Sunday, August 2, 2015

Talking Flowers

The flowers in Disney's Alice in Wonderland have attitude issues. Friendly at first when a downsized Alice approaches them, but then their demeanor turns hostile. Alice is even called a weed.
This is wonderful personality stuff. Anthropomorphic flowers with definitive character traits. I just love the way blossoms become faces and leaves turn into arms. John Lounsbery animated lot of the flower scenes.

Mary Blair did a ton of color/design studies, all of them stunning. The Technicolor process allowed for an extremely vibrant color palette on the screen.

This post is dedicated to my friend Guillaume, who wanted to become a florist after watching this sequence from Alice in Wonderland as a kid. As a matter of fact, today Guillaume is a highly successful florist in Paris. His work is as beautiful as the images you see here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mickey Magic

The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Disney's grand experimental film Fantasia remains one of my all time pieces of film making. The idea of having a cartoon character commanding the forces of the universe must have sounded crazy and over the top to the Disney staff. But Walt Disney's vision for what the animated medium could do eclipsed everyone's imagination. To him this was not merely a cute cartoon business anymore "We have worlds to conquer."
And that he did, with Fantasia and so many other films and projects that followed.

I love the fact that Disney wasn't afraid of going into dark places. A Mouse's dream that turns into a frightening nightmare. Early German expressionist films had a profound influence on the Disney artists at that time. That studio was unstoppable!

Monday, July 27, 2015


Nana, who acts like a nanny to the Darling children, is a minor, but terrific character nevertheless in the film Peter Pan. She is handled in a somewhat cartoony, but still believable way by animator Norm Ferguson. She walks like a real dog, yet is able to act out human like business like in the film still above. Because she doesn't talk, the animator had to get the character's emotions across through pantomime performances. Ferguson had been an expert in animating Pluto, so he was well equipped to take on an assignment like this one.

A 1940 model sheet from the film's earlier concept period, drawn beautifully by J.P. Miller, who made Disney history when he provided final story sketches for Baby Weems. 

Just when you thought that Milt Kahl couldn't possibly have been involved with every Disney feature character, this roughly put together model sheet shows that he probably was. The length of the dog's jowls gave him a little trouble.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Milt Kahl's Wendy

An early pre-animation, charming model sheet.

Milt wasn't happy at all when Walt Disney asked him to take on the animation for Peter Pan and Wendy. He had high hopes for getting assigned to Captain Hook. That character of course went to Frank Thomas. So when Frank showed his first scenes with Hook during a sweatbox session, Milt tore them to pieces: There is nothing here, no personality, drawing...these are nothing scenes.
Eventually he calmed down and started to focus on the two most realistic characters in the film, Peter and Wendy. Milt naturally wasn't afraid of realism, to him it wasn't as much fun as doing eccentric or comedic characters. But he did his best, and his animation shines throughout the film.
In order to make animated realism look good on the screen, top draughtsmanship is absolutely essential. Standard poses and head angles will result in boring scenes. Yet beautifully drawn head tilts, up and down angles add so much to the overall acting.

These drawings from Milt's scenes show his special skills for drawing any angle extremely well.

Here an assistant is tracing Milt's rough animation drawings in an effort to understand the complex drawing style.

The following copies show clean up drawings over Milt's rough keys from the song sequence "Your Mother and Mine". Look at the subtleties in Wendy's facial features.

Let Milt tell you himself how he felt about Peter and Wendy in this clip from a previous post:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Titanic with a Twist

© Andreas Deja

A watercolor sketch from a few years ago. Wouldn't it be fun to reenact classic Hollywood scenes in pencil animation?

Thursday, July 16, 2015


My upcoming book with Focal Press "The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Technique and Inspiration from Disney's Great Animators" will include a lot of never before seen animation art, including all key drawings from this Milt Kahl masterpiece.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Busch, The Brothers Zemganno

I don't know when exactly this book was published, a date wasn't included in it.
My guess would be mid 1960s. It doesn't matter, the illustrations depicting scenes from the circus world are stunning. Beautifully rendered layouts and rich characters, always staged in the most effective way. What a standard for draughtsmanship!

By the way, check this out...what do you know??