Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Marc Davis

Marc was a lot of fun to be around. He and his wife Alice enjoyed the company of young artists, 
and it was always a treat to get invited to their house in the Los Feliz area of LA, very near the location of the old Hyperion Disney Studios.
Marc loved telling the story when he bought the house in the mid fifties and told his boss : 
Hey Walt, I bought a place near the old studio, to which Walt responded:
Hell Marc, we're not moving back THERE !

His home was and still is a museum. He loved the designs of New Guinea artifacts,
and had brought them over from the islands. His own sketches depicted their costumes and rituals.

I thought you might enjoy more animation from "Sleeping Beauty".
Marc had skipped "Lady and the Tramp" in order to focus on two characters,
Aurora and Maleficent.
Both very difficult to animate because of their degree of realism. But by that time Marc had become somewhat of an expert in animating female characters, or Leading Ladies, like he called them. 
Starting with Snowwhite herself, Marc had supervised her clean up look and did a little bit of animation. He later designed and animated Cinderella, followed by Tinker Bell and Alice.
So animating the female form wasn't anything new to him, but Maleficent turned out to be a challenge. Marc would say that she stood around and gave speeches in most of her scenes. 
That means not much is happening physically with the character, so you need to work with facial expressions and hand gestures in a very subtle way.
Frank Thomas thought that a lot of the drawing power in Marc's Maleficent animation got lost in clean up.

Below are scans of a few animation keys. Maleficent is about to leave the prince alone in the dungeon. The raven became a nice "prop" and gave her something to do with.

The pencil test shows Aurora, when she tells the fairies that she is in love.
I can't get over the way Marc designed her hair...Art Deco curls.

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  1. It s amazing the job of this man, very nice. Gracias por compartir todo este material. Ojalá algún día vuelva la animación tradicional con fuerzas renovadas. El trabajo que realizaste en Scar es increíble. Todo el material expuesto aquí es fuente de inspiración.

  2. Excellent post, Andreas.
    I've always admired Marc's draftsmanship and his eye for design. I'm sure he would have been a great teacher for students trying to get into the art of animation, like myself. The animation of Aurora is also a great find, I'm glad you posted it.

  3. Thanks for posting these Andreas. It's great to get the opportunity to examine these fantastic drawings up close. Maleficent is one of my all time favourite designs. Everything about her is so controlled and sinister. Even the large crack sound her staff makes against the floor makes you shudder.
    I used to have Aurora model sheets around my desk when I did clean-up on the film Anastasia. Whenever I got the chance I would draw Anya's hair to look like Aurora's. I would even try to match the thick and thin inking style.

    Thanks again.

  4. Excellent post and thanks for putting this up. Marc Davis is one of the best draftsman in animation historya and I've noticed through my studies an expert in spacing. Andreas I know you used Malificent alot as a reference for your animation of Jafar. How did you balance taking inspiration from Marc's animation with making something unique and an original character?

  5. zoograyson,
    what I got from Maleficent for Jafar was understating the animation. When you want to show your character think
    and plot you shouldn't move the body a whole lot. So you can do subtle things like having the eyes flair up.
    I also wanted simplicity in the design, interesting facial expressions and well drawn hands.

  6. Malificent is one of the most incredible villains in the Disney repertoire! Thx so much for posting these!

  7. Fantastic posts... I'm so very happy your taking the time to share this great bit of history with us. I also really love Sleeping Beauty and all of Marc's work therein...

    Many thanks...


  8. The animated piece is nothing short of admirable -- the flow of the hair and the dress, the subtlety of the facial expressions, and overall action in general is beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  9. What I find really interesting is that with Maleficent (and Jafar now that you mention it) is that they are more standing around characters, but they don't feel that way. They're such a big presence when they're "on stage" that you forget that they did do much other than talk.

    Also, I find the picture of the studio amazing! There are so many things in there I wish I could see better!

  10. Every little girl still wants Aurora's hair! I can't tell you how thankful I am that you started a blog.

  11. i absolutely love that Aurora shot! wow thats wonderful!.....such a small scene but i've already watched it 30+ times just admiring that design move!....his drawings are so beautiful individually as well (grrr) you know how long each drawing in a sequence like this would have taken???

