Over the past few years Disney has remade a lot of their hand-drawn films with either live-action or [modern] computer animation. Examples that immediately come to mind include: The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Christopher Robin, Dumbo, and Aladdin.

That being said, does Disney no longer produce hand-drawn cartoon films? Have they completely strayed away from this and now only offer computer animated and live-action films?

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    You say completely hand drawn? Because we have been using computers to animate films since 1992. Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 17:04
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    Just to note, I believe The Princess and the Frog (2009) was Disney's last "hand drawn" film.
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 2:23
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    @BruceWayne: Although that film probably does qualify as "hand drawn" from a modern perspective, it should be noted that completely-by-hand animation is basically nonexistent in this day and age. Much of The Princess and the Frog's visual effects, backgrounds, etc. were done in software.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 7:19
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    @GustavoGabriel for even longer. Disney has used CAPS since The Rescuers Down Under (1990) and for a single scene in The Little Mermaid (1989)
    – Kruga
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 8:27
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    @Taladris: In principle, you could restrict yourself to a Wacom + the Pencil tool (or, as was used in The Princess and the Frog, paper and a scanner), and that'd probably still be "hand drawn." In practice, they are not doing that. The shading and lighting, and other VFX are just so much easier to do with "real" software. You'd be insane to do all of that by hand. Disney has been doing this for a long time, see for example some of the special effects in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and several earlier films mentioned in other comments.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 1:19

5 Answers 5


Yes, Disney moved away from hand-drawn animation

In a 2013 interview with the Guardian, chief executive Bob Iger said that none of its animation companies are working in the traditional 2D format, and there are no current plans to do so again.

Speaking at an annual shareholder's meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, chief executive Bob Iger revealed that none of the studio's animation companies was working on 2D, hand-drawn material for the big screen. While Iger did not rule out returning in the future to the style which made the company famous, the long gestation period for Hollywood animated productions means a gap of several years before any new film might emerge.

"To my knowledge we're not developing a 2D or hand-drawn feature animated film right now," said Iger. "There is a fair amount of activity going on in hand-drawn animation but it's largely for television at this point. We're not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn't any in development at the company at the moment."

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    that's sad. they were lot more interesting than most modern animations we see today
    – Vishwa
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 7:12
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    @Vishwa and a lot more expensive to produce
    – James T
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 8:07
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    @Vishwa The specific aniamtion technique used is (mostly) not what makes the classic Disney movies classics. Any of their later 3D-animated movies (like Zootopia, Moana, Tangled, Frozen) could just as well have been made using the techniques that made Snow white, the Jungle book, the Lion King or Aladdin. I personally don't think that would've changed the movies much.
    – Arthur
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 9:07
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    @Arthur If they had to spend so much on animating, maybe they would have also invested more in the storytelling aspects, which seem to have decreased in quality in the past decade or two. Or maybe modern movie writers are just awful regardless. Who knows?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 16:35
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    @jpmc26 I feel that's really subjective. I find Cinderella's, Snow White's, Peter Pan's, Sleeping Beauty's, and Bambi's stories extremely simplistic and their storytelling not really noteworthy, and that covers most of the first few decades of Disney's animated blockbusters.
    – Ranger
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 17:14

No, Disney does not produce nor is making any traditional hand drawn animation.

There is probably a good reason for this in Disney's eyes.

Traditional hand animation is a lot of work. It's very time consuming and can't be changed easily late in production like CGI can and is expensive because of that.

To give a demonstration, there is a nice video about Who Framed Roger Rabbit which goes quite into depth about "Live" animation, but just goes to show how much work can go into producing traditional animation.

As I explained in this answer about mermaids (At the time of writing, The little Mermaid is the last traditionally hand painted cel animation disney film...) and this answer about Disney princess' marrying older men. Disney is a lazy company and definitely looks at the cost of things.

To quote a quote from Steve Huelett, a Disney animator:

I've worked on CG features and I've worked on hand-drawn features. And hand-drawn features are harder to make. Hand-drawn cartoons take a year to produce. Once you've produced sequences, it's hard to change the work. You have to go back and do everything over.

