Friday, September 16, 2011


The rooster has such a small part in "Robin Hood", but to me his few scenes are very memorable. His character design and acting are outstanding.
Milt Kahl again created a totally believable and appealing character.
When you think about the assignment here for a moment,  it would be very difficult to pull this one off:  A rooster, who acts as a narrater, he is dressed in medieval clothes and he plays the mandolin with his wing feathers.
But as with the character of Lady Kluck (another sensational design) Milt has a way with feathers that are articulated as hands.

Frank Thomas also animated Allen at the opening of the film where he is walking on top of the text in the book. The interesting thing is that Frank's walk differs slightly from Milt's, in that the toes hit the ground first. Milt uses the back of the foot to make ground contact. Both walks are great, and only geeks like me would notice the difference.

Here Milt takes a skeptical look at some of his character designs. He is showing them to Roger Miller, who voiced  Allen-a-Dale. Miller also wrote three songs for the movie.
Following are a whole bunch of thumbnail sketches Milt did for the opening scenes.
"Exploring all the possibilities" is what Milt called this phase of planning out a scene.
Wonderful, almost exuberant explorations !

I  have always thought that Milt got a head start from Marc Davis' design of the rooster Chanticleer from a film that was never produced.
More on that project in a future post.

These are actual rough animation poses by Mit Kahl. 
As you can see there is a little anatomical license going on here.
Sometimes the leg's middle joint is used as a human like knee, other times it functions as a realistic bird's heel. Very cool cheating!

The final colors on the character are stunning, I love his pink eyes.


  1. Great post! I love this film.

    Would that be Chanticleer from the film Rock-a-Doodle?

  2. ive always liked this design a lot, really solid.

  3. Andreas I dont know what you did to your blog. But that new preview is amazing! I spent the whole night scrolling trough all the drawing sequences you have here, its super cool for study. You can all scroll them with the mouse wheel .

  4. For what it's worth I think I was always drawn to him too. It's odd because he doesn't feel quite the same as the other characters in a way (maybe because his feathers made him a far more complicated shape? It may be more that the other characters don't interact with him much).

  5. I absolutely love this character. Interesting you can see how the designs from this film really rubbed off on Don Bluth as well.

  6. Oh, no. I can not drag these images on to my desktop and copy with this new format.

    I'd love to have the Milt's photo.

  7. Sandro, when you open an image, click on the link below.
    I think after that you should be able to copy them
    like you have been. Let me know.

  8. What I don't understand, why they did the bear and the sneak characters in Robin Hood so similar to the characters in Jungle book Baloo and Kaa? Do you know anything about the reason or purpose for it, Andreas? Isn't it a weakness of the film?
    Milt designs used to be wery creative anyway.

  9. The characters in Robin Hood are all delicious! Here in Italy the film is very popular one of the best-loved Disney, I remember fondy when it opened in Naples on Christmas 1974, it was an huge success!

  10. und ja, Reinhard Mey ist Allan's deutsche Stimme :)

  11. Yes, the rooster was one of my most memorable characters from "Robin Hood." I have tried my hand at creating bird-like characters and it is very hard to transition the wings into hands. Milt Kahl was truly great.

  12. I remember I saw an alternative opening of the movie on an old super8. In this scene Allan was sitting on a sign, as can be seen in images 1 and 4. It would be great to include this scene as a special feature.

  13. Yes, it is a great character as all of Robin Hood. I can't understand why so many people don't like it...

  14. Andreas what do you think of Robin Hood yourself. To be honest it is one of my favourite Disney films, I love the character design, the mood and comedy of the film. There is a lot of criticism on the film because of the reused animation on it, but I really don't mind that much.

  15. Thank you for posting the recent Robin Hood entries. I've been a fan since I was a kid - even the "RH + MM" scribbled on the closet door in my childhood bedroom is still there.

  16. David,
    as far as I know Rock-a Doodle borrowed story elements from Chanticleer.

    I don't know myself why Baloo and Kaa "reappeared" in
    Robin Hood? Milt did base his designs on sketches by Ken Anderson. But I agree, there are many different ways to draw a bear and a snake.
    One of those things.

    I enjoy watching Robin Hood. Yes, the story could be better, but there is just so much great character stuff in the film. Like Nunval1 said, some delicious sequences.

  17. Andreas. Theres a rare loooong interview of Milt talking about his life's work. And he touches that subject about repeating animations and designs. Check it out everyone he says some cool stuff. One thing that stood out for me is a part where he says that the studio shouldn't keep repeating itself, and that he felt embarrassed for each time that he was forced to repeat himself. And that's a trap I believe that a lot of studios are falling into in terms of character acting and story. Heres the link

  18. Andreas -

    I'm off-topic here, but I just have to tell you what a pleasure it was to watch your Scar animation on the big screen again (the way it was intended !) in the Lion King 3D release this weekend.


  19. I remember someone years back pointing out that middle joint deal too, yet I still thought it worked anyway given the circumstances in wanting the character to at least sit like he does in the film. It works for me!

  20. My family loves this movie. We often trade quotes from it. And, honestly, every time I listen to any Roger Miller song (even You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd), I close my eyes and imagine Alan-a-Dale singing it. :P

    His pink eyes are awesome!

  21. Oh yeah, this so Rock a doodle, Don Bluth even says that his main way of designing characters is to mix and combine different elements of different ones. If you look at the dragon in Bluth's dragons Lair, it is a combination of Pete's Dragon and the dragon from Sleeping Beauty. Dirk is from one of the characters from sword and the stone. Banjo is a mixture of the Aristocats.

  22. The Rooster has always been my favorite character on Robin Hood, his mannerism and movement is amazing too. Milt's way of handling the character's expression is so priceless, they just are so sincere and true to themselves! :) Thank YOU so much for sharing these, these are so inspiring!!