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Disney Buys Star Trek

Tue Mar 31, 2015, 3:00 PM
Img-00 by techgnotic


DeviantArt Today’s Page News Desk


“Gary Seven” (Reporter Without Portfolio)

I just received a call from “Gary Seven.”

DeviantArt has many surprisingly well-connected members and one of them, a top Paramount executive, contacted us two days ago with a rumor so powerful that we wanted to be 100% certain before publishing it. We now know: Disney just bought all television rights to Star Trek.

Bob Iger, the current chairman and CEO of Disney, bought Star Trek from CBS Television, which had acquired the television rights when it split off from Paramount. Paramount has kept the motion picture rights.

Our contact, who wants to be known as “Gary Seven,” found out about this purchase — needless to say one of the biggest secrets imaginable — when Iger visited Paramount two days ago to let them know what Disney planned to do with their new franchise. Because Paramount is still making Star Trek movies, we guess there must be some sort of clause in the contracts that requires some kind of cooperation between television and motion picture versions.

Gary is on the Paramount Star Trek motion picture team and their heads started spinning when Iger laid out his plans.

What we know from that meeting is this:

  • Disney is rebooting the television series Star Trek as a fast track project. JJ Abrams had been in talks with Disney before it closed on Star Trek. Iger asked Abrams to secretly set the reboot of Star Trek in the Star Wars universe and in return he would be rewarded by directing the first of the Star Wars movies.
  • Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, now being edited for December release, will plant suggestions that the Federation, Klingons and Romulans were connected to the Star Wars universe. They are dubbing references along those lines into the dialogue now. (Tribbles?) This will set up additional storylines in the television reboot of Star Trek. But Iger assured the meeting that the Star Trek characters would not actually appear in the Star Wars films unless Paramount agreed.
  • Disney will blend Star Trek into their Marvel Universe by placing Marvel characters like Iron Man and a future version of The Guardians of the Galaxy into worlds visited by the Starship Enterprise and its crew in the reboot. Disney also wants a unified backstory that Stark Industries designed the Starship Enterprise and is the go-to contractor for Starships to the Federation. Iger said he would consider licensing the same characters to Paramount for its Star Trek films if the scripts are made compatible.
  • The Disney Channel will be producing an entire series in which the Star Trek characters and more importantly the moral lessons and “humanistic” messages of the franchise will be directed at pre-school and K-6 children. Iger said this was a “passion project” for him because he has learned so much to guide his own life from Star Trek.
  • Disney’s Imagineering division has started plans for the Starship Enterprise Holodeck attraction for all its theme parks as part of TomorrowLand and will easter egg the attraction in the TomorrowLand film coming this summer.
  • Iger showed mock ups of Star Trek merchandise that will start selling at all Disney outlets this summer. In a dramatic gesture he ended his talk by opening up his shirt to display a T-shirt that read “Disney’s Star Trek Coming Soon!”

We are told by Gary that the response was icy while Iger and his team were making their presentation.

As soon as they left the room on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, Brad Grey, the Chairman of Paramount, turned to his executives and said: “Don’t worry. We’ve sued Disney before and we will do it again. They will not f**kup Star Trek like they did with so many other cherished properties. Not on my watch.”

We learned from another source that Paramount’s law firm took over a whole floor in its Century City offices as a “war room” and is pulling in copyright lawyers from all over the country (we guess that includes the one who works here at HQ because he’s been gone for three days and used to be General Counsel at Paramount).

We also learned that Paramount is furiously negotiating with 20th Century Fox Chairman, Jim Gianopulous (who used to work at Paramount on the Star Trek franchise), to use the X-Men or Aliens or Predator characters in the next Star Trek movie.

It’s all great stuff for the press and the critics. But watching this war will be a sad coda and will close the door on the legacy of Gene Rodenberry. At least cyberspace holds the original series intact even if Disney tries to withdraw it and only release it every seven years, as they have done in the past with animation titles.

We may have reached the Final Frontier.

Your Thoughts

  1. Do you think Disney will eventually own and control a single universal science-fiction narrative based on Star Wars, with all the characters from Star Trek as well as the Marvel and DC Universes fully subsumed and utilized per relative timeline?
  2. Do you think the world’s leaders should get involved to protect the integrity of franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars?
  3. Do you foresee the possibility of a lethal conflict arising between the Vulcans and Jedis different philosophies?  Will the undying spirits of Spock and Obi-Wan Kenobi become the political and religious leaders of the two “unified” but contentious factions?
  4. Is it now possible that Gary Mitchell actually tapped into the Dark Side of the Force in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”?
  5. Do you think Scotty and Tony Stark could get along together in the Enterprise’s engine room?

A friend of mine is writing a book on animation fundamentals and asked me for a "paragraph or two" (which I can't do) on the subject of timing.  I considered it and ended up writing about my progression of learning while a Disney animator in the traditional animation days.  It was good therapy for me to really think this through and consider the order of things.  I hope you enjoy it.  "Like" or "fav" this so others will see it too.  Thanks!

My Progression As A Disney Animator
by Tom Bancroft

Walt Disney is quoted as saying that it takes 10 years to make a great animator.

When I was first coming out of California Institute of the Arts and joining a Disney internship in 1988, hearing that quote was devastating.  10 years?  That's FOREVER!  I wanted to be a full-fledged Disney animator in TWO years!  I rationalized that that was a way of thinking from the 40s and today, we move at a quicker pace, so- just like microwave ovens- we can speed up that process.  There.  Walt wasn't wrong, just wrong for THESE times.  

As an eager, young animator at Disney in the early 90s, my strongest desire (as was the same with my animator peers) was to get just one, strong acting scene.   Four or five LINES, beautifully spoken and with lots of drama dripping from them.  That's the kind of scenes that all Disney animators in training know look good on your animation reel and will get you promoted.  I look back at my progression of learning in my twelve years at Disney as a traditional animator and I can describe my leaps forward in my work in three areas I concentrated on and the order I understood them.  

First was DRAWING.  As an animation geek student, I hovered over Disney animation drawings by the Masters.  The Nine Old Men and some of the current Legends of Disney animation were my bread and butter as an animation student and throughout my early years at Disney.  I thought if I could draw really well, that would make me a good Disney animator.  It's not.  You will have pretty drawings that move odd.  I have seen- and made- quite a few animation tests like that in the beginning years.  