But with CG, you can animate the movie in three or four months, change things close to the release date. You can't do that in hand-drawn animation. If you find out the story doesn't work when you're two-thirds done, you're stuck. With CG, we change the story and rework sequences until late in the process.

It's close to live-action in that way. You can rework until late in the production. With hand-drawn animation, the plot, action and dialogue has to be locked down way earlier, or the picture won't get done in time for its release.

As you can see, traditional animation just can't cut it compared to CGI cost-wise. Though it's not impossible that they won't try to go back to it. There is a small renaissance in going back to more traditional filming methods, as we saw with the new Star Wars films the return of practical effects.

Or a surprisingly good looking trailer for the Dark Crystal Prequel.

Should traditional animation all of a sudden become a demand, compared to the money machine that CGI is, you can be sure that Disney will jump on the hand drawn bandwagon.

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    The Little Mermaid was the last hand animated film Disney produced by the way you mean "traditionally-traditionally" hand animated or? What about Princess and the Frog (2009) and Winnie the Pooh (2011)?
    – lucasgcb
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 10:25
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    T.L.M. As far as im aware is the last film to be traditionally hand painted and cel animated. While The P.a.t.F. And Pooh were produced with a different method, albeit also a traditional animation method, as also 2004s Home on the Range was also a traditional animation. It should be noted that its more accurate to say, ‘at the time of writing, The little Mermaid is the last traditionally hand painted cel animation disney film’, which i will edit my post to include, Good eye:) Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 10:43

Although other people have answered the question on full hand drawn films very well, a notable recent relevant fact is that Maui's tattoos in Moana were, in fact, hand drawn animation superimposed on the CG film.

From the Hollywood Reporter article "How 'Moana's' Animators Brought a Tattoo to Life":

"Somewhere in the process, Mini Maui started to emerge, almost as a Jiminy Cricket alter ego; the tattoo can't speak, but he can communicate with Maui," explains John Musker, who directed with Ron Clements, of the telltale tat's development. "Maui's full of himself, and here is someone who could poke fun at him — literally poke him." The two directors, responsible for such Disney classics as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, are making their first foray in a near-fully computer-animated feature with Moana, but for Mini Maui, they decided to return to their roots and create a hand-drawn character. So they recruited the legendary Eric Goldberg, best known as the lead animator of the Genie in Aladdin, to serve as Mini Maui's animation supervisor."

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    Also much of the animation during the song "You're Welcome" is old-school 2-D
    – Stephen R
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 19:06

Actually, per the NY Post article "Forget CGI: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ uses hand-drawn cartoons" and other sources, the Mary Poppins Returns movie from late 2018 did all of the animation hand-drawn. I believe the purpose of this was to make the new movie have as close to an identical look/feel to the original one as possible.

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    I wonder if there is a serious issue with keeping cel animators employed. It's just the kind of art that becomes a lost art if the people doing it are forced to pursue other careers because the work is too irregular... It's like the business of making military airplanes or light rail vehicles... Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 14:59

Yes, Disney no longer does hand-drawn cartoons.

Their most recent hand drawn/2d movies were very poorly received. They really did try to keep that age alive, but it just wasn't making enough money to account for how expensive they were to make. Here's part of an interview with Bob Iger (a chief executive of Disney).

"To my knowledge we're not developing a 2D or hand-drawn feature animated film right now," said Iger. "There is a fair amount of activity going on in hand-drawn animation but it's largely for television at this point. We're not necessarily ruling out the possibility [of] a feature but there isn't any in development at the company at the moment.

The profits are discussed in the above linked interview.

The studio subsequently put the hand-drawn animation The Princess and the Frog into production. The traditional musical, based on the Brothers Grimm story the Frog Prince but relocating the action to 1920s New Orleans, was well-reviewed but failed to mirror the astounding success of Pixar at the box office with a middling return of $267m (£178m). Another hand-drawn animation – 2011's Winnie the Pooh – drew praise from critics but pulled in just $33m across the globe. Meanwhile, Disney CGI efforts such as 2009's Bolt and 2010's Tangled grossed $310m and $590m respectively.

So, their CGi movies are clearly making a lot more than their 2D animations, this is probably why they were abandoned.

  • further speculation here: quora.com/…
    – Daeron
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 13:35
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    This answer is the same as mine, with the same source. Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 14:50

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