The Little Mermaid 50 Day Challenge: Week Two

Welcome back to week two of Zachary Kenny’s 50 Day Artwork Celebration of The Little Mermaid! Zach takes us even deeper into the behind the scenes process of the creation of the Little Mermaid through his artwork once again today in another exciting installment of this celebration! 

Zachary Kenny- Welcome back, everyone. Hope you enjoyed the first week. Let’s continue on, shall we?



Originally, Ariel was going to have blonde hair. Why? Because Katzenberg said that since Daryl Hannah’s mermaid character in Splash was blonde, naturally, ALL mermaids are blonde. Ron & John realized, 1, who says they HAVE to be, 2, that’d be WAY too similar to Daryl Hannah, 3, red contrasted better with her green tail, & 4, red’s much easier to darken than yellow/dark yellow isn’t that much an appealing color. The only issue with her red hair, as many fans have pointed out, blends really badly with her pink dress; the dress looks nice, but it looks better in teal. Nonetheless, it’s better with Ariel & the Disney princesses having variety instead of looking WAY to similar; a perfect example is Ariel and her sisters, both in hair and tails. So here’s Ariel donning various hairstyles, at least one from each decade, in different shades of blonde. There’s her regular hair, a ‘50s beehive, the 1920s bob (or the Roxie Hart), the Rachel, victory curls, the Farrah Fawcett & 1980s perm.


DAY 8, Blonde Ariel



Here we have some of the main animators who brought the colorful cast of characters from the film to life, with pencil sketches of their characters. (Like the concept art from the second picture, the sketches on each of the animators’ papers ARE the real pictures they drew.) Going clockwise, there’s Andreas Deja (King Triton), Matthew O’Callaghan (Eric), Ruben Aquino (Ursula), Glen Keane (Ariel), David Pruiksma (Flounder) & Duncan Marjoribanks (Sebastian). I decided to make the drawing like a rough draft (the process of animation before clean-up artists ink the real motion & erase all pencil marks). I know there are more characters (like Scuttle, Grimsby, the eels, etc.), but I couldn’t find who their supervising animators were. I was able to see what other animators worked on the film, but I couldn’t find who animated those certain characters. & their appearances are based off how they look nowadays, not by how young they were when making this movie; I couldn’t find any pictures of them during that era.

DAY 9, Animators




One half of bringing the characters to life finished, the second half to show… right now: here we have a group picture of all the talented men, women & child who voiced some of our favorite Disney characters. Going from left to right, there’s Buddy Hackett (Scuttle), Paddi Edwards (Flotsam & Jetsam), Pat Carroll (Ursula), Ben Wright (Grimsby), Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian), Jodi Benson (Ariel & Vanessa), Jason Marin (Flounder),Christopher Daniel Barnes (Eric), Kenneth Mars (King Triton), René Auberjonois (Chef Louis), Edie McClurg (Carlotta) & Frank Welker (Max).

DAY 10, Voice Cast



Much like finding the right design for a character, trying to find the right voice actor can be just as difficult. In The Little Mermaid’s case, there were a couple actors Disney really wanted for certain characters. (BTW, I’m not doing one for Ursula & Bea Arthur. I already did a concept Ursula drawing and there’s a whole full-fledged article on her voice.) One of them was Michael Richards to voice Scuttle. This was right as NBC picked upthe show about nothing & Michael became too busy, so Disney got Buddy Hackett to voice the bird-brain. But y’know, if Michael had said yes, I wouldn’t mind. It would’ve been interesting ‘cause when thinking about it, Scuttle does seem a lot like Kramer; both are wild-eyed, comic reliefs with strange views on the world. So, here we have a reenactment of when we first see our seagull sidekick, dressed as Kramer from Seinfeld, but instead of talking about the origins of dinglehoppers & snarfbladts, he’s talking about the origins of Fusilli Jerry.

DAY 11, Scuttle as Kramer



Another actor Disney tried to get was Patrick Stewart for King Triton. As it turns out, Stewart would’ve had scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation, so he turned it down. Disney would later ask him to voice other characters in future films, but he kept turning them down for the same reason. (He’s claimed turning down Jafar was his greatest regret of his career.) So after Patrick said he couldn’t, they got Kenneth Mars, best known for his German roles in Mel Brooks’ The Producers & Young Frankenstein. I think Kenneth did a better job at playing Triton than Stewart could’ve. So similar to the last entry, here we have a reenactment of the scene where Triton is lecturing/scolding Ariel about missing the concert & going to the surface again, but this time, with Triton dressed as Captain Picard of the Next Generation & the rest of the characters in the scene dressed as the rest of the cast. Scratch that, no one’s specifically supposed to be certain Next Generation characters, they’re all just wearing the uniforms. (& I’ve never seen anything Star Terk related, so if I’ve gotten anything wrong, I apologize for any hard-core Star Trek fans.)

DAY 12, Triton as Cap. Picard



One of Jodi Benson’s favorite moments when making this film was recording this song with Howard Ashman & Alan Menken, the film’s songwriters. When everyone was recording their songs, Howard helped everyone by giving his opinion on how he would do it (like the right inflictions for what words) & they happily applied, ‘cause they found it helped their performances. When it was Jodi’s go-round, she did such & also requested if she could record it in the dark. Why? So she could get that underwater feel. Someone actually videotaped a bit of that recording, so with that as help, here we have exactly that moment. I also added bubbles & a watery light source to create the illusion Jodi wanted.

DAY 13, Jodi Recording Part of Your World



Aside from what else TLM is famous for, this film is best known, animation wise, for being Disney’s last fully hand-drawn film. By that I mean specifically using paint cells; all animated films after this would be animated by hand, but were colored by computer. It also had more special effects put into it than any other animated film Disney has made. If it was more than Roger Rabbit, you take your guess. There was rain, explosions, fire, smoke, magic, all kinds of water movement, any kind of special effects you can think of. But it’s easy; it’s all in the technique. First storyboard, rough it out, STOP! Review animation a couple times; easy as 1, 2, 3. Theeeeeen… special effects depo! & with a stroke of a paintbrush, wooooooosh! Wooooooooooooosh! Stop after painting, DON’T forget it! Then it’s time to put it all together, bring it a-round time! Soon we’ve got this, & this, &that, & this & that & this & that & this & that and… roughly a million bubbles.

Day 14, 1 Billion Bubbles

See you again next week where we take a look at some of the familiar faces this film brought to the Disney universe. Please visit my deviantART & Facebook pages if you want to see more of my art. All artwork on this page are owned by me but material from the pictures are mostly copyrighted Disney.

Check back next week for more artwork of the creation of The Little Mermaid by Zachary Kenny!