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A Wonderful Look At The Behind-The-Scenes Art Of "Sleeping Beauty"

In celebration of the release of the Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition on Blu-ray, Disney shared some of the fantastic behind-the-scenes art that went into putting this classic movie together.

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Early concept art of King Stefan's castle created by Eyvind Earle, who Walt Disney selected to style Sleeping Beauty.

Image courtesy of Disney

Earle, who was heavily influenced by pre-Renaissance art, would create a bold visual tone for Sleeping Beauty. The film's look was huge departure from Disney's previous films like Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp.

A striking preliminary study sketch of Maleficent, created by Earle, which shows off his trademark angular style.

Image courtesy of Disney

Earle's angular style closely reflected the mid-century modern movement of the 1950s.


An emphasis on texture, seen here on the trees, was another trademark of Earle's designs.

Image courtesy of Disney

Earle's intrepid modern style caused much infighting among the animators at Disney Studios, who felt that his designs were too much of a deviation from the studio's traditional animation style.

Eventually Walt Disney stepped in to defend Earle, saying, "For years and years I have been hiring artists like Mary Blair to design the styling of a feature, and by the time the picture is finished, there is hardly a trace of the original styling left. This time Eyvind Earle is styling Sleeping Beauty and that's the way it's going to be!"

The evolution of Maleficent's design.

From left to right: An early design of Maleficent, where she is depicted as more of a sinister witch; An early concept design by Marc Davis (Maleficent's lead animator); in which she given a more glamorous look; Davis' design, which is closest to the finished character, has Maleficent in red-lined robes instead of her trademark purple.

Model sheets of Maleficent and Princess Aurora.

A model sheet helps animators maintain continuity on a character's design by showing the character in various angles and poses.

The evolution of Princess Aurora's design.

An early concept drawing of Aurora (right), were she almost appears to be modeled after Liz Taylor. An early study drawing of Aurora and Prince Phillip (left), created by Marc Davis.


A cleaned up animation drawing of the romantic final scene, created by Ken O'Brien, and the scene from the finished film.

This scene would later be studied and used as reference by Disney animators who worked on the final waltz scene in Beauty and the Beast.

Facts about the artwork sourced from Once Upon a Dream: From Perrault's Sleeping Beauty to Disney's Maleficent by Charles Solomon. The Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition Blu-ray is available now.