A Wendy and Tiger Lily Masterpiece Monday



Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the girls of Peter Pan and how they are often overshadowed by the much flashier Peter. This really disappointing to me, as they’ve always been my favorite part of the story. A lot of people do not even realize that Wendy Darling is the film’s main character, as the plot focuses on her story and her decision to grow up. To help rectify this misconception, I thought I’d feature a drawing of two of the girl’s of Neverland, Wendy Darling and Tiger Lily. This drawing was created during the early 1940s when the film was meant to be released soon after Pinocchio.  At this time, the film was styled on the concept art of  one of my favorite Disney artists, David Hall, whose Alice in Wonderland concept art I featured in a previous post. Although this particular drawing was not necessarily created by Hall himself, it certainly follows the style and tone of his concept art for the film.

One thing you may notice about this particular piece of art is that it is much darker and more full of shadows then any other scene in the final film. Much of Hall’s concept art, and the art made by other artists working on the film at the time, is like this. Their art brought out some of the more mature themes that had often gone unnoticed in this children’s  story. In particular they made the scenes with the pirates especialy frightening looking, a far cry from the silly comedic fellows in the final film. This piece of story art is part of a set of story boards illustrating the scene in skull rock. The moody drawings heavily feature horrifying skeletons and show a menacing looking Captain Hook cloaked in shadows. Even this drawing showing Wendy helping save Tiger Lily from drowning features dark moody lighting and in a clear sense of danger in the image of the waterlogged Tiger Lily.

You have probably also noticed how much younger Wendy and Tiger Lily look in this drawing compared to in the final film. This was true of all the children in Hall’s concept art. While the final version of Peter Pan appears to be just on the verge of preteenhood, the Hall inspired version had a young and impishly cherubic face. Disney’s Wendy Darling has a face and a body poised just on the verge of womanhood. David Hall’s version of Wendy appears much younger, with a shorter, more girlish  figure, a round face and eyes, and hair in childish pigtails. Even Tiger Lily, whose final design is one of the closest to the David Hall designs, appears much younger in this drawing. Her face did not yet have the sophisticated exotic features she would gain in the final film. These youthful character designs contrasted sharply with the dark shadowy settings Hall designed for the film. This would have really heightened the danger and adventure of the situations the children were in. Had it been made, Hall’s version of Peter Pan  would perhaps have presented the story in a new light.

While the characters and story inspired by Hall’s concept art never did come to fruition, they came awfully close. Model sheets for the character were mad up in the very early 1940s and maquettes for this version of several of the characters, including Wendy, can be seen in the behind the scenes tour portion of The Reluctant Dragon. Then World War II hit the U.S., and plan’s for the film were halted. When production started back up on the film in the 1950s, Hall no longer worked as a concept artist at the studio, and Mary Blair’s art became the animators’ main source of inspiration instead. Though I love Peter Pan the way it is, a part of me can’t help but wonder what this earlier, darker version of the film would have been like.

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

A Final Big Hero 6 Masterpiece Monday


Today is the day! It’s the release day of Big Hero 6: Baymax Returns. It’s also time for me to cover the 6th and final member of the Big Hero 6 team. Last, but not least, I have chosen to feature concept art of Hiro, the leader of the team and protagonist of the film. Like Hiro, the artist of this particular piece of character design art, Lorelay Bove, played an  important role in the development of the film. Bove was a visual development artist for the film, but most of her art work seemed to have focused very specifically on the characters. She created multiple pieces of concept art for every major character in the film, and did plenty of work on Hiro. Many of her co-workers  credit her with creating distinct yet unified outfit designs for all 6 members of the super hero team.