Later on, I discovered the importance of MECHANICS.  Almost immediately after I viewed my pretty drawing, oddly moving animated test I realized I needed to study the mechanics of movement.  I started to realize that behind those Masters' drawings were concepts of movement that I needed to understand to make my animation feel natural.  My first scene of Young Simba on "The Lion King" really brought this home to me.  It was the scene where he jumps down a cliff and ends up rolling down the hill into a thorn thicket (after being chased by the hyenas).  That scene of him tumbling over and over down the hill opened my eyes to the fact that I didn't know how a lion moved- or their anatomy- enough to do my job well.  I had to go and research more.  I took a few days and did that before I went back to my desk and start animating that scene.  I never forgot that scene and it made me a proponent of learning the mechanics behind how people and animals move naturally.

TIMING, was the last of the three hurdles and I discovered its importance last.  While at Cal Arts and at Disney I had always heard how important timing was to a scene.  I recited it back to younger animators many times myself through the years.  I USED the concept of timing in my animation for five or six years but it wasn't until the film "MULAN" and I became a supervising animator on the character of MUSHU the dragon that it became an essential part of my animation.  It was partly because I needed to use it more because Mushu was that kind of cartoony- quick moving character that his timing became a part of how I animated him.  I also animated more SCENES on "Mulan" than I had on the three or four films before it- combined.  So, I was getting much more practice using timing in my scenes.  Thirdly, the Disney Studios had developed better and better technology to aid us animators in shooting and timing out our scenes.  By "Mulan", we had a great digital pencil test system where you could change the timing of your drawings with just a push of the button.  Years before that, like on films like "Beauty and the Beast", we were shooting on clunky video based pencil test systems, where you would have to reshoot your scene to change timing.  At least part of it, if not all of it.  That meant you had to make educated guesses on your timing of each drawing, hoping that you were at least 90% correct and then make a few minor adjustments before you reshot it again to see if you could improve it.  With the advent of the digital pencil test systems, I soon became addicted to finessing my pose test timing to get the exact timing I was hoping looking for.  I would even do the unthinkable, trying things that I hadn't thought through- cutting out drawings on the fly even- to make something even snappier.  I discovered that many times I didn't need all the drawings I had created for a certain movement.  Mushu had made me a speed freak!

Okay, that's taking it a bit far, but my point is that timing became the last missing element of finesse that I could add to my progression of learning.  Not to say that I wasn't learning many things- and still am- during those years but I can look back now and see a road map of my progression.  Timing should have been one of the first things I studied and applied, but I think I didn't put enough importance on it in the beginning of my career.  It took many years of study to embrace all the concepts and how they worked together before I felt comfortable to try new things.  

About 10 years, actually.  I guess Walt was right after all.
  • Listening to: pandora
  • Reading: Invincible
  • Watching: Modern Family
  • Playing: by writing this journal
  • Eating: too, too much.
  • Drinking: afternoon coffee
Now it can me told- but should it?  After Lion King wrapped and before we started on Pocahontas (1994), we artists of Walt Disney Animation Florida had far too much free time on our hands (for months).  At the same time, our studio head, Max Howard, was leaving to move to the California Disney studio.  This video, made by the artists, was a "what if the artists took over Disney management" storyline.  Its full of us animators, but the Disney Florida management all played along.  I still don't know how we got away with it- but no one was EVER going to see it right?  I'm in there around 13:00 in.  Its long, but if you like Disney animation behind the scenes films, this is the ulitmate!  Enjoy!  
  • Mood: Love
  • Listening to: Michael Jackson, of course
  • Reading: Just working
  • Watching: Just working
  • Playing: on DA, at the moment
  • Eating: Less, if I'm smart.
  • Drinking: Water, if I'm smart.

Disney layoffs, 2D animation, and you

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 2:33 PM
A very nervous animation student (he didn't say, but I assume he is studying 2D animation) asked me about my opinions on the state of animation these days.  What are the companies thinking with laying off all the employees, not doing 2D animation, canceling great TV series, etc.?  Are the business people just evil?  AND the even bigger question: Is John Lassiter a jerk (or worse) for letting all the 2D animators at Disney go yesterday?  

MY ANSWER:  I have a slightly controversial (for an artist) perspective on businesses and business people.  Over all, I like them.  At times, I have even been grateful for them.  (Steady paychecks should never be taken for granted.  Wait till you don't have one one day, then you'll know!) Remember, we live in a world where businesses are expected to make money to stay alive.  It's called capitalism. Others call it "business". That means, the animation world isn't any different from any other job/company. I see the other side of the equation since I owned my own company for about 8 years. It was a small studio, but until you work "out in the real world" away from mom and dad's money and/or a companies' steady paycheck, you have no idea how hard it is to stay afloat as an artist. I don't suggest it to people right after art school by any means. That doesn't mean I think that studios are run poorly at times.  They OFTEN are.  Its is near impossible to find a person that understands creative people AND knows business well enough to run a studio.  That person was NOT Walt Disney, as many of you think.  Walt had his brother Roy, to handle the money side of things and make sure Walt didn't destroy the company.  And he would have.  Imagine a world where Disney animation only made "Snow White".  That's the Disney company with Walt as the sole head.  You need both sides and I admit, the Disney company of today (and for years now) is short sighted.  They want quick money and are not looking long term at investments and legacy, as they should.  They say they are, but its obvious they are not.  

Has power gone to John Lassiter's head?  Is he an evil businessman now?  Not evil, that's for sure.  More business minded than ever before, yes, he has to be.  Its part of his job.  It was when he was just creative head of Pixar, but it could take a back seat a bit in that job (there were other "Roy's" that could do that heavy lifting).  Now, he has MUCH more on his shoulders and he's spread very thin.  As far as the 2D animators that just got laid off?  He was the guy that KEPT them there for the past couple years when they (largely) had very little to do.   They were making money for YEARS and not doing much.  Ask them, they will tell you the same thing.  Its not what they wanted, and they have been fighting to get some 2D projects going the whole time.  But don't think that any other studio/ studio head would have kept about 20 highly paid (based on years of service and compared to some of the younger CG guys for sure) for years without an actual production for them to work on!  No way.  Only at Disney and only under John's eye/hand.  They were his friends and he wanted them there.  At least until the Board couldn't stand the bleeding ink on the stocks, etc.  I don't know the whole story, few do, but this is how these things work.  Believe me, Lassiter is not a saint, but he knows talent and values good people.

