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Could Disney Hand Drawn Animation Make a Comeback?

Could Disney Hand Drawn Animation Making A Comeback?
Credit: Disney/ Canva

Disney’s animation history extends broadly from a rich tapestry of innovation and creativity. From the early hand-drawn classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to the groundbreaking 3D animations of films like Toy Story (1995), Disney has continuously pushed the boundaries of storytelling and technology in the world of animation. The founding of Walt Disney Animation Studio marked the beginning of a legacy that continues to enchant audiences worldwide.

Walt Disney drawing and creating animation

Credit: D23

Throughout the years, Disney has produced iconic hand-drawn animated films such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), and Beauty and the Beast (1991), which are considered cornerstones of the Disney Renaissance era. The studio’s commitment to traditional animation techniques has been evident in the meticulous craftsmanship seen in each frame of their hand-drawn films.

Despite the rise of computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation, Disney has also stayed true to its roots with releases like The Princess and the Frog (2009), a return to hand-drawn animation that captured the charm and magic of classic Disney films. The studio’s dedication to preserving the art of hand-drawn animation has led to timeless classics that continue to captivate audiences of all ages.

The Days of Hand-Drawn Disney

The days of Disney’s 2D reign at the box office are long gone. Outside of a few shorts, the latest, Once Upon a Studio, celebrates Walt Disney Animation’s 100th year. Almost everything Disney produces finds itself in the realm of 3D animation.

Related: Walt Would Turn Over in His Grave: Each Live-Action Remake Is an Insult to Disney’s Legacy

As Disney embraces new technologies and storytelling methods, a return to hand-drawn animation could signify a nostalgic nod to the past while paving the way for future animated masterpieces that showcase the magic and artistry of Disney animation. Honestly, I think we all miss the days of Pocahontas (1995) and Mulan (1998).

Disney’s past is cemented in hand-drawn animation styles, after all. It all started with Mickey Mouse, a fact that we’re all aware of, but it started with a pencil and paper. That morphed into new techniques and revolutions that would change how the world watched cartoons. Walt Disney and his studio are heavily responsible for what we enjoy today, and it’s all thanks to 2D animation.

tiana princess and the frog

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Hand-drawn animation in films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Princess and the Frog has been Walt Disney Pictures’ foundational backbone. 2D Animation at Disney brought the world Cinderella (1950), Pinocchio (1940), Peter Pan (1953), and more.

Disney Moves to CGI

In more recent years, there has been a notable shift in the animation industry towards 3D animation, with Walt Disney Studios also venturing into this realm. However, amidst this trend, there is a growing appreciation for the artistry and charm of hand-drawn animation, prompting Disney to revisit its roots in traditional animation.

While 3D animation undoubtedly offers a visually stunning and modern appeal, the hand-drawn approach holds a unique magic that has captivated audiences for generations.

Related: ‘Once Upon A Studio’ May Have Featured an Unexpected Disney Icon

However, Disney has enjoyed plenty of success in the 3D animated department, outside of Pixar Studios, known for their 3D animated rendering. Films like Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013), all 3D rendered, have proven to ultimately be successful for the company to be successful for the company.

Still, outside of a few sensational hits, many of Disney’s newer 3D animated productions, including Strange World (2022) and Wish (2023), have failed phenomenally. In some sense, they don’t feel Disney.

mickey and minnie mouse dancing hand drawn Disney

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in “The Gallopin’ Gaucho” (1928)/Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Although CGI and 3D animation are important in Disney’s vast catalog, the techniques may be better suited for Marvel and Star Wars.

Disney Should Return to 2D Animation at Some Point

The decision to return to hand-drawn animation could signify Disney’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and honoring the art form that laid the foundation for the studio’s success. By marrying the time-honored techniques of hand-drawn animation with contemporary storytelling, Disney’s aim to evoke nostalgia while delivering fresh and captivating narratives to audiences worldwide.

As Disney embarks on its journey, hopefully one back to 2D projects, a nostalgic nod to the past and Disney aims back to its hand-drawn origins can always anticipate a renaissance of storytelling that seamlessly blends the magic of the past with the innovation of the present. This deliberate choice to embrace hand-drawn animation amidst the prevalence of 3D showcases Disney’s unwavering dedication to artistic excellence and the timeless appeal of classic animation.

steamboat willie disney hand drawn animation

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

In essence, a hand-drawn return to Walt Disney Studios would jsut be a nostalgic nod to the past but a bold and visionary step towards a future where traditional artistry and modern storytelling converge to create cinematic masterpieces that will stand the test of time.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!

One comment

  1. Phenomenally is a very strong word.
    Though it would be nice for them to do a new one.

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