Watch Disney Artist Glen Keane Draw the Little Mermaid in Virtual Reality

Illustration for article titled Watch Disney Artist Glen Keane Draw the Little Mermaid in Virtual Reality

Former Disney animator Glen Keane doesn’t need much of an introduction. He’s the man who drew The Little Mermaid’s Ariel. And Aladdin. And Pocahontas. And Beast. Now, he’s embracing the latest tool for digital artistry.

Here, the legendary animator is using an HTC Vive virtual reality headset with Google’s amazing Tilt Brush software to draw some of his famous characters in 3D. He can walk around his characters as he paints them into existence, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever.


While Keane is mostly known for his physical—not digital—artistry, he also has a bit of a thing for experimental digital art forms, too. Most recently, he created this amazing 360-degree short story you can experience on your smartphone.

He was also the driving force behind Disney’s recent move to make CG films feel more like hand-drawn creations, starting with Disney’s Tangled, which inspired the hybrid of 2D and 3D animation used in the critically acclaimed Paperman.

Two years ago, Paperman won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

[Future of Storytelling Summit via Engadget]

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“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

- Michelangelo

“Every 3D headset utilizing Tilt Brush-like software has digital animation inside it and it is the task of the animator to discover it.”

- Keane (ok, not really...)

Cheesy I know, but I find it amazing that this is the digital incarnation of sculpture, 500 years after the Renaissance locked artists such as Michelangelo in history, destined to be among the most famous. I see this as a major turning point in digital art, and the first time I’ve thought about really wanting to use a VR headset - to walk around his (and others) art. Let me rephrase - I’ve always wanted to use one, but now I actually see something monumentally fascinating, and will actively be following this medium, to eventually get inside that headset and view 3D drawings. So very different than 3D computer modeling, which I do daily as an engineer. Far from sketching in space with hands on digital 3D “pens”. So damn cool.