So, do you go into animation/ stay in animation school or not?  Well, if you can see yourself doing ANYTHING ELSE and still be content, then maybe you should look into those things. Your life will be easier. If you can't imagine drawing and being creative every day, then go for it. Your life won't be easy, but it will be happier. Its really that simple. Also, keep in mind, time moves forward. Things change. When some companies close, others open up that you never thought would. So, pursue what your dreams (with some 'safety measures, like learning computer animation also, perhaps) and have faith that life happens weather you are happy or not, so choose to be happy.  There's nothing wrong with doing a "boring day job" if it pays the bills for your family and you stay up late doing your creative dream project.  That may happen too.  As long as you flex those creative muscles, it might be nice to not have deadlines and pressure of paying bills with your artwork.

  • Listening to: pandora
  • Reading: Invincible
  • Watching: Modern Family
  • Playing: by writing this journal
  • Eating: too, too much.
  • Drinking: afternoon coffee

How to Run your own Group

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 9, 2010, 5:26 PM

People keep dropping by my page asking my questions about how I run my groups. So that I don't have to keep writing it out, here's a quick tutorial.

Feel free to add a link to this tutorial on your group's page to help other people who are in need of assistance running their group.

:star: Part One - General Group Building
- How to Create a Group
- How many groups can I have?
- How to activate join requests
- How to activate and regulate Submissions
- How to limit submissions to your group
- How to create gallery folders
- How to activate gallery folder submissions and make a limit on them.
- How to affiliate your group with others
- How to invite members/co-founders/admins
- How to change your group Avatar
- How to add a tagline for your group
- If you're a contributor to a group, your limitations are...
- Once I've submitted my application for a group, how long do I have to wait?
- I've accidentally hid my admin area from myself! What do I do?
- How to close your group
- I can't join groups even though other people can. What's wrong?

:star: Part Two - Other Group Attributes
- How to get people to join your group
- How to have specific pieces added to your group's gallery
- How to present an organized page

:star: Part Three - HTML Coding
- Make custom buttons for your group
- Center images/text
- Bold, underline, and italicize
- Embed Music
- Embed Videos

:star: Part One

- How to Make a Group

To make a Group, visit the groups listing page:
At the top in yellow, you'll see a button that says, "Make a Group". Simple as that!

- How many groups can I have?

If you don't have a subscription, you can have up to three.
If you have a subscription, your can have up to ten.

- How to activate Join Requests

The first thing you'll want to do once your group is created is open it up to members! (What's a group without members?)
To do this, go to the front page of your group and click on the red button at the top that says, "Admin Area". Then, click the "manage members" button in the upper left corner. Here you will see a list that says something like, "Founder, Co-Founder, Moderators etc.". Click on the one that says, "Members". Now in the upper right corner of the right box you'll see "On Home, Members", and below that, "Join Requests". Change that little baby from "Are not Allowed" to "Are automatically approved".  

- How to activate and regulate Submissions

Go to the front page of your group and click on the red button at the top that says, "Admin Area".
Then, click the "manage members" button in the upper left corner. Here you will see a list that says something like, "Founder, Co-Founder, Moderators etc.". Click on the one that says, "Members".

In the right box, some way underneath "join requests" you'll see "On Gallery, Members:".
You can either change that option to "are automatically approved" or to "Are Subject to Vote".
The one you choose depends on whether or not you want to monitor every submission that comes in. If you do, click on the "Are Subject to Vote" option.
What this does is, when someone wants to submit to your group, you'll get a message in your inbox in your message center with their deviation in it. You'll see an option that says, "yes" or "no". If it's something you want in your group you can click yes and the picture will appear in your group's gallery. If you say "no", the deviation will be declined and will not appear in your group's gallery.
If you don't want to monitor submissions to your group, click "are automatically approved". Then, anyone who wants to submit can submit anything at anytime without your approval. So! Make sure you keep an eye on that!

- How to limit submissions to your group

If your group's getting too big, and you want to regulate how many submissions are allowed by one person for a certain allotment of time, go to the same "manage members" area as under "How to activate members". Underneath the "On Gallery, members:" button, you'll see something that says, "Global Submission Limit". In the first box, you can choose how many submissions are allowed, and then in the second box you can choose the period of time. So, for example, if you want each member to submit only one deviation a week, choose "1" for the first box, and then "week" in the second box.

- How to Create Gallery Folders

Go into the gallery of your group (by clicking the “gallery” button at the top of your page.)
Once in, you’ll see all your “featured” images. To the lower left, in the side-bar you’ll see a button that says, “new folder”. Click that button and you’ll get a new folder. These folders allow you to organize your gallery more so that people stopping by can find exactly what they’re looking for. Once you create these folders, you’ll need to open submissions to them so that members can submit to them. Otherwise they’re inaccessible.

- How to activate gallery folder submissions and make a limit on them

Go to the front page of your group and click on the red button at the top that says, "Admin Area". Then, click the "manage members" button in the upper left corner. Here you will see a list that says something like, "Founder, Co-Founder, Moderators etc.". Click on the one that says, "Members". Under “On Gallery, Members”, you’ll see the usual “Submissions to featured”.  Under that, you’ll see an option in a light blue color that says, “Show all folders.” Click on that.
Now you can see all of your custom-made gallery folders. Here you can change the submissions options. You can also make a limit on how many deviations can be submitted to them here.

- How to affiliate your group with others

Go to the front page of your group. At the top and to the right, you’ll see an “affiliate” button. If you click on that, you can write in the name of the group you want to affiliate with.

- How to invite members/co-founders/admins

Click on the “Admin Area” button on the front page of your group. Click on the “manage members” button that appears in the upper-left.  Now you’ll have the list, “Founder, Co-founder, contributors etc.” If you click on any one of those, (except founder. You can only have one founder) in the top left box you’ll see a little envelope icon that says, “invite friend to ____”. Write in the name of the deviant you want to invite, and the message will be sent.