  12. I'm an tradicional animator too... and I just have to say that your blog drove me back to the inspiration road again !!!

    Tank you Adreas !

  13. Julie,
    sorry about the low res image with Marc in his office.
    There will be better ones coming up in future posts.

  14. This makes me want to animate...
    Great picture of you and Marc in front of all the artefacts. Picasso used to collect African masks and sculptures. Their bold shapes and abstract designs have inspired many.
    Thank you Andreas for sharing these.
    What wonderful, utterly believable movement of Aurora. He right hand does flip over in a strange way right at the end, though.

    More please...

  15. My gosh Andreas, I'm so glad you started this blog. I could look at the art and pencil tests you've already posted forever. Astounding. I look forward eagerly to each forthcoming post. Time to study, appreciate, and learn, learn, learn!!

    Hope all's well!


  16. Sehr geehrter Herr Deja,
    Es ist absolut fantastisch, jetzt öfter von Ihnen lesen zu können!
    Seit vor ein paar Jahren offline ging und ich es leider versäumt hatte, Ihre Tierskizzen herunter zu laden, dachte ich schon, ich müsste auf ein Buch von Ihnen warten, um wieder einen Einblick in Ihre Gedanken und Skizzenbücher zu bekommen. Ich würde mich sehr freuen, ab und zu auch mal einen Post mit Ihren Arbeiten zu sehen.

    Glücklicherweise gibt es ja auch noch Ihr Interview mit Clay Kaytis, das seit Jahren einen festen Platz in meiner Podcastliste hat. Ich hatte immer auf das angekündigte Nine Old Men Interview gehofft (-vielleicht ergibt sich da noch was?-), aber diese Alternative ist natürlich genau so gut. Wenn, Dank der Artworks und Clips, nicht sogar besser.

    Ich hoffe, über die nächsten Jahre noch viele Dinge aus Ihrer Feder zu sehen und zu lesen. Ihr Einfluss ist selbst halfway across the world immer noch stark. Ohne Ihre Arbeit speziell während der 90er würde ich wohl heute nicht in meinem Traumberuf Trickfilmzeichner arbeiten.

    Viele Grüße vom Niederrhein,
    -C. Siemens

  17. Hello Andreas!
    I am so happy to follow this blog!! Very well thought and done!!
    Your comments on the acting touches are brilliant.
    An online masterclass for the happiness of the animation community.
    Best Regards from Oslo

  18. finally! for a long time I hoped you would somehow publish
    some of the incredible 'animation treasures' you collected
    for so many years now. we always talked about the museum
    we should build, you with your 'actors' on paper and cels,
    and me with the stuff behind them. welcome to the
    publishing world, please be patient and let it go for a while.

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  20. Thanks for sharing! Great posts, I hope you have time to continue to amaze us with your memories from your career.

  21. My head is slightly aching at the thought of trying to draw that Aurora shot - so beautifully solid and well drawn. Haha how funny you should mention assistants - I'm not sure where I'd even start to clean that one up without messing it up lol...!
    Do you know how much live action reference Marc might have had for this? Or is it all from his head?!?
    Each day a new treat this is so cool! Cheers Andreas!

    PS - Now that you're not at Disney for now, any chance you can do that long rumoured book on Milt!? :D

  22. Ah, my favorite Disney film. The one that got me started in this grand business. Your unfailing enthusiasm for the business inspires us all, Andreas.

  23. Great stuff! Thanks for creating the blog and sharing this valuable information. Keep it coming :-)

  24. Owww , these drawings are so inspiring, I need to print them and put on my wall!!! Thank you very much for sharing these art pieces with us Andreas!!
    I think that Slepping Beauty has one of the most beautiful characters design of all old Dsney movies.

  25. Wonderful stuff, Andreas...and I love that picture of Marc checking the two different costumes of Aurora for the wonderful scene of her comeback to the Castle! Thank you so much for sharing!

  26. BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I love Maleficent!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  27. How on Earth does anyone draw and animate that well! I saw this while at work today and had to stop what I was doing and just take a moment to pick my jaw up off the ground!