When I look at Lorelay Bove’s concept art for the film, more than anything I think about costume. Bove seems to have an innate sense of how a character’s clothing style and even the coours they wear help define their  personality to the audience. Some of her concept art shows a broader variety of possible outfits, and thus possible personalities, for each character. These sets of drawings would show the character with very different hairstyles, completely different outfit styles, and in the earlier stages of the film, even different faces.  Other’s are more like this concept art of Hiro, focusing on the very fine details of what a character would wear. While all three of these possible outfits for Hiro remain in the same sloppy teenage-boy vein, each little tweak highlights a slightly different kind of  personality. Although the decision over whether Hiro should wear a hoodie or flannel shirt and sweatpants or shorts may seem simple, Bove’s art shows how the film’s production team put thought into every little detail of their characters. Notice also how Bove uses this piece of concept art to experiment with which colours would work best for Hiro’s clothing. Choosing character colour schemes was another important task she fulfilled on the film. She is credited for coming up with the final colour scheme of every team member’s super-suit. She choose bright, vibrant colors that best expressed  each character’s individual personality, and yet managed to compliment each other in an interesting yet unexpected way.

As sloppy and casual as Hiro’s final design looks, a lot of effort went into designing a authentic looking fourteen year-old boy. In many ways, Hiro was very unfamiliar territory for Disney.  For starters, he’s the companies first mixed-race protagonist. The film’s production team chose to make Hiro half Japanese, half white to fully embody the overarching east-meets-west design concept they had been shooting for in the film’s art. It also allowed many of members of the film’s team to use Hiro to reflect their own experiences growing up as Asian-Americans. Disney animation also does not often feature teenage boys as their main characters, and thus Hiro presented a challenge for many of the film’s character designers, story-artists, and animators. They had to make him look appealing to audiences, without falling into the trap of making him look too cutesy. They spent time observing real teenage boys in their lives, like their sons and younger brothers, and also actual gifted teenage boys. They found that many  gifted kids often look extremely disheveled as they were too focused on their activities to worry about combing their hair or putting together matching outfits. So they did the same with Hiro, putting him in slightly mismatched clothing that mostly consisted of t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, cargo shorts, and sneakers. They also gave him unkempt hair that proved a real challenge for their hair simulation programs in it’s random looseness. In the end Lorelay Bove and the rest of the film’s crew came up with a rather authentic looking depiction of a teenage boy and science prodigy in Hiro.

There you have it, the last in my series of Masterpiece Monday posts featuring members of the super heroes of Big Hero 6. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Big Hero 6: Baymax Returns premieres tonight on Disney Channel and Disney XD and serves as the pilot for Big Hero 6: The Series. I am so excited to watch it and spend even more time with these fantastic characters.

Image Credit: The Art of Big Hero 6


A Lady and the Tramp Masterpiece Monday


The Silver Era is without a doubt one of my favorite eras for animated films and I constantly find myself looking at all of the beautiful concept art created for the films of that era. Lady and the Tramp is without a doubt one of the  best of the era, and I felt it was time I give it some attention. While looking around for concept art for the film, I was shocked to discover a series of beautiful paintings by background artist Eyvind Earle. I, like most people, more strongly associate him with his work on Sleeping Beauty. I had no idea he also played  a large role in creating Lady and the Tramp. It turns out Earle was the main background artist for the “Bella Note”  sequence of the film. Now that I know, it  seems obvious to me that Earle’s beautiful concept paintings, like this one had a huge impact on the sequence in the final film.

Walt Disney actually asked Earle to design and paint the backgrounds for the “Bella Note” sequence while he was already hard at work on the long process of designing Sleeping Beauty. Walt wanted a romanticized and almost impressionistic setting for the film’s key love scene and knew Earle was the perfect man for this job. Earle began this task by painting a series of small concept paintings depicting different moments and backgrounds he thought should be included in the film. Many of these paintings depicted romantic moments between Lady and Tramp as this one does. Other paintings showed other romantic pairs of animals within the park, whose love was to reflect that of Lady and Tramp. Still others depicted the beautiful natural nighttime environments of the park that surrounded them. Earle then used these concept paintings to help him create the scene’s backgrounds. He used his signature bright and bold colors, but stuck towards cool blues and greens next to bold sections of black to create a magical moonlit night. His trees and plants are highly detailed with stylized knotty bark, further creating a more impressionistic feeling to the only natural setting in the film. He also stuck to the simple geometric shapes on very clear horizontal and vertical planes that were his trademark. His unique background style stood out in great contrast from the more soft, sunny, idealized backgrounds of the rest of the film, which were designed by children’s book artist Claude Coats. Eyvind Earle’s work made the romantic moments between the two dogs a clear key moment in the film that audience members would remember long after they left the theatre.

