A Bambi Masterpiece Monday

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Sorry for the unannounced three weeks off from this blog, I was on vacation and then I moved to a new apartment and I just did not have time to write any new posts. Today I return to feature a piece of Bambi concept art by artist Tyrus Wong. I’ve told many stories about Disney artist’s whose amazing and unique concept art influenced the look of an entire animated film. Tyrus Wong’s art played this role for Bambi. Wong’s watercolor concept art, like this painting of Bambi and Thumper, is considered some of the most gorgeous concept art in the Animation Research Library, and the story of how he came to influence the style of Bambi is a fascinating one. His story is especially close to my heart, as his Chinese heritage played a huge role in his success.

Tyrus Wong was a Chinese immigrant and artist who was hired to work at Walt Disney Animation in the late 1930s. When Bambi began production Wong was essentially at the bottom of the animation totem-pole, an inbetweener, one of the animators whose job it is to fill in the in-between drawings after the head animators draw the character’s main poses. During this time  Walt Disney was aiming for a completely different look  for Bambi. Gustaff Tenngren, who had created the main visual style for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio  had created the initial concept drawings for the film. His drawings depicted lush, detail heavy forests that would have taken forever to draw, and seemed to many to be far to busy and distracting from the main action of the animals. In his spare time Wong began to create his own watercolor concept paintings for the film. He took his inspiration from from traditional Chinese paintings and made his backgrounds minimalist and impressionistic. You can see in this painting how he masterfully used the few details in his paintings to draw the eyes attention towards the animals in the centre. Eventually Walt Disney saw Wong’s paintings and thought they were perfect for the simplistic, natural story he wanted to tell. They also had the benefit of taking much less time to create than Tenngren’s backgrounds would have. Wong was quickly promoted from in-betweener to lead concept artist and the style of the entire film was based upon his paintings.

One interesting aspect of this particular piece of Tyrus Wong concept art is that it is one of the few paintings of his I’ve seen that include Thumper alongside Bambi. Most of his concept art features Bambi alone. or accompanied by his mother or father. Thumper is not actually a character in the original book that the film was based on. He was a character made up by Disney storymen for inclusion in the film, and he was not even the first choice of sidekick for Bambi. For a while the film contained a comedic team of a squirrel and a chipmunk instead. At this time in the film’s development Thumper was a minor character, an adult rabbit that interacted with Bambi in only one scene. Eventually someone in the story department must have realized how adorable the rabbit vharacter would be as a child, and Thumper took on the role of Bambi’s best friend . It was sometime in this later phase that Wong must have made this painting

Hope you enjoyed this look at this gorgeous concept painting of Bambi and Thumper created by Tyrus Wong. His story is an inspiring one and he is truly worthy of the title of Disney legend. He passed away earlier this year at the age of 106, and I am glad to say that many websites took the time to acknowledge his fantastic contribution to the Disney masterpiece Bambi.

Image Credit: https://www.awn.com/news/bambi-artist-tyrus-wong-dead-106
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A Tangled Masterpiece Monday

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I’ve talked so much about my excitement about Big Hero 6: The Series that I haven’t even mentioned that there is currently a Tangled: The Series on Disney Channel. I’ve written plenty about Tangled in the past, and even wrote a full length article about the film’s story problems. Today I’m going to feature some concept art of a discarded character from the film I really hope makes into the series in some way in the future. This piece of concept art depicts the discarded character of Bastion, who I’ve talked about briefly in my longer article, but I think he is interesting enough to get his own short post today.

This concept drawing of Bastion was created by Disney character designer Jin Kim, who has worked on many other Disney films including Moana and Big Hero 6. I recently discovered a whole set of drawings he did of Bastion. Bastion was an early idea of a male lead for the film back when it was called “Rapunzel” and was still being directed by Glen Keane. He was sort of a proto-type for Flynn, but with some major differences. The biggest difference being he was of Romani descent (Keane and others used the term Gypsy to describe him, but that is a bit of a loaded term so I am going to avoid it). Like Flynn, Bastion was a thief and incredibly charming, but to an even greater extent. He was a bit like Aladdin in that he was capable of charming his way out of any sticky situation that he got into. Bastion also fell in love with Rapunzel much faster than Flynn does. In this early version of the film Rapunzel was extremely afraid of the outside world, and Bastion spent a good portion of the film convincing her to leave her tower and go explore the world with him. So despite sharing many similarities with Flynn, Bastion was still quite a different male lead.