    Andreas, do you know if this particular Sleeping Beauty animation was done with live-action reference? And do you know Marc's method of using reference material? I'd be interested to know how you approach it actually.

    Thanks again for sharing all this stuff, it's concentrated inspiration.

  28. Hey the new blog, my new favorite place to come visit. I took a few minutes and tried to time out the stills of Maleficent you posted on top of some film footage I found. Let me know if I messed it up at all ??? I really love the compressed pose where she says prince, just lovely. Marc's drawings are so clean and full of little nuances that give me goose pimples. Take care and looking forward to the future posts!

  29. Hey Andy,
    Glad to see you blogging and passing along your stories and observations. I hope all is going well these days.

  30. Andreas,

    This site is such a gift to the artist. Thanks for your posts.


  31. Andreas thanks so much for the HD pencil test of Aurora. Its so much easier to study when its high res. I have a question. Do you think that animation of Aurora spinning really needed to be on 1s? Its not that fast of a move, I'm wondering if it could have been accomplished on 2s.

  32. What an incredible talent Marc was! You're so fortunate to have known these wonderful animators, just as we are fortunate to have you share their (and your) works and stories with us. Thanks so much for your generosity, Andreas.


  33. Oh but the 1's are so nice! They give such fluidity to the spin and really lend to her emotion in the scene. I would also guess that it would be easy for a character so realistic to look stiff next to characters such as the fairies (not a problem for Maleficent who's stillness makes her even more villainous)Perhaps the 1's help Aurora in this respect?

  34. I am very happy to come across your blog!! Will we get to see any of your amazing artwork?

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  36. Hi Andreas!

    Awesome blog! It's so great that you are doing this~ definately will be checking this blog out a lot~

    I heard from a couple people that Marc Davis was writing a book on How to draw Animals but never completely finished it.. do you know what happened to that project?

  37. Thank you again so much for posting this stuff. This blog is so cool!!

  38. Wow Andreas, this is a goldmine! Thank you so much for posting these. not only are they entertaining but very enlightening as well.

    I had the pleasure of meeting you at last years CTN Expo and I just want to thank you for taking the time to draw a Roger Rabbit sketch for me. I love it!:D

  39. Hi Andreas
    Beautiful posts !
    Very happy you decided to create this BLOG.

    Hope things are well for you down there.
    all the best


  40. Hello Andreas.
    Marc was a fabulous animator and he had an incredible talent for character design. The drawings he did for the "Country Bear Jamboree" and "Pirates of the Caribbean " for the parks are simply sensational, they are definitely among the best drawings I've ever seen.
    Thanks for sharing these amazing drawings from Marc.

    Andreas, I am a big fan of John Lounsbery, and we do not hear much about him as happens with Frank, Milt or Kimball.
    To me he is one of the greatest animators, and his work was superb!!
    I have the book written by Canemaker and I read the chapter on the Lounsbery, but I believe you should know a lot about John. You could post, when possible, some informations, stories about him and maybe some animations or drawings of him?
    Thank you Andreas. All the best.

  41. Alex,
    a Lounsbery post is coming up.

  42. Hey Andreas! This is a great blog, thanks for sharing all these great drawings! I love the use of the raven in the Maleficent drawings, you can really see how well it complimented her design. I can't get over how amazing Marc's draftsmanship skill is, especially in the Aurora animation. Beautiful stuff.

  43. Wonderful post on Marc and his work! He was a amazing artist and a wonderful person to know. His wife, Alice is just as amazing... such a kind woman. I met Marc and Alice in the mid 90's up in Seattle, and had the pleasure of visiting with them from time to time on my trips to California. Their home truly is a museum of wonderful, one of a kind art. I was just recently down in CA visiting with Alice, and she always has something new (Something of Marc's she found in the house) to show me. They both encouraged me so much with my art.. I wouldn't have made it this far without their support.

    Thank you for this post and for creating this blog!

  44. I would like to thank you for your new blog Mr Deja. I have been really inspired by your work and currently and am studying to be an animator in NZ. Any advice you can give to a beginner animator who lives on a tiny little island so far away??

