As one of the most famous collections of cartoons to exist, it’s no surprise that many people want to recreate Disney characters themselves. Whether this is in professional artwork inspired by the films, or by fans simply wanting to copy their favourite characters as a hobby, Disney has encouraged countless people to pick up a pen or pencil, and get creative.
If you’re a huge admirer of the world of Disney and all its magic, why not try learning to draw in the same style, which can be mastered with a little bit of practice. In order to help those that are keen to get doodling, we’ve spoken to a number of experts, who have provided us with their most valuable advice.
Before you start
Many of the experts we spoke to emphasised that the most important part of drawing a Disney character is getting the proportions right at the beginning. In order to help get the hang of this, it is recommended that you start by tracing a print of the image you wish to use. Then, as you draw more and more Disney characters, you can slowly wean yourself off using the tracing paper at all.
“The easiest way to trace your image is to layer your sheet of paper (either cartridge paper or bleed-proof paper depending on what materials you are using) over the image you want to draw before holding it against a light source, for example a window. This allows you to see the image easily and clearly. Please note that tracing is NOT cheating, it's helping to get the drawing accurate! All of the other parts of the drawing are relatively easy once you know how to do them, but if you get the proportions wrong it will make the whole drawing look odd.”– Millie Bicknelle, YouTuber
“Let’s assume you want to draw a Disney World character, you need to draw wherever possible using simple observation, that is the easiest way to get started especially when your drawing ideas are depleted. If you want to replicate a photograph you can use tracing as much as possible no matter what you're drawing. Throughout history, fantastic realist artists did wonders from projections blown up onto walls or used tracing mainly from photos or other drawings.”– Gregor, CEO of drawingmanuals.com
For more inspiration, find further Disney drawing ideas on their website.
“The first thing to do is make sure that you draw having to face a natural light (window) or artificial light (lamp), I recommend the light should never be behind you, so you will have the light and not darkness, this will improve your view of the paper and the drawing that you are going to create, such as Elsa from Frozen!”– DebbyArts, YouTuber
Beginners may like to start out with the "Disney Drawing Academy Kit", as sold by Your WDW Store, which stocks items that those without Disney World tickets may not have access to. The kit offers a selection of items, including pencils, paper, an eraser, and instructions on how to draw Mickey Mouse. While there are a lot of drawing books out there, this is an all-inclusive kit originally sold in the Disney Theme Parks and not available through anyone else but Your WDW Store.
“Drawing Disney may seem a daunting task, but your readers may find that with the proper tools and instruction, and a little practice, they'll be drawing up a storm! Being able to draw is much akin to being able to work magic. Walt created Mickey Mouse not in clay, or paint, but in drawing. Every time someone draws Mickey Mouse, or another of Disney's iconic characters, they are spreading a little bit of magic.
You don’t have to be a Disney Artist, or employed by Disney, to create a little magic of your own. Each time you draw a Mickey face on a receipt at a restaurant, or drawing a little Mickey Mouse on a piece of paper and giving it to a child, or a friend, you'll see the magic at work. The smiles you get, and the sense of wonder is Magic in itself.”– Your WDW Store
Drawing in pen
Depending on your preferences, there are a variety of different drawing supplies which you can use to create your very own Disney artwork. Pens give a certain effect, often looking bolder and more similar to how the characters appear on film, although these may be best left to the more experienced, as mistakes are harder to correct.
“I would highly recommend using markers on bleed-proof paper to do your colouring. I use the brand called Promarkers and they are incredible - it is like colouring in with a felt tip, but the ink just blends together to create a block colour, with no marks left. It just makes it look as though you've drawn it online when you haven't! You can buy them in most art shops, but I get most of mine on Amazon. Make sure you are using bleed-proof paper though - if you don't the paper will absorb all of the ink in your markers and they will dry out incredibly quickly.” – Millie Bicknelle
Drawing in pencil
As mentioned above, beginners may wish to start out by using pencils, although this is often the preferred drawing utensil for experienced artists as there are more opportunities for blending and adding intricate detail.
“I would recommend using a 2B pencil to lightly go over the facial features and proportions, and then take the original print out from under your paper and use it as a reference as you go over the pencil marks you have already made.
“If you are not using markers, that's fine - most of the time I only use ordinary colouring pencils anyway, as I've gotten quite used to how to achieve a really blended effect with them. The result can look just as good, it's just a lot harder to get the result looking as blended and professional. I like to use Prismacolor pencils to do my drawings - they're quite expensive but really creamy and in my opinion definitely worth it! Start by shading in the skin - I have a tutorial of how to do this on my YouTube channel.
“After the skin is all coloured in, you can go over all of the facial details and other parts of the body / outfit details with your pencils. I have a few videos showing exactly how I draw specific Disney characters using various techniques, such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel from Tangled.
“Once you have done all of the shading on the drawing, go over the outline with a sharp black pencil. This not only gives the drawing a bit of definition but also keeps the Disney-look.”– Millie Bicknelle
Drawing particular features
There are elements of Disney characters’ appearance which they are renowned for, such as the princesses’ hair and eyes. Here, our experts give you some tips on how to recreate the signature style of certain features such as hair and eyes.
“An important part of a Disney character (mainly females) is the hair, as it always looks so glossy and perfect. The technique for drawing good hair is really simple, and once you know the technique you can't really go wrong! It's all about the shading really, and the more time you spend on it, the better it will look! See how to draw red hair, and how to draw blonde hair in my YouTube videos.”- Millie Bicknelle
“The eyes are one of the parties that are cared for more, because they reflect a bit of our soul, or in this case the soul of our character! It always starts from two circles, then a smaller one for the iris, and yet another for the pupil. But don’t forget the lights of the eye, just leave a small white dot over the iris, it will immediately effect a wonderfully light that "Disney" loves!”
“I create various geometric shapes that will help me to recreate the parts of the body, such as a circle for the head, or sausages for legs and so on.”- DebbyArts
Don’t give up!
“If you do not succeed right away, try again and try again. Never give up! Disney dreamed, like all of us, so remember ‘if you can dream it you can do it’.”– DebbyArts