Design wise, this Jin Kim drawing of Bastion also shares some similarities with Flynn, but as Bastion is of Romani descent, he is darker and more ethnic looking. Due to his nomadic lifestyle, he also has a more disheveled and bohemian sense of style. He’s got a long dark ponytail, which in the few color drawings of him that exist is tied up with multi coloured bands. He has an earing and many necklaces and scarves and a vest with no shirt underneath, none of which you would ever see worn by the more clean cut Flynn. Both men are handsome, but were based on different types of handsome men. Flynn was designed to appeal to every woman and was essentially designed by a committee of women working in Disney Animation in what was called the “hot man meeting”. Bastion on the other hand was designed as a very specific type of handsome, a rugged, swashbuckling, bad boy type. In this particular drawing Jin Kim based him off of a young Johnny Depp, and it definitely shows. This was actually the reason he was rejected as the male lead for the film, because Keane thought he was a bit too pretty and eccentric looking. Although there are certainly elements of the character that would become Flynn Rider in Bastion’s design, he is still a very differentleading man.

There you have it, the little bit of information I can find about the character of Bastion. Wouldn’t it be cool if he appeared in Tangled: The Series some day? Maybe as a friend of Flynn’s? I certainly think so.

Image credit: artoftangled.tumblr.com

Another Big Hero 6 Masterpiece Monday

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As I said before I’m trying to write one post about all of the Big Hero 6 super hero team members before the new Big Hero 6: The Series cartoon show is released next fall. Today’, I’m featuring character design drawings for everyone’s favourite robot, Baymax. This particular piece of concept art is unique, as it was not created by any Disney animators. Instead, it was drawn by Japanese anime creator Shigeto Koyama, who was who asked by director Don Hall to provide drawings to help the animators design the robotic healthcare companion. He ended up having a huge influence on the characters design both in and outside of his armor. As you know from my previous articles, this was not the first time the Disney Animators asked an outside artist to help design a character, but it is always interesting to examine just how much influence these artists have on the final design.

How Koyama came to be asked to design Baymax is rather an interesting story. As I’ve said before, the directors were trying to add authentic elements of Japanese culture to the film. To help find inspiration, Don Hall traveled to Tokyo where he bought several Japanese toys to bring back to the studio and inspire the crew. One of these was of a character named Heroman, who was designed by Koyama. This lead Hall to meet with Koyama and ask him to help them design the look of Baymax. These sketches were some of the results of his work. Keeping in mind that Baymax was a health care companion, Koyama looked towards soft, round, white foods like mochi and pork buns for inspiration. Yet, he never fotgot he was designing a robot, and so many of his other drawings also show Baymax’s hard metal skeleton. He also designed Baymax’s armour, and really liked the idea of a soft squishy robot being hidden by imposing armour. Judging by the drawing in the upper right-hand corner, it seems he also liked the possibility of seeing Baymax try to disguise himself as a human. I personally wish this silly image of Baymax in a trenchcoat and beard had made it into the final film.

Of course, Koyama wasn’t the only one who contributed to Baymax’s design. The character designers at Disney also played a role in creating the character. They did a lot of research into new robotics technology and talked to researchers at the Carnegie Mellon institute of robotics. There they learned about “soft robotics” a new kind of robotics technology being developed using vinyl to create soft and flexible robots. They thought this new field of technology would be perfect for a health-care companion like Baymax, and so they designed him as an inflatable, huggable robot. But Baymax, couldn’t just be a piece of technology, he also had to be an appealing character. To do this they gave the robot cute but unusual features, like his waddle, which was inspired by a toddler. Baymax’s face carried on the film’s motif of Japanese inspired elements. It was based on the  look of the bells at the Suzu Shinto shrine in Japan. Don Hall felt this design would give Baymax’s face a more serene appearance. Many of these design ideas were already in place when Koyama was asked to help create Baymax’s design.

