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Concept painting by Mary Blair,
Cinderella, circa late 1940's.

Concept Art

About Concept Artwork This type of artwork is created during the initial production stages of a film or television project. Concept can encompass many different mediums and knows no boundary for expression. This "free form" release of artist expression helps the production come up with the best overall story, style and character designs for the film that conveys the director's vision for the story. Once these designs are finalized only then can character animation take place. There are several categories of concept art that a collector typically finds on the secondary market, they are described below.

Storyboards This type of artwork can be elaborate drawings or paintings or simple sketches created as a series in order to convey the plot of the film. Usually, they are drawings that when reviewed in sequence much like a comic strip in the sunday paper breakdown the various in sequences and scenes of the story that will be animated.

Storyboard sequence by Nick George for a 1950's Mickey short that was never produced.

Character Designs - drawings, paintings or sketches that display the look of an animated character. Usually the supervising animator will lead the development of a character to come up with overall look that will appear in the final film. Character designs go through numerous stages, are worked and reworked until the ideal and collective image is created that portrays the characters personality.

Model Sheet of Belle, Beauty & the Beast, 1994.

Style Art - paintings, drawings, or other medium that is an artists free form expression of how the film could possibly be visualized. This form of artwork can be quite radical at first and as ideas are continuously reworked, artist's ideas become more focused around the image of the characters and the overall plot of the film. Sometimes the studio selects a well known artist to help guide or influence the overall animation staff toward a common visual. Typically, style art is in the form of paintings portary a particular technique, feeling or mood for conveying the character and look of the animated film.

Concept sketch, pastel on black, Fantasia, 1940.

Model Sheets - a collection of drawings assembled on a large sheet that portrays the final look of an animated character. This sheet is utilized by animators as a reference guide when creating character animation. These sheets typically are reproduced copies distributed to animation staff to ensure the consistent look and personality of a character once it's design has been finalized.

Concept sketch, pastel on black, Fantasia, 1940.
Maquettes - a three dimensionsal representation of the finalized design for animated characters that is utilized by animators during the production of a feature film. This character model statue allows animators to visualize a character from many different perspectives and ensures the consistent look and image of an animated character. Maquettes were first utilized on the first Walt Disney Snow White in 1937 and throughout the 1940's. During the 1990's, with the second age of disney animation, Maquettes were again popular with the disney production staff and several have been offered for sale during the recent Sotheby's disney auctions of late. These character statues are extremely rare and can command high prices at auction.

Copyright 1996, The Animation Artshop, Inc.
Last Updated Februay 1, 2000
Mickey Mouse and other related images Copyright, Walt Disney Company