Creating Disney’s animated animals

     Almost everyone has seen classic Disney movies such as The Lion King, Lady and The Tramp, Bambi, and 101 Dalmatians. The animals in these pictures are endearing and viewers cannot help but love them. Disney animation studios used live animals as models to draw these iconic characters. This process goes back decades when Walt Disney worked on the films.

     Disney brought fawns into the studios, enabling his animators to draw characters with realistic characteristics like their real life counterparts. This process continued with the 1955 classic Lady and the Tramp.

For example, the model for the Tramp was based on a stray. This process was also used when Disney animators brought lions and lion cubs into the studios as references for characters in The Lion King. Some of this footage is on the bonus features of The Lion King DVD.

Real life observation is crucial to making the animated characters as real and believable as possible. Animators are constantly watching how animals and even actors react in situations and bring these reactions into the imagery of the story that all audiences can enjoy.

The most recent example of this is in the animated movie, Frozen. Disney animators brought a reindeer into the studio so they could better understand how their reindeer character, Sven, would look and act in the movie.