Thanks to sketches like these by  Shigeto Koyama and various pieces of concept art made by Disney character designers, Baymax’s design was eventually refined into the huggable robot we see in the final film. Baymax’s became a robot inspired a mix of Japanese culture and cutting edge technology.

Image Credit: https://akiba-souken.com/article/22338/

 

A Winnie the Pooh Masterpiece Monday

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I feel as though I have been neglecting the films of the “Dark Ages”. This is in large part because there seems to be so very little information about these films out there, except for those films that Walt had a hand in before he died. Today’s featured piece of concept art comes from one of those films, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Walt had actually been working on making an animated adaptation of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books since the 1940s, and the first segment of the film Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was released as a featurette while he was alive. This piece of concept art by an unknown studio artist comes from that segment, and depicts the live-action prologue with its twist on the classic Disney storybook opening. It highlights one of my favorite aspects of the film, the character’s almost meta awareness that they are characters in a classic children’s’ book.

It was not until the 1960s, after two decades of trying, that Walt Disney was able to acquire both adaptation and merchandising rights for the Winnie-the-Pooh . By that time Walt Disney was starting to have some doubts over the stories’s potential to be a successful animated feature. Disney had suffered several flops over the course of his career, and some of his least successful and most criticized films were those based on classic children’s books. In particular, Alice in Wonderland was heavily scrutinized by devotees of Lewis Carroll’s books. British Pooh fans were just as big of purists as Alice fans, while American’s were not nearly as familiar with the characters as children in Europe were and so Walt started to worry about the film finding and pleasing an audience. To top it off, the Pooh stories, while having fantastic characters, lacked many of the plot elements generally found in his most successful features. There was very little drama, no romance, and no villain. For these reasons, Walt decided to make two very important decisions regarding the film. First, it was to be released as a series of episodic featurettes, to introduce american audiences to the characters and make up for the stories dramatic plot deficiencies.  Second, it would be directed by animator Woolie Reitherman who was not a particular fan of the books, as he was best equipped to solve the problem of pleasing British audiences while still making a recognizably Disney product.

Reitherman’s solution was for the film to never lose sight of the fact that the characters were from a series of children’s books. This lead to the use of the storybook opening in the nursery as a framing device, as seen in this concept art, as well as the idea of having a narrator who read from the occasionally visible pages of the book. Even the characters were made aware of their existence inside a book and occasionally interacted with the physical text itself. Design wise, there were thoughts of closely following the original illustrations of Ernest H. Shepard. but the illustrations proved too difficult to animate. Still, the animators stuck closely to Shepherd’s stuffed toy designs, with button eyes and mitten-like hands, while making the characters a bit softer and more expressive.  The backgrounds also took inspiration from Shepard’s illustration in their design. They were painted in simple water colours, with bold ink lines that mimicked the cross-hatched shading of the original illustrations. While the films’ art style took heavy inspiration from the original books, Reitherman wanted to be sure not to make the film seem too stuffy and British. He wanted to attract American audiences so they would watch future Pooh films. He did this by adding broad humor and gags into the story, and by creating a new character for American audiences to embrace, the folksy American Gopher. Yet, even the creation of Gopher was done with a clear awareness of his presence as an interloper, as both Gopher and Pooh discuss how he is “not in the book.” It is this same humorous awareness of it’s awkward position as an American animated adaptation of a revered British classic that, to me ,makes the film so enjoyable to watch .

In the end, the first short based on the Pooh stories, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was quite well received on both sides of the pond, and the featurettes that followed were even more successful. Eventually, they were compiled like chapters in a book into the full length The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is now nearly as beloved and revered by audiences as the original books.

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

 

A Pirates Masterpiece Monday

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I just saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which was a perfect addition to my absolute favourite film franchise and so I thought I’d make a Masterpiece Monday post about Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Today’s concept art is a early piece of costume design art for Jack Sparrow. It was most likely drawn by Penny Rose, who has been the costume designer for every film in the franchise. This costume design is obviously very different from Jack Sparrow’s famous costume, much more romantic and less disheveled than in the final film. This is in large part because this design most likely came before Johnny Depp started to get involved in creating his costume. In fact Depp played a huge part in creating every aspect of Captain Jack Sparrow.

