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


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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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    After Disney bought Pixar back in 2006, movies that are now considered to belong to Disney started carrying very Pixar-like features that are usually quite different from what we're used to seeing in Disney movies. For example, Pixar usually tends to design their characters to be caricatured. Even though the adorable Carl's character from the movie Up wasn't really supposed to be a caricature, it still has some features that clearly belong to the Pixar tradition; such as a nose shaped like a balloon and a not proportional head that is definitely not natural-looking, and definitely not something we are used to seeing in Disney movies.

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    The mysterious Alice character was created by Mary Blair, an extremely talented artist who worked on other outstanding Disney films such as Pinocchio and Peter Pan. What had the biggest impact to Blair's style was a trip to South Africa alongside Walt Disney where she fell in love with the colors and forms of their mesmerizing culture. For the next 10 years after her trip Mary used a lot of motifs in her work that were taken from South American cultures. Since the story of Alice In Wonderland is often described using a french word loufoques (meaning very strange or even ridiculous), it was rather difficult for Walt Disney to find a way to portray the story the way it is written in the original book. To find the best artistic solutions he invited Mary Blair since he considered her to be the most talented artists to work there. It's safe to say, that Mary definitely delivered an outstanding art piece that is absolutely ageless.

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    It took around eighteen months for Ken Anderson to finish developing the characters in the Aristocats. Five of Disney's legendary "nine old men" worked on the movie, while the rest of the crew had the experience of over 25 years on average. It was definitely a movie full of skill and talent, and it clearly shows.

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    Beauty and The Beast is considered to be one of the most successful movies in the history of animation, it was the first animated movie to be nominated for an Oscar and grossed 403 million dollars, making it the most successful animated movie of its time. Funny enough, Beauty and The Beast had a serious deadline, animators were ordered to finish the movie in two years rather than the traditional Disney four-year period. Animators and producers were in such a rush they first premiered the movie in New York even though it was not totally finished. Oh, and the iconic ballroom dancing scene? It's actually just an exact copy of the dance sequence between Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty, the animators just didn't have enough time to create a new one.

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    Anna's look is often compared to Rapunzel by many people, who think the two Disney princesses look similar. But if you look closer you will notice that they are actually quite different, Anna has fuller cheeks, her face and chin is rounder, her eyebrows and eyelashes are also bigger than Rapunzel's. Despite these differences, they do have some things in common. When it comes to Anna's costume in the film, creators of the movie analyzed traditional Norwegian clothing styles and used them for Anna's look. Because of the Scandinavian weather, Anna was dressed in heavy wools and velvets.

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    Ariel's look was created by Glen Keane who jokingly said that his wife looks exactly like Ariel but without the fins. He also stated that Ariel's characteristics were based on Alyssa Milano, and the underwater hair effect was based on footage of Sally Ride when she was in space.

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    While creating Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney challenged his animators to make the film's characters as realistic as possible. The animator behind Aurora is Marc Davis, who was already known as Disney's go-to guy for drawing lovely leading ladies. Davis was responsible for such beauties as Cinderella, Alice, Snow White, and Tinker Bell. Aurora was the first princess to have violet eyes, and her figure was mainly inspired by Audrey Hepburn.

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    Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated movie created by Walt Disney and was a massive success. The movie was created with the help of such talented illustrators like Albert Hurter, Gustaf Tenggren and Joe Grant. The concept of Snow White isn't that different from the final result except her eyes got way smaller and more realistic (which is typical for Disney to avoid over exaggerated features that make characters look less realistic).

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    It's impossible to talk about the concept art of Disney and not mention Mary Blair at least a couple of times, this incredibly talented woman is the genius behind many iconic Disney movies, and Cinderella is one of them. This animation was a second full-length movie created by Walt Disney and is probably the most popular one to this day. Back in 1945, after the WWII was coming to its end, artists at Walt Disney studio were able to get back to their regular work, which meant it was time for another iconic movie to be presented to the world. The artistic part of the movie was in Mary Blair's hands since Walt was very much amazed by Blair's unique use of style and color that was mainly inspired by her trip to South America in 1941. Cinderella was released on 15th of February, 1950, and it was a massive success. It was safe to say that Blair's theatrical and colorful approach was definitely what the public wanted. Cinderella started the Silver Era of Disney movies that lasted until 1959 when the movie Sleeping Beauty was released.


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