By Request, Frozen’s Anna and Elsa

Like so many parents, we’re doing our best to keep the little ones busy as well as ourselves. In an effort to keep myself busy, I recently wrote, illustrated, and published a children’s book called Robot Family Adventures. It’s actually free on Kindle right now, so if your kids want a short story to read, this one features robots and dinosaurs. Another thing I’ve been trying to do to keep myself occupied is continue drawing/sketching. Our youngest has been requesting (or demanding?) a Frozen drawing, which is going to be the subject of this post. So, if you’re a parent who is fatigued from watching Frozen and its sequel 5,000 times in a row during quarantine…might want to skip this one.

For those without kids or are otherwise unfamiliar, Frozen is an insanely popular movie franchise featuring two sisters named Anna and Elsa. Else has magical powers involving ice, while Anna does not. They also have a bunch of sidekicks/friends, including a talking snowman, a reindeer, and an eccentric orphan raised by trolls. It’s probably one of Disney’s better movies overall, but that opinion is dampened a bit by the fact that it’s constantly on in our house. Which means my wife and I are not exactly enthusiastic about watching it again. But our kids, as you may have guessed, are borderline obsessed with both Frozen and Frozen 2. Part of that may have to do with the fact that the kids’ hair colors are similar to Anna’s and Elsa’s. But they still laugh during the movie, even on their thousandth viewing.

Back to this drawing – like I said, the youngest kiddo has been after me for days about drawing Anna and Elsa. I think it’s because she’s seen me putting pencil to paper so much over the last few weeks, it was just a natural connection. Once the youngest latched on to this idea, her sister became interested as well. Even though the thought of trying to make a cartoon character look more like a person was a bit intimidating, how could I deny them? So, a couple days ago, I dove into the project – with the kids helping by drawing their own Frozen portraits of course.

I started simply by Googling the characters. I mean, obviously I’ve seen them a million times, but I’m by no means a “draw from memory” type of person. I got a pretty good idea from those results which of their designs and poses are most popular for the characters. I picked some set ups that looked natural enough for the duo facing each other…but in hindsight, I’m not sure if the outfits are even from the same movie. Regardless, I realized pretty quickly that looking at the cartoons wasn’t going to be enough. Fortunately for me, I thought of some other searches that helped a ton: “Frozen costume”, “Frozen real life”, and “Frozen cosplay” all gave results of regular people dressed as the characters from the movie. I could not find one person or image that gave me everything I needed, so I had to lean on a bunch to get the shadows, colors, and look I was going for. I also wanted to include their castle in the background, so I had to do some browsing to find a perspective that might work.

I was a little surprised that this turned out fairly well. I was a bit apprehensive about how it would go. I scrolled through my old posts to be sure, but it does look like this is my first cartoon-to-regular person attempt. Here’s the final result, followed by discussion of the process, then a progression .gif.

Not to be too self-congratulatory, but I really do think most of this drawing worked out pretty well. This version of Anna and Else does look less cartoony than the originals, although I wasn’t able to turn towards high quality realism (which I would have liked). I think the fact that some cartoonishness remains is more due to my own limitations than anything else. Anyhow, the characters I believe are recognizable – it passed the kiddo approval test (despite the lack of Olaf the Snowman).

There are a few smaller details that I was a bit concerned about that turned out okay. The textures on Elsa’s (the one on the right) clothes are sort of unique and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to replicate them. I had mixed success; her torso material is supposed to be shiny, but I wasn’t able to make that show in the final result. Another smaller detail I was concerned about was making it actually seem as though they’re looking at each other. In a drawing I did last year based on the movie The Crow, the characters don’t even seem to be looking at each other. It looked so weird I even took the post off my home page completely. This time though, Anna and Elsa do seem to be in the same reality, looking at each other.

A few additional areas for improvement come to light the more I look at it. One, I’m not entirely certain I got the character sizes right. I was always under the impression that Elsa (on the right) was a bit taller, or at least the same size…yet in my sketch, Anna seems slightly larger in terms of her face and height. Also, I feel like the background castle could have been better. I’ve discussed many times how much of a weakness backgrounds are for me. I’ve definitely gotten better, but I still have a long way to go. This background in particular needs more depth and contrast.

I did not take very many progression shots, but I managed enough to create a .gif to see some of the process. Here it is:

Well, there you have it – a Frozen drawing, completed by request! As always, I’m open to other requests if folks have them. Just please, maybe no more Frozen for now.

8 comments

  • Jon, I’m very interested in Elsa’s blue bodice. From the gif I see you made the small rectangular shapes first then overlaid more colour so ‘blurring’ and unifying the first layers into the whole. Is it all done with pencil or do you use water-colour or similar? Some of the areas are beautifully smooth, more painterly than I ever get using coloured pencils.

    • Hey there, Claire – I hope you are doing well!

      It is actually all done using colored pencils. I started with a bunch of squares in turquoise and blue, most were outlines with some solid. Then, I layered some dark blue and grey into the areas I wanted to shade, and some lightly colored turquoise over the lighter non-shaded areas. The last touch was to go in with a white pencil and blend everything together.

      I was a bit worried about that last blending step because I didn’t want to push the colors into an unnatural looking direction. I actually lost more of the dark blue in the blending than I thought I would, but I think it worked out in the end. So, short version – layers and heavy blending. These are Prismacolor pencils, by the way (if that helps)

  • Thanks for the info, Jon. I shall try some better blending when I get to Day 18 of my ‘Jack’ drawing challenge which needs to be soon. I see you’ve been following my progress – all critiquing accepted!
    Glad to know that self-isolation hasn’t cramped your creative spirit.

    • You bet! I’m not sure if this helps or not, but I got a lot out of watching videos by an artist named Luisina Juliete. I watched this video a few times specifically: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQrMDFFcX0Q. She’s really quite good at blending and pulling together different colors using white. It’s taken some time for me to figure out, but pushing harder than I was accustomed to with the white pencil was sort of a game-changer.

      I’ll keep an eye out on the continued Jack portrait adventures!

  • Definitely recognisable!!

    “does look less cartoony than the originals” – the originals of these characters and of those in Tangled have crazy proportions. Yours are more lifelike probably due to the proportions I reckon…

    • Hey there Steve, happy Friday to you! Yes they do indeed, their eyes seem especially bizarre. When I was looking over the Frozen characters, I couldn’t help but notice how hilariously large they are.

      Also, it’s funny you mentioned Tangled…that is suddenly becoming very popular with the kids. Not quite at the level of replacing Frozen (as long as my kids call themselves Anna and Elsa, its status as champ is safe), but they are consuming all available Tangled content on Disney+. Ha – might be a matter of time before I get recruited to sketch draw those folks too

      • Ah yes Tangled. Something topical about that at the moment.

        Rapunzel locked away from the world and her Kingdom. Isolated you could say… The name of the kingdom? Corona!!

      • Man that is absolutely hilarious, that’s exactly what my wife kept talking about when we were watching it the other day. At the beginning, when she’s cooking a ton and bored out of her mind…”hmmm does this look familiar at all?!”

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