Friday, December 12, 2014


The development of the Mermaids in Disney's Peter Pan involved several artistic hands. This cel set-up was made to announce the later arrival of the film during the holiday season of 1952. The background is lovely, but the quality of the drawing and inking leaves a lot to be desired. I suppose the top artists were busy finishing the film, which was released in February of 1953.

One of Mary Blair's many concept sketches featuring stylized mermaids with short bodies.

An experimental cel set-up. The background  shows an exploratory painting technique, and the character pose is inspired by a drawing from the model sheet below.

The original Mermaids designs were the work of Fred Moore, but this model sheet looks like Milt Kahl might have worked over Fred's drawings.

Another preliminary cel set-up, which combines the above- and the under water world in an interesting way.

This live action reference frame clearly shows how the actresses' poses influenced the final animation, as can be seen in the artwork below. The mermaid with the harp is Margaret Kerry (who also posed for scenes with Tinker Bell) and the one holding a horn is the one and only June Foray.

More on Peter Pan and the Mermaids here:


  1. I agree on that first cel set up. It looks like what you'd see for something like the Mickey Mouse Club. Not outright terrible, but not quite the same level as the features.

  2. Oh my God they got June Forey to do one of the mermaids? That is so cool. She's my favorite voice actress who did the voices for Rocky and Natasha, along with the iconic duck from Duck Tales Magica De Spell.
    By the way Andreas, have you come across anything from Babes in Toyland in the achieves?

  3. the special effets on BG (image 3) may be obtained by sprinkling salt over wet watercolor BG.
    very sexy mermaids and great colour palette

  4. The drawings on the model sheet are amazing! Keeping the appeal of Fred Moore design, but so much more expression and emotions easily readable, bringing immediately the thought about Milt Kahl. They look so spirited! I wonder if Milt has helped with any poses in actual animation of this scene.

  5. "June Forey" should be, of course, "June Foray".

    In all other respects, a great post! Thanks!

  6. Andreas,

    Sam Spagnolie, June Foray's brother-in-law, wrote this, "Hi Britni Brault, Sam Here. Showed June the photos from the Peter Pan production and the ones of the mermaids as well as the blown up version of her in white bathing suit on the bench blowing the horn. Needless to say she enjoyed viewing them. She had forgotten she did the bathing suit scene and thought she looked pretty good at 35."

    We have met a few times at various exhibits. I emailed your post .I am sure she enjoyed it greatly.

    Britni Brault