Animation is inherently fake. It’s not real actors on real sets—it’s entirely out of someone’s pen, or more commonly these days, from a computer.

In the early days of animation, Disney animators asked themselves an important question: “How do we convey the essence of this character/motion without having to portray every single detail?” A simpler way to ask this question is, “How do we fake this?”

While it’s not too hard to copy a drawing of Bambi, the adorable deer that stars in the animated film of the same name, arriving at that particular representation of a young deer took Disney character designers weeks of studying live deer to arrive at a simple, appealing representation. Effects like water and fire weren’t practical to animate ...

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