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Art Direction

Stylistically, "The Emperor's New Groove" strives for a simple yet sophisticated approach that reflects the irreverent comedic tone of the story. To capture the flavor of its South American-inspired setting, the film's creative team traveled to Peru in 1996 to observe the artistic and cultural treasures of the ancient Incas. During their ten-day trip, they visited such landmarks as the mountaintop city of Machu Picchu and journeyed 11,000 feet up to the ancient city of Cuzco. They took a white water raft trip down a wild river and also observed the patchwork fields, extreme vertical mountains and huge stones from the vantage point of a military helicopter.

To help create the look of the film, Art Director Colin Stimpson and Co-Art Director Tom Cardone worked closely with the producer, director and other key department heads. Paul Felix also contributed to the production design in the early conceptual stages of development. Influenced by the distinctive and colorful design style of the Incas, the art directors began incorporating certain shapes, motifs, and designs into their concept drawings and paintings. Statues, paintings, and jewelry offered a wealth of lighthearted and seemingly caricatured animals and images from which to draw.

According to Stimpson, "Our mandate in creating the look of this film was to make it fun and appealing with an overriding sense of humor and exaggerated caricature. Everything had to have a clear personality, whether it was a character or a background. We really tried to be imaginative and show the audience something they haven't seen before. We wanted to surprise them and that's why we thoroughly enjoyed using the Incan artwork as reference. The overall shapes and composition were wonderful and we kept discovering strange little animals in the art and trying to think of fun ways to incorporate them. For example, the exterior of Kuzco's palace was inspired by a little gold statue, the bridge that Kronk drops the bag from is caricatured from an actual image of a devil dog and the fish tapestry hanging in Yzma's dining room came from an Incan tapestry.

"We were constantly amazed by how complex and stunning the Incan designs were," adds Stimpson. "The tapestries and jewelry are filled with mythical creatures and the overall style of the artwork had very bright colors and a sophisticated sense of design. We basically caricatured and simplified things to emphasize what was fun about them. Visiting the South American countryside also had a big impact on us. The landscape almost appears to be a caricature itself with its vertical mountains and patchwork fields. It looked like a quilt and we tried to include that in our design for the village."

Another major inspiration for the filmmakers was the simplistic style of some of the classic Disney films of the 1950s – particularly "Peter Pan" and "Lady and the Tramp."

Producer Fullmer explains, "We realized that those films were lit very much like a stage play. It's really clear at all times where your eye should go on the screen. It was a matter of going back to basic composition. If you look at the layouts and background paintings for this film, they look incomplete or unfinished until you put in the characters. We wanted to direct the viewer's eye by using bold simple values, dramatic space division and pools of light to emphasize the characters and reinforce the mood of a scene."

Co-art director Tom Cardone notes, "With regard to the film's color palette, we paid a lot of attention to char

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