I’m so glad I discovered some of Eyvind Earle’s concept art for Lady and the Tramp and found out what an important role he played in the film’s production. Now that I know that he worked on the “Bella Note” sequence, it is quite obvious to me upon re-watching the film. All the hallmarks of his style that would later show up in full force in Sleeping Beauty years later are present within the scene. This new knowledge really enhances my enjoyment of the film, especially that particular sequence, and I hope it will do the same for you in the future.

Image Credit: disneyconceptsandstuff.tumblr.com


A Villainous Masterpiece Monday


Since Halloween is this week, I knew I had to feature a villain in my Masterpiece Monday post. I’ve decided to write about one of the villains that frightened me the most as a child, the Hag from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I am certainly not alone in my childhood fears of this evil character. Upon the film’s initial release in 1937, children found her so frightening that the frequently wet the theatre seats. She has continued to terrify children for generations since then. This particular piece of visual development art depicting the Hag rowing across the castle moat is especially eerie.  It was created by animator Sam Armstrong, who went on to create the actual mist effects in this scene.The painting is very reminiscent of the Grim Reaper paddling down the River Styx. It is associations with classic horror elements like the Grim Reaper that help to make the Hag so terrifying.

Very early on in the film’s development, the suggestion was made to make the Hag a comical caricature of a villain. The hope was that this would make it easier for the animators, who were not yet skilled at animating the human form. This idea was experimented with in a few drawings, but quickly rejected. The Hag, just like the Evil Queen needed to look entirely evil in order to make Snow White’s plight truly compelling. This did not necessarily mean the Hag had to look like a realistic human character. She was made grotesque in appearance and flamboyant in action. She was animated mostly by Norm Ferguson, whose previous animation claim to fame was another villain, the Big Bad Wolf in the short The Three Little Pigs. The Hag’s design borrows elements from many a classic Grimm’s fairy tales illustration. Yet, she also contains subtle elements of the Evil Queen’s design, creating continuity between the villain and her disguise. The Hag represents a release of the previously stoic Queen’s true villainy. As the Hag she can show her glee in her evil doing, There’s a mirth in her big round eyes as she creates the poison apple and a pure joy in her frequent cackles. The Hag is truly the terrifying Jekyll to the Queen’s reserved Hyde.

Jekyll and Hyde actually served as a important source of inspiration for the Queen/Hag’s role in the film. While storyboarding the transformation scene in the film,Walt often referred to it as a “Jekyll and Hyde” moment. The animator’s may have even have taken some inspiration from the transformation scene in the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , where Jekyll’s transformation is shown through the use of a spinning camera and superimposed flashbacks. Other horror films of the time may have also influenced the Hag’s many gruesome scenes. The shots showing the hag’s shadow along the dungeon walls  recall the vampire from the German Expressionist film Nosferatu. The scene of the Hag creating the poison apple in a cauldron recalls various adaptations of Macbeth. The most gruesome scene in the entire film seems straight out of a horror film itself. The moment when the Hag kicks the skeleton and taunts it’s former thirst was considered so horrific at the time that Walt ordered an alternate version of the scene without that moment created, in case the censorship board took issue with it. It is these gruesome acts of villainy committed  by the Hag in the film that made her so terrifying to me and thousands of other children.

Given her her horror film pedigree and the talented animators and character designers who helped create her, is it any wonder that the Hag has continued to terrify children for nearly 80 years? She is a fascinating character in her gruesomeness, and truly a member of the Disney villain elite. Hope you have a happy Halloween.


