Friday, October 28, 2011

More Walt Disney World Art

The above image was the very first illustration I did for Walt Disney World Marketing, although it was created about a year before I was actually hired on staff, which would place it as being done around 1989. I was still working for Disney's merchandising division here in Toronto full-time when this project was offered to me as a freelance assignment. I was being considered for a permanent staff position in Florida at the time, so I really poured my heart and soul into this illustration. I wanted the painting to really capture the look of the film, so I treated the background more like watercolour, using dilute glazes of gouache to create that translucent look. The Dwarfs were painted with gouache full strength, to give them more opacity like animation cels.

This is how the project looked in full, as my illustration was just the centerpiece within a graphic design that had been put together by one of the Walt Disney World designers at the excellent WDW Resorts Design division. They produced many holiday posters over several years, which were printed up and given out to guests in the various Disney resort hotels. Once I was working at WDW full-time, I contributed to several more of these, although this one will always remain my sentimental favourite.

Soon after first joining the WDW Marketing Art division I remember getting this fun assignment from their travel agency. Originally, I had done the concept art of Donald Duck with his two amigos from The Three Caballeros, José Carioca the parrot and Panchito the rooster, swooping over The Magic Kingdom on their flying serapé. Unfortunately, the client had never seen the film and wondered who the parrot and rooster were and, despite my trying to educate him on the matter, insisted that I change it to Donald's nephews instead. I still enjoyed doing the illustration but I don't think it makes as much sense as the original concept sketch did. Ah well...

This piece was actually done several years after I'd left WDW in Florida and had returned back home to the Toronto area. I was still doing a lot of regular freelance work for WDW, mostly through the Resorts Design division. I remember really enjoying working on this illustration for a chocolate box which would sell in the WDW gift shops. It wasn't often I got to do the 1930's style of Mickey and the gang, so once again there was the novelty in trying to capture that delicate watercolour look of the background, themed to the 1937 cartoon, Hawaiian Holiday. By this time I'd finally gotten myself a computer and had been dabbling with Photoshop a bit in my art. Quite frankly, to this day I'm still far more comfortable painting with real gouache on illustration board and I can't imagine capturing that same feel digitally, so I still paint backgrounds traditionally and scan then in to the computer afterward. However, I do find Photoshop handy for painting the characters, making them look more like animation cels like in the films. I still ink them traditionally, then scan in the linework and use Photoshop to add the colour. That's how this illustration was accomplished, and I have continued using this hybrid method to illustrate a great many children's books for Disney since.

I'm still sorting through folders of old art and printed samples, so I may start posting up more of my Disney work in the near future.

4 comments:

Tony DiStefano said...

Pete, You really are a brilliant artist.And I say that not only for your strong drafting and great color style but also that your able to have the look and feel of the greats like Fred Moore and Bill Tytla.Your compositions are always a treat.

Pete Emslie said...

Aw, thanks for that compliment, Tony! Whatever film characters I was working with, I always tried my utmost to capture the feel of the specific film and the era in which it was made. Fred Moore is certainly a hero of mine and a big influence on my own personal style too, aside from my work for Disney.

A Snow White Sanctum said...

The dwarf design is super! Very nice work. I'd love to feature this on my blog at some point in the future if that's OK with you. A credit and link back would be included of course.

Ricardo De Los Angeles said...

Great work! Pete, does Disney still use freelancers for this kind of work?