Drawings Lessons with Art Hernandez #FireandRescueEvent

*Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to attend advance screenings of Maleficent and Planes: Fire and Rescue and to attend press junkets for both films. I did receive some promotional products courtesy of Disney Consumer Products. No other compensation was received. All thoughts are 100% my own.*

Have you ever daydreamed about what it would be like to be an animator for a Disney cartoon? I remember taking summer art classes as a kid and having fo bring in a picture for a reference point for a watercolor painting. And of course I chose a Disney character! I actually think I still have that painting somewhere…

This summer, Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue hits theaters on July 18th. As part of the Planes: Fire & Rescue event that I attended in May, I and twenty-four other bloggers had the opportunity to take a drawing lesson from Art Hernandez, who was the head of story on the new film. In a little conference at DisneyToon studios, we were given step-by-step instructions on how to draw one of the spunky new characters from Planes: Fire & Rescue. The character is Dipper, and she is voiced by Julie Bowen. She also happens to be one of the hardest characters in the film to draw!

Drawings Lessons with Art Hernandez #FireandRescueEvent

But before we set our pencils to paper, Art talked a bit about his involvement in the film and what it took to bring these characters and this story to life.

Assembling an animation team

Art described choosing the animators who would work on the film as how one would go about casting voice artists. They needed to bring in animators who could not only work collaboratively, but who also had a talent for action sequences and emotion. Animators also must have thick skin because many of the drawings they submit along the way will get thrown out.

Setting the bar

The story board artists are the first group of people that begin to bring this story to life visually. The voice artists, who record their lines before animation starts, give them many visual cues from which to work. This is the moment when written words are formed into something visual; they are the templates for everything that follows.

The script spends about a year to a year and a half in the story board process, with anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 panels having been completed. They have no more than five, six, or seven screenings—each one with director John Lasseter in attendance—to get it right. They then take Mr. Lasseter’s notes and incorporate any changes he wants to improve the story boards for the next screening.

Who Draws What?

Each animator brought onto the story board process is given a sequence to animate. I’ve always wondered how more than one person can draw the same character, and how they can look so seamless throughout the film. They were given packets that had step-by-step instructions on how to draw each of the characters, settings, and more. And of course the biggest challenge for all of them is that these characters are not human, so they are much harder to draw!

From Page to Screen

Overall, Art Hernandez told us that their process was actually very smooth. Many of them had come over from working on Planes, so they already had a a good idea of what to expect going into this movie. Research trips to national parks also provided them with exactly what they needed to create stunning and realistic backgrounds for this story.

Drawings Lessons with Art Hernandez #FireandRescueEvent
Keep up to date on all things Planes: Fire & Rescue on Facebook and Twitter. This action-packed adventure is in theaters everywhere July 18th!


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including paperbackswap.com, Goodreads.com, and luxuryreading.com.

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