Image Credit: The Fairest One of All: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs



A Honey Lemon Masterpiece Monday


We’re getting closer and closer to the premiere of Big Hero 6: The Series. Disney has started to release some fantastic clips and previews of the new series and I could not be more excited. They just recently posted this amazing sneak peak on Youtube and I love it.  So I am continuing my countdown to the premiere by featuring some concept art of my favorite member of the team, Honey Lemon. The film’s crew knew from the very beginning that Honey Lemon would be a fashionista, but pinning down her exact fashion sense proved to be a challenge.  This piece of character design art by character designer Shiyoon Kim, was part of the artists’ attempts to answer the question of what Honey Lemon’s fashion-sense would be like. It’s a very different look than that of the final character, but I personally love this potential version of Honey Lemon.

Initially, the film’s character designers experimented with a number of very bright and outlandish fashions for Honey Lemon’s street clothes. As I have mentioned before, Shiyoon Kim especially looked towards Japanese culture for inspiration when creating character designs for the film. This concept drawing of his is a great example of this tendency. Here he drew Honey Lemon in an extremely popular form of Japanese street style called Sweet Lolita. It is a form of dressing where girls wear big poofy dresses, lacey socks, and lots of bows. Colours tend to be pastels, especially pink, and clothing often features patterns of items considered “kawaii” or cute, like and flowers. Makeup is bold and hair is generally partially up in big wavy styles, and is usually died blonde. . Honey Lemon’s bright blonde hair was an important feature of the character in the comic books, and reflected her name, but there was much debate over whether or not the animators should keep this feature in their version of the character, who was Latina. This Sweet Lolita Honey Lemon design was one solution of how the blonde hair could be kept while still creating a unique character. Personally I’m a huge fan of Sweet Loita style, so I would have loved if this design had become the final one, but it was eventually rejected

When the design for Honey Lemon’s supersuit was finalized, the character designers decided to try a different approach to her street clothes. Since Honey Lemon’s super hero outfit was such a bright pink and orange, they wanted to make her street clothes slightly more understated in order to contrast. They moved away from the outlandish fashions of Japanese street style to some more simplified, but still trendy designs created by Lorelay Bove. Her clothes in the final film have more of  retro ’60s and ’70s style with a heavy emphasis on pink and yellow.. Yet, she still retains a sense of “kawaii”, just look at her phone-case and purse. She also shows off some outlandish fashion sense still in her outrageously high heels. In this wa,  the character designers were able to make Honey Lemon a fashionista, while still using clothing to show how she comes into her own as a super hero, just like the other members of the team.

In the end, this Sweet Lolita concept for Honey Lemon did not make it to the final film, but this concept drawing did. If you look closely, you’ll find it on a billboard in San Fransokyo advertising a fashion brand. I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the designing the clothing of the fashionable Honey Lemon’s street. We’re getting closer and closer to the release of Big Hero 6: The Series and we’re to see plenty of other cute outfits on Honey Lemon in the series.

Image Credit: The Art of Big Hero 6

A Lilo Masterpiece Monday


Sorry I missed last week, once again work is keeping me incredibly busy. Even so, work has actually inspired me in choosing today’s theme. Lilo is another character that has become very close to my heart lately, and I really wanted to feature a drawing of her in a post. So today I will be discussing this set of early pose and movement experiments drawn by Andreas Deja, Lilo’s supervising animator. In particular I want to direct your attention to my favorite drawing in this set, the one on the right that show’s Lilo hula dancing.

Lilo & Stitch is a film with interesting origins, as unlike most other Disney films, it is not based on a preexisting source. It is instead based entirely on an original idea by the film’s director and the voice of Stitch, Chris Sanders. Sanders had worked as a story artist for Walt Disney Animation since the 1970s, and had worked on films like The Rescuers, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan. The story of a Stitch was one that Sanders had originally considered for a children’s book in the ’80s. Eventually, he decided to propose his idea to the heads of Walt Disney Animation and to do so in picture book form. They fell in love with the story, and also with Sander’s unique art style. Sander’s artwork was chosen as the inspiration for the main style of the film. This meant following his habit of making everything rounded with no sharp edges. It also meant having chubbier, softer characters, especially in the case of Lilo, who was designed by Sander’s as having a baby-like body.