  45. This is just SO amazing!
    Your blog had a really good start, I hope you keep on posting entries!
    Greetings from Germany :)

  46. loving your blog! thank you so much for posting what you know, i think everyone really really appreciates it.
    keep up the great work!

  47. Those Marc Davis drawings are wonderful. I too am amazed by Aurora's hair. Just beautiful.

    Thanks for the great blog.

  48. Wow! There is such a beautiful texture to the timing of this shot. The faster spin to working within the held pose on "so wonderful" and then the faster looks to the left and right in excitement. Such amazing natural movement.

    And the hair! Those curls blow me away and have the perfect feeling of weight when they fall against her shoulders. Did you ever get to ask him about the design decision for her hair ie. what made him think to go with art deco curls?

    Thanks again for posting these Andreas!

  49. Hamid,
    I know of two former Disney animators, who live in NZ.
    Try and get in touch with them and seek their advice.
    John Ewing (animated on Jungle Book and other Disney films)
    Myke Sutherland (great animator, worked for many years at Disney Toon Studios in Sydney)
    Good luck !

    1. Well hello! Hello!,

      I was narcistically looking up my own name on line to see what happens and look at this! I was very confused why your blog came up! And what do I find!??
      That you have mentioned me to one of the Animators I have JUST been working with for about a year! LOL! What a co-incidence. Unbeknown to us, we had hired Hamid already!
      What a laugh! Thought you might wanna know. :O)

  50. Thanks that's great advice. Actually where i'm studying at the moment. Freelance Animation School was co founded by John Ewing first as an animation studio then developed into a full fledged animation school. He came into class to give us a lecture and it was soo great! it was so nice to have a Disney animator giving us advice about the work styling of how and what the work progress was. it was really inspiring.

  51. Maleficent... perhaps my favorite Disney character of all time. Relentless, cold, calculating and, oh by the way, able to transform into a giant fire breathing dragon! One of a kind. She made such an impression on me as a child. Best of all was the message she helped deliver (despite her attempt to defy it)... good will triumph!

    I hadn't given much thought to the raven helping in her moments of more subtle performance. Great insight.

  52. Owen asked an interesting question regarding 1s or 2s. If I may be so bold I'd like to cast this thought into the mix. I post it because I think it's helped me understand better why and when to animate on 1s and when it's okay to animate on twos. As Milt Kahl might say, "It's all in the timing... and in the spacing."

    The sequence in question is driven by excited dialogue that has it clocking in a 5 seconds. Not a lot of time to get a lot of detail on screen. If the dialogue was 10 seconds long (and if there was room for the longer sequence in the film) then... I imagine it would work fine on 1s. But here is the important question: If this were to be on 2s *and still fill the same 5 seconds* you'd have to drop every other drawing from the sequence so that you could pad each duplicate drawing (the 2s) back in.

    What frames would be dropped? What frames could be dropped. I feel confident if we consider again the wonderful drawings represented here the answer is that we wouldn't want to drop any!

  53. Gah... typos.

    I meant to say "If the dialogue was 10 seconds long (and if there was room for the longer sequence in the film) then.. I imagine the sequence would work fine on 2s.

    I mistakenly said 'fine on 1s' instead.

    My apologies for any confusion.

  54. Don't know whether to be inspired or crushed!

    Incredible. Just incredible.

  55. Great post! I never get tired of seeing pencil tests something about them always inspires me.

  56. So beautiful!

    I am so excited to find your blog Mr. Deja. Your work is very inspiring to me. I can't wait to see more of your work!

  57. Is it me or in rough animation, Malefice looks older than when she is clean up ?

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  59. Hello Andreas, I'm a big fan of Maleficent,and Marc Davis created her beautifully as we know her now.You did great with the new Villains,Ursula,Scar etc. I know you could draw Maleficent too,and make her more beautiful as Marc did.

  60. I didn't get a chance to meet Marc,or Eleanor Audley to thank them for bringing Maleficent to life on screen.I could only draw her by tracing.

  61. Thanks for sharing these pictures of Maleficent,love her :)