Thursday, January 8, 2009

Your Passport To Adventure!

I was going through some boxes of stuff the other day and ran across some relics from my years in the art department at Walt Disney World. This is the illustration I did for the folder cover that held the 1992 Silver Pass that all Disney cast members (employees) at a certain level would have received. The banner would have been printed in bronze and gold on the passes for other levels. The name of the individual cast member would have also been printed on the banner so that the folder artwork itself was a nice little personalized souvenir for them.

Incidentally, these passes enabled the cast members to sign up to three guests into the park, as a nice side benefit of working for Disney. I believe there was some restriction on how often you could do this during the year, however, as some cast members had abused their privileges in the past. Anyway, I thought it was wonderful to be able to treat my family and friends to a day in the parks when they traveled down to visit me in Florida.

The original illustration itself was probably about twice the dimensions of this printed piece, and I painted it in gouache on illustration board. Modeling on the characters was all done in a dry brush technique, while the shadows underneath the characters and Tink's pixie dust trail were done with an airbrush - something I used sparingly, as I found it rather unwieldy! This was long before I started using Photoshop, which I find so much easier for creating highly controlled airbrush effects. Mind you, I still far prefer the look of the character art done with real paint.

I recall that the most fun part of this particular assignment was getting to draw and paint Henry Bear, the master of ceremonies in "The Country Bear Jamboree", my favourite WDW attraction. Though he may have been a 3-dimensional audio-animatronic character, I wanted to treat him as pure cartoon, like he could have easily existed in a 1940s/1950s Disney animated short, as a close cousin to Humphrey Bear. In fact, I was always disappointed that these bears from that attraction had never been utilized much on Disney merchandise through the years, and had never been portrayed in pure animated cartoon form, especially since the design concept art had all been done by legendary Disney animator and Imagineer, Marc Davis. It's also too bad that Disney didn't adapt them to animation and use that as the basis for the "Country Bears" movie they did some years back, instead of the godawful live-action/costumed crap that they churned out. A traditionally animated feature keeping the characters intact in their cartoon design would have been infinitely more satisfying to we longtime Disney fans.


Ryan Cole said...

Holy whatsit I had one of those, I just vaguely remember! I also remember trying to keep that pass for as long as I could after the park, until it got torn and moldy enough for mom to decide it were better off in the trash can. Thank you so much for owing me this wonderful piece from memory lane, Pete!

Amir Avni said...

This is gorgeous, Pete!
Perhaps the best I've seen from you

David said...

Wahhhh.... I miss my Silver Pass.

(sorry for whining. )


Mitchel Kennedy said...

PETE! That is absolutely beautiful!! Even with 'digital paint' now, I haven't seen anything as refined and appealing as that.

Jenny Lerew said...

Thanks mostly to Marc Davis all of the characters in the Country Bear show had such immediate appeal. I especially loved the heads on the wall--Max, Buff and Melvin...I think.

I'm happy to find another fan of that attraction and am so sorry that it was removed from the park here. What a shame--no matter how old it was it was always new to the kids I saw there, and the overseas tourists clearly loved it too.

Nice painting you did there-and what a fun assignment.

Kevin Kidney said...

I still have mine. And Henry is the #1 reason I've kept it.