Andreas Deja was the first animator assigned to Lilo & Stitch as the supervising animator for Lilo. Deja had a very successful career with Disney Animation already, having animated King Triton, Gaston, Jafar, Scar, and Hercules. As one of the lead animators on the film, Deja got to go with the rest of the crew on a research trip to the islands of Hawaii. There he sat in on a real classroom of six year olds and sketched them as the played and talked. He could then take the poses and movements in his sketches and experiment with applying them to Lilo’s chubby stylized body. While in Hawaii he and the rest of the crew also observed real hula dancing performances, where Deja again made sketches of poses he liked. When they returned home to California, the crew also invited a troupe of hula dancers to come to their studio and perform several hulu dances for them. These dances were filmed to be used as reference footage for the animators. Using his sketches from Hawaii and the reference footage, Deja then experimented with sketching and animating Lilo in various hula poses. This proved to be one of Deja’s greatest challenges with the character, as he found it difficult to apply the long graceful lines of the hula dancers’ bodies to Lilo’s chubby torso and stubby limbs. Despite the challenges, I think Deja did a terrific job with animating Lilo’s dancing, and I find this sketch of her in hula class to be a particularly fun one.

There you have it, a brief look at the creation and animation of Lilo from Lilo & Stitch. I feel Chris Sanders and Andreas Deja did a fantastic job of bringing this unique yet familiar little girl to life on the big screen. I’m very proud and glad to now be a small part of this impactful character’s legacy myself.

Image Credit: /disneyconceptsandstuff.tumblr.com



A Cinderella Masterpiece Monday

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Sorry that I went a few weeks without any new posts. I was struck by Hurricane Irma, and although I and my apartment are fine, things were pretty crazy here and didn’t leave much time for writing. I realized that with all posts I’ve made so far, I’m not sure I’ve ever discussed Marc Davis or featured any of his work. Marc Davis was one of the famous Nine Old Men, and is considered an absolute Disney legend.  His work was incredibly influential on the films made during Disney’s Silver Age. He later went on to work in Disney Imaginering and had a huge influence on many of the attractions at Disneyland. So today I am honoring the work of Marc Davis by featuring this beautiful character design sketch he did of Cinderella as a scullery maid.

Marc Davis began working at Walt Disney Animation as an in-between animator in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He then later moved on to become a story artist on Bambi. Upon seeing his story-boards, Walt Disney realized that Davis had an incredible talent for drawing characters in a way that was realistic while also exhibiting personality. So he decided to make Davis an animator. In that role, Davis reached the peak of his success. Walt realized Davis was an incredibly talented draftsman, and therefore would be able to animate women in a way that was realistic, yet still looked pretty and appealing. So he assigned Davis to many of the pretty women characters created during the Silver Era. He was one of two Supervising Animators in charge of drawing Cinderella in Cinderella. He also worked on Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. He did not just draw pretty women though, he was also in charge of animating some of Disney’s most famous villains. He helped create and animate the elegant and stoic Maleficent as well as the more comical and exaggerated characters of  Cruella De Vil and Madame Medusa. His work on these characters is considered by many to be some of the greatest animation of all time.

Not only was Marc Davis a great animator, he was also a fantastic character designer. He created many drawings of Cinderella in her scullery maid clothes. In these drawings experimented with different hairstyles and faces, as he was trying to figure out just what kind of girl Cinderella should be. This drawing was an experiment with a slightly younger Cinderella with more of a simple country girl look to her, but there is still some of Cinderella’s sophistication in it. Once he got the basic look of the princess down he began making more detailed drawings experimenting with  the exact placement of her eyes, nose, and mouth in various expressions as he was very precise in his animation drawings. Once Cinderella’s design was finalized Davis animated her alongside Eric Larson. Unfortunately, the two animators could not exactly agree on how to animate Cinderella’s personality. Larson saw Cinderella as  a young, kind, simple girl, while Davis saw her as a more mature and sophisticated woman with a bit of a snap to her personality. If you examine Cinderella closely throughout the film, you can actually tell whether Davis or Larson was in charge of animating her on that particular scene.

