Learning To Draw At The Animation Academy – California Adventure

Did you ever think you could learn to draw? Maybe you doodled in the margin of your notebooks at school. At the Disney Animation Academy you can learn to draw some of your favorite classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Piglet, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, and Goofy in as little as 15 minutes. How addictive is it? Very.

Here is the caveat. If you are visiting the park with very young children, say 5 or 6, they may not see this as an exciting way to spend some time. If they are a little older, say 10 or 12 and a little artistic then you may find yourself spending the day cycling around to get in line for this attraction all day long. If you picked up some discount multi-day Park Hopper tickets and you love animation, then why not.

Practice makes perfect of course but the Animation Academy gets you drawing some pretty good animation in as little as 15 minutes. What is the secret? Here are the basic steps that the Disney animator will take you through to make your very own animated Disney character.

  • First a little advice on technique. Use your whole arm to create smooth curves. Keep your pencil strokes light and sketchy. You are just trying to start with basic shapes and build the details in later. Have fun, after all this is not really work.
  • Start with a basic form. This is often a circle (for example: Mickey Mouse) or oval or some other basic shape like an egg (Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.). This is what you are going to pin the features on.
  • Draw guidelines for the vertical mid-line of the face, the horizontal mid-line and the horizontal line between the mid-line and the top of the head that will pass through the center of the eyes (or eye if you are drawing Mike Wazowski).
  • Layout the features. Start with the nose centered on the vertical mid-line and just below the horizontal. Next the mouth approximately midway between the nose and the bottom of the face. Mark pairs of points on the basic form where the features (ears, horns, arms etc.) will be. Draw one feature and then draw the opposite feature trying to match the proportions.
  • Close the lines and add texture and shadows. When you are satisfied with the shapes and proportions darken the line to enclose the face and features. The darker lines make the sketchy approximations fade into the background. Now darken the pupils and shade areas to show the source of light. If you want to get fancy you could go back and erase or lighten your guidelines.

This is the point where a professional would ink the drawing onto a piece of acetate and color would be added. This could take hours for a single frame. At the animation academy this is when everyone gets to hold up their art for the world to see and be proud to stand in the shoes of thousands of great Disney animators. With your first frame behind you it’s easier to appreciate the sheer volume of work that went into creating Mickey Mouse’s big comeback film, Fantasia in 1940. Over half a million individual frames were hand drawn, inked and colored for the film. To finish a job like that you might need a season pass.