The creation of Jack Sparrow’s costume was very much a collaborative process between Penny Rose and Johnny Depp. The main part of the process was a hour long fitting session. Rose provided dozens of options for each part of Jack’s costume and Depp chose what he felt fit his character best, making instructions for alterations when necessary.  Depp carefully selected each of Jack’s accessories with a story for the character in mind. For example, Jack wears a piece of Spanish lace tied around his wrist that is meant to be a trophy he took from a woman he once slept with. This also applies to Jack’s many rings. He has one designed after the rings that Spanish widows wore, another souvenir from a conquest. Another of his rings is modeled after a real Greco-Roman ring owned by a friend of Johnny’s and is meant to be a piece of ancient treasure picked up in one of Jack’s travels. He also has a jade ring with a dragon on it, from one of his many visits to Singapore. Depp even provided some of his own accessories to be used in the film, including a ring he picked up at a thrift-shop in the 80s. Jack’s dread-locks with little bits and bobbles tied in was entirely Depp’s idea. It was based on the hairstyle of his good friend Keith Richards, who was constantly tying souvenirs of his travels into his hair. These hair accessories were also hand-selected by Depp with various stories in mind. Two particular favorite’s of Depp’s was the long shin-bone of a reindeer and a pretty blue crystal. Even Jack’s hat was hand selected by Depp. Penny Rose presented him a number of hats at the end of their fitting, and Depp immediately selected the one in the film as the perfect hat for Jack and refused to try on any others. Jack Sparrow was very much a part of Depp and he knew exactly what the character should look like.

Jack Sparrow was very much Johnny Depp’s creation in a number of other ways. As you can see from this costume design art, Jack was originally imagined as a more romanticized stereotypical swashbuckler. Depp didn’t want to go that way with the character as he felt that he had seen that in films far too many times before. Instead, he pictured Jack as a 18th century rock-star of the sea. So he based his characters personality and mannerisms after Keith Richards. He also took some of the character’s mannerisms and manner of speaking from the cartoon skunk, Pepe la Pew. While this drawing depicts a very traditionally handsome pirate, Depp actually wanted his character to look unattractive. He had some pretty crazy ideas for ways in which to do this. One of his earliest ideas for the character was for him to have had his nose cut off in battle and poorly stitched back on. This would have given him an ugly blue nose, and would have led to bits of comedy with Jack having sneezing fits that lead to his nose falling off. The director felt this idea to be a little too outrageous and rejected it. Depp’s next idea was to give Jack a mouth completely full of gold teeth, and this made it all the way until filming when it was discovered that the teeth appeared blindingly bright on camera. The gold teeth were then reduced to just a few, some of which actually belonged to Depp. In the end Depp got some of the disheveled rock-star pirate he was imagining in Jack Sparrow, a far cry from the handsome leading man in this drawing.

Hope you enjoyed this look at Penny Rose and Johnny Depp’s creation of Jack Sparrow for Pirated of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I know today’s article was very different than my typical animation articles, but I just had to show some love for my absolute favorite film.

 

Image Credit: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: 2 Disc Collectors Edition

 

A Mermaid Masterpiece Monday

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You may have heard that throughout social media that the month of May is being referred to as “Mermay”  to celebrate mermaids. In honour of Mermay I thought  I’d write another post all about everyone’s favorite Disney mermaid, Ariel from The Little Mermaid. This artwork is a character design drawing of Ariel in her mermaid form by an studio artist who’s name I have unfortunately been unable to track down. While in my last Ariel post I focused on how the animators made the important decision of what colour Ariel’s hair and tail should be, today with this black and white drawing I want to focus on how real teenage girls influenced the teenage mermaid’s design.

