Why are princesses' eyes getting bigger?

Anyone know why Disney Animation has made princesses’ eyes so disproportionately large lately? The men’s faces seem to be drawn to scale, but the girls’ noses are little, and eyes occupy far more than normal real estate. It’s distracting!

Anime influence, perhaps? Maybe when Disney acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Studio Ghibli, it came with an anime eye clause. (I’m kidding)


My DDs make note of this all the time when watching Disney flicks. I think @SallyEppcot is right, it’s the anime influence.

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As a general art trick, to make something look “cuter”, you give it larger eyes. Eyes that are larger than “anatomically correct” also give a sense of youth, vulnerability, and innocence (think puppy or kitten). From a practical standpoint, most emotions are portrayed through the eyes, and making them larger makes it easier for the animators to convey emotions. In the “old days” the Disney artists strove to make their characters as realistic as possible (unless they were going for obvious caricature such as the Step Sisters). The current trend is to forego “realism” for stylized cuteness. It probably sells more dolls. But I also agree with the anime/manga influence.


I think that this pre-dates any manga/anime influence. Look at The Little Mermaid - big eyes, little nose, giving her the “cuteness” factor @bswan26 discusses.

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I’ve been reading manga and watching anime since the early 80s (my dad was a fan) so I’m sure the Disney animators have been aware of the influences for decades.

Oh, I agree that it has definitely been around a long time (Go, Speed Racer!) - I was commenting more on the Studio Ghibli relationship affecting Disney/Pixar animation style. However, I think that it is more along the lines of convergent evolution that a direct influence - although anime/manga may have influenced western animation (and vice-versa), they whole big eyes, big heads thing is pretty much a universal cartooning standard.

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Got it. I was kidding about the Ghibli connection. :wink:

I agree that it’s probably just a stylistic trend that has a variety of influences.

And now I have to pull out our Speed Racer cartoon DVDs.

I had a friend who was really into Speed Racer - never quite got it myself. In HS I got addicted to Star Blazers - unfortunately it was on during the day, so when school resumed after summer vacation I did not find out how it ended. Thank god for Netflix - years later I was able to rewatch it and finally see the ending. :smile:

Here’s a big-eyed princess for you, and she’s armed as well!

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Star Blazers was my FAVORITE when I was in grade school.


IIRC it did begin with The Little Mermaid. An animator said that because Ariel lacked a voice for a significant part of the film they had to find other ways to convey her expressions. Subtle facial movements were not going to be enough so they had to think bigger. The easiest/quickest way to animate facial expression was in the eyes. Viola, you got yourself an aesthetically pleasing hairdo… um, visage which you can use for embellished non-verbal communication. The style/technique was so successful that animators continue to use it presently.