Thursday, 9 December 2010

Disney film style similarities

I've been thinking recently about how incredibly similar looking Disney's stuff is in a lot of its films.
It makes me doubt how I draw cartoons myself. The following pictures are from Glen Keane's blog which is here

Across films with characters from different cultures, different countries,
different species, they all look the same. Look at their face shapes.
Heart/diamond shaped faces with floofy bouncy hair and big round eyes.
Sure, Disney is a company. They make cartoons and characters that will appeal and sell to the masses. Their goal is to make as much money as physically possible. But, is this good? Everything they produce is similar. Without colours and just looking at lines, the characters below could all be from the very same film.  


Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid

The Fox and the Hound

Oliver and Company


Of course Glen Keane's stuff sells. Its gorgeous. But surely someone along the way had a more original idea for a character. Above are main character roles from 6 different films, all of which he has designed. He has worked on many more besides this- these are just a few I plucked out the air.

I don't know... when I was young, to draw things like Disney was what I always aspired to. Yet, now- it just seems all too samey. Of course, the characters and films are beautiful and there is barely a single one I dislike. But that's not the point. 

It seems that Disney has copyrighted everything, including its style. In the past when I've just been drawing freehand stuff for me- I've been criticized to have copied Disney. I hadn't. 
To be original you have to draw things in a really outlandish way- say Tim Burton's stuff- before that I doubt there had been much in the way of animation quite like his- not that I know much about it, I don't really like his style so much.

But, what if you just want to draw things that are cute, not over-stylized, with plausible anatomy and still appealing? You instantly start walking into Disney territory. Thats what I want to do, without being whinged at that I'm copying Disney, when I haven't even watched a Disney film for weeks :P

Maybe I'm being paranoid but I remembered this short scene from Pochontas earlier and looked at my own little Ozzy and ...


  1. Interesting post!

    When it comes to Disney, I don't personally care if the characters look similar to each other, even if they are from different films. As long as the style is easy to animate and it works to deliver fine acting and emotions, it's fine with me. I guess the people in Disney think the same way. But, of course it would be nice to see something different once in a while.

    Really? Someone has actually said that you have copied Disney style? That sounds very, very harsh! I could understand if someone said that your style looks a little bit like Disney's but to say that you have copied it? That's insane.

    About the otter.. I think that the eyes and eyebrows are the details that resembles Disney. If you remove the eyebrows and try different shapes for the eyes, it may look more original.

    1. Thanks! Yes, that was a few years ago, when I was in the process of doing the artwork for a children's book. That comment cut deep as they were implying that I'd just copied characters and so on.

      Thanks for the comment and so sorry for such a late reply!

  2. I completely sympathize. Striking a balance between drawing realism and simplifying it enough to animate (and to give it life) seems to always get me into trouble, style-wise. That's why Joanna Quinn is one of my biggest inspirations.

    These are some great examples (though I suppose not as well known as her other work): "Wife of Bath"
    & "Britannia"

    They're arguably more "realistic" than Disney but they have just as much energy and life.