One of my passions in my research and writing is uncovering the untold stories of the many real woman and girls who inspired and contributed to the design of the Disney princesses. There were several woman who contributed to Ariel’s look, and many of them were young ordinary women. Everyone knows that Broadway actress Jodi Benson provided the mermaid’s speaking and singing voice, and animators also studied footage of her recording sessions to gain inspiration for Ariel’s expressions. Like Snow White, Cinderella, and so many others, a live action reference model was also filmed acting out Ariel’s role in footage used as a guideline for the animators. This model was Sherri Stoner, an expressive and silly improv comedian whose thin 5′ 2″ frame inspired Ariel’s own super thin teenage body. Many of Ariel’s teenage mannerisms were also taken from the footage of Stoner, including her frequent biting of her lip and her habit of blowing her hair out of her face. For the design of Ariel’s face, supervising animator Glen Keane looked to a source very close to home, his wife. He also studied pictures of a young starlet who he felt epitomized the 1980s teenage spirit, Alyssa Milano star of Who’s the Boss? . It was very important to the animators that Ariel looked like a typical teenage girl, despite her mermaid tail.

Ariel has so much contemporary fame that I think many forget that she is very much a product of the 1980s. That is why I chose this particular drawing, as it really highlights how much the era influenced Ariel’s design. Just look at the frizzy ’80s pigtails she has in this drawing and the giant flower hair accessory. Her heavy makeup is a clear reflection of the trends of the era as well. Although Ariel’s final look toned down this trendiness, her hair and makeup are still clearly 80s inspired. Her human clothes are even more a product of the era, just look at the leg-o-mutton sleeves on her wedding dress that were lifted straight from Princess Diana’s own wedding dress. Her personality is also based upon the concerns of a typical ’80s teenager. She’s a rebellious teenager eager to be considered an adult and be free to make her own choices, while still being “daddy’s little girl”, a clear contrast from Cinderella and Aurora in the ’50s. Ariel’s strong athletic swimming ability also makes her stand out from past princesses, while reflecting the exercise craze of the 1980s. While Ariel may still be the favourite of many  little girls today, she really is the embodiment of a 1980s teenager.

Hope you enjoyed this brief look at Ariel from The Little Mermaid and the real young women of the 1980s who inspired her. Happy Mermay!

Image Credit: The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition
 

 

 

 

 

A Big Hero 6 Masterpiece Monday

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Today’s post is the first in a series of Masterpiece Monday posts I hope to create periodically throughout the summer. I love Big Hero 6 and I am super excited for the new Big Hero 6: The Series  that comes out this Fall so I want to do one post featuring a piece of concept art of each member of the team before the show premieres. Today’s concept art is an early character design for Gogo Tomago by the film’s lead character designer Shiyoon Kim. This is actually part of a set of very dark character designs done by Kim that I have been in love with since I first saw them (I’m a big Gorillaz fan and I swear Gogo looks like she came straight from one of their music videos in this piece). If you’d like to see the rest of the set you can find them on his webpage. I love imagining what this darker version of the super hero team would have been like.

As the film is based on a comic book set in Tokyo, much of the film’s art style takes its inspiration from Japanese culture, especially from Japanese manga and anime. The idea of East meets West was also center-most to all of the artists in the film was epitomized in the film’s setting, the fictional city of San Fransokyo, a San Francisco rebuilt by Japanese immigrants after the 1906 earthquake. This design concept can be seen in this drawing of Gogo, where Western military gear meets clothing inspired by Japanese ninjas.  In incorporating East-Asian elements to the character designs it helped that the lead character designer was Korean-American artist Shiyoon Kim, who was very proud to incorporate some of his culture into the character designs.

Gogo was conceived as the tough adrenaline junkie of the team. Animators referred to her as a female Cline Eastwood type, effortlessly cool and silently stoic. Gogo is Disney’s first Korean character, and was a bit of a pet project for Shiyoon Kim because of this. He designed her with Korean “tough girl” stereotypes in mind and studied female Korean speed skaters for inspiration. He also gave her a shorter and stockier body type than is typical for animated Disney women, basing her on a very specific kind of korean body-type called “radish legs”.  Keeping with the East meets West inspiration, Kim also based his designs of Gogo on female San Francisco  bike messangers, in particular their style of dressing and their many tattoos. You can see that this particular concept art of Gogo depicts some of these potential tattoos, although they did not make it to her final design. In the end, it was Shiyoon Kim’s drawings like this one that I feel most contributed to Gogo’s design.

