You can’t help but be impressed when you look at this remarkable art from the Sleeping Beauty refresh. This is original storybook art created with loving detail and informed by every frame of the Walt Disney motion picture. At first glance you might think you’re looking at frames from the Disney movie. However, you’d be wrong. This is all new artwork created for the storybook refresh. The art director and his talented team have worked hard to capture the unique painting style and sensibility of the original animated motion picture.
First of all, let’s give kudos to Jean Paul Orpinãs and his storybook team for their meticulous attention to detail. Jean Paul guided the storybook through rough sketches to finished paints. He spent a good deal of time at Disney’s Animation Research Library pouring over the original art from the film and the amazing color styling of Eyvind Earle. Fully informed by the art from the original motion picture, Jean Paul and his artists went to work recreating Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty using today’s state of the art tools and technology. Back in the fifties, I watched Eyvind Earle, Walt Peregoy, Thelma Witmer, Tony Rizzo and Frank Armitage paint these amazing backgrounds in gouache. The talented Disney story artists were able to masterfully recreate the Eyvind Earle backgrounds using our new digital tools and created the paints on the computer. Before you raise an eyebrow - let me warn you that the computer does not make a novice painter an artist. The Disney artists had to use their painting ability to reproduce these beautiful backgrounds, and they exhibit the same remarkable skill as their traditional counterparts who created these images back in the fifties.
Believe or not, I worked on some of these scenes in animation back in the fifties. I did in-betweens for Stan Green and Tom Ferriter when you see Prince Phillip plop in the water as he and Sampson chase Briar Rose. I’m sure you remember the scene, don’t you? Prince Phillip and Sampson the Horse was animated by the Disney Master, Milt Kahl. Of course, there’s the scene in the cottage where the three fairies try to make Briar Rose a birthday dress. I was part of Freddy Hellmich’s team and we did pretty much all the clean-up on the entire sequence. Fauna tries to bake a birthday cake and that ends up a disaster as well. The whole thing wraps up with a battle over the color of the dress. The painting of the scene looks like it was lifted directly from the motion picture. However, all the artwork is new and was recently recreated with loving care by the Disney artists.
You might want to grab a copy of the beautiful book when it eventually hits the bookstores. Not only does it do a magnificent job recreating Eyvind Earl’s remarkable backgrounds - the characters are dead on model as well. This is something I can attest to having worked on the movie back in 1958. Sleeping Beauty is a Disney animated motion picture masterpiece and this new storybook truly does the film justice.