I started off with a Procreate sketch. I knew I wanted to exaggerate the scale of the towers, so I worked with the tall format dimensions that I have grown fond of. This felt like a followup to the Wonka Factory piece I created for the September's Wonka art show, and I really liked this concept as a followup.
A few of the towers around the gate lent themselves to some reuse to make it a bit easier, but there are a lot of subtle differences in the tower structures that needed to be handled independently as I worked through.
I wasn't sure which characters to include. My main thought was for sure the main 3 - Micky, Donald and Goofy. But I also wanted to fill out the composition with some characters in the sky. You can see here that Tinkerbell, Dumbo, and Aladdin and Jasmine on the Magic Carpet were all possibilities, but in the end I chose Dumbo only since I knew I wanted to feature a lot of fireworks in the sky. I know Tinkerbell is a pretty strange one to drop since she's present in so many iconic castle representations, but I just wanted this to be a little different, and Dumbo is just too adorable. Minnie gets in there too since you almost never see Micky apart from her any more. Those lovebirds.
Actually, my Sister-in-law's favorite characters are from Beauty and the Beast - but I just couldn't imagine including them in this "classic" Disney piece - maybe in another illustration down the line ;)
The characters were all illustrated on the iPad using Procreate in large scale, and the first items I tackled after the initial sketch. I wanted to add my own take on these guys of course, so I played around a little as I researched their characters and moved forward.
I didn't have the full palette in mind yet so I worked them up in steely teal monochromatic colors as I built them up. I think this is the first time I ever drew these characters outside of a scribble. Each completed character felt like a mini accomplishment on the road to the larger goal, so I rendered tome toned versions of each one as I went along and featured them on my social pages - fun little teasers of something bigger to come.
These little vignetted versions of the characters are pretty fun in on their own, and I do enjoy how they turned out. Dumbo with Timothy tucked in the hat was probably my favorite from the group.
I did also consider Daisy and Pluto at one point, and even started painting up Pluto, but scrapped that progress to move on to the castle, figuring that I could finish them later on if I wanted to include them in the composition. As it went, I didn't feel they were needed, and I didn't want to just cram them in.
At this point, I migrate from Procreate to Photoshop simply because of the sheer number of layers I knew I was going to create with the tower work, and also to have the flexibility of selection tools and vector shapes. In this illustration above, you can see the early stages of developing the palette, and the rough inclusion of the monochromatic characters.
I had thought of making the sky simple arc shapes in the beginning - thinking that maybe they would turn into implied clouds or something interesting - that idea was abandoned for the sake of the fireworks.
Here, those arcs became dithered, and elements of the horizon colors begin to emerge. Those golden trees really get toned back in the end, but those were a detail that I felt might balance the highest golden tower at the time.
At this point I'm getting to just about final. All the Characters went through stages of color additions to harmonize and balance out the vibrant golds and pinks. At one point, the fireworks were also all different colors, but in the end, I just didn't want them upstaging the castle and I felt they worked better as a background element.
One of the trickiest things through all of this was creating something that felt somewhat symmetrical when things were not, and breaking my natural desire to make things as such. There was tons of "scooting" assets around - like exactly where the bottom characters get placed, and the design of the rounded staircases. Every tower placement was questioned, and there are tons of design calls going on with those caste details. What to include or not include - and trying to allow for flexibility in what does or does not need to line up from a construction standpoint when compared to the real castle.
In the end, print colors did come out nicely vibrant and I had some great assistance along the way. When doing these big prints, I need to work with outside resources, so there is less time for "playing around".
Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed the commentary. I'm sure there are items I forgot to mention, so I may edit if something pops up. If you have any comments, I'd love to hear what you think - leave them here or use the social page that linked you here. Tell me that detail that you would have included or what characters you would have chose. Most of all, I hope you get a chance to see the Magic Kingdom with your own eyes very soon!
'Till next time!