From the Oh My Disney blog

You may be wondering, what exactly goes into the process of creating iconic Disney characters? Disney artists spend years perfecting this, as well as the locations, backgrounds, and overall look of each film. Imagine if Arendelle looked completely different, a kingdom where Queen Elsa had black hair instead of icy blonde, or Olaf was square instead of round. We had the chance to sit down with Michael Giaimo, art director of Frozen, to hear more about the development stage of the film. These beautiful pieces of art shine a light onto the process of Frozen’s character development. Take a look:

Elsa and Anna by Bill Schwab

“When this drawing was done we thought, ‘What’s the best way to show contrast between these two sisters?’ Anna is fair and has strawberry-blonde hair, so we tried giving Elsa dark hair.”
Anna and Elsa by Claire Keane
“At one point in the story’s development, Anna and Elsa were not related and Elsa was more of a villain. When we decided that the narrative worked better when they were sisters, we knew that even though Elsa had magical powers they had to look like they came from the same world. We didn’t want to make Elsa look like she came from another planet.”
Elsa by Michael Giaimo
“At one time during development when Elsa was the villainous Snow Queen and not Anna’s sister, we thought of her as an older, more middle-aged woman.”
Olaf by Bill Schwab
“We toyed with putting little accessories on Olaf for a while, like a scarf or a hat, but we did away with that because he’s a snowman, and just like Elsa, he doesn’t need anything to keep him warm.”
Sven by Bill Schwab
“Animators really opened the door to the most charming and appealing interpretation of this reindeer. He’s such a big character physically and then to see him act sometimes like a puppy, or like a little adolescent dog, is really fun.”
Kristoff by Minkyu Lee
“Costume-wise, Sven and Kristoff share a similar design language. If you look at Kristoff’s sash and the trim on his tunic you’ll see a geometric design similar to what you’ll find on Sven’s harness. We reserved that design style for these two characters.”
Kristoff by Minkyu Lee
“Kristoff was always sort of an affable, relatively easygoing guy’s guy.”
Troll by Bill Schwab
“For the world that Frozen is set in, we thought to have the trolls be so colorful was a little out of line with how they were eventually written, which was less psychedelic and more organic to the earth.”
Troll by Bill Schwab
“To make a connection to the aurora borealis found in both Norway and the film, we originally were going to make the trolls a little bit phosphorescent.”
Elsa by Jean Gillmore
“It was actually John Lasseter who suggested that because the story and character designs are Scandinavian-inspired, Elsa’s dark hair needed to go in a different direction.”
Hans by Bill Schwab
“It is really hard in a ninety minute animated film to turn a character from good to evil in such a way that truly surprises an audience.”
Hans by Bill Schwab
“To really pull the Hans surprise toward the end was a very deft writing turn. I remember when we were talking about him we all said, ‘Can we do it? Can we really fool the audience?’ We really wondered if they would catch onto him too early.”
The Royal Family of Arendelle by Cory Loftis
“We worked really hard to give all the characters a distinctive color language, but one thing you might notice about most of the characters is the inclusion of the color magenta which helps to unify the cast.”

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