Saturday, September 25, 2021

Sketches of Penny

These beautiful, sensitive drawings are by Ollie Johnston. They predate animation, Ollie was exploring poses and attitudes that reveal Penny's personality. Already you see a sweetness and melancholy that define her character. And look at that light Ollie touch in the line work, so different than -let's say- Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl or Marc Davis. As Glen Keane said in the documentary Frank & Ollie, his pencil seems to be kissing the paper.
I realized that over the years I have posted quite a few times about this character. Turns out that I just have a lot of original material with Penny. 

Ollie is ALL emotion. He knew he didn't draw as well as Milt or Marc, but the fact that he felt for his characters so deeply makes his work stand out. 


Here are a few other previous posts on Penny:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Lady & the Tramp Layout

I have always loved the inroduction scenes of Tramp. They start with a shot of the "other side of the tracks" as far as Lady's world is concerned. This gorgeous layout drawing depicts a kind of countryside setting. The final version shows the outskirts of a small midwestern town around 1909. 

Again...the artistic caliber at the Disney Studio is astonishing. From layout sketch to background painting to the character animation that follows. Admittedly, during the 1950s other studios were experimenting with more modern graphic styles. Disney had started to dabble in modernism with the terrific short film Toot, Whistle. Plunk and Boom from 1953. And a fresh graphic change would take shape at the studio starting with the release of Sleeping Beauty in 1959.

But you can't knock this old fashioned Norman Rockwell-like styling. At least I can't.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Sullivant Original IV


From the Jungle Gazette:

Young Wilbur Lion is home from his triumphal tour with the Mammoth Circus. "Welcome home, Wilbur."

Life Magazine, fall 1925

This beauty measures 16 1/2  x  10 1/2". Drawn almost 100 years ago. Sullivant's quadrupeds are walking on their toes here. By contrast Disney would later put the bodyweight of anthropomorphic animals on the whole length of the foot, like humans (Song of the South, Robin Hood etc.) As so often in his work Sullivant keeps the background to a minimum, so the characters read clearly and beautifully. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Ward Kimball...20 Questions


Here is another one of those questionaires that someone sent to various artists from the entertainment industry, years ago. Kimball answers them in typical fashion. 

I posted Ollie Johnston's answers a while ago:

Sunday, September 5, 2021

"Listen Friar..."

"'re mighty preachy and you gonna preach your neck (right into a hangman's noose.)" The Sheriff of Nottingham is not happy with Friar Tuck's confrontational comments about taxes and the poor.
This is a Milt Kahl scene, and these drawings were photocopied before a clean up artist would erase some of the construction lines and eliminate extraneous ones, on the original sheets. 

But these animation key drawings are pure Milt. The back of the head leads the motion, and when the head arrives at the high position, Milt goes crazy with with the character's dialogue. The word "mighty" is about to come up, and for the middle vowel he just about breaks the jaw for an extremely large open mouth shape (drawing 53).

No other animator at Disney would take it this far. There are people who love this kind of stuff, others resent it. (Ollie Johnston wasn't crazy about Milt's oversized mouth shapes).

To me this works when applied only occasionally to a loud, strong vowel. If you only use big mouth shapes in your dialogue animation, the character will end up grimacing, instead of talking naturally.

Great scene!


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Roger Rabbit Crowd Scene

This cel from the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit was recently sold at Heritage Auctions. As if animating the whole movie on ones and following the live action camera wasn't tough enough, toward the end of production we still had a large amount of crowd scenes to do. Filled with characters from different studios.
I animated one early shot in which a huge number of characters come running toward camera to inspect what's left of the villain Judge Doom.
There was Mickey, Minnie, Pinocchio, Betty Boop, the Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and others. For me this was the first time I animated classic cartoon characters. These scenes were usually split up between two animators. One drew the front rows of characters the other added the back end of the group.
I remember that I needed to study the characters' movements in classic short films on Video Cassettes, frame by frame. They all had to run "in character", so that needed some analysis. 
Betty Boop swings her arms sideways when running, the Roadrunner has these Beep, Beep stop and go moves etc.
I also remember that it took me forever to get those scenes done, particularly the running one. Despite pressure from management I had a ball animating famous "toons" trying to get them as close to the original versions as possible. 
This scene here appears a little later when the gang has already arrived and some of them are commenting on the situation. Here I animated Pinocchio, Daffy, Baby Herman, Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Bugs, Betty Boop, Tweety, Donald and Sylvester.

Friday, August 27, 2021

101 Dalmatians, Behind the Scenes II

Here is part 2 with production photos and artwork from 101 Dalmatians. We need a coffee table size book on the making of this brilliant film. To this day the most modern Disney animated movie of all time.