- How to Change your Group Avatar

Go to the front page of your group and click on your avatar. Simple as that!

- How to add a tagline to your group

Go to the front page of your group. Click where it says "Group" with "founded ____ ago" under it. Then, click the edit button (the pencil). There you will see an option for a tagline.

- If you're a contributor to a group, your limitations are...

If you're a contributor to a group, your actions will be limited. You won't be able to add folders to galleries, or organize galleries. If you want to do that sort of thing, ask your founder to promote you to a co-founder.

- Once I've submitted my application for a group, how long do I have to wait?

Once you've submitted your application for a new group, it can take a while for it to get activated. Not too long, though. In my experience you only have to wait a day or two for it to start. It probably depends on how many people are submitting applications for groups at one time.

- I've accidentally hid my admin area from myself! What do I do?

Write in the following URL into your search bar, only without the "*":

Then you should be able to find the option to unhide your admin area from yourself.

- How to Close your Group

Go to the front page of your group.
Click on the place that has your icon next to your group's icon.
Then scroll down to the "close group" option.

- - I can't join groups even though other people can. What's wrong?

If you're using a tablet or touchpad, some people have told me that certain buttons don't appear on group pages, including the join button. If you're using a touchpad you'll have to ask the founder of the group to send an invite in order to get in. Otherwise, just get on a normal computer and the button should be there.

:star: Part Two

- How to get people to join your group

Having difficulty getting people to join your group?

What I suggest is that you get all the artwork you can for whatever your group is about and have it added to your gallery!
This gets the people you ask it from interested. You don’t have to/shouldn’t go to their page and make a comment, though. This is how you ask the electronic way; go into your gallery and click the “Submit art to this gallery” button next to the “+” at the very top.

Click on the option that appears saying, “contribute an existing deviation”.  A big ol’ box will appear. At the top of this box you’ll see three buttons; “your gallery”, “your favorites” and “all of deviantart”. Click on the one that says, “all of deviantart”.
Now, to the right you can plug in whatever you want to search for in the search bar. A bunch of deviations will appear after you do so.

Click on every single one that has to do with your group – no matter the quality. The picture should turn green when you click on it, and after it does, click the green “submit” button at the bottom of the box. This sends a message to the owner of the artwork asking their permission to have it put in the gallery. If they say “yes”, their artwork will appear in the gallery!

And maybe, just maybe they’ll be interested enough to join themselves.
Also! If their work is put in the gallery, the icon of your group will appear next to their artwork. More and more people will see your group!

Finally, throw contests! If people enter contests at your group, they'll mention your group on your deviation. If they're having fun, more people will want to join in. ^.^

-How to have specific pieces added to your gallery

Did you see an awesome artwork somewhere you’d like to ask to have added to your group? No problem!
Just go into the “contribute an existing deviation” again as above, and click the “all of deviantart” button again.
Now all you gotta do is write in the searchbox:    “by:deviantsusername”
Only, without the quotation marks. This will bring up the person’s gallery you’re looking for, and you can click on the one you want to ask permission for!

Another way: Go to the deviation you want, and to the right side of the page, you'll see a little link that says "[X]Submit to a group". It's kinda small, so keep an eye out for it!

-How to present an organized page

A lot of the time as I’m searching through groups I see pages that are just jam-packed with all of the options deviantart offers you. What I suggest to make your group as attractive as possible is: DO NOT ADD EVERYTHING YOU CAN! If you do, your page will look like a confused mess.
Here are some things I definitely suggest you should do with your front page. All of the following options can be found under the “edit page” button on the front page of your group to the upper right.

“Gallery Folder” – this option will allow you to show off all the deviations in the “featured” part of your gallery. When you put it on your front page, you can edit the options by clicking the little pencil that appears in the upper-right corner of the box. I always put my “featured” box on random by clicking the box that says, “newest” and then switching it to “random”. Then I make it into one huge thumbnail by clicking the “huge thumbnail” button.

AND! I always put this featured folder at the very top of my group. This way when deviants drop by, the first thing they see is a big pretty artwork. I only put the best stuff into this featured folder. ;-)

“Gallery List” – Because Deviantart doesn’t allow you to have more than one featured folder (unless you have a subscription for your group), what I highly suggest is that you put the gallery list option underneath your featured Gallery Folder.
This way deviants dropping by can see what’s in all of your gallery folders with small thumbnails. If you don’t have any gallery folders, this won’t work. If you want to know how to create gallery folders and manage them, refer to part one of this tutorial.

“Favorites” – Every group should have favorites, right? Well, to make the favorites on my groups seem more special, I only put the winners of my contests in there. Just another way to make your members feel happy/special!

“Affiliates” – To be polite to the people that affiliate with my groups, I always put this option on my front page somewhere. You don’t have to, of course… but to be nice…

:star: Part Three

- Make a text link with HTML codes

To make a link out of text, use this code only without the *s:

<*a href="LINKHERE">TextYouWantHere</*a>

- Make Custom Buttons for your group using HTML codes

A lot of people have asked how to get custom buttons for the front page of your group. Here's how:

First off you need a place to upload images for your custom buttons. I recommend either your DA stash or, which is free. Upload your images.

Next, you need to write this code only without the *s.

<*a href="LINK1"><*img src="LINK2"></*a>

Where Link1 will be the URL (link) to where you want your button to lead,
and Link2 is the URL of where your button image exists.

To get the URL to your button image, you can right click on it and then you'll most likely see something that says "copy image location" or the like.

