The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) Disney Studio Artist, Ink and WatercolorWith limited resources and artistic staff as a result of World War II, the Walt Disney Studios sought creative ways to make the most of what they had. The Studio decided to work with shorter subjects and combine them into packages. Like Fun and Fancy Free, released two years earlier, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad combined two classics into one feature. The above story sketch is party of the process toward creating a visual medium.
Cinderella (1950) Mary Blair, GouacheCinderella. Alice in Wonderland. Peter Pan. All of these films have been touched by the renowned artist, Mary Blair. Her conceptual work has shaped not only Disney films, but also Walt Disney World. Resort attractions such as "it's a small world(r)", as well. In 1991, Blair was honored as a Disney Legend, one of the first women ever to be given the honor. In this piece, she gives her impression of a moonlit moment between Cinderella and Prince Charming on the patio of his castle.
Lady and the Tramp (1955) Disney Studio Artist, Ink and WatercolorThe film that forever changed eating spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp was billed as Walt Disney's "happiest film ever" upon its release in 1955. It was the first animated film ever made in Cinemascope, or widescreen format, which allowed animators to have a larger backdrop with which to work. The results included a lavish interior for a middle-American home, and even a candlelit alley behind Tony's restaurant. Lady and the Tramp was Walt Disney's 15th film.
The Jungle Book (1967) Disney Studio Artist, Ink & Color PencilRudyard Kipling's famous Jungle Book series was first published in 1893. And though Walt Disney's first concepts followed more closely to the original tales, the Disney film version was made to be more family-friendly. This movie was the last one to be produced by Walt Disney, who died before it was finalized. Above, is a conceptual piece including Mowgli and Baloo sharing a playful moment in the river.
Sleeping Beauty (1959) GouacheSleeping Beauty spent almost a decade being made, from 1951 to 1959. With a demanding, yet visually dazzling style, Eyvind Earle, the film's color stylist, oversaw the entire look of the picture, ensuring that all of the elements would exist in harmony. The resulting film was what Walt Disney described as a "moving tapestry". Even today, Sleeping Beauty remains an unparalleled achievement in scope and artistry.
Robin Hood (1973) Disney Studio Artist, GouacheOriginally, the movie was going to be based on the "Reynard the Fox" stories, but after early concepts Walt Disney thought that the "Robin Hood" story would be a better fit. The 21st animated film from the Walt Disney Studios, Robin Hood received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song for "Love." The above is a conceptual scene of Robin and Maid Marion in the gardens of Sherwood Forest.
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) Michael Peraza, Mark Henn and Burny Mattinson, Black LineThe first new Mickey Mouse cartoon in 30 years, Mickey's Christmas Carol brought a Disney twist to the classic of the holidays, and was based on the 1972 audio musical entitled Disney's A Christmas Carol. This layout drawing by Michael Peraza was created from character drawings by Mark Henn and director Burny Mattinson. Mark Henn later animated or supervised the animation of many of the princess characters from the 1990s. Burny Mattinson was honored as an inductee of the Disney Legends program in 2008.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) Mel Shaw, PastelMel Shaw was personally recruited by Walt Disney himself, and contributed concept work to such Golden Era films as Fantasia and Bambi before being recruited by another person: Uncle Sam during World War II. In 1974, Walt Disney Studios brought Mel back, and he continued his early success with The Fox and the Hound, The Lion King, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast. His pastel pieces inspired a generation of newer artists, whom in turn created the Renaissance of Disney animation.
The Lion King (1994) Don Moore, GoaucheIn 1989, Disney artists traveled to study the animals and terrain across the savannas and plains of West Africa for a production originally called The King of the Jungle. Five years later, the resulting film, The Lion King, became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, making over $416 million at the box office and spawning two sequels. Not to mention a Broadway show, as well!
Toy Story (1995) Bud Luckey, Nilo Rodis, PixarArtists Bud Luckey and Nilo Rodis were part of the original team on Disney*Pixar's Toy Story, the groundbreaking first animated feature from Pixar Animation Studios that was also the industry's first full-length, computer-animated film. Buzz Lightyear (shown above in three pieces of concept art) was going to be named "Lunar Larry." Eventually, Buzz would borrow his name from astronaut Buzz Aldrin. His costume was modeled after the suits worn by Apollo astronauts.
Lilo & Stitch (2002) Chris Sanders, Black Line & MarkerNo doubt about it, Stitch is one of the most unique characters in Disney history. To match the unique subject and settings of the film, directors Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois returned to a method of background painting from the Golden Age of Disney animation: watercolor. The space characters and spaceships themselves (see above) were designed to have a marine-like quality.
The Princess and the Frog (2009) Armand Baltazar, Digital ArtAlthough the sights and sounds of New Orleans was the setting of The Princess and the Frog, it was The Lady and the Tramp that influenced the animation and look of the film. While it was a throwback in style, it also reunited the team of Ron Clements and John Musker, whose earlier works included The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules and Treasure Planet.