Glen Keane demonstrating how Beast’s cape should move.
A few weeks back when I posted my interview with D23, I mentioned two artists that inspire me. The first was Mary Blair, the second was Glen Keane. If for some reason you are unfamiliar with his work, you certainly know his characters.This is the man responsible for Ariel, Pocahontas, Beast, Tarzan and so many others. “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” came out when I was in high school . I already knew I was headed off to CalArts to study animation upon graduating, with the hopes of working for Disney. Those two films triumphantly marked the return of Disney animation and it’s second golden age. Glen Keane, in my mind, seemed to have a special roll in that. No one draws the way Glen does. He is a master of his craft. Once familiar with his work you can easily spot the scenes he worked on. It’s easy, it’s all in the eyes. He not only did beautiful artwork, he brought these characters to life. He made us believe they are real. I still find it funny that in all my years woking in Disney animation, I was always too intimidated to talk to him. In fact I would often see him coming down the hall and I would turn the other way, like somehow I was not worthy. This was of course all in head, because he could not be more thoughtful, genuine or giving of his time and knowledge. I wouldn’t know this first hand until a project came up at the Disney Stores where I had the chance to meet and work with him. Taken from my D23 interview , I had this to say about that experience. “I had the pleasure of working on the Disney Toddler “Animator” collection, which was all the Princesses, so automatically, I’m on board with that! And we worked on them with Glen Keane and Mark Henn [two legendary Disney animators], and I got to help translate their vision—[working] with the sculptor to make sure the “sculpts” looked like their drawings. I was in the same room as these people. Glen Keane is my absolute hero, and I never had the pleasure of working with him at Feature Animation. Plus, he just made me so nervous—this is my idol! He’s one of the reasons I do what I do. So when that project came to a close, he wanted to see the [Disney Store] building, he said, “I want to meet some of these people, and see what happens over here.” Because he really enjoyed the project as well. And he came and sat at my desk, like, literally, sat at my desk… for an hour! And just chatted, and talked about art and animation. And he was wondering why we had never worked together [at Feature Animation] and started telling me how beautiful he thought my drawings were—and how the work I was doing was inspiring. And he did a drawing of Ariel for me, and wrote on it, “Your work is inspiring. Ariel continues to live through you. Keep going!” And it literally made me want to cry. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. And to have a mutual respect. I was no longer just someone approaching him like a fan. But he got to sit and check out what I was doing so it was more like talking to a peer. [He was] really passing on some wisdom [to me] and it was unbelievable!”.Glen left the Walt Disney Company after 38 years in March of 2012. Luckily we all have the amazing work he has done to cherish. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”If you’re going to make a mistake, don’t make it in the eyes. Because everybody’s looking at the eyes.” -glen keane
Glen Keane, the supervising animator on the Beast, created his own hybrid beast by combining the mane of a lion, the beard and head structure of a buffalo, the tusks and nose bridge of a wild boar, the heavily muscled brow of a gorilla, the legs and tail of a wolf, and the big and bulky body of a bear. He also has blue eyes, the one physical feature that does not change whether he is a beast or a human.
Animation by: Glen Keane
Alan Maken/Glen Keane collabs
Ariel (Part of Your World), Aladdin (One Jump Ahead, A Whole New World), Pocahontas (Colors of the Wind, Just Around the Riverbend), Rapunzel (When Will My Life Begin, I See the Light), Beast (Something There).
Beast sketch by Glen Keane
Supervising animator Glen Keane, who was charged with designing and drawing the Beast, spent a lot of time at the zoo figuring out how to best bring the character to life. Ultimately, the Beast became a hodgepodge of physical characteristics from many animals, including the mane of a lion, the horns and head of a buffalo, the eyebrows of a gorilla, the tusks of a wild boar, the upper body of a bear, and the legs and tail of a wolf. Oh, my! There’s also one physical attribute you don’t see: the posterior of a mandrill. According to Keane, ”Beast actually has a rainbow bum, but nobody knows that but Belle.”
To further add to the Beast’s savage ways, Robby Benson’s voice was enhanced by the growls of actual lions and panthers. Yet in order for Belle to fall for the Beast, his human side had to be readily apparent. Because of this, animators made sure to keep the Beast’s eyes deep blue and full of soul.
look at those eyes!!! look at the emotional depth! that is beautiful.
— ART BY GLEN KEANE