- Center images and text using HTML codes

To center images and/or text, write the following code only without the *s:

<*div align="center">

When you want the centering to stop, write this ender code only without the *:


- Bold, Underline and Italicize Using HTML codes

To bold text write the following only without *s:


When you want the bold to stop, write: </*b>

To underline text, write the following only without *s:


When you want the underline to stop, write: </*u>

To italicize text, write the following without *s:


When you want the italics to stop, write: </*i>

- Embed Music onto your page with Youtube:

Write this code only without the *s. It's a big one! There are nine *s. Be sure to remove them all.
The short URL you'll need to put in the last part is the very end of the code at your youtube link. It should be a series of numbers and letters that'll look something like: AMGXq9_IQBQ

<*div class="gr-box gr-headless"><*div class="smbutton smbutton-white">
<*div class="pagination f sitback-container talk-post cc-userdetails popup2-clear" id="headMast"><*img width="300" height="24" src="http*://"><*div class="sitback-slide flex-bottom popup2-clear"><*da:embed width="544" height="340" profile="youtube" id="SHORT URL HERE"></*div></*div>

- Embed Video onto your page with youtube:

Write the following code only without the *s:
Once again: The Short URL is the last part of your youtube link that'll be a series of letters and numbers that'll look something like: AMGXq9_IQBQ

<*div class="video"><*da:embed profile="youtube" id="SHORT URL HERE"><*/div>

If you have any other questions that aren’t answered above, let me know!

Brian Kesinger: Character Driven

Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:39 AM
1 by techgnotic

Disney Artist Brian Kesinger on Creating Story through Character

Foreword by techgnotic

It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and Bolt. Brian is author and illustrator of his own octovictorian creation, the wildly popular Walking Your Octopus, featuring Otto and Victoria, about a young turn-of-the-century London lady of distinction and her pet octopus.

Take a moment and think about your favorite movie. Now imagine that movie without the main character, as you know them, in it. I think it is important to make a distinction between the plot of a story and the arc of your main character.

The plot is a series of events that result in a character going through an emotional arc. You can briefly define a character arc as how a character feels and acts at the beginning of the story versus how the feel and act in the end. In Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and at the end he loves it. That is an oversimplification of his arc. The plot is there in order to provide obstacles and choices to show the the audience who they are and what their attitude toward their situation is. A good plot keeps you interested in the story but a good character will make you want to rewatch the movie over and over again. I am personally a fan of movies that have very simple plots as those films leave much more room for character development.

One way to look at a story is a series of choices made in creating the main character. As a storyteller, the more time you put into your character, the easier it will be for you to make those choices for your character be truthful.

Truthfulness is talked about a lot when discussing character creation. Fictional characters are, of course, not real. They do not exist in the real world. They are made up. You must give them reality with relatable traits. Let’s say your main character is a farm hand. How does he feel about that? Does he enjoy the hard labor, or is he bored out of his mind? Let's choose the latter. Note that we are not talking about plot, just discussing character. Does this farm-boy get along with his parents? Let's add mystery by making him an orphan. So we now have the highly relatable story of a bored young man with a decision to make. Should he continue his duties on the farm or answer an inner calling to explore the rest of his world? We know this character. Some of us are this character. So when Luke Skywalker makes his choice, it rings true, because his character has already been established as someone we understand, someone who wants more out of life. We can all relate to his situation. His story will be a bit more exciting than most tales of fugitive farm-boys, but even Star Wars might have bored us had we not been pre-invested in such a relatable character by skilled storytellers.

As an illustrator, my job is to create believable characters. At Disney it is not uncommon for us to start drawing before a writer has even been hired to write a script. Animation and art are a visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Drawing your character is one of the best ways to kick off the generation of those words. It is all in the details. How your character dresses, what sort of hair they have, are they big or scrawny? All these questions can be answered and explored through the drawing process. When we work on our films it is common for the character designers and story artists to work at the same time because one department constantly informs the other.

I love this part of the process, as you draw your character and you explore all aspects of them and the ideas start to gel. You put one image next to another and suddenly a story starts to develop, to talk to you. It is very exciting. We had an interesting challenge in creating the character of Baymax for the up coming film Big Hero 6.

I asked Joe Mateo, head of story on the film to talk a little about the difficulties that arose when creating a character without traditional features.

We knew that Baymax was going to be a challenge given his limited amount of facial features to express an emotional range. It's amazing though, what you can achieve with those charming dot eyes combined with a subtle head tilt, a well timed blink, and body gestures. These things plus line delivery can be very effective in expressing different emotions. We're careful though how much emotions we want Baymax to show given that he is just a non sentient robot... or is he?”

Joe Mateo, Head of story on Big Hero 6

On the film Frozen we were tasked with taking a fairy tale “princess movie” and putting a fresh spin on it. One way that we did that was by exploring the characters of Anna & Elsa and creating a believable relationship between the two of them. Paul Briggs, head of story on Frozen speaks more about that here.

One of the great things we had working for us was the tropes of princess films we had done in the past. Audiences already had an expectation we would deliver the familiar romantic love story... a romantic kiss from a prince/knight in shining armor would save the the day. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck knew they wanted to deliver something fresh and different and took the idea from the original Snow Queen story that "an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart" and coupled that with a story about two sisters. The movie really started to focus more about family love than romantic love. The challenge was crafting two siblings that couldn't have that love between one another. We had Elsa, who was hiding a power that she thinks will hurt or kill her sister. So she lives in fear and is afraid to share her love towards her sister. We developed Anna as being fearless but she lives in a world where we she wants to give her love but it is never reciprocated by her sister. She holds onto that true love for her sister though and it's ultimately the thing that saves the day and protects and saves her sister. Anna makes the biggest choice in the movie which is she sacrifices her life to save her sister—an act of true love.”

Paul Briggs, Head of story on Frozen

Interviews Brian Kesinger's Q&A with the Following Deviant Artists


In creating your Lost Kids graphic novel what were some ways that you made your characters believable teenagers even though they are inhabiting a fantastical world?


Felipe Cagno

It's all about really turning your characters into real people, people that you could walk past in the streets and that means tons of research and world building. For every character in the Lost Kids comics I have these extensive character sheets with dozens of questions ranging from their family background, their homes, where they grew up in, the environment around them, to their biggest fears, their hopes and dreams, their psyche, etc.

All that comes into play and you must know your characters better than yourselves, you really must ask the tough questions and come up with interesting answers. A kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, will most definitely talk and behave very differently than a kid growing up in Orange County, CA. Do they come from a rich family, a blue-collar one, from poverty, where do they go to school, are they outgoing or shy, do they use slang, or perhaps they speak perfect English, are they popular or outcasts, what are their deepest secrets and so forth.

