The Art of Moana
Sea change Learn how Disney gave personality to the Pacific Ocean, among other challenges, for its latest big-screen animation
Disney’s 56th animated feature, Moana tells the tale of a spirited teenage girl in ancient Polynesia who sets out to prove herself as a master wayfinder and fulfil her ancestors’ unfinished quest. Bringing this ancient world to life involved two big tasks for Disney’s artists: authentically recreating the realworld environments and cultures, and portraying both the ocean and lava as sentient characters.
These main challenges subdivided into countless smaller problems, such as making Maui’s tattoos animate against his bare skin as he shape-shifts; convincingly recreating the thick, wavy hair of Pacific Islanders; and bringing to life the eight-eyed bat and monster eel of Maui legend and grounding them in something real.
In this book, the authors detail these challenges and how they were overcome across 162 landscape-format pages. At the same time we’re treated to a sumptuous selection of artwork, from raw pencil sketches to thrilling storyboards, stunning concept art to finished CG scenes.
Disney’s Art of books have really upped their game recently in terms of the level of detail and insight: the publishers, we sense, really want to show how much thought, effort and passion have gone into these films. And this release is no exception: there’s much to learn here, and a lot of beautiful art to be inspired by.
Concept art by Ryan Lang. The artists had to contend with the tension between reality and storytelling.