Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mary Poppins' Fox

I have always liked the fox in "Mary Poppins".
The design is so appealing and his shapes and forms are very contrasting.
Big ears and eyes, very thin, long nose, skinny neck and legs, huge bushy tail.
Very graphic, but based on real anatomy.
The use of squach and stretch is pretty gutsy, too, as you can see in those few key drawings that show him jump off screen.
Here  Milt Kahl is sketching the character in relation to a tracing of Dick van Dyke.
When this picture was taken Milt's mind was already on "Jungle Book", as you can see from the storyboard on his desk.


  1. Now that is a hidden gem. (makes me realize I need to watch all the classics again)

    I want to study and appreciate more of how Milt maximizes the use of the available screen space and this post helps get me into the right mindset. I love how he pushes and pulls and placing his characters into the screen.

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  3. I absolutely LOVE this fox design. So glad you posted these Milt drawings.
    (do you have the Model Sheet ? I think somewhere I have a third or fourth generation xerox copy of it , but would love to see a good copy posted.)

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS ANDREAS!!! I can see a lot of Brer Fox's design in his face, which I love.

  5. My friend Sam and I have always debated which was the better sequence: the dancing penguins or the fox hunt.

    For me, it's no debate. the fox hunt has so much pathos. It's amazing how quickly you care for this little scrapper and cheer him on as he fights off the leaping hounds.

  6. Amazing that Kahl could do a fox like this and a fox like Robin Hood - and they're both complete opposite in character but both distinctly fox-like.

  7. Yes, more Milt treasures!
    This is one of those that I keep watching over and over to study the animation, just brilliant!
    I even animated a little fox like this a while ago.
    Thanks for posting this, Andreas.

  8. And that photo of Milt is great too. I will need to find a way to make a poster out of that to put on my studio wall.

  9. Haven't seen this film in years; I've forgotten how much animation is in it! Great post on noting the intricacies of the fox too...gonna have to go and watch this again =)

  10. Marvellous stuff! Wonderful to see more notice taken on lil' characters like this =)

  11. The fox just smacks of Milt, doesn't he? Thanks so much for posting!

  12. Great stuff as always.
    Milt's drawing are so clean, there aren't even any construction lines.
    I always wondered what his tie down process was like.

  13. Lance,
    these drawings were tied down by his assistant on the same sheets of paper. They called this process Touch Up.
    To see Milt's "untouched" animation/drawing style look for previous posts on Milt Kahl.

  14. What great drawings.

    Would they do a trace for every frame of live action footage or just certain frames?

  15. David,
    my guess is, every frame on fast action and only certain frames on slow stuff.
    Anyway, that's how I worked with live action on
    "Roger Rabbit".

  16. A quick suggestion: I think it's possible under Blogspot to assign entries labels. Since your blog is bound to grow it would make it easier to quickly find similarly themed posts.

    I've always enjoyed Disney's Mary Poppins a lot. Of the original books I only read M. P. Opens The Door and even though the imagination which fuelled the Disney movie is undoubtedly there I thought it was a rather stuffy read. To me the title character bodered on the unlikeable sometimes with her overly strict attitude.
    A pity P. L. Travers disliked the Disney version, the animated segments in particular, so much she practically forbade American moviemakers to ever work with the character again ...

  17. Dear Andreas,
    I was wondering if you could possibly write a letter for a project called the Animator Letters Project, run by Willie Downs. I'm trying to help him get a few big names on the website and think you'd be an excellent canidate. If you're interested send me an e-mail at zoograyson@aol.com.
    Grayson Ponti

  18. pencil test here


  19. Great!
    Dear Mr. Deja, I was wondering: have you ever consider tutoring?
    I would love to be your student, like most of us!
    Actually, I'm learning a lot from your posts, but I would love to learn more, and someday be as excellent as you.
    I'm studying animation in my country, Guatemala, but I would like so much to learn more about 2D animation, 'cause this subject, like most of cases, has been left behind. :'(
    Let me know please, if you start an online program! :D (smart_wenlolz@yahoo.com)
    And Thanks in advance for reading my ridiculously enormous post!

  20. Thanks for posting, Andreas!!! I immediately copied everyone of these drawings upon seeing them. I learn a lot from studying these so thank you for posting them!!!

  21. Andreas I was wondering if you could tell us what kind of pencils you use, so many animators it seems use different kinds from colored pencils to lead to chinese markers. Thanks for posting this stuff of Milt's this is really a cool blog.

  22. Awesome! Thanks for posting these, Andreas. I hadn't realized Kahl worked on Poppins. And a 'thank you' to David N. for the handy youtube links.

    Do you know anything about Milt's training before he came to Disney? I know he that arrived at the age of 25, and that he had done some illustration work prior to his time at Disney, but otherwise his early days are a mystery to me. It seems like he must have had some kind of intensive training early on, because his work on Pinocchio is so fantastic. Even the great Marc Davis started out with some art school and a lot of life drawing under his belt, but Milt...?

  23. If I'm not mistaken, John Lounsbery also did the fox, didn't he?

  24. Just watching that sequence again brought back the memory of enjoying that fox most of all in that part of the film. Seeing it as a 5 year old on TV back in the day, I think it probably shaped my view of how I looked at animals in an artistic fashion. The whole bit itself also stood out if only because it was the part of the film where our characters entered this animated world where they had a few brushes with the locals, animals and what-not, the fox at least got saved and gets a candy apple, Mary wins the race and a song happens, then it starts raining and we have to go back to the drab real world again.

    Great to see who was behind animating this little guy!