And the most interesting task I had to go through was actually finding a way of these very different kids that should not get along, get together for this adventure. Good storytelling comes from conflict and there is nothing more boring than seeing characters agreeing on paper or screen, you want them to duke it out, you want them to have completely different opinions about the stuff that matters so you can exploit different points of view on a given subject and let the audience choose sides.

Believable teenagers have very strong opinions and views of their world, I just made sure to get all that right even before writing a word of the script.


Can you talk a little about how your characters developed from random sketches to the storylines in your web comic?


Der-shing Helmer

I don't actually sketch randomly and home storylines come out, it's pretty much the opposite... I come up with story elements that I find interesting and work to develop a character that might fit into the scenario in a unique way. For example, in The Meek, I wanted to write a story about a girl who doesn't care much for societal pressures. She started out in sketches as several types of girl, but with the goal of a story in mind, eventually developed in the my character Angora who is introduced as not wearing clothes (that portrayal is pivotal to her essential nature). I don't think the character would have been quite as effective if I had just been drawing naked women, and then tried to mould a story around that visual.

For the new comic that I am making (and will be posting more art of to deviantArt as well), I'm doing something similar; trying to create a certain vision of the future and the people who live there. With the future in mind, I get to create characters that represent my hopes and expectations, vs just randomly hoping to strike gold. My general advice is always to give a context to your sketches, even if you don't ultimately use them... it will help your characters develop into living people who feel like they might really exist somewhere.


When creating your character Veloce Visrin, what were some of the choices you made in designing her look and outfit to help tell the reader what she is all about?


Shilin Huang

I've given Veloce outfits meant for show, as well as casual outfits for the story she is in. The more story-oriented decisions were made with her casual outfit. Naturally, her look should immediately convey her character, because insignificant details on how a character chooses to dress himself/herself are usually a good reflection of their values. I've kept her outfit casual and unimpressive,despite her being the main character, to match her preference for staying away from the spotlight and blending into the crowds. Her clothes are also kept loose fitting rather than skintight, her hair kept free and not diligently kept, giving her a more relaxed air. However, she did come from a respected/feared family, and a hint of the fact that she is supposed to be an upper-class lady still comes across through the halter top, which is the same top/dress featured in her other, more extravagant and impressive outfits, covered up under the guise of her hoodie and otherwise unassuming look.


Your character drawings are so expressive. What are some tips for drawing animal characters with such human emotions while still maintaining their animalistic anatomy?


Tracy Butler

Thank you! Foremost, I’d say it’s important to get to know the subject matter. Gathering some overarching observational knowledge about anatomy, gesture and expression is pretty vital to drawing convincing pictures of such things. It also applies to the ensuing Frankensteinian drawing experiments that I would recommend as a generally effective approach to designing characters that fall somewhere between human and animal (though I’d argue that distinction is mostly philosophical).  Do a lot of sketching, in other words.

Human capacity for self-aware emotional complexities aside, it’d be difficult to mark a clear distinction between human and animal emotions. Among other mammals in particular, there’s quite a lot of overlap in the way we express basic things like fear, dejection and excitement, in fact. Whether human or wolf, a lowered head, fixed stare and curled lip is unmistakably aggressive.  That sort of thing can certainly work to the artist’s advantage when drawing an animalistic character meant to emote in a relatable human fashion.  Further appending the expression with the animal’s telltale posturing - raised hackles, pinned ears, bared fangs - can be mixed in to varying degrees of bestial and dramatic.  The more minute facial features add a layer of human nuance and specificity - the smallest adjustment can put an entirely different spin on an expression. For the given example, downward angled “angry” eyebrows would be well in line with the straightforward appearance of aggression, but simply arching one of the brows higher than the other can turn it into an expression of calculated anger.  Symmetrically high arching brows could make the expression more excited or crazed; furrowed brows could be used to convey a sort of consternated anger, and so forth.

Of course, species that don’t communicate in ways that are especially decipherable to humans and critters with physiognomies that don’t lend themselves well to forming human expressions can present design challenges that might require some careful finagling. To use a popular example, note the dramatically shortened heads of My Little Pony characters as compared to realistic equine heads.  Much of the animal appearance of the face is sacrificed, clustering the features together into an alignment more closely resembling a (cartoon-like) human.  This way, the expressions are eminently readable, never inadvertently shifting from cute to awkward.  In other situations, preserving the animalistic mien might be the greater priority over rendering consistently appealing human expressions. If you ever find yourself trying to draw chagrin on an anteater, consider that in some cases, embracing a bit of the awkwardness might not be a bad thing.  It can make for some defining, memorable characteristics.

My advice overall is to approach whatever abstracted combination of anatomies are at hand as an advantage rather than a limitation to building an expressive character.  The human and animal aspects each bring a toolkit array of physical features, gestures, behaviors and idiosyncrasies to utilize and draw inspiration from - all the more resources with which the character may exude life and emotion, presence and personality.


What led you to pick Korea as the location for your fish out of water story of frankie*SNATCH? And how does that specific location inform what situations your character goes through?


Lynsey Wo

When I initially came up with the concept for frankie*SNATCH back in 2001, I wanted to base it in a large, modern city in the Far East. At the time, Japan was experiencing a huge popularity boom (certainly within the target audience I was wanting to reach) and I wanted to avoid following that trend. After a little bit of research, Seoul seemed to contain the fast pace, bright lights, cosmopolitan scene I was looking for. In these early stages, a strong visual setting was all I was after, and Seoul fitted that need perfectly.

Frankie*SNATCH has always been a character-driven plot, and whilst the location had never been hugely influential as a whole, as the story developed darker, controversial issues, I still needed to make sure it was still appropriate. For example, a major theme of substance abuse within the story lead me to research the sort of healthcare and treatment available for those suffering with addictions, and how this sort of issue is perceived and handled by Korean society as a whole. This research directly impacted on how the character(s) confronting this issue would handle it, particularly from the societal angle. This idea of such an old-fashioned taboo against the backdrop of an otherwise modern, diverse city was something I found interesting, but it also made me realise the importance of making sure the characters were believable enough for them to address the issues presented to them with as little help from the outside as possible.

Questions for Brian Kesinger

  1. Brian has volunteered to answer any questions you might have in a series of video updates we will post soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for a shout-out from him.

