Posts Tagged ‘Lilo & Stitch watercolors’

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Lilo & Stitch

November 6, 2011

While at Disney I worked as a traditional background painter at a time when so many other artistic jobs were becoming electronic. I was happy to be working with a paintbrush and am now ever more grateful for having been a small part of a particular legacy. It was the Disney studio that pioneered techniques in staging and mood for animation emulated by other studios today. But they took their cue from the past, from old masters such as Claude Lorrain. (See Origins in Staging for more on this.)

Director Chris Sanders wanted the background art in his film, Lilo & Stitch to be painted in watercolors. At the time no Disney film had been painted in watercolors since Snow White. As the story goes, Chris took his idea to the background department in Los Angeles where he was informed that such an undertaking would no longer be possible. We, in Florida took him up on the challenge, and the rest is history. Needless to say, painting backgrounds on Lilo & Stitch was special. As a medium, it’s exciting because it’s unpredictable, difficult to control, and almost impossible to correct.  Building value while keeping a clean edge around the forms (such as the painting below where the outline of Stitch meets the sky) is also tricky.  I like what John Singer Sargent had to say about watercolor, “Make the best of an emergency.”

The following images are reproductions of paintings I crafted by hand– from start to finish. But keep in mind, the character designs, story concepts, layouts, and time of day were created in a collaborative setting in the studio following a specific production pipeline. This pipeline is comprised of very skilled Disney artists, under two directors and a producer. If you’d like to learn more about that pipeline, I recommend Hans Bacher‘s book, Dreamworlds.

I like what animation author, Tony White, has said about background art: Since the environment takes up most of the screen, it’s in the hands of the background painter to make it look like you’ve spent millions on the production.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

“With watercolour, you can’t cover up the marks. There’s the story of the construction of the picture, and then the picture might tell another story as well.” David Hockney

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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