• It's a Small World - Main Cast Design

    Our cast of children, Luis, Zanele, Marama, Harald, Ling, and Ashley come from all over the world.
    As such, each child's clothing is inspired by their respective countries, and has a palette that is consistent throughout their costume changes.
    What we see here is one of the final design paintings done, centered around each child's interests, such as Zanele's love for books and learning.
    This art was created before a script was written, and helped give our teams an idea of each character's personality.

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  • It's a Small World - Costume Design - Luis, Marama, Harald

    Our team was passionate about making educated and respectful decisions on how our story was told visually, which extended into the cast's clothing.
    Each episode had our cast in a new land, and required them to be dressed appropriate for the culture and climate.
    Although "plain clothes" such as slacks and t shirts are very common around the world, we wanted to make each episode feel special and rich.
    I decided to use a range "culturally unique" attire on the children, Luis' chullo and vest in Peru is an addition to his standard wear,
    whereas Marama's tangzhuang in China is a departure from his athletic shorts-and-tanktop combo.
    Other considerations I had to take into account was the importance of certain colors in each land, and even certain numbers.
    Maintaining consistency across the episode involved keeping the children in their distinctive palettes and silhouettes.

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  • It's a Small World - Costume Design - Ling, Zanele, Ashley

    The three girls of the cast each have a unique pattern on their clothing, from Ling's thick vertical stripes, Zanele's dotted line and zig zag motif,
    and Ashley's thin horizontal stripes. It was especially important to keep Ashley's visual language clear as she was the fashionista of the group,
    and during the China episode wears primarily red instead of her signature blue.
    I found we often had to scale back my original concepts for simpler solutions (often, we had to skip headgear or more complex designs).
    Also, since our cast was children, I wanted to be sure we kept the sweetness and youth of their woredrobe, especially in the Polynesia episode.

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  • It's a Small World - Wazoh

    One of my favorite characters, Wazoh (onomonopia of the French word for bird, "oiseau"), was inspired by a photograph of an unindentified bird
    we found on the internet. The very first pass I made at designing him landed, however we wanted to explore other options first.
    This led to the designs seen here, inspired from birds from the ride and also out in the wild.
    After a few weeks, I simplified him to the very simple and graphic bowl-shaped body he has now, with a few ruffled feathers on top for character.

    Fun fact: Wazoh behaves, moves, and communicates like a bird during the episodes when traveling with the children,
    however for the Words with Wazoh segments, he breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience (in Spanish and English!).

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  • It's a Small World - Mr. Balloon

    Mr. Balloon's initial had very obvious faces that didn't fit the aesthetic of the show. It felt insincere and forced, and I felt he needed to be more playful.
    Evoking the idea of seeing a face or imagining a friend smiling back at you from unexpected places, I experimented with something a bit more abstract.
    This, then led our team to agree that instead of talking, Mr. Balloon would communicate through wooshin and humming, orientating his head around
    and also being expressive with his eyes.

    A concern came up that since we had decided that Small World was in a universe without adults, what was his purpose? Could he be a parental figure?
    One day, it hit me, "I have a crazy idea. You know how sea captains are married to the sea? What if Mr. Balloon was in love with the sky? Or the clouds?!"
    I went to the white board, and drew him next to a cloud with a smiling feminine face. We named her Gale. She balanced our Mr. Balloon and added a touch of magic,
    story, and richness that I am incredibly proud of.

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  • It's a Small World - Heads and Hats

    I had a great deal of fun designing different hair styles and hats for the character style guide.

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It's a Small World the Animated Series
Character Design

The main inspiration for It's a Small World's character designs is the UPA aesthetic: clean and graphic shapes, and from the ride's use of patterns and symbols.

I designed the children, who are from a variety of countries, knowing that each episode would have them in a new outfit, so in order to ensure they were easy to identify, I maintained their palettes and other distinctive visual cues such as vertical stripes for Ashley and two buttoned shirts for Harald.

The series' unofficial mascot, Wazoh, went 360 degrees from the first drawing to a complete different direction exploring other colors and shapes, finally settling on a design very close to the original designs he had.

The decision to keep Small World a peaceful place with no antagonists came after Richard Sherman, who co-wrote with his brother the famous song for Walt Disney when the ride was being constructed, also wrote our theme song, On Our Merry Way, told us that It's a Small World was written as a prayer for peace, and was followed by the observation that the ride had no adults. However, we developed characters Mr. Balloon and Gale to serve as parental figures, or perhaps as grandparents, so that the world felt safe, and that there were no questions about why there were no adults in the show.

Project Details

  • Episodes: 10
  • Views: +1,000,000
  • Distribution: Youtube,, Disney Channel, Roku
  • Role: Associate Art Director

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