While Frozen is only loosely based on a traditional fairy tale, the colorful setting of Arendelle feels like a world filled with possibility and wonder. As Anna, Elsa, and friends find themselves in an enchanted forest while on their latest journey in Frozen II, the animators turned to a classic Disney fairy tale adaptation for insight when creating it. At a recent press day event, the designers and artists revealed that they were inspired by Disney’s Sleeping Beauty when they crafted their enchanted woods, and the result is truly something you’d only see once upon a dream.

David Womersley, Art Director of Environments on Frozen II, and Lisa Keene, Production Designer, lifted the curtain behind the scenes to talk a little about how they approached the world building for the sequel, from the warmer hues in the autumnal setting to the shapes of the trees nestled in the enchanted forest.

Frozen II concept art

“In [Frozen’s] color, we focused around a jeweled palette,” said Keene. “That was something that was sort of a winter palette, and it worked beautifully with snow, because snow is a blank canvas and we can put any color of light we wanted onto that. Dealing with fall was a completely different palette for us… So we had to figure out a way to bring the Frozen sensibility of hue into Frozen II.

“Our colors are going to be instead of oranges and yellows, it’s more skewed towards magentas and reds, and occasionally you’ll have a little lacing of yellow.”

The enchanted forest had its color palette, but what about its design? For that, Womersley said, the designers turned to the timeless and unforgettable woods that concept painter Eyvind Earle created for 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. Strong, straight trees created a detailed, lush forest that was both striking and vibrant with life.

Concept art very reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty.

“[Earle] just has an amazing way of taking organic shapes and then creating shapes and designs that really speak eloquently,” said Womersley. “And this is the kind of thing we wanted to do… We had to find ways to take those trees, the various species of trees, decide on which species and take those trees and try to design them in an elegant way… so you would feel like as you entered the forest, it felt like a real forest.

“But at the same time we wanted to put a stamp, a Frozen stamp.”

Keene agreed, and talked more about the in-house inspiration from Sleeping Beauty. “What [Earle] did was he created within a whole lot of plants these sculptural deep spaces, and then we layered the verticalities over the top of it,” she said. “So we grabbed this idea and said, you know what, there’s a way we can build our forest that’s stylized, that feels organic… That you way you have a sense of design that’s consistent, and you can feel it all the way through your forest.”

The team’s next step was to research the real world, from speaking to a botanist to studying what fall looks like in the Scandinavian woods. All together, the design team built upon the lush world established in the first Frozen movie, flawlessly creating a setting that’s simultaneously familiar and mysterious for the audience to uncover along with Anna and Elsa.

Frozen II hits theaters November 22, 2019.

All Images: Disney

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