I mean – WATERCOLOR, in that technique most of the backgrounds of the late 30s and 40s were done. at disney the BG-painters started to use a different technique, to paint with gouache color, from the mid-forties on. there seems to be a change during BAMBI, where most of the BG’s were painted in oil, a few in gouache. then from CINDERELLA on, everything is painted in gouache. one of the reasons might have been the simplified style MARY BLAIR introduced. earlier, in PINOCCHIO the wooden textures had been pretty realistic, the environments were very close stylistically to childrenbook illustration of that time, TENGGREN and NIELSEN were at the studio as designers. later, especially in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the environment is way more stylized. with LADY AND THE TRAMP the studio returned to a more naturalistic look, but still painted in gouche. SLEEPING BEAUTY is a different story, because disney tried to create an epic film in style and format. so it had to have its own very specific look. we all know that after the film’s moderate success the studio had to come up with a cheaper way to produce a look, what resulted in a new technology.
anyway – here are 4 backgrounds painted in that beautiful watercolor technique, they are recreated from disney’s DONALD AND PLUTO, sept. 1936 – and MGM’s BOWLING ALLEY CAT, july 1942. as you can see, no matter what studio, the look is very similar.
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