Thursday, September 03, 2009

Brother Bear-Repost

This project was haunting around the studio for a while as "King Lear with Bears", before Aaron Blaise took it under his wing.
I was asked to do some PreVis on the bears based on what I had done to the gorillas in "Tarzan" and the llamas in" Kingdom of the Sun". Since the movie was playing in the time when the first asian nomads crossed the behring passage into the americas (at least at that point of development ), we started with looking at cavepainting of bears. I found a lot of very good reference and shapes in particular. I was amazed with the way those artists treated the straights and the curves for example. A lot of the reference we collected found it's way into the movie without change.

Of course , there had been many Disney ( and other cartoon ) - Bears already. I wanted to stay away from them as far as possible...

So I started my sketches based on this little toy, which I had picked up in a monastry outside moscow and which I always had loved for it's nice proportions. Now, I finally knew, why I had bought it...

And of course BART THE BEAR was a great inspiration, I watched and studied a lot of his movies and I was lucky to even find a documentary from National Geographic on him, what a great guy, rest in peace, Bart....

Look at the size of this guy, the head and the paw on the shoulder,the sheer "presence" of this wonderful creature, you easily forget this if your used to - and think in terms of- cartoon bears.I also visited the two kodiaks in the Hamburg zoo, and time and time again, my first thought was ;"M>y god, they are huge!" I wanted to capture this feeling by all means. But how do you draw "size" and "weight", without having a chance to give a relation on the same sheet , use an upshot camera-angle or just a part of the body ??? If you gotta show the whole body, even a whale looks like a herring.

I found the lower lip very helpful for this purpose, it always hangs down, makes a great tool for a follow thru , always looks kinda numb and there's spit and saliver dropping from it. It gives a great feel of size and weight to the drawing.

These above sketches were done with exactly this purpose. And after the bears went through the giftet hands of Rune Bennicke and all the other guys at Disney's , they looked really good...

.....more to come

Here are some early sketches for Kenai's face. I wanted to come up with something different from Pocahontas and stay away from Mulan as well, so I was looking at a lot of faces from the South-Sea for reference , even Korea and the Phillipines, Eskimo as well.
I wanted Kenai to be in the middle of his puberty , so I tried to give him a girlish attitude as well, long thin limps for example a alltogether puppyish feel.

This is almost the final design of his haircut, but it took me a long time to come up with it and keep it simple. I wated a lot of time and pencilmilage to come up with something fancy .

This is one of many costumestudies. I was looking for a way to anticipate the transformation into a bear in his costume, so I was going for a way of dressing, where he would just throw over some furs in the morning, that would also correspond with his impatient and impulsive character. I also liked the warpaint in this particular sketch. This sheet got into ther internet somehow and the buzz was, that Kenai was going to look a lot like Mowgli, but actually this was just one drawing of maybe a hundred.

In the early version of the skript , Kenais father, Chilkoot, would be the one who got killed instead of his brother,by Kenais fault of course, butthey finally realised that that was too close to Lionking , so eventually Chilkoot had to go and was replaced by Denaii.

What you see here a a couple of more face studies, mainly for Kenai's brother Sitka.
The maindifference between the two is that Kenai is the young, impulsive one, whereas Sitka is the clearer, more serious type, who's preparing to become chief of the tribe, sooner or later.
But all this changed many times during the production, and with every change in story, the characters changed, too.

You will also see a lot of different styles here, thats because , what you see ,is stuff from almost two years of work, some characterstudies, some costume, etc....
anyway, enjoy H

When we first started with the design of Tenana, the village's shaman, she looked like .... well, shamans usually look in these kind of movies until we thought , we maybe should try something else and started to make her look less like Pocahontas' grandma willow or even Yoda....

 I did some drawings in which she was tall, bald and skinny. I liked that appoach very much, but others, like Michael Eisner for example, didn't and so they went back to the original design.

The original skript included a flashback to when Sitka and Kenaii were still kids and we'd have seen their mother , too.
This is what she'd have looked like.

There never was an official designprocess for Denaii. When Chilkoot, the father, was cut from the skript and the third brother was created, the directors just picked one of the Sitka's rejected designs for him.

Misc. characters, the fireman, the mailman, the shopkeeper ....

Just a costume design...remember, those guys made their clothing themselfes, they don't buy their stuff at Urban Outfitters. I wanted to make that visible, by maybe making the right shoe different from the left one , for example, or whatever....


A. Riabovitchev said...

What a great repost!:o)
Very interesting!:o)

Christopher said...

I love this film, and you show soe great sketches here. I have the Brother bear book and refer to it often. I especially love the old woman sketches.

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
THE SIR, James Suhr said...

You might call it a repost, but I call it an encore presentation. It was wonderful to read and hear your thoughts on how that project came along. Thank you.

Michael "Locoduck" Duron said...

Thank you for reposting this. Brother Bear remains one of my favorite animated movies of all time. I look forward to meeting you at the AnimationExpo!

Matt J said...

Outstanding post!

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