Behind the Scenes of Zootopia – Creating Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, and Other Characters
Disney’s Zootopia is in theaters everywhere March 4th
While in Los Angeles back in December, I got a chance to speak with the creators of Zootopia at the Disney Animation Studios.
A huge part of Zootopia’s impending charm are the characters. As I had mentioned before, the animals of Zootopia were important to the animators. They didn’t want to have the typical “animated film” animals – the ones with flat fur, not scale, and limited/hyper-humanized motions. They wanted them to be special. Creators went as far as Africa to observe nuances and idiosyncrasies of each species. Then it was up to Cory Loftis, Visual Development Artist and his team to create the key characters of Zootopia. And I got a drawing lesson from him.
It turns out drawing Judy Hopps is simply a series of shapes. a half-circle, some triangles, and ovals – you just need to put them in the right spot. I drew this!
So she doesn’t look exactly like Judy, but she’s pretty darn close!
Cory went on to talk about things like the human/animal hybrid limbs and facial expressions of the characters that mesh with their personalities. Characters like Nick Wilde needed to have not only the sly fox-look, but also show the attitude in his expressions. He is a fox after all, so his look needed to be “fox-like” with a huge personality that Jason Bateman brings into Nick.
The characters also go through a series of drafts – Gazelle, played by pop icon Shakira when through costume changes, limb lengths, and faces before settling on the final character look. Questions like “does she have human ‘pop star’ hair? “How long are her horns?” and most importantly “How does she move?” The creators had to answer these questions and more to bring Gazelle to life.