Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lady and the Tramp

I thought you might get a kick out of this article about the making of
"Lady & the Tramp".  It is from the magazine "American Artist", May 1955, and written by one of Disney's great background painters, Ralph Hulett.
The text won't offer a lot of new infos to most of you, but it is a fun look behind the scenes, from an insider's perspective in the mid fifties.

Then more original drawings from the film.
The first six are by Milt Kahl. The rough pre-animation drawings of Lady show how comfortable Milt was with such a realistic character. Potentially complicated anatomy covered with fur is beautifully simplified on this sheet.
The two close ups of Jock might have been drawn for another animator's scenes,
possibly Frank's.  I just love their expression and mood, there is a real essence to them, and great clarity.
The beaver is one of my favorite characters. Those little beady eyes give him so much character. 
I wonder what the story sketch looked like for the scene with Trusty.
An idea for a pose like this one is not easy to stage. But when you give it to Milt it becomes a piece of beauty. The slight variations in the design of the skin folds
is what makes this believable.
Milt redrew these poses of Aunt Sarah several times. She sure looks like a caricature of voice actress Verna Felton here.

Frank Thomas stages his characters beautifully in the first sheet.
He blocks in their appearances, almost like an architect's sketch.
This also solidifies the composition so that they relate very clearly.
The same can be said for the next two close ups of Lady. What's interesting here is  that Frank used straight and curved lines to define the shapes of her ears.
You'd think something so soft would need curves only, but drawn this way, it shows more weight.
The small thumbnail sketches indicate the two main positions in the scene.
More thunbnails on the next sheet as Lady puts her head down.
Following is a drawing where Frank explores how her fur reacts in a frightened attitude.
In the last one Trusty is leaning in on Jock, you can see in his pose that Jock is the reacting character.


  1. These are beautiful as always. Thanks for sharing. I am always inspired by the work of the masters. I love how loose yet recognizable the drawings are.

  2. I never knew Milt Kahl was involved with animating Aunt Sarah. It seems he cleaned up and tuned alot of work for other animators on Lady and the Tramp.
    A wonderful post with great art! Thanks alot.

  3. Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas. Sigh* they always seemed to balance each other out so well. Milt Kahl undoubtedly drew beautifully. And I love his design sense. The way for example he draws Aunt Sarah's chest as a sideways bean. Hitching the waist all the way up to that height. And then he makes it look convincing!

    I do also love those two studies of Lady that Frank did. The expression in the faces are clear and recognisable. Not over cooked. Subtlety it seems was one of Franks many talents. And then it baffles me to think that he achieved such human emotion and expression in the face of a dog.

    Does anyone know however, the cameo Jock and Lady make in 101 dalmatians afterwards. Where they animated by the same animators, or where they using previous keys again? If they where animated anew. Who did them I wonder?

    Thanks again Andreas for posting on this blog. It has become such a font of knowledge. And I cant wait to see where you take it in the future.
    All the best

  4. WOOOOOW my prayers are heard! Thank you! Most interesting stuff!

  5. The "architect's sketch" of Frank's is awesome! How the hell is it possible for such a rough layout to still be so enchanting to look at?!

  6. How did the animator know how many wrinkles were the correct ones to represent this Trusty's specific pose, in the way that this bloodhound looks appealing as always, but by the other hand respecting the anatomy??
    intuition, studies?
    I'm amazed!
    By the way! Great post Mr. Dee-jazz

  7. This is pure gold, Andreas! Thank you so much! Love the Aunt Sarah's pose (she's practically identical to Verna Felton), it's rare to see Aunt Sarah's material on DVD extras. Milt attention to character's hands is so clear here! Your lesson about the straight/curve lines composition is wonderful!

  8. The scenes in 101 Dalmatians were done by Bill Keil and John Sibley.

  9. Great and very inspiring post! To me this is pure gold. Keep sharing with us this great Disney stuff.Thanks much.

  10. Thank you for posting this American Artist magazine article. I used to have a copy of that article , but had lost it over the years. I'm really glad to see this again!

  11. Thanks so much for posting the article - a very interesting read! And thanks also for the Trusty sketches; he's my favorite in that film. All that great bloodhound skin!

  12. Hi Andreas! thanks for posting all this beautiful content! really inspiring!
    I hope to see you and share some more panels atc next CTNx ;)
    Pablo Navarro

  13. We can not thank you enough for sharing all this with the rest of the world.

  14. I'm pretty darn sure that Jack Campbell animated Aunt Sarah in "Lady and the Tramp", according to the draft.

    Are you familiar with that, Andreas?

  15. Oh joy!!!!! Looking at these drawings makes me feel so happy.

  16. Great article. I love the Beaver pose sheet on page 5.