Saturday, October 1, 2011

African Cats

Early this year I was asked by my buddy Don Hahn, if I would be interested in being the featured artist for the DisneyNature film "African Cats". I didn't quite know what that meant at first.
So, this is what it meant:
Producing wildlife illustrations, inspired by the film, which would be showcased and offered for sale within an exhibition at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, when the film opened.
The proceeds would go to the African Wildlife Foundation to help save the big cats.
Sounded like a fun challenge to me, and it did turn out to be a great experience.
I received a rough cut DVD of "African Cats", and started to look for specific scenes that intrigued me. Well...where to start...! This movie is magnificent.
The story follows a family of lions as well as cheetahs, and you are hooked from the first few scenes on. Among favorite moments of mine are one scene where the old lion Fang challenges a crocodile. Another sequence shows a cheetah mother deterring male lions from the hiding place of her cubs. You'll hold your breath, I guarantee.
Amazing photography, mesmerizing storytelling. (Don had a lot to do with that, and he helped with the final edit, too).
This film really picks up from where Walt Disney left off with his "True Life Adventures". 
 "African Cats" was filmed by BBC camera men, the guys who did "Planet Earth"
(which is a series I could watch once a week!)
The movie comes out on DVD/Bluray this week in the US, it will be shown in theaters internationally in a few months.

Below is a selection of my artwork, inspired by DisneyNature's "African Cats".


  1. Gorgeous drawings! They're all so expressive and exquisitely capture the movement...I especially love the cheetah ones.

    Action poses always baffle me- were those done from your imagination, or in this case were you drawing as you watched the film?

    At any rate, this makes me want to see the film- sounds incredible.

  2. very beautiful, please keep posting.

  3. this are some of the most beautiful sketches i have ever seen in my whole career.After all you are THE GREAT ANDREAS DEJA.thanks a lot for being so inspiring to me..These are really really awesome..

  4. OMG the lion and crocodile was is freaking AWESOME

  5. Nice ones! I like the simple statement, they remind me Wilhelm M Busch
    great stuff!

  6. These are splendid! They make me recall scenes from the film so vividly. Sounds like a fun assignment, and you certainly did a wonderful job.

  7. Absolutely amazing drawings!
    Full of life, beautiful, and right to the point.

  8. Beautiful drawings Andreas. Is that watercolor for the coloring? Very nice. I wish I could have bought one.

  9. For the last two drawings of the cheetah running, did you draw it while the movie was playing or did you have to pause it to get the poses down?

  10. These are beautiful - I love the movement!

    Andreas, I've been wanting to ask your advice for quite some time. I have always gravitated towards your interviews because of your love for pencil animation and classic Disney films. I tried to learn some computer animation at school, but found that without the drawing, I no longer loved the process. And as a result, my animation lost a lot of heart, and I quickly returned to drawing. With so little pencil animation being done now, it isn't as clear where to go to keep developing and learning. From your interviews, I have always sensed that you would have found a way to learn pencil animation no matter what, and I was wondering if you have any advice for someone just starting out.

  11. Wow! They look awesome, it's choose a favorite! The giraffes are so elegant looking I really like the lion challenging the crocodile - he looks like a grumpy, ornery old guy, but I also am very fond of the cheetahs! They're so thin with such odd shapes, especially that one with the antelope where his hind feet are going the opposite direction of his tail! I think I'll need to do some cheetah studies now.

    I'm not sure if this is of interest to you (or anyone else reading this comment), but I have found a video of some amazing big cat action. It's a bunch of them playing with "easter eggs" and it's just incredible because they're acting like house cats playing. There are such dynamic poses, and it's fun to watch -

  12. I saw the film in theaters and loved it, but your drawings are more captivating, in my opinion -- hands-down, beautiful work! I actually saw these being sold in the Disney Store next to the El Capitan Theatre just last week, as you mentioned, and considered purchasing one of your cheetah drawings, as it was just... gorgeous, but I hesitated. Now I'm hitting myself for not buying it. Do you happen to know if these drawings are being sold on-line anywhere? If not, I might take a trip all the way back to the El Capitan just to buy one.

    Again, wonderful work!

  13. Mitch,
    just call the El Capitan Disney Store, you might work out a purchase over the phone.
    I know they are only sold there.
    Thanks for your interest.

  14. Beautiful, beautiful work! :) You capture the essence of each pose and I love the way you use watercolors. Amazing!

  15. John Vu,
    I tried to find key poses of that cheetah run, so I paused on those frames.

    if drawing is what you love, you should stick with it.
    There will always be some hand drawn animation, in commercials,
    Tv specials or personal films.
    To get work though you need to be better than average.
    If you are interested in storyboarding, no matter what type of animation, those sequences need to be drawn.

  16. Amazing that u captured the moment with a few deft strokes!

  17. Beautiful sketches! Great illusion of movement in strokes. Thanks for sharing.

  18. wonderful stuff Andreas!!..what is the secret of life drawing..??,,,learning anatomy first then go for the gesture?

  19. you captured all the gesture with very few lines!!!!!!!!!!...what is the secret draw with very minimum lines??....ahhhhhhhhhhhhh..tell me andraes!!!!!

  20. Gorgeous work Andreas! And a great call by Don.

  21. Beautiful work Andreas! You captured the movement wonderfully.

    Have fun in Vienna! I just returned from visiting Salzburg (among other places) - what a beautiful country.

  22. Wow, great drawings! I just got Lion King Diamond Edition just for 16 at Toys R Us and a free lenticular poster.

  23. Great work!!! I love these nature films. They are very inspirational.

  24. Andreas - I called up the store, but they didn't take over-the-phone orders, and they were out of the cheetah prints by that time, unfortunately. I am now kicking myself. Thank you very much for the information, though, and keep up the marvelous work!

  25. Excellent drawings Andreas! I love the one of the lion confronting the crocodile. Such an iconic moment in the film and you captured it perfectly.

  26. Beautiful how you can see the force of the body in your lines. These are just breathtaking! Thanks for inspiring me to become an animator since my childhood, and thanks for sharing your art on this blog.

  27. Dear Andreas,

    These are such beautiful illustrations. My mom and I just watched "African Cats" last week and loved it - we are fans of "Planet Earth" as well (and can't wait for BBC's "Frozen Planet")! I also want to say thank you for sharing the wonderful artwork and your stories of the Nine Old Men. Disney Animation has been a great inspiration to me; I love learning about its history and the people behind the films and shorts.

    Thank you and I look forward to more posts!

  28. I love your Animal Drawings Andreas ! Each have their unique personality which you always capture so beautifully..Also I was reading Drawn to life one day of Walt stanchfeild and There were Pages showcasing your animal studies done during lion king which blew me away... Superb work ! keep inspiring :)

  29. It's beautiful. Dunno what else I could say :) Waw. I lovce your blog, it is always so interesting.

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