I hope you enjoyed this look at a rejected design for Gogo Tomago from Big Hero 6. Although I love the design of her real supersuit, its fascinating to look at this concept art and imagine what a darker and grittier version would have been like.

Image Credit: http://www.shiyoonkim.com

A Hunchback of Notre Dame Masterpiece Monday

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Today’s artwork may seem a bit odd compared to my normal posts, because I am featuring a type of art work I have never talked about before. This piece from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a type of art called a colour key. It is one of the most important tools used by the background art department of an animated film. I have not been able to positively track down the artist for this particular piece, but it was most likely created by Lisa Keene, the Background Supervisor for the film, or one of the many background painters that worked on her team. I have been wanting to write a post discussing the importance of the background department and color keys for a long time, and I felt The Hunchback of Notre Dame  was the perfect film to do so with because of its breathtaking backgrounds. This colour key in particular depicts one of the most stunning shots in the final film and had a huge role to play in making the final shot look as dramatic as it does.

The term background art department might seem a bit self-explanatory, its the department that creates the background paintings for hand drawn animated films, but actually. there are  two departments that create  the background.  The first is the layout department, which is a complex entity in itself. For the context of this post, they’re sort of the set designers, they draw out all the backgrounds for an animated film. The background art department is a combination of set painters and lighting designers, they paint the fleshed out version of the background that the layout department draws. They choose what style each background is painted in, whether it be the medieval tapestry style of Eyvind Earle or the quirky modernist style of Mary Blair. This includes choosing what colour to use for each and every part of each background. This may be one of the most important parts of their job, because color creates the lighting, and by extension the mood of each shot. Background artists for animated films have more freedom than any lighting designer for a live-action film. They don’t have to rely on realism or nature, but can easily use their paints to give a sad scene all blue tones or a tense scene all red tones, thus heightening the mood of each sequence. It is this power that makes the background art departments one of the most subtly important departments in animation.

Colour keys are small concept paintings that help the background artists plan these colours and create the lighting and the mood. The background artists will make one colour key painting for ever sequence in the film, plus some extras for any strong changes in tone mid-sequence. Then they’ll  pin all the paintings up next to each other so that the Background Supervisor and the Directors can get an overall picture of the colour scheme of the film and how the mood changes from scene to scene. You’ll notice from this particular colour key  that people and objects are often just represented by simple shapes, and that details are vague or missing all together. That’s because the role of the colour key is focused on the bold, the colours and moods of a shot. This The Hunchback of Notre Dame colour key expresses this purpose incredibly well. Its focus is on the bright orange lighting coming from the blazing fires within the scene as well as the deep shadows surrounding Quasimodo and Esmeralda. Later on in the production process this colour key was used by the background artists  to create the dramatic background paintings of Notre Dame in the final version of this climatic scene.

So now you know a little more about the Background Art Department and how they used colour keys like this one to set the mood of this thrilling scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Image Credit: http://livlily.blogspot.com/2012/07/hunchback-of-notre-dame-1996-character_08.html

 

An Inside Out Masterpiece Monday

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I realised recently that I’ve featured hardy any Pixar films on my blog so far, so I decided to change that today by writing a little about one of my favourite Pixar films Inside Out. This piece of character design concept art for Joy was created by Albert Lozano the character art director for the film. What I like about this particular drawing is it does a lot to express the unique qualities that make Joy and the other emotions different from most other animated characters. It also illustrates many of the specific qualities the character designers gave Joy so that she would better express her particular emotion and be an interesting and likable main character.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this piece of concept art are the small energy particles that radiate off Joy’s skin. When designing Joy the artists kept thinking of her as a little ball of energy and comparing her to sparklers and champagne bubbles. To reflect this inner quality of Joy’s the artists were constantly depicting her with a little aura of bubbles and sparks surrounding her. The technical side of the animation team knew that this aura of particles would be difficult and expensive to create, but director Pete Docter liked the idea, so he told them to try and if it got too expensive they’d cut it from the film. When John Lasseter saw the tests of Joy’s animation, he loved the particle aura and ordered it to be used on all the emotion characters. He felt this would give them a abstract “electro-chemical” quality. You’ll also notice that in this image Joy’s limbs bend in a cartoonish noodley way. This was another animation choice that was made for all the emotions in the film. As the embodiement of emotions they were allowed to bend and stretch in exaggerated caricature-like ways, something Pixar had never done before. All of these choices were made to clearly separate the emotions from the film’s human characters.

