focuses more on the mood and the general style of a film than the precise details of the clothing. In the end, the filmmakers choose to make Tiana’s bayou wedding dress into a gown similar to the one at the bottom right of this piece, but with some changes. Most of the period accurate and art deco inspired details were removed in favour of a look that better reflected the “classic” 1950s Disney film style the directors wanted. While I can’t say for sure, I think that this change came from a belief that Tiana needed a poofy princess gown that would fit in with the other Disney Princesses in the line.I do know from interviews with directors Ron Clements and John Musker that the knowledge that Tiana would be included in the Disney Princess franchise influenced many of their decisions while making The Princess and the Frog. Personally, although the final design for Tiana’s gown is pretty, I would have preferred if she had gotten a more unique and period accurate dress like these Lorelay Bove art deco  inspired designs.

Hope you enjoyed this little look at costume design in Animated Disney films and what the process of designing a princess wedding dress for Princess Tiana was like.


Image credit: www.lorelaybove.com




A Pinocchio Masterpiece Monday



I have been seeing advertisements everywhere for the Signature Edition of Pinocchio which comes out at the end of this month, and they inspired me to feature a piece of artwork from Pinocchio today. I happen to love Figaro the cat, so I just had to feature this silly drawing of Figaro and Geppetto today. Normally most of my Masterpiece Monday posts feature a piece of concept art, character design art, or visual development art, but today is a little different. This drawing is actually one of many drawings featured on a storyboard depicting a deleted scene from the film. Unfortunately, like so many pieced of early Disney art work, the name of the artist is lost to time. Instead I will discuss this drawings purpose as a storyboard drawing, which serves a very different function in the development of a film than a piece of concept art might

The main purpose of story board art is not to affect the look of the film or the design of the characters, but to clearly and compellingly illustrate the action and dialogue. Storyboard artists think more about finding creative ways for characters to do things than they do about how their drawings look. In fact, many storyboard artists have a very distinct style of drawing that alters very little from film to film. For a good example of an artist like this look up the work of Chris Sanders, who was the storyboard artist for films like Mulan and Beauty and the Beast. Of course, sometimes story boards do accurately reflect the style of the film, as this story board drawing from Pinocchio mostly does. In other cases, the style of the story board  drawings might end up influencing the final design of the characters. Their true purpose though is to help with the story writing process, and give the animators a guide for what their characters should be doing during each scene in the film.

So what exactly is going on in this particular storyboard drawing? Well it’s from a deleted scene in Pinocchio that would’ve taken place in the belly of Monstro the whale. After discovering a cook book full of fish recipes, Figaro would have started eyeing Cleo for his next meal. This would have lead to a variety of gags showing Figaro trying to fish Cleo out of her bowl, while Geppetto scolded him and tried to find a way to stop him. This was until Geppetto too was driven by hunger into imagining his pet goldfish as his next meal. This drawing depicts a moment soon after, when the pair team up to scheme about how to lure Cleo out of her bowl. Eventually Gepetto would have snapped out of his hungry devisings just in time  to save her from Figaro. You can see the whole scene’s story boards here.  Ultimately, the scene was deleted and, though I don’t know for certain, it was probably for time, as the scene does very little to further Pinocchio’s story.By the time it was removed from the film, some of Figaro and Cleo’s animation was already completed. Luckily, the animators found a new use for this surprisingly cute scene between the two pets, as a short cartoon released in 1943 called Figaro and Cleo, Disney’s answer to Tom and Jerry (you can watch it here ). As I have said in other posts, discarded ideas are often recycled by Disney Animation, and that is especially true in the case of storyboards.

So now you know a little bit more about the purpose of story boards, thanks to this little deleted drawing from Pinocchio. 

Image Credit: The Walt Disney Film Archives. The Animated Movies 1921–1968

A Little Mermaid Masterpiece Monday


This is going to be an extremely brief post today because I am in the middle of moving to Orlando. So I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to share one of my favorite fun facts about Ariel from the The Little Mermaid. Though I don’t know for sure, I would guess that this particular piece of character concept art was done by Glen Keane, who was Ariel’s supervising animator for the film. Of course, the first thing you’ll notice about these drawings of Ariel is her blonde hair. It seems hard to imagine Ariel without out her shocking red locks. Yet one of the biggest arguments the crew creating The Little Mermaid had while  designing Ariel was over colour, especially hair colour.

The initial plan was to have Ariel be a blonde, because blonde was considered the stereotypical hair colour that everyone most closely associates with mermaids. This lasted for a short time, until Disney executives pointed out that the Touchstone Pictures branch of the company had just released a live action film featuring a blonde mermaid, Splash staring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks. Executives worried that the two blonde mermaids would seem too similar, and that they might even confuse people. So Disney artists started experimenting with other hair colours, occasionally black, but more often red. Yet, still some artists stuck stubbornly to the idea that blonde was the best hair colour for their mermaid. Because of this much of the concept art for the character you may find depicts her as a blonde, despite executives concerns. The argument among the film’s crew over Ariel’s hair colour got to be so bad that some concept art from the film actual shows Ariel drawn twice on the same sheet of paper, once with red hair and once with blonde hair, in order to help compare the two colours. Finally the directors chose red hair for their mermaids, because it appeared more striking against the blues and greens of the ocean backgrounds than blonde hair did. Of course, once her hair colour was chosen, a tail  colour had to be chosen to compliment that striking red. All sorts of different colours were tried out in different animators and character designers’  drawings. Some of the most heavily considered colours included yellow, orange, blue, and of course the final choice of green. You see, although animation allows filmmakers to create impossibly fantastic creatures like mermaids, without a guide from nature, it can take a lot of debating to for everyone to decide what colour these creatures should be.

