Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Early Medusa Set-Up

This is a pre-production cel set-up from The Rescuers. Actually one element in it is production, and that's Medusa. Milt Kahl had already animated her as she gets off the sofa and moves toward the door  in the back, with hilarious dance steps.
The alligators Nero and Brutus aren't developed yet as final designs. Milt just scribbled these poses so a color model artist had something to work from for an experimental color scene test.
The layout's line work (which doesn't line up here with the painted shapes) is brown, it was later changed to grey to match the character's xerox outlines.
Some of the film's night scenes are presented in old fashioned black xerox.

Milt himself wasn't a fan of the movie's art direction. "You never knew what time of day most sequences were played, whether it was night or day", he criticized later.

Here is a link to an earlier post about Nero and Brutus. I love Milt's animation on these heavy reptiles:

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.