Ursula, the iconic sea witch from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, is one of the most memorable and beloved villains in Disney history. Her unique and intricate costume is just as iconic as her personality, and has become a staple of Halloween costumes and cosplay. The process of creating Ursula’s costume was a long and detailed one, involving numerous sketches, prototypes, and revisions.
The Concept Art
The first step in creating Ursula’s costume was to develop concept art that would capture the essence of the character. The design team, which included Glen Keane and Bill Schwab, went through numerous iterations before settling on the final design.
One of the earliest sketches of Ursula shows her with a more human-like appearance, with long hair and a more traditional villainous outfit. However, the team soon realized that Ursula needed to have a more unique and memorable look, so they began to experiment with different designs.
One of the key elements that emerged early on was the idea of Ursula having tentacles instead of legs. This was inspired by the original fairy tale, in which the sea witch is depicted as having a fish tail. The tentacles added a sense of whimsy and playfulness to the character, while also giving her a more intimidating appearance.
As the team continued to work on the concept art, they experimented with different colors, fabrics, and embellishments. They also worked closely with the animators to ensure that the final design would be easy to animate and move around on screen.
The final concept art for Ursula’s costume featured a bold and dramatic look, with a black and purple corset, tentacle skirt, and sea-shell necklace. The team also added intricate details such as sequins and beading to give the costume a more unique and memorable look.
Once the concept art was finalized, the next step was to create a prototype of Ursula’s costume. This involved creating a full-scale version of the costume, complete with all of the details and embellishments.
The prototype was created by costume designer Ed Gough, who worked closely with the design team to bring the concept art to life. Gough experimented with different fabrics and materials, such as neoprene and foam rubber, to create the tentacles.
The tentacles were one of the most challenging elements of the costume to create, as they needed to be flexible and easy to move around in, while also looking realistic and intimidating. Gough used a variety of techniques, such as airbrushing and painting, to create the texture and detail on the tentacles.
The corset was another key element of the costume that needed to be just right. Gough experimented with different fabrics and embellishments, such as sequins and sea-shell beads, to create the dramatic and unique look of the corset.
As the prototype was being created, the design team continued to make revisions and adjustments to the costume. They worked closely with the animators to ensure that the final design would be able to move and animate on screen.
The Final Costume
After months of work, the final version of Ursula’s costume was ready for the screen. The costume was worn by voice actress Pat Carroll, who brought Ursula to life with her powerful and unforgettable performance.
The final costume was even more intricate and detailed than the prototype. The tentacles were made of a lightweight and flexible material that allowed them to move and sway with ease. The corset was adorned with intricate sequins and beading, and the sea-shell necklace added a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the overall look.
One of the most notable features of the final costume was the makeup. Ursula’s bold and dramatic makeup, with its purple eyeshadow and red lipstick, added to the overall sense of drama and power that the character exuded.
The final costume was a true masterpiece of costume design, combining elements of mythology, burlesque, and drag culture into a unique and unforgettable look. The costume has since become a fan favorite and a popular choice for Halloween costumes and cosplay.
Ursula’s costume is one of the most iconic and memorable in Disney history. The evolution of the costume, from the first sketches to the final screen version, was a long and detailed process that involved numerous designers, animators, and costume makers. The final costume was a true masterpiece of design, with its bold corset, tentacle skirt, and sea-shell necklace. The costume captured the essence of Ursula’s character, combining elements of mythology, burlesque, and drag culture into a unique and unforgettable look.