Brave art director reveals hair-raising secrets behind Pixar’s leading lady

With her raging red curls and feisty attitude to match, Princess Merida, of animated tale, Brave, more than holds her own in the fight to determine her own fate.

In contrast to the sleek, preened Disney princesses of years gone by, Brave’s heroine brings something different to the table. Skilled archer, Princess Merida bursts onto the silver screen, bow and arrow in hand on her trusty steed, Angus - her untamed red locks blowing in the Highland winds.

Brave’s art director, Tia Kratter, recalled the challenge of creating the princess’s bold curly mane: “It was real concerted man-weeks and effort to get that hair," she said. "Originally we had modelled her with her hair [straight] but the animators came back to us and said there weren’t enough flyaway pieces, little individual pieces that will make it feel softer.

“We said you’re right; we need to go back and add even more to that hair to make it look even more wild.”

The animated spectacular set in medieval Scotland sees Merida on a quest to change her fate forever. In order to do this, the flame-haired princess turns to an eccentric witch - a decision with disastrous consequences. Merida must venture through dangerous territory and discover the meaning of bravery in order to put things right, before it’s too late.

Speaking of the complexities of making a film like Brave, Tia explained: “Some films are technically easier to make, like Toy Story with [main character] Andy’s walls [which are] very straight. Computers love perfection so for something like that, it’s easier.

“We came to Scotland to do this research trip in 2006 and immediately upon going up the East coast of Scotland, we see these ruined castles that are hundreds and hundreds of years old. The Highlands are covered in not just one kind of grass but grasses and mosses and heather.

“It suddenly dawns on us that this world is incredibly complex and incredibly organic and incredibly irregular so we tried to do everything we could to bring that feel into our film, even though it is not trivial.”

Brave is out in cinemas around the UK now.

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