    Leave your questions for Brian in the comments below.

Cosplay Friday: Frozen

Fri Dec 26, 2014, 12:00 AM
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There’s a chill in the air as we travel to the kingdom of Arendelle for a Frozen cosplay treat.

Frozen was Disney’s tremendously successful third attempt at adapting the grimm Hans Christian Anderson tale The Snow Queen. As early as 1943, Walt Disney saw the potential in this the longest and most highly acclaimed of Andersen’s stories, but it took 70 years and a couple of modifications for the film to finally become a dream come true.

First published in 1845, the villainous Snow Queen was described in the story as: “…a woman, dressed in garments of white gauze, which looked like millions of starry snow–flakes linked together. She was fair and beautiful, but made of ice—shining and glittering ice. Still she was alive and her eyes sparkled like bright stars, but there was neither peace nor rest in their glance”

In order to make the story work on screen Disney had to turn the Snow Queen from villain to flawed heroine and in doing so introduced it’s first dual Princess movie featuring sisters Elsa and Anna.

Disney always includes a few artistic treats in their animated films and this one is no different. The names of the characters—Hans, Kristoff, Anna, and Sven—are a tribute to the original author, when place together it sounds like Hans Christian Anderson. During Anna’s song ‘For the first time in Forever’ she swings and poses in front of a painting in the palace gallery based on 18th-century oil painting ‘The Happy Accidents of the Swing’ by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. It seems to be a popular painting among the Disney animators as it has show up in the concept art of films like Tangled.

Frozen’s popularity is a tribute to the essential and timeless themes of Anderson’s story—love, family, and finding one’s inner strength. The award winning film has not only melted audiences’ hearts across the world and become the highest–grossing animated movie of all time, it has also inspired a multitude of cosplayers to “let it go” and transform into their favorite Frozen characters.

Warner Brothers Versus Warner Brothers

Wed Mar 18, 2015, 11:29 AM
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Much has been written over the last few years about Warner Brothers’ rivalry with Disney over the directions each has taken with their superhero franchises.

Disney owns Marvel Comics and Warner Brothers owns DC Comics.

After many years of autonomy, Warner Brothers has just moved DC Comics, their New York publishing powerhouse, to be more under its wing at its Burbank headquarters in Los Angeles. The first signs that the Burbank Warner offices are starting exert control over the DC is the change of policy over its recently relaunched “Nu52 Universe.” While considered a failure on one level, the fact remains that their big push on Nu 52 made the general audience for comics grow in the same time period. In the cards for the next few years is a greater diversity of titles led by creators not from the ranks of DC’s core editorial team. Dustin Nguyen’s “Lil’ Gotham” series was one of the first titles to benefit from this more hands-off approach, followed by “Gotham Academy,” “Gotham By Midnight,” “Harley Quinn,” “Batgirl” and now “Black Canary” is going to get her own book.

Each of the titles will rise and fall on its own merits and so far the risk seems to be paying off as the audience is embracing this new approach.

Of course Warner Brothers has other plans

Rising sales and reader interest in titles is all well and good, but what it wants is fresh takes on these characters. Takes that might lend themselves better to TV and film development. And there we have the real story. The same character can be developed in two completely different ways for two different audiences with two different takes on the character, one for television and the other for film, creating two separate revenue and merchandising streams.

It has been in the area of TV that Warner Brothers has had far more success than Disney’s Marvel. While Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” suffers from being the inferior offspring of its film franchise, Warner chooses to keep its franchises separate between film and television versions and has been reaping the benefits of both. Warner has also historically had better success with DC Comic characters in animation than Marvel, with many going so far as to call for Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, producers of the classic batman animated adventures show, to run publishing and film for DC.

While Kevin Tsujihara runs Warner Brothers as a whole, the film and television divisions are run separately. Peter Roth is head of Warner Brothers Television Group, while Greg Silverman runs the film division.

Most giant corporations that own several companies and divisions have working environments not too dissimilar to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. We won’t hazard a guess as to which one is the House of Stark and which is the House of Lannister, but you can bet the boardrooms in Los Angeles, could give the Red Wedding a run for its money.

Both divisions are very aggressive

The Television group under Roth has several shows on air and more to follow. Currently on air are “The Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Constantine” and “Gotham,” all following “Smallville’s” amazing ten-season run. “Supergirl,” “I-Zombie” and a spin-off of the Arrow and Flash shows is a Justice League series featuring characters that have already been introduced and will still appear in the regular shows. “Black Canary,” “the Atom” and “Firestorm (the Nuclear Man)” are up next. Talks are ongoing about a “Teen Titans” show to join this impressive list.

Down the hall, Greg Silverman is overseeing an equally aggressive launch of feature films starting with the eagerly anticipated “Batman Versus Superman” movie that we know will be the introduction of the Justice League. Aquaman and Wonder Woman will make appearances while also getting their own stand-alone features. Over the next five years there will be at least ten movies set in the film version of the DC Universe. Not all of them will connect, like the Rock’s appearance in “Shazam,” but those that do will tie into and build out a universe that can go head-to-head with Disney/Marvel’s universe.

It seems that Silverman has a little more pull than Roth as he gets the big toys to play with (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), but we’re sure that those characters will make their television debuts once “Batman Versus Superman” has been released.

We can be certain that both groups are pulling on the publishing company to have their versions of the characters in the pages of the comics. DC Comics already publishes comic versions of the Arrow and Flash television series as well as continuing the adventures of Smallville and the 1960s Batman show that starred Adam West and Burt Ward. The film versions of characters for sometime have been influencing the editorial content of the main titles at DC.

We think the real battle to watch will be the one that tries to stop DC Comics from being a research and development department creating new ideas and concepts for Warner Brothers, to simply being a part of a production line for publishing film adaptations and television tie-ins.

Your Thoughts

  1. As a fan of a superhero, do you look forward with equal interest to the character’s separate iterations as a television and a film series, or do you have a preference between film and TV?
  2. Would you prefer that comics characters just stayed in comics?
  3. What’s the most disappointed you’ve ever been in the actual premiere of a highly advertised and greatly hyped film or television series based on one of your favorite Marvel or DC characters? And what has been your happiest “over-the-moon” experience?

