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Art 101: Making Monsters University Scary Awesome

Letterman jackets, marching bands, Archie the Scare Pig – my kids and I have seen (and loved) it all in Monsters University twice now, and yet we still can’t get enough of what young Mike and Sulley were like in school.

Maybe it’s because little Mike looks ridiculously adorable in that MU hat.

Maybe it’s because we like a good bromance.

Maybe it’s because we just really, really, reeeally love monsters. (Art!)

Maybe it’s because the animation – and art behind the film -  takes Mike and Sulley’s back story to a new level of scary awesome. It makes their world feel real, vibrant, and something we definitely want to be a part of.

“It’s not a straight line from beginning to end – but filled with dips and peaks, left turns and a lot of rerouting,” says Monsters University director Dan Scanlon to Disney Insider of getting the film from ideation to creation.

“You may know where they’re going to end up, but you don’t know how they got there,” adds story supervisor Kelsey Mann. “So it’s the journey that really matters, an idea that ultimately underscores the whole movie.”

And its artwork.

Just look:

  • Art 101 1 of 11
    PicMonkey Collage

    Go back to the future with Disney-Pixar's animation team!

  • The Campus 2 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    Monsters University's campus and Frat Row was inspired by architecture found at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and MIT.

  • The Quad 3 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    Trapezoid shapes, echoing the largess of so many of the monster characters, are reflected in the campus' architecture.

  • The Football Stadium 4 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    It wouldn't be college without one.

  • The Athletic Track 5 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    It might not have made it into the movie, but I can't stop looking at it.

  • The Scare Games 6 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
  • Young Mike Wazowski 7 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    To take Mike back in time, Pixar artists studied frogs as they age for inspiration!

  • More Young Mike. Because, CUTENESS. 8 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    Frogs! Still can't get over that one.

  • James P. Sullivan 9 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    Ok, so Sulley isn't very likable in this story. At first anyway. Pixar artists made sure Sulley got plenty of untamed hair and a thinner frame to make him appear younger. And cockier.

  • The Characters 10 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    There are more than 400 characters in the film, making it Pixar's most populated picture to date.

  • More Monstrous Details 11 of 11
    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

    Horns, fangs, trapezoids, diamonds - they're all incorporated into the buildings on campus. Did you notice?

Photo credits: Disney-Pixar, Pixar Animation Studios

Read Pilar’s writing from around the blogosphere here, social creatures. And if you’re in the mood for more magic, join her on Twitter, Facebook (here and here) and Instagram. Because X-Pro II. Also, Sierra.

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