From Page to Screen… er, from Whiteboard to Computer
An animated film has a lot more flexibility than a live-action movie. As Pixar's own Buzz Lightyear would say, the possibilities extend to infinity and beyond. In an Angelina Jolie movie, the main character looks like Angelina Jolie. Johnny Depp always looks like Johnny Depp. And Christian Bale… okay, sometimes we're not sure what he looks like.
But in animation, the characters can look however the animators want them to look and sound however they want them to sound. This freedom leads to multiple stages of development, from character design to the environments inspired by dumps in Oakland, CA.
Just because WALL-E is as slick and digital as EVE herself, that doesn't mean that no one took pen to paper (or in this case, market to whiteboard) during production. When not roaming the wide-open spaces of Pixar's complex its artists created WALL-E's 96,000 storyboards (yes, that's 96 thousand) by hand.
Sheesh. A cartoon-making robot probably sounds like a good idea at the end of a long day of drawing.