Hope you enjoyed this little look at the history of Ariel’s hair colour. If you don’t see a post next Monday, I’m really sorry, but moving and starting a new job is very stressful.

Image Credit: The Little Mermaid. Platinum Edition 

A Tinker Bell Masterpiece Monday


I’m still marveling at the incredible new book I got for Christmas, so today I’m featuring another piece of concept art from the book that particularly caught my eye. This early piece of Tinker Bell was done in pastels by Disney story artist Bianca Majolie. I’ve featured one of Majolie’s beautiful 1940s designs for Cinderella a few months ago in this post, her pieces are  definitely among my favorites. Thanks to The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968. I have recently discovered a lot more about Bianca Mojolie and her important role at the studio. I also discovered how her pastel drawings helped contribute to the development of Tinker Bell’s design.

Bianca Majolie was the first woman hired as a story artist at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, and possibly even the first woman hired in the Story department at any animation studio. Before her hiring in the 1930s, women were only hired to work in the Ink and Paint department. Majolie offered a unique perspective to the the Story department. While the men were usually preoccupied with finding the comedy and gaga within each situation, Majolie focused on bringing emotion and empathy into the story, thus elevating many of Disney’s film into complex masterpieces, not just funny cartoons..I find much of Bianca Majolie’s work to be charming, with such pretty soft colours, whimsical character designs, and a unique awareness of the fashions of the day. Her idea of Tinkerbell in this piece is so different from most other concept art of the character. With her long form fitting gown, wavy blonde hair, and  boa she looks more like a miniature starlet from the late 1930s. I find Bianca Majolie’s design to be so much more sophisticated looking than the final version of Tinker Bell, and that’s what immediately drew my attention to this piece.

Of course Majolie’s sketch is nothing like Tinker Bell’s final design in the 1953 film. Just like with Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan took over a decade to develop, as it was first proposed in the late 1930s as a film to follow Pinocchio. During that time Tinker bell went through more changes than any other character. In some concept art she was a tiny ballerina, in some she was almost bug-like in appearance, and then some artists like Majolie, made her into a glamorous seductive woman. In the end, Tinker Bell was based largely upon three real-life women. Her face and distinctive hair style were inspired by a woman named Ginni Mack who worked in the studio Ink and Paint department at the time. Her body, on the other hand, was based upon the curvy figure of dancer Margaret Kerry (not Marilyn Monroe, that is an urban legend), who did much of the live action reference modeling for the fairy. Finally, Katherine Beaumont, the voice of Alice and Wendy, also did early reference acting for Tink, contributing not to her image, but to her child-like personality. So you see even one of the most famous Disney characters went through a lot of transformations before acquiring her final design, and a wide variety of woman contributed to her iconic look and personality.

Hope you enjoyed an in depth look at this unique piece of concept art featured in The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968 . It’s a fascinating book and I hope to use it in the future to make this blog even more  informative.

Image Credit: The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968

A Wonderland Masterpiece Monday!


For Christmas  I got this amazing book called The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968 and I thought for my first Masterpiece Monday of the new year I’d share one of my favourite pieces of concept art from within the book. This piece of  art from Alice in Wonderland was created by David Hall, who is right next to Claire Keane on my list of favourite Disney  artists. He only worked at the studio for an incredibly brief period of time, just one year in 1939, but during that time he created hundreds of completely gorgeous pieces of concept art  for Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, and Peter PanHall was a British artist who looked to old British illustrations and live-action period films for inspiration, creating a style that I think would have been perfect for an adaptation of such a classic literary masterpiece as Alice in Wonderland.  Unfortunately, by the time the film was actually made, over a decade had passed since David Hall’s time working at the studio.The fantastic art style suggested by this beautiful piece depicting Alice in the Queen’s garden was completely forgotten in favor of Mary Blair’s more modernist style.

It took Walt Disney quite a long time to develop Alice in Wonderland into a feature-length film. He was working on the idea all the way back in the 1930s, and even considered it for his first feature before choosing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead. While Walt really loved the idea of adapting Lewis Carroll’s book into an animated film, story problems and competition from other studios kept the film in development limbo for over a decade. During this time Disney artists experimented with a variety of styles to used to depict the tale. Early on, Walt acquired the film rights for John Tenniel Victorian illustrations, with the intention of bringing the actual illustrations to life on the screen. This idea proved technically impossible, as Tenniel’s illustrations were far too complicated and detailed to be animated. This discarded idea eventually evolved into David Hall’s style, which captured the spirit of Tenniel’s illustrations while being much easier to animate. Of course eventually the film further evolved into a style that departed greatly from the original books, but I’ve always wondered what the film would have been like if it had looked a little more like David Hall’s concept art.

So there’s a little bit about one of my favorite pieces of concept art from one of my favorite films, Alice in Wonderland. I’m so excited to share more art and information from my new book with you all in the future and if anyone is interested in getting a copy for them self you can check it out here, but be warned it is very expensive.

Image Credit: The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968