Wednesday, April 4, 2012


That's animator Eric Larson in this beautiful vintage photo, taken around 1938 or 1939, during production of "Pinocchio"
Eric is working on Figaro, the cat. As you can see, he surrounds himself with all kinds of cat related inspirational material. There are magazine articles with photos of cats pinned to the cork board, and he has early as well as final model sheets of the character to reference from.
Next to his exposure sheet you see a book titled Steinlen.

Theophile Steinlen (1859-1923) was a Swiss born French Art Nouveau painter.
When you google his name, you'll find a great number of his stunning drawings and paintings. Many of these works are depicting house cats in carefully observed poses. A variety of French magazines of the time published Steinlen's humorous illustrated stories that show continuity like a comic strip. He was a real master of the "feline form".

Even though Figaro is drawn in a cartoony style, his motion is based on real cats. 
I am sure Eric got a lot out of studying Steinlen's sketches, like the ones below.


  1. I can't help noticing that Steinlen's cats look very muscular. It seems the artist was not afraid to depict that which is normally obscured by the fur. The studies of the cat and the child are very particular in this way.

  2. cool post. What an amazing photo!

  3. I love those last couple - the kid with the cat and the cat sleeping. Tons of life in there and lots of fun. Animating cats must be so much fun, I think they have far more character than people (mainly dog lovers) give them credit for. I really want to get around to animating something about a cat one day.

    It's great when you see domestic cat behaviour in big wild cats too. That always makes me chuckle.

    Great stuff as usual Andreas, thanks for sharing! Oh and a happy birthday for a day or two ago! :)


  5. I love the last drawing :D Exactly how I feel on a Saturday morning.
    Gosh, the feline-ness of the cats are captured so well!

  6. Awesome.. