Thursday, June 9, 2011

Marc Davis II

Before getting to the next post I just want to address a few comments and questions.

How long would it take Marc to draw one of those Maleficents ?
I really have no idea, to be honest. All those guys could draw and animate pretty fast in general, on "Sleeping Beauty" though the pacing was slower because Walt wanted moving illustration for this film.
I had a chance to talk to a clean up artist many years ago, who helped clean up the personality scenes with the prince on the horse. He mentioned that he was able to do ONE DRAWING A DAY, and that was acceptable, because certain scenes simply needed to look perfect.

How did Marc use live action reference footage ?
Very carefully, would be the short answer.
He told me once that he looked at the reference as a rough animation first pass .
Meaning, something is already there, but it needs to be refined:
Strengthening of the main poses, more contrast in the timing, pushing for more weight, exaggerating follow through on hair and clothing.
Often only parts of the live action are useful, the rest is animated from

How do I use live action ?
I worked with  live action video footage for characters like Gaston and Hercules,
as well as for one dance sequence with Mama Odie.
What I didn't work with were photos or photostats. I viewed the footage on a monitor many times, and then made small thumbnail sketches to claryfy for myself, which parts I could use, and which parts I couldn't.
Based on this acting "blueprint" I began animating.

Is anything happening with Marc's book project on animal anatomy ?
Not much at the moment. The original title is "The Anatomy of Motion".
Marc and Alice tried to get it published, but so far it hasn't worked out.

Blog reader Andrew Lee has turned the Maleficent scans into a pencil test.
Check it out, it works beautifully. Thanks, Andrew.


  1. Neat stories! "Sleeping Beauty" must've been pretty intense, by the sound of it. But, Walt always wanted perfection... And good advice about live-action reference. If anything, live-action serves as the foundation and imagination actually is what builds the animation. And I had no idea Marc Davis was working on a book... that would be great to see one day. Thanks for the post!

  2. It'd be really interesting to see that as a book, has anyone brought up small press publishing? I mean blurb or lulu seem like a plausible way to go, or even something like magcloud. I've gotten an art booklet printed by them and was pretty happy with how it turned out. That was soft cover, magazine-type printing (but I think they offer hardcover too).

    That drawing is lovely. Sometimes when I watch the finished films, I forget how impressive the individual drawings are.

  3. Thanks Andreas, this is fantastic! When you flipped through my sketchbook, you were very polite but I knew you had some suggestions that, due for time restrictions, we couldn't discuss. Your animation notes on the past few blog posts already clarify some of those blind spots and helps in solving those issues. Thanks again for the great work and insightful commentary!

  4. "Sleeping Beauty" really had a wonderfull visual, diferent of everything on Disney, or in any other studio. At the time I am writting something about that in my conclusion thesis on a undergraduate animation program, that is about the pré-production visual development on Disney Studios. I wish someday i could talk to you like you did with the nine old men.

  5. Thanks for the response Andreas! ONE A DAY! WOW! I am right on pace then! hehe :) I love that idea of moving illustration...I thought very successfully implemented too. Beautiful drawings with great animation...just fabuous! This is a great blog,loving it! Keep it up! ;)

  6. We appreciate everything you share with us!

  7. Great Blog, thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful drawings.
    It’s great to see the rough drawings of Maleficent;
    BTW I think I have the clean up version of the maleficent 71# drawing.

  8. Thank you for Posting more Marc Davis... I'm opting to neglect my bedtime in favor of reading your fine blog posts..


  9. Thanks for sharing invaluable nuances of animation history and experiences.. :D

    How do u keep the face of the character looking the same in 2D animation???

  10. Thanks for the insight and inspiration! It is fuel for my fire.

  11. Thanks for the great answers and insights!

    A whole day on one drawing in C/U for Sleeping Beauty?! !!! The longest I've ever spent on a clean up drawing is 3 hours for a feature film; that seemed like an insane amount of time back then but a whole day?! nice! I can't imagine that being allowed nowadays?! Didn't they introduce the footage system we now use on Sleeping Beauty since parts of it - esp that dance Aurora does with the animals - were taking SO long to do!? Groooooan... footage.... :P LOL!

  12. Brilliant, thanks for answering my couple of questions Andreas, much appreciated :)

    I'm quite pleased that your method of using reference is much like my own, I must be doing something right! :P

  13. Your posts are just treasure troves of insight! THANK YOU ANDREAS

  14. Hello Andreas! You are a genius! I'm a your great fan. I like the title Deja view, it's witty and funny. This blog is very interesting, I have great admiration for the Nine Old Men, most of all I prefer Marc Davis, he had an incredible sense of grace. I think in the past the Academy had to award them and now I hope one day the Academy will give you a special oscar because your art is fondamental in the history of cinema.
    I'm an Italian artist and I work in the world of animation too, I'm a character designer and an environment artist. I also have a blog, if you'll take a look you make me happy!

  15. Thank you Andreas!!

    One drawing a day? I can assume those drawings are key drawings, right?

  16. Nope, that includes inbetweens as well.
    I have seen these clean ups. Every line is perfection.

  17. Marc Davis made Maleficent beautiful when he sketched her as we see her now.Thanks Andreas for sharing these.