Sunday, January 8, 2017

Rapunzel: The Usual Morning Line Art

Rapunzel with Pascal
conceptual sketch
Walt Disney Consumer Products
Red pencil and black ink on paper
March 2015

One of my basic responsibilities of a character artist working for Disney Consumer Products, is to create art for licensing. While such art may be custom created for specific pieces of products, more often the character art is conceived, developed and finished as “ready to go” art to be included in style guides, collections of themed art and design elements.

At the start of the process of making style guide art, artists like myself will make as many pieces of conceptual art (commonly called “concepts”) as possible in some given amount of production time. Rarely, do these concepts look like the beautiful, inspiring Artworks presented in “art of” books that celebrate the artistic contributions on beloved animated productions - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Frozen for two examples. Typically, a concept for Consumer Products might be little better than a stick figure gag drawing. A concept might be scribbled flowers in the hands of princess art that already exists. Yes, for the benefit of having more concepts from which to choose, the process sacrifices the crafting of ideas and art.

A close-cropped picture of this Rapunzel concept was one of the top nine liked posts on my Instagram, @monstergram7, in 2016. The composition survived the layered deliberation process and a final, color version is included in a Disney Princess style guide.

As far as developing concepts, I’m thankful to the Tangled filmmakers for the song sequence “When Will My Life Begin” in which Rapunzel sings about and demonstrates about 22 different activities in a series of quick cuts. This is a good list from which to pull answers to the initiating question, “what would (can) Rapunzel do?” The addendum to that question is “… that looks good on a tee-shirt” is often an initial qualifier as what gets into a style guide. 

When Rapunzel sings the line “I’ll play guitar” she strums a power chord on the instrument. However, from just that short scene (in animation a “scene” is what plays between cuts or edited transitions), we reason that Rapunzel is a good guitar player and can play and sing a variety of tunes and performances.

post script: “Line art” for what ever the origins, is generally a drawing consisting of lines without color or gradations of shade. For example, the black printed art in coloring books in line art.

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