Now you know a little more about Disney Legend Marc Davis and how he helped design and animate Cinderella. I hope you enjoyed reading about him, as I intend on featuring much more of Davis’s work in the future.


Image Credit: Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD

A Sleepy Hollow Masterpiece Monday


Today’s Masterpiece Monday is going to be unfortunately short as the particular film I’m writing about is very difficult to find information on. Today I’m featuring  a piece of concept art from one of the lesser known Disney Animated films, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr.Toad. It is a piece of story art by an unknown Disney studio artist featuring the headless horseman from the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” portion of the film. The reason I decided to feature concept art of this particular character today is because Halloween is coming closer and closer and the Halloween parties have started happening at Walt Disney World. One of the coolest parts of the party is the ride of the Headless Horseman, which takes place before the parade (you can watch a video here, but it’s even cooler in person.) So today I thought I’d talk a little bit about the creation of this particularly spooky character.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr.Toad was the last post WWII package film made by Disney Animation before the release of Cinderella in 1950. In many ways the film seem to be leading up to the studio’s return to high quality animated features. The animation is much improved over the previous package films as most of the studio’s best animators had returned from the War by the time the film was in production. This included the famous 9 Old Men, most of whom had worked on this film. The stories in this package film are also more fully developed than the previous ones. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr.Toad contains only two rather fleshed out, if poorly connected, stories. The first is based upon Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and was planned as a full length feature before the war, but post-war budget cuts lead to the film being shortened to just a 30 minute short film. The search then began for a story to pair the Mr.Toad segment with in a package film. Some of the stories considered were “Mickey and the Beanstalk” and a collaboration with Roald Dahl called “The Gremlins”. Eventually, Walt Disney acquired the rights to Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the short film was rather hastily produced so that the two famous literary characters of Mr.Toad and Ichabod Crane could be pared together in one film.

Because the production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was so rushed it is quite difficult to find very much concept art or information on it’s development. There are some very interesting pieces of visual development art by Mary Blair which clearly influenced the segment’s style, especially it’s backgrounds. There are also a handful of rather dark and scary looking pieces of story art like this one by an unknown artist. These drawings seem to be partially influenced by the dark and creepy demons shown in the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment in Fantasia. This particular skeletal headless horseman  idea was rejected in favor of a more cartoony and human-like horseman. This was probably to match the style of the already produced “The Wind in the Willows” segment. One has to wonder that if the film had been allowed to develop into it’s own full-length feature, would this much darker design would have been brought to life in scary detail by the talented animators that went on to create Cinderella?

So there’s a little bit about the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow ” segment of the little known  film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr.Toad. Hope you enjoyed and it made you a little more excited for fall just as it did for me.

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



Another Mulan Masterpiece Monday


I’ve been super husy, and tired, and just plain cranky this past week, so I thought I should return to my favorite Walt Disney Animation film for this week’s post, Mulan. While I’ve previously focused mostly on character design in my Mulan posts, today I thought I’d focus a bit more on the overall style of the film. I believe this piece of visual development art was created by Sai Ping Lok, one of the visual development artists for the film. The reason I selected this particular piece is that, besides being stunning to look at, it illustrates how the  overall visual style of the film was heavily influenced by traditional Chinese paintings.

I have previously discussed films like Hercules and Bambi, that had one artist whose style guided that of the entire film. This was not at all the case for Mulan. For this film, the artists had to come up with a unique style for the film in a more organic way, by studying and experimenting with various art styles and taking what they liked best from each and throwing away what they didn’t. To help the lead film’s visual development artists through this task was the production designer Hans Bacher. Bacher was an experienced visual development artist who had worked on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules. He began the task of finding Mulan‘s style by studying traditional Chinese art from various dynasties. He also studied photographs of many of the most picturesque location within China. This task was helped along by visual development artists with a familiarity with Chinese art like Sai Ping Lok. Lok created many beautiful visual development paintings like this one, influenced by various styles of art from throughout Chinese history. From these paintings Bacher and the directors of the film were able to better pin down exactly which elements of which periods of Chinese art they wanted to borrow from for the film.

