Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Art of Sleeping Beauty



You don't hear or read much about Les Clark in regards to the production of Sleeping Beauty.
That's him in the photo, examining a color model cel with various poses of Aurora, held by Grace Bailey, who was then head of the ink & paint department.
Les directed the enormously complex opening sequence of the film with endless crowds of well wishers approaching the castle. (Ruthie Thompson, who did scene planning on the sequence said recently that this was the most difficult and involved work she ever did at the studio.)

Below are a couple of sheets showing sketches of Aurora by the very talented modernist designer Tom Oreb. They date back to April and May of 1954. Oreb was a huge influence, as the Disney style underwent a transformation from round dimensional imagery to flat and graphic sophistication.




Marc Davis used these inspirational sketches and made the design his own.


15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Audrey hepburn was an inspiration for Aurora (among others including Mary Costa)

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    2. really? I remember Bluth saying they used Hepburn as reference when they were designing Anastasia too

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  2. Was Tom Oreb's design of Aurora before Mrs. Alice Davis made the dress, or did she made the dress for the live action footage once the design was settled? Did Tom Oreb was involved also when Aurora was required to be more mature by Mr. Disney?

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    1. I think Aurora's design had to be finalized first, before Alice Davis could work on the real costume.
      As far as making her more mature, I would think that Marc Davis came up with the altered version to please Walt (and himself.)
      Also Marc's assistant Iwao Takamoto was very helpful in setting Aurora's final look.

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    2. Wow, Mr. Takamoto was also Marc Davis' assistant. I was reading he assisted Mil Kahl and help design Lady. Another genius from Disney and another reason to buy his autobiography. Thanks a lot for the answer and the post! Sleeping Beauty is for me another high peak in Disney animation.

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  3. I've always felt that Aurora was one of the least interesting princesses personality wise, but her design was one of the most beautiful. I love how you can feel the weight of her hair when she moves.
    That movie in general was just beautifully made visually, those backgrounds amaze me every time!

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  4. You don't hear much about Les Clark at all. He was hugely important, but he was a quiet man and was secure in his friendship with Walt, so no one at the studio went directly up against him. As a director he was a very detail oriented artist. The timing notes he made on the films he directed in the later days were very involved.

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  5. Iwao did the scene of Briar Rose standing up. Anyone who has looked at her animation carefully has spotted the scene. It's amazing! As good as the best Davis did on the character.

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  6. It's a Nicolai Fechin drawing in the wall behind the Lady.

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  7. Wow -- I can finally see the Audrey Hepburn inspiration in these ruff model drawings. I have been confused for many years when people would say that she was the inspiration for Aurora. You don't see it at all in the final design, at least I don't. Thanks so much for sharing these Mr. Deja!

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  8. Hello Mr. Dejas,
    I am a frequent visitor to your site. I find your candor about the animation business, refreshing and your observations on classic Disney features, fascinating.
    The original designs for Aurora are exquisite. I am a great fan of this period for Disney films.
    I'm not terribly fond of the 'big head/big eyes' trend and the styling of Rapunzel, Merida and the upcoming female characters of Frozen. I miss the hand drawn look of the 90's Disney renaissance. The drawings were so beautiful, dynamic and expressive. What is your opinion of the current trend towards computer generated everything?

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  9. I would like to thanks for your effort which you are put in this article. nicely written on informative topic. Keep it up your good work going. Its helpful to the visitors to know and grow the knowledge on the topic. Very well topic chosen. Its impressive.

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  10. Hello! The raff drawings of Aurora by Disney's artists really show their supposed inspiration on Hollywood's diva Audrey Hepburn, BU the truth is that they were in many ways inspired in the Mexican diva María Félix just as she was featured in the film "Enamorada". Just look at the photographs and movie captures and you'll agree with me.

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