If not I encourage you to stop reading this and go watch it! (I’ve embedded the trailer below)It’s available on AppleTV+ which you can get on pretty much any streaming device with a free trial.
It was developed by the amazing team at Cartoon Saloon over in Kilkenny, Ireland whom I was fortunate enough to get to visit in 2019 on one of my last international trips before the pandemic. While I was there I was working with the team doing some animation demos & lectures and I was treated to a behind the scenes look at the progress of the film. It wasn’t finished yet but it was clear already that it was going to be something very special.
My history with Wolfwalkers goes back a little further than that though. In 2017 the team at Cartoon Saloon reached out to me to get some tips on wolf animation and design. At the time I provided a few small demos for them and some wolf illustration ideas. From there it evolved into them wanting to see some takes on how I would approach designing the two main characters of Mebh & Robyn in their wolf forms. I was sent an early draft of the script and had a go at some designs.These were just meant for exploration. The model sheets were my attempt to find a middle ground between the flat graphic design of the film and a more 3 dimensional look. I was trying to strike a balance between a more “realistic” wolf and the beautiful 2D style that Cartoon Saloon is known for. I’m glad they stuck with the more graphic look. Ultimately, I think the final look of the characters in the film are much stronger than these early concepts but I wanted to share them with you. In the end, I was only on the project for a few days but it was great fun and I was happy to help.
Flash forward to December 2020 and my jaw hit the floor after watching the film. Both because of how beautiful of a movie it was but also I was shocked to see my name listed in the credits. There I am under the Visual Development/Concept Design section. This is a huge honor and a was a truly unexpected surprise. Most people don’t realize that simply doing work on a film does not guarantee you will get a credit. Film credits are not handed out like candy. Typically it is a negotiated part of a contract and requires some substantial contribution. In my case I did not request a credit and certainly didn’t expect one.
So a HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the directors and to everyone at Cartoon Saloon for producing such a beautiful film and for allowing me to have be connected with it in anyway. Now go watch the movie already!
About Aaron Blaise
For 21 years Aaron worked with Disney helping to create some of the greatest animated films ever made. During that time he worked as an animator or supervising animator on "The Rescuers Down Under", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion King", "Pocahontas", "Mulan" and more. In 2003 he was co-director of "Brother Bear" for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. After "Brother Bear" he helped to develop several projects but ultimately left Disney to pursue an opportunity back home in Florida. Aaron recently served as 2D Animation Supervisor and Character Designer for the "The Bear and the Hare" an advertisement loved by millions around the world. He is currently also working on a new animated short film, once again involving bears called "Snow Bear".
4 thoughts on “Wolfwalkers Early Design Work”
Hi Aaron ,
Firstly let me start of by saying I discovered your tutorials by chance , I have been wanting to follow the Disney styles for ages , didn’t know how and where to start and where I would learn the tricks . My journey ended with your website and I am NOW into a buffet of knowledge .
Secondly I loved the wolf walkers – after seeing your association ,I am not surprised at all that you did transfer some of your magic which created this astounding piece of art .
Mr. Blaise I had no idea you had played a role in the concept art of Wolfwalkers!! It’s a very lovely surprise indeed :,D I’ll start your course on wolves and coyotes because the movie left such a big impact on me and a very big drive to learn how to draw these beautiful animals.
You are such a generous person. I’m glad they gave you credit. I’ve also now added that movie to my “Want to Watch” list.
Aaron, I’m thrilled to learn that you had a role in WolfWalkers. I’m a student of yours and have just discovered this blog post your wrote. It’s currently my favourite film and I’m a little obsessed with their background work. So beautiful and natural looking. It’s always nice when you see two of your favourite things having some connection. Another favourite of mine is Marco Bucci, so was great to see your art collab with him (and others) recently.
Very best wishes to you