Eventually Bacher and the directors settled on a style based upon Tang Dynasty era paintings. These paintings focused on bold graphic and simplistic shapes with few details. This style was a huge departure from the more heavily detail orientated art styles of the animated films that came directly before Mulan. The art style of Mulan instead focused on strong shapes with small positive details added in. It also focused heavily on playing with positive and negative space in a very graphic way.  Bacher and the visual development artists eventually came to refer to the film’s style with the phrase “poetic simplicity.” It was this motto that was used to guide all the layout artists, background artists, and other who worked on creating the final film.

Now you know how visual development paintings inspired by traditional Chinese art, like this painting of Mulan and Khan, helped the film’s crew create the unique yet distinctly Chinese art style of Mulan. Hope you enjoyed this look at one of my favorite films.

Image Credit: https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2015/06/19/17-pieces-of-stunning-mulan-concept-art/



Another Big Hero 6 Masterpiece Monday



Today I continue my summer of being super excited for the release of Big Hero 6: The Series by focusing on the 4th member of the team, Wasabi. To do that I am featuring a piece of early character design concept art by Shiyoon Kim, whose influence on the characters  I have discussed at length in previous posts. I have mainly focused  on the characters in their super hero suits, but today I thought I’d offer a change in pace by featuring a piece of concept art depicting Wasabi in street clothes.  Wasabi went through some of the most massive changes to his personality. This evolution is clearly illustrated by his very different appearance in this concept art, which depicts an extremely early version of the character.

Wasabi, or Wasabi No-Ginger as he was initially called, was not always the anxiety ridden neat-freak  we see in the film. In his earliest versions, he was a big tough guy with a stoically zen personality. Because of this zen personality, he would have would have mostly had a stoic look on his face like the one shown in this drawing. Wasabi would have also had a side job, as a chef and owner of a sushi food-truck. This side job would have both explained Wasabi’s nickname, and why he used blades as his weapon of choice in his super suit. This little detail about Wasabi being a sushi chef is actually something  I hope comes in to play some where in the new series. Slowly Wasabi’s character began to change as the film’s development continued. The directors and animators realized that the stoic tough black guy character was something they had seen plenty of times before. They instead made Wasabi a compulsive neat-freak, thus contrasting with his burly appearance. Wasabi was changed further when Damon Wayans Jr.  was cast as his voice. The animators wanted to study and take advantage of the actor’s own expressive faces when he was recording his lines. So artist Jin Kim created model sheets for the character based on photos of the actor’s expressions in the recording both. This transformed the character into a much more expressive and outgoing character than the one in this drawing.

Interestingly enough, despite the personality changes, some of Wasabi’s personal style of clothing remains the same in both this early piece of concept art and in the final film. A large part of this was because even in the earliest stages, the character designers were still following the east meets west, San Francisco meets Tokyo aesthetic in their designs. This came across particularly well in the character’s clothing designs. I recently discovered that fashion stylist and vintage clothing store owner Danny Flynn served as a consultant for the costumes in the film.  Flynn suggested various styles of traditional Japanese clothing as well as elements of Japanese street style for the characters. Much of this came out in both Wasabi’s early concept art and in the final film. In this concept art he wears a patterned shirt loosely based on a kimono, he wears a similar, though more understated, kimono jacket in the final film. The use of drop-crotch pants found in Japanese street style and seen in both this concept and the final film was also an idea that came from Flynn. While Wasabi does not wear the Japanese style sandals seen in this drawing, his footwear in the film also retains elements of traditional Japanese clothing. Wasabi wears shoes with tabi toes, based on traditional Japanese socks, but also frequently incorporated into shoes in modern Japanese fashion. As you can see, incorporating elements of Japanese culture applied not only to the team’s super suits, but to their everyday clothing as well.

Now you know a little more about the development of Wasabi as a character. You also found out a little bit more about how the fashions of the members of the team were influenced by both traditional and contemporary Japanese fashion. The premiere of Big Hero 6: The Series is getting closer and closer and I hope these posts are starting to make you as excited for it as I am.

Image Credit: shiyoonkim.tumblr.com