As an individual character Joy came with her own challanges. You’ll notice that Joy’s skin in this concept art gives off a bio-luminescent light. The character designers felt that since joy the emotion was associated with light, Joy the character ought to have a glow to her. Again the animators on the technical side of the film thought portraying this light in CG animation would be nearly impossible, but with a lot of hard work they did it. They made her glow a sort of replacement for her shadow, so that she was constantly shining light on the settings and places around her. Another unique quality about Joy is the star shape to her body, created by her very long limbs and spikey hair. This was the result of an effort from the character designers to have even the very shapes of each character’s body reflect ideas sorrunding that emotion as a concept. One of the few major differences between this drawing of Joy and the final character is her outfit. Here she wears a sort of  play suit meant to make her seem like a more childish character, as Joy was also seen as the embodiment of childhood by the character designers. In the end, they had her wear her green dress instead, but kept her with bare feet to give a sense of childish freedom to the character.

Hope you enjoyed this look at a concept drawing of Joy and all the challenges involved in bringing the emotional characters of Inside Out to life.

Image Credit:https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2015/06/18/pixar-inside-out-making-the-emotions-characters/28648779/

A Jungle Book Masterpiece Monday

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Today’s Masterpiece Monday post is going to be a short one as I am currently hard at work researching my Atlantis: The Lost Empire article. I am featuring a sketch from The Jungle Book, a film which is admittedly not very high on my list of well-liked Disney films. In fact, the only scene in the film I really like is the final scene, where Mowgli sees Shanti and is instantly fascinated by her. That is why I choose to feature a sketch of this scene in today’s post. It is partially a character sketch used to experiment with the design of Mogwli and Shanti, but is also a story sketch, used to illustrate an idea for one of the key moments in the film. It was drawn by Ken Anderson, one of the story artists on the film who also had a history of serving as an art director as well.

Shanti was not a character in the original Rudyard Kipling novel, she was actually invented by Walt Disney  while trying to come up with a way to end the film. While the original script for the film, written by story writer Bill Peet, followed Kipling’s book very closely, Walt found it too dark for a Disney film. Peet ended up leaving the studio and Walt got together a new group of story writers, including Ken Anderson. He instructed them to use the characters from the book in their script, but to discard the plot entirely. The animators ended up working on the film from the middle out, starting with the sequences featuring fun characters like Baloo and King Louie, and then figuring out how the story would begin and end. When they did finally start animating the film’s end, the story writers got stuck. The characters they had created were so fun no one could come up with a good reason for Mowgli to want to leave the jungle. Walt came up with the idea of having him become smitten with a young girl  which causes him to follow her into the man-village. The story writers and animators hated the idea, they thought it was a cheesy and cliche ending that would feel tacked on. Eventually, they can to realise it would be a satisfying ending, so long as it was handled carefully.

This drawing depicts a very different possible direction for the scene than the one that ended up in the final film, a version that probably would not have worked as well. It would have been more broad and comical, showing Mowgli  unaware of how to interact with a human girl. The final version of the scene is more subtle about Mowgli’s attraction. One of the most important ingredients for creating a sense of subtle sincerity of this scene was Shanti’s song “My Own Home” written by the Sherman Brothers. Composer George Bruns wove the song’s melody into the score throughout the film to foreshadow the ending, giving the feeling that everything in the film had been slowly leading up to that moment. The song was sung by child actress Darleen Carr, who was at the studio working on another film at the time, and had a beautifully haunting voice that Walt loved when he heard it on the song’s demo. The final sequence, animated by expert animator Ollie Johnston, tied the perfect bittersweet bow onto the end of the film.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at my favorite character in The Jungle Book and now better understand the importance of her brief role in the film.

 

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