Sunday, July 17, 2011


Walt Disney often paired Frank Thomas and Milt Kahl for the animation of a single character. 
Pinocchio, Bambi (with Ollie), Cinderella's Duke, Tramp, Merlin and Mim as well as King Louie, to give you a few examples.
The talents of these two Super Animators complemented each other extremely well. 
Milt of course would do the final design, and as you know his animation would be 
flawlessly staged and timed, and show inventive acting.
Frank internalized the character, which resulted in very nuances performances.

They often showed their scenes to each other for input. Frank would come up with an idea to plus the acting, and Milt would draw over Frank's keys to solidify his drawings and add charm.

The first sheet below shows some of Milt's early design doodles, based on poses from story sketches. It's interesting to see that a black color area around one eye was considered for a rowdier look.
The next image is a layout/staging drawing for one of Milt's scenes.
Tramp is greeting a puppy through the window of a pet shop. Look how these two characters relate in the way they are posed.
The two key drawings following are by Frank for his legendary Spaghetti sequence.
I call this glorious character animation. See the tied down pencil test here:

The single Tramp close up is by Milt, done for Frank for the same sequence.
It gives the scene that polished charm.
The last drawing was also done by Milt for a Frank scene.
Team work at it's best!

At the end of the post you'll find a tied down Milt pencil test of Tramp, as he first appears in the movie.


  1. I think that Tramp personifies character animation at it's finest. Frank and Milt must have worked hard to make him a credible character - it would have been too easy to fall into the trap of making him the ultimate playboy: interested in Lady only as much as he was interested in Peg, Lulu and Trixie (or Rosita Chiquita Juanita Chihuahua, for that matter). He's also an opportunist, blagging food wherever he can and with a devil-may-care attitude that states very clearly that he's only on the lookout for number 1.

    It's amazing that a character with so much potential to fall into these traps manages to become a beliveable hero with genuine affection for Lady, and it makes his heroic (selfless) act in confronting the rat all the more poignant. As I say; I really don't believe Tramp (and therefore the film) would have been believeable if it wasn't for some amazing work on character by Frank and Milt.


  2. My favorite Disney movie of all times!!! Thanks so much for the story and the pictures, Andreas!

  3. One of my all-time favorite Disney animated films. Always a joy to watch segments containing work by Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl, John Lounsberry, and my personal favorite from the film: Eric Larson's animation of Peg. :)

    Thanks for sharing this, Andreas. I got to see Winnie the Pooh yesterday. Congratulations on your awesome work on Tigger!

  4. This blog is such an amazing resource and a constant source of inspiration. Thank you so much for posting these.

  5. Great stuff again Andreas! On the layout drawing, is there any reason for the pencil marks around the left peghole? Or is it just idle doodling?!

  6. Andy, looks like a telephone doodle to me.

  7. Look at that staggering at the end, so subtle and so detailed. It's even on the toes! I was hoping you'd post the pencil test of this one. :)

  8. love these!! thanks so much Andreas~ anything that Milt's drawn is eye candy for me : )

  9. Thanks! I love Lady and the Tramp, it's both a loving symphony of contrasting doggish movement (just the Bassett Hound walking along with the Scottie is beautiful), and what I see as a deeply heartfelt tribute by Walt Disney to the America of his youth.

    Tramp is such a great character too, whereas most of the other dogs are purebreds with well-defined ways of moving, Tramp was an opportunity for the animators to create their own dog according to the needs of the character (well defined above by Chris). His face has so many moving parts, yet they all work beautifully in concert.

    I argue this is the best Disney film of the classic period, it has nothing as grand as the set pieces in Pinnochio, say, but is stronger as a whole.

  10. I seem to recall that "dark spot around the eye" resurfacing when we were on Oliver & co. I guess giving him two dark spots made Dodger extra rowdy ;)

  11. Dear old Buck (known here in Italy as Biagio, il Randagio or Vagabondo)! I always loved the fact that the original model was a female dog, and she was actually a tramp found on the Studio backlot. If I remember her story well, she ended her days in Disneyland. Speaking of Frank and Milt, I never realized how close these two animators was (when I think of Mr. Kahl I connect him to Mr. Davis, and when I think of Mr. Thomas I connect him to Mr. Johnston). The mood among them must have been electric and tense (the gag drawings of their daily relationships speak for themself). One curious fact is that the black-eyed dog idea was carry up to 101 Dalmatians and became a reality with Lucky. Thanks for these wonderful drawings Andreas!

  12. PS I adore the score of the train station sequence too, "What a day!". Oliver Wallace was a rare musical gem and this was the ending of a musical era for Disney. Starting from Sleeping Beauty, George Bruns would take the helm. Bruns music was new, innovative and he composed masterpieces (A Beautiful Spring Day and Playful Melody from 101 Dalmatians, What'cha Wanna Do from The Jungle Book, The Goose Steps High from The Aristocats to name a few) but Wallace's delicacy, verve and expressiveness was something better in my opinion (Dumbo, Cinderella and Alice can testify).

  13. Such a marvelous sequence... the spaghetti scene..
    And Tramp looks so alive when he's waking up, each hair moves in a different way... amazing!
    Thanks for sharing this Dee-jazz!

  14. wow! nothin' like some collaboration to intensify those keys. No wonder, its just above and beyond..

  15. Beautiful pencil test! I love that yawn (and the groggy tongue, and the snoring... how is anyone supposed to pick a favorite moment?)

    There's something about the black spot on Tramp's eye that makes his design look younger - much more like a puppy than the final design. Perhaps it's also the facial expression.

  16. coool. this movie is like ultra charming. Even so, when you look at these roughs, I think something was definitely lost in the inking process. You gain the cool effect that the colored lines give, but you lose all the nuances of the rough drawings-seeing them gives me a whole different perspective on the level of the artists.