Joe Grant was the Godfather of Character Development in animated features and a master of imagination. Walt was good at recognizing people’s strengths and utilized Joe for story and visual development on Snow White, and would later create and head the “Character Development Department” at Disney Studios. Grant was co-sequence director for all of the Witch sequences for the film.

These drawings carry so much mood and feeling. Grant’s bold use of black engulfing the queen and witch’s face really draws your eyes in. This seemingly simple and bold design choice parallels and emphasizes the facial transformation from queen to witch. The use of a purely black cloak contrasts to frame the face and hands nicely. The dark rings around her dead eyes act to frame as well. Her wretched and bony hands breaching out of her black cloak to present a ripe and shiny, red apple is a clear and brilliant design choice. Simple, elegant and a beautiful visual display of subtext. 

Obviously Grant’s designs above are striking, bold and carry a specific emotion. With Walt approving most of the work that Joe would present to him, and with this film being uncharted territory in animation, these designs made the animators upset because they were worried they couldn’t capture the same look that Grant portrayed with his use pastels. If Walt wanted Joe’s designs, the animators had to find a way to translate the feel that Joe captured and make it work in animation. The visual difference between development artwork and final look of a film is a completely normal process to us now,  but I can see how Joe’s artwork could have made the animators nervous at the time.

Notes

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In celebration of design in animation and the hand drawn medium, this site is here to share a collection of animation related art, primarily character development, thoughts, and annecdotes that greatly inspire me in hopes to inspire others as well.

All Disney Images are © Disney and are used here for educational and inspirational purposes only.


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