Friday, February 15, 2019


I was asked recently if I had anything to do with the character of Vanessa (Ursula in human form) for The Little Mermaid.
The answer is yes. I think at the time I was done with King Triton's animation and was asked to help out with this character who had limited footage in the film. I came up with these two model sheets, and animated a few scenes when we see her first.
The wedding scenes were animated by someone else, I believe Kathy Zielinski did some of that footage.
What I recall from this assignment is that I had fun with the overlapping action in Vanessa's hair and dress.
All this seems like two lifetimes ago.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Freddie Friday

Nothing better than to end the week with some Fred Moore art. The first image is dedicated to Milt Banta, a Disney writer, and his bride Ginny. Banta worked on many short films and a few features, his last one being Sleeping Beauty. He was born in in London in 1908 and died in Pasadena, California, in 1959 at age 51.

Next up a sketch by Moore of Mickey in Fantasia. Fred was animation supervisor on the Sorcerer's apprentice, I don't believe he did any animation himself. So this drawing would be done in support of somebody else's scene.

A terrific publicity sketch for The Three Caballeros. It was sold at auction for $3000 a few years ago.
Signed Frederic Moore...

A lovely sketch of one of Freddie's girls. Rough and unfinished, it gives away his intuitive thought process when drawing the human figure. A young genius at work.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Wetzel "Judge" Whitaker

Another unsung Disney animation hero. Judge Whitaker worked at Disney as a character animator
on a ton of Donald Duck shorts as well as features, from  Snow White all the way to Peter Pan.
He animated scenes with Cinderella's stepsisters and Peter Pan's Lost Boys. Whitaker also worked on Lambert the Sheepish Lion.
Some of his most impressive animation includes the army of cards in Alice in Wonderland.

Here is a Youtube link that shows some of his beautiful work. While watching turn down the annoying soundtrack:

After leaving Disney Whitaker produced films for the Mormon church.
He died in 1985 at the age of 77.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sleeping Beauty at 60

After all these decades Sleeping Beauty remains a stand out film among Disney animated features.
A grand experiment in artistic style and storytelling, which did not pay off at the box office in its original release in 1959. But after many re-releases in theaters and on home video this film is now beloved by just about everybody.

An early character study by Frank Thomas.

Incredible backgrounds with cels that don't match. It's worth zooming in on some of the gorgeous painted detail.

A couple of expressive roughs by John Lounsbery.

A haunting looking BG from a later sequence in the film. Merryweather is not supposed to sit on the chair.

A stunning Eyvind Earle study for the Sleeping Beauty walk through at Disneyland.

There are plenty of previous posts on Sleeping Beauty. Just type the film's title in the upper left corner, and they will all pop up.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Frank Thomas Animates the Chairman

One of Frank Thomas' last animation assignments, the Chairman of the Rescue Aid Society from The Rescuers.
I love this candid photo of Frank in his office taken in 1976 or early 1977. I believe he is working on the same drawing as pictured below. Frank didn't do all of this character's scenes, but he animated the best ones. Expressive, full of personality with natural movement. 

Character actor Bernard Fox provided the warm, character rich voice.
Here he is twenty years later in Titanic.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

...and Another Kley

As so often with Heinrich Kley art, you wonder about the meaning behind the illustration.
Depicted here is a female nude presumably flirting with an oversized semi-nude man, while riding a rhinoceros.
Unlike Frazetta's sexually charged drawings and paintings, Kley's nudes always look innocent and wholesome.
I believe that for this watercolor drawing he just let his mind meander, perhaps starting the illustration at one point without knowing what the final result might look like.
In any case, this Kley is a feast for the eyes.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Aladdin Flashback

When I look back at my career at Disney, I remember that once in a while everything came together just about perfectly for an animated film I was a part of.
Aladdin is one of those films. It remains arguably the most beautiful looking film of my era.
I think everybody was in the right spot as far as casting. Directors, writers, animators, voice talents,
composer etc, everybody's work jelled and made for an amazing film.
Eric Goldberg took us to a new direction with his animation of the Genie. Fluid, simple and uncluttered. Stylized while still being commercial and accessible. His influence on the movie can't be overstated.
That being said, we did have our bumps in the road. After the first story screening, Jeffrey Katzenberg walked off remarking:"You can keep the title (of the film)."
The story got reworked, Aladdin's mother got the boot and certain songs were cut, because they didn't promote story or character.
As for myself, Jafar was a joy to design based on several artists' work. When it came to his color scheme I did argue though with our production designer's choices.
Still, it all came together in the end.

Above Ron and John behind Kent Melton's beautiful character maquettes.

Next up John Musker with Jafar's voice Jonathan Freeman and Aladdin's singing voice Brad Kane.

Jonathan with lyricist Tim Rice and composer Alan Menken.

A few scenes that represent my earliest animation on the film.
Iago by Will Finn, the Thief by Dan Hofstedt.