Behind the barbaric name of “rotoscope” hides a technique invented by the Fleischer studios which consists in tracing the contours of a character or an object filmed frame by frame in order to render a realistic movement.
For Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this technique proved crucial in rendering human characters such as the heroine, the Queen, the Huntsman and the Prince, but also sometimes for characters with a more typical cartoon design such as the dwarfs.
In all cases, the raw drawing, once drawn, required a great deal of interpretation, because the characters, even realistic ones, are almost never exact copies of the real shot. Snow White, for example, is a caricature of her main model, the Prince required studies to appear both graceful and masculine, etc.
Nevertheless, lest the general public imagine that it was enough for the animators to trace the outlines of a live-action film to create his feature film, Walt Disney remained discreet about his use of this technique, and the articles that mention the models vaguely mention their role as inspiration for the artists.
However, even if the realism of the characters definitely benefited from the process, the talent of the animators is the main factor to succeed in creating coherent characters from sometimes several models for one of them.
Here you will find information about the models of the characters, photograms of the films used, behind the scenes of the shootings and examples of drawings.