Saturday, May 10, 2014

Peter Pan Rough Layouts

I find these layout sketches utterly magical. Disney artists who researched and designed environments were wizards. Even the house of the Darling family, in- and outside, is presented with a dreamlike quality. These guys knew how to use light and shade so effectively, it not only helped set the mood for a sequence, but their art became a major part of the film’s overall storytelling. The characters’ surroundings communicate their emotions just like the acting does. 
I look at these atmospheric backdrops with a sense of awe, partly because this is the kind of work I myself can not do. That’s why I am forever grateful to layout and background artists who gave my own characters an interesting and beautiful world to live in.
These drawings are probably the work of Ken O’Connor or Ken Anderson. I’m sure some of you know the name of the rightful artist. If you do, I’d appreciate it if you would leave a comment to let us know.

In this film frame Wendy takes a final look at Pan’s ship as it sails away toward new adventures.


  1. Such beautiful drawings! When I was younger, I always wanted my room to be just like the Darling nursery (and I still do).

    1. I too want my dream bedroom to be like the Darlings' nursery.

  2. To be extremely (and unnecessarily) pedantic, the still is not actually from the film but a publicity set-up. In the movie when Wendy watches the ship sail across the sky it is in a separate shot - the moon and ship are not visible within the window frame. As she watches, the ship is still approaching the moon and is not crossing it. She turns to tell her parents and when her father looks he too sees it - cut back to shot of ship now cutting across the rim of the moon. Mr & Mrs Darling and Nana join Wendy at the window, as seen from outside, and the camera pulls back from the exterior of the house, panning to the left and rising up to end on the moon with the ship. only now a blue silhouette, crossing the face of the moon. The camera tracks in as the ship crosses the far side and drifts apart as clouds. The End. (The ship in the still is slightly higher than it appears in the movie, and by the time we pan up to the moon the ship has advanced further forward, so this position never actually appears.)

    None of which changes the fact that the layout drawings and background renderings are exquisite. I take it that the drawings are preliminary studies - scene-setting vignettes suggesting particular geographical set-ups as well as props and general ambience - which would be up for discussion before a final notional layout of the nursery was established, and the scene-by-scene layouts drawn up.

  3. McLaren Stewart is the credited layout artist on the London sequences.

  4. I love how these drawings are at the same time realistic yet dollhouse-like and whimsical and magical. :D

  5. I love Disney's Peter Pan. I love Neverland but the scenes in the house are magical... and since I like so much to see layouts and sketches, this post was WONDERFUL! Thanks Andrea!

  6. I wish the final backgrounds had had as much style as those roughs.