Aaron Blaise knows the majesty of lions. A former Disney animator, Blaise worked on The Lion King, serving as the supervising animator for the younger version of Nala. And it’s his profound respect for the species that comes through in digital art he made in tribute to Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion killed by an American hunter last month.
“As you may be able to tell, I am a HUGE animal lover, and it drives me crazy when I see these beautiful creatures destroyed for no good reason,” Blaise wrote on his website. “When I heard the news about Cecil, I got inspired to create a tribute image. It s not much, but hopefully it will make people think.”
In the painting, Blaise portrays Cecil’s face as appearing in rolling clouds, similar to how Mufasa’s face appeared to Simba in The Lion King.
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Blaise also posted a time-lapse video showing how he made the artwork in Photoshop.
In addition to The Lion King, Blaise also contributed to Beauty and the Beast (for which he animated the Beast), Aladdin (he animated Jasmine and her pet tiger, Rajah), Pocahontas and Mulan. Blaise also co-directed 2003’s Brother Bear. He currently works as an animator in Florida.