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Creating the Characters in Zootopia

Zootopia is a real city where animals have to get-up, get dressed, grab and cup of coffee and ride the bus to work. It’s a real world.

Creating the Characters in Zootopia

How do they create a magical world full of hundreds of animals, and make it look realistic? We talked with the Character CG Supervisor, Dave Komorowski and Character Design Supervisor Cory Loftis about how they created the characters in the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Feature Film, “Zootopia.”

The minute that they started to create the characters for the film, they were faced with many challenges. Corey began by drawing a line-up, and it quickly became apparent that their biggest challenge was going to be scale. “How do you make these animals look like they belong in the same world? They are going to have different cars, different buildings, all these difference challenges were what we needed to figure out, ” said Komorowski.

“It was important that we had a lot of variety. We wanted that perfect ‘Jurassic Park’ moment when you first saw it, and it is just awe inspiring.” Dave Komorowski

With most of the movie being centered around the two main characters, Nick and Judy, they needed to balance the screen space. They had to pay attention to things that they normally wouldn’t in animation movies with humans. As they kept adding more characters to the line-up, “we were able to do it through details, standardizing scale and event lens choice,” said Komorowski.



Zootopia Characters

But, before this process could start, it had to begin with drawings. Cory Loftis had a conversation with the Director and Writer about what plans they had for the characters. “We wanted our characters to have memorable personalities like Baloo or Mufasa. That doesn’t come through in the design, but the performance they give on the screen, so I needed to make sure that my designs had enough controls and dials that they could accomplish everything the animators needed to deliver that kind of performance,” said Loftis.

How would they move? How would they pick something off the floor? Raise their hands in the air? That meant a lot of drawings.

They made the decision to combine human and animal anatomy to ensure that the characters were convincing and felt natural. As they were drawing the characters and the story began to change so did the characters. “Hops (now Judy) started out being ‘cute’ and then she became so much more than that. She also needed to be a very convincing police officer next to all the rhinos and elephants. She had to perform a certain physicality and look tough, so her designed evolved over the making of the movie,” said Loftis.

Drawings of Judy in Zootopia

Judy in Zootopia

“At the end you just have drawings, so we had to do some research,” said Loftis. The team began their research by going to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “We got to get up close with animals you wouldn’t normally. We got to see a cheetah run, and examine the details in their fur,” said Loftis. The research didn’t stop there. Part of the team expanded their research for the film by taking a trip to Kenya where they got to see animals interacting with one another in their natural environment.

There are over 1,000 unique animals that bring the world of Zootopia to life in theaters on March 4th.

Learn more about Zootopia online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We attended the interview as a guest of Disney

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