Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Ward Kimball in his own Words

 Here is Kimball in Storyboard magazine, talking about his boss Walt Disney.

A few of his terrific life drawings with clothed models. My guess is that they were done sometime during the 1950s.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Wilhelm M. Busch, Ex Libris

A few more stunning drawings by Wilhelm M. Busch. 
Such a command over portraying the human body with elegance and grace. The first two sketches have an obvious erotic flair, but the third one shows a grieved Russian woman with her children during WW II.
Throughout his lifetime Busch depicted a wide range of topics and emotions with great skill.. 
A true master draughtsman of the last century.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ollie Johnston in his own Words

I am going to post a few comments by Walt Disney artists that were originally published in an issue of Storyboard Magazine from 1993. The topic is mostly about their relationship with Walt.

At the time these essays were submitted to the magazine by the artists, and as far as I know are unedited.

Ollie drew these charming sketches at his home in Flintridge around 1963.

Drawings: Howard Lowery Auctions

Monday, October 12, 2020

Lady & the Tramp Pencil Test Sequence

Classic Disney pencil tests are treasures. The characters seem to be even more alive than in the final color footage. You are reminded that someone drew this stuff with a pencil on paper. It represents the animator's art in its purest form. No color or rendered backgrounds to "distract" you, just a bunch of lines on the screen. But those lines have an explosive magic, because they reveal imaginary yet real life.
Steve Stanchfield just posted the complete Siamese Cats sequence in pencil test form. 
Before the release of Lady & the Tramp in 1955, Disney presented a TV program featuring Peggy Lee, Woolie Reitherman, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and others. 
I believe this pencil test sequence was supposed to be a part of the TV show, but was ultimately cut.

John Sibley animated the cats. They had originally been assigned to Ward Kimball, who animated some if not all of the sequence. His footage apparently did not fit the realistic style of the film.

This is a real treat, and I'd like to thank Steve Stanchfield for making it available to everyone on Vimeo.


Here is the link:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Power of Vintage Disney

Walt Disney's animation studio didn't invent character animation, but it elevated it to unimaginable artistic heights. 
Here are a few random thoughts that help illustrate just WHY this studio was the industry's leader:

You can't take your eyes off classic Disney characters. There is a visual magnetism in this Timothy drawing. You want to look at him, you want to get to know him.

They realized that by studying local folklore on site gave the films great authenticity.

This added believability to the characters which no other studio came close to. 

They reveal not only story continuity, but also staging, camera angles and personality.

When something didn't feel right it had to be revisited and redone.
Frank Thomas' early Pinocchio animation moved nicely, but the footage was tossed because the character design lacked appeal.

Even though animation was full of likable cute characters, Disney did not hesitate to put them into highly dramatic situations. These guys were risk takers!

Mickey is looking up at a giant's castle. Camera angles like the one take highly skilled artists to draw such an up shot convincingly.

By hiring outstanding character actors for animation reference the scenes were practically half done by the time the animator got started. (Not all animators approved of this working method though.) 

The balance of realistic characters combined with comedic ones added a great dynamic. Particularly in the feature films.

All of Disney's animated films have stunning color models for their characters. From Technicolor extravaganzas like "Alice in Wonderland" to more subtle color palettes like "101 Dalmatians", they all work beautifully. 

What started as rounded sculptural drawings evolved into sophisticated artistic graphics.
This challenged some artists, but audiences embraced the change eventually.

Evan after Xerox was introduced to save money, the studio was still capable of producing masterful animation. The overall look changed again, but character animation maintained its very high standard.

When all disciplines like animation, effects and background painting come together on the highest level possible, visuals like this one were achieved. This is animation for the ages.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

More Robin Hood Designs by Milt Kahl

These Kahl drawings represent Robin Hood's earlier version based on Ken Anderson sketches.
Robin looks like a mischievous character actor, not the leading man type he turned out to be in the final version of the film. This is a more juvenile appearance with a skinny neck.
My guess is that Milt made these drawings to aid John Lounsbery, who originally was assigned to the lead fox character. 
Fantastic sketches as usual by the one and only Milt Kahl.
A few of these drawings have been posted here before, but these images are scans from originals, not xeroxes.


I have posted numerous Robin Hood visuals over the years. My favorite post remains this bizarre interview with Milt when he was promoting Robin Hood in Dallas:

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Crazy Pelican Postman

I animated this scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit about a hundred years ago.
These frames are from the start of the scene, which went on and on as the camera pans screen right to reveal life on a film studio's backlot.
This was the cartooniest animation I had done up to this point. I remember animating the brooms from Fantasia using live actin brooms sweeping the floor. All on ones. 
The brooms were also hopping along to the beat of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

A ton of work, I had no weekends working on this film. No regrets. It was all worth it!