Here’s How 25 Disney Characters Looked In Their Original Concept Art


Everybody loves a good Disney movie, incredible visuals, touching stories, killer music numbers and mesmerizing magical worlds that we can transport to for at least a couple of hours. It's safe to say that for many of us Disney definitely had a major role in our childhoods. These entertaining stories are not made overnight, there is an incredible amount of skill and work that is put into these projects in order to create the kinds of stories that are beloved around the world. Now, we would have no problem naming most famous Disney characters, but have you ever considered what they would look like if the creators had gone with their original concept? This list invites you to check out the original concept sketches of the most famous Disney characters and compare how different they are from the final result you have come to know and love.

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    The genius behind the iconic Cruella De Vil is Marc Davis. This extremely talented illustrator was also the one who helped Walt Disney to created his first Disneyland theme park that many of us wish to visit one day. Marc had the incredible skill in creating incredible females characters in many iconic Disney movies, he is the author of not only Cruella De Vil but also Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Tinker Bell in Peter Pan. When asked which female persona he admires the most, Davis explained that every one of his female characters is unique and carries a different style, and he admires all of them but in a different way.

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    It seems impossible to talk about Disney and not mention Glen Keane. Just like many other famous characters, Pocahontas's portrayal was also the work of Keane. What's interesting is that while creating this persona, the artist faced a rather difficult task, he was asked by Jeffrey Katzenberg to create "the most idealized and finest woman ever made." To complete this request Keane took inspiration from such women as Filipino model Dyna Taylor, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, he also used a 1620 depiction of Pocahontas from a history book, though he later explained that she was "not exactly a candidate for People's 'Most Beautiful' issue." It took 55 animators to create the final Pocahontas.

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    This one is particularly funny... While creating Flynn's character, animators set out to create a "dashing thief." Since Rapunzel's look was so well thought out and she looked so stunning, there was an effort to make Flynn as beautiful as possible. To help out, producers and animators invited all of the women from the office to a "Hot Man Meeting" where ladies had to bring a picture of the hottest man in their opinion, after the meeting, the creators settled with Clark Gable and David Beckham for inspiration.

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    Maleficent's character was created by Marc Davis who is also responsible for Cruella De Vil's and Tinker Bell's characters. Andreas Deja, a man who worked at Walt Disney for 30 years, created a blog post dedicated to Marc Davi's concept of Maleficent. According to him, the first sketches showed Maleficent wearing black and red since it had a strong meaning to Davis but the background stylist Eyving Earle was keen to use other colors so they settled for black with purple. As Andreas says, "Sometimes teamwork isn't easy."

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    Back in 1934 Walt Disney came up with the idea to create a film adaption of a wonderful tale by Brothers Grimm called "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs". Inspired by this incredible story Walt Disney created a 4th full-length animated film in the history of animated movies. It took three long years to finish this project that at first many people considered to be absolutely crazy (mainly because the studio used all their money for this production). Soon after the premiere, people called this movie Walt Disney's absolute chef-d'œuvre. Even though it cost the studio approximately 1,5 million dollars, only six months later Walt Disney had gained enough money from this movie to open a new studio in Burbank.

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    It's clear that Mulan's look was inspired by traditional Japanese and Chinese artwork. The character was designed to resemble figures in traditional Asian paintings. Mulan was also drawn less feminine than the original Disney princesses simply because "you can't pass as a man in the army with a Barbie-style figure."

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    Back in 2004, a very talented illustrator called Claire Keane started working at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a concept artist. Being the daughter of the very talented animator Glen Keane, Claire was surrounded by this type of art her entire life. In 2006, Claire started working on Tangled. Claire had an amazing opportunity to work alongside her talented father who was the director of Tangled, so it's safe to say that we should be very thankful for the Keane family that this incredible movie exists. In one of the interviews, Glen Keane even said that Rapunzel's personality was very much based on Claire's childhood persona.

    While working on this animation, Claire studied a lot of Scandinavian and medieval arts, she was also heavily inspired by Charley Harper.

    This particular concept art of Rapunzel was inspired by a painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau who used mythological themes in his realistic paintings and emphasized the female body in his work. While describing her creative journey Claire said:

    "While working on Tangled, I wanted to better understand the character of Rapunzel and what she did all day so I kept a journal of the things I did at home and translated it into Rapunzel’s world. It helped me see her as a real person who lived beyond the scenes and plot points of the movie. Rapunzel became somebody I could relate to even though our circumstances were worlds apart. This research helped me later on when I designed her murals."

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    The supervising animator behind Jasmine's portrayal was Mark Henn, who was originally hired to illustrate Aladdin's mother but since she was later removed from the script, he landed an even better role. Since there was a great desire to incorporate Arabian architecture into the film, Jasmine's aesthetic was based on the famous mausoleum the Taj Mahal, the inspiration is visible in the character's hair, clothes, and jewelry.

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    In the original version by Hans Christian Andersen, Triton doesn't have a name and is not prejudice towards humans. Producers explained that the conflicts in the movie between Ariel and her father often occur mainly because they are such strong personalities. Triton's character is inspired by the song of the Greek sea god Poseidon.

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    Tarzan is the 37th full-length Disney movie and was animated in two different countries at the same time, one part was done in California while another part was produced in Paris. Animator Glen Keane worked on Tarzan's portrayal in California, and Ken Duncan worked on Jane's character in Paris, this type of team-work caused a lot of inconveniences when it came to creating scenes of Jane and Tarzan together. The teams managed to co-operate by sending each other hundreds of animations and constantly organizing video conferences. Another interesting fact, Jane's characteristics and mannerisms in the movie were also based on Minnie Driver that served as a voice actress for the movie.


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