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One of the most unique holiday films ever made was originally inspired by the juxtaposition of Halloween and Christmas holiday decorations

that iconoclastic director Tim Burton saw in a store window. The Nightmare Before Christmas was first conceived in the form of a poem rather than a screenplay, composed by Burton in 1982 while he was working as an animator for Disney.

The story centers around Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who stumbles upon Christmas and decides it looks like a lot more fun than what has become his tedious task of leading Halloween festivities every year. What he finds out is that taking over someone else’s holiday, without truly understanding it, much like anything else, is a recipe for disaster.

Disney at first considered the story “too weird” and “too dark for kids,” keeping it shelved until Burton finally said ‘You guys don’t really want to do this, let me take it elsewhere.’ Not wanting to risk the project being successful elsewhere, Disney finally gave the green light.

Taking 3 years to complete with one minute of film needing roughly a week to shoot, The Nightmare Before Christmas made its debut in 1993.

Disney’s decision to release the “too scary for kids” movie under their adult “Touchstone” banner crippled the film’s debut, but the DVD release in 1997 turned the film into a cult hit.  It has since been re-released several times theatrically, including in 3D, and is now considered a “Disney classic.”

The long struggle for Tim Burton’s twisted fable with a heart of gold to be born, and then be given a chance at survival, proves that there is a space in Hollywood for truly visionary artists, but only space enough for the most dedicated and most doggedly determined to survive.

The darkly baroque look of the film was highly influenced by the art of Ronald Searle and Edward Gorey, as can clearly be seen in the set designs which were heavily modeled to look like the artists’ ink illustrations.

Long before “Nightmare” became a holiday classic, Jack was making secret cameos in films.

Jack first appears in the movie Beetlejuice on the top of the carnival hat that Beetlejuice wears, look closely at the Mad Hatter’s tie in Alice in Wonderland and you’ll spot him. He's as an egg yolk in Coraline and a pirate in James and the Giant Peach.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is now a holiday classic that is a Halloween movie as much as it is a Christmas movie, which means doubling your opportunity to find someone to snuggle with by the fireplace, popcorn bowl at the ready, in preparation for perusal of a “Nightmarish” gallery of frighteningly festive fan art. Enjoy!

Fan Art Friday: Cinderella

Thu Mar 12, 2015, 10:00 PM
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Cinderella and her glass slipper have become a modern day institution since Disney’s classic film debuted 65 years ago.

The tale we’ve come to know today originated in Europe, but its roots can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt where we find the original “Cinderella,” a Greek slave girl named Rhodopis who goes on to marry the king of Egypt. The Cinderella plot is so popular and widespread it has earned its own classification of type 510A, “the persecuted heroine” in the Aarne–Thompson system which helps identify and classify recurring plot patterns in traditional folk and fairy tales. The variations and adaptations of this tale differ quite drastically and are estimated to range anywhere from 345 to over 1,500. Let’s explore just two of the most popular ones.

The most well known version and the basis for Disney’s Cinderella is Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon published in 1697 in his Histoires Ou Contes Du Temps Passé. Perrault was the one to introduce the pumpkin carriage, fairy-godmother, and the famous glass slippers. The tale follows the basic Cinderella plot — a mistreated young woman who is forced to serve her stepmother and stepsisters collapsing by a fireplace at the end of the day only to awake covered in cinders. To prevent her from attending the ball they have all been invited to, her stepsisters give her an impossible task.

Enter her animal friends who help her complete the impossible task and her Fairy Godmother who gives her a gown for the ball and beautiful glass slippers.

The Godmother then turns a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into horses, a rat into a coachman, and lizards into footmen. At the ball, the Prince falls in love with her, but she must rush off before the clock strikes midnight and her magical adornments vanish, leaving her in rags. In this tale there are two balls, it is on the second night that she loses a shoe while running away, which the Prince retrieves. He scours the kingdom in search of the maiden who fits the shoe and who will become his future bride. None of the young ladies nor the stepsisters get the slipper to fit, but Cinderella was finally given the opportunity to try on the slipper which fit perfectly onto her foot. At this point Cinderella’s Godmother appears and transforms her clothes into an even more beautiful gown than the one before. The tale wraps up with Cinderella forgiving her ashamed and apologetic stepsisters and going off to marry the Prince.

The Brothers Grimm had a slightly darker version of the fairy tale called Aschenputtel.

In this tale Cinderella plants a twig over her mother’s grave which, when watered by her tears, grows over time into a glowing hazel tree. When she prays three times a day under the tree a white bird comes to comfort her. After Cinderella is not allowed to attend the ball she goes to the cemetery to ask her mother for help and a white bird delivers a white gown and silk shoes. This continues for three days as she attends a different ball at the palace each night with an even more dazzling dress than the one before, a silver dress with glass shoes the second night and a dress spun of gold and golden slippers the third night. On the final night the Prince covers the stairs in tar to capture the runaway beauty, but only manages to snag her golden slipper. In order to fit into the slipper on, the oldest stepsister cuts off her toes and the youngest her heel, but the blood dripping from the slipper gives them both away. Not only did they lose parts of their feet, but at Cinderella’s wedding doves fly down from Heaven to peck out the sisters’ eyes, leaving them blind. Those familiar with the musical Into The Woods will recognize this version of the tale.

Not only are there hundreds of variations of the Cinderella story, but there are also many different types of adaptations. The story has been turned into operas (La Cenerentola), musicals (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella), books (Ella Enchanted), movies (Ever After), ballets (Aschenbrödel), even anime (Cinderella Monogatari). The most recent retelling of this story is Disney’s live action Cinderella movie which follows their 1950 animated film very closely with a few modern day changes.

We can thank Perrault for inventing the now iconic glass slipper and through his creative twists establishing one of the most well known and beloved fairytales of all time. But unlike his tale, you won't need a Fairy Godmother to have a ball with this lovely collection of Cinderella fan art. Don’t worry — the magic of fandom lasts well past the stroke of midnight.

A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”

— Cinderella

In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep.”

— Cinderella

Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through.”

— Cinderella

No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

— Cinderella

Your Thoughts

  1. Who is your favorite Cinderella character and why?
  2. What would you like to see in future editions of Fan Art Friday?