Clearly this particular animation drawing is not from the Walt Disney feature film. Peter Pan was completed long before this original Disney drawing was sketched back in the fifties. Of course the little sprite Tinkerbell remains one of my favorite Disney characters. I still remember seeing the motion picture “Peter Pan” as a kid and being impressed by the work of animators, Marc Davis, Clair Weeks and the many other talented artists who created the delightful animation.

By the time I arrived at Disney in the late fifties the little animated pixie was still finding work. Tinkerbell had been called out of retirement and was now appearing in the opening credits of Walt Disney’s weekly television show, “Disneyland.” However, the little fairy’s chores did not end there. She even appeared in a series of television commercials designed by the talented Tom Oreb. I remember working on the Tinkerbell commercials with animator Freddy Hellmich. It appears Tink was now selling yummy peanut butter and she was as delightful as ever. In one scene the little fairy struts across the screen clapping her hands. Tinker bell model, Margaret Kerry informs us she was called back to do photo reference for that particular scene. Even better, Margaret performed that scene for us here at Disney a few years ago and she didn’t miss a beat. Because I worked on the little pixie I was able to get my hands on one of the coveted Tinkerbell model sheets. The original sheets created for the feature film Peter Pan. I still find it amusing that every Disney model sheet was stamped with a warning that the item was the property of Walt Disney Productions and should not be removed from the facility. Naturally, these model sheets continued to be “removed from the facility” over the years. And, that brings me to current day film making and the cute little “plastic dolls” that pass for animation these days. Sure, the CGI pixies are sorta cute, but they certainly don’t have the appeal of a charming old fashioned hand drawing by a Disney master such as Marc Davis. Even the sparkly pixie dust once created by Disney effects artists Josh Meador, Dan McManus and Jack Buckley are no longer in view these days. The glittering dust is now created by a program in the computer and I suppose it’s very effective and efficient when it comes to production. Yet having said that, can you begin to call this digital stuff magical? I don’t think so.

Maybe that’s why I’ve kept these rough Tinkerbell sketches all these years. It’s a reminder of the Walt Disney Studio and a time long past when animated art was created by artists instead of machines. A time when Disney animated filmmaking involved nothing more than pencils and paper and was a truly magical endeavor.

When animating Tinkerbell we often worked with an orange Prismacolor pencil. Our Tinkerbell was a little more stylized than the Marc Davis original but the little pixie retained her charm.

When animating Tinkerbell we often worked with an orange Prismacolor pencil. Our Tinkerbell was a little more stylized than the Marc Davis original but the little pixie retained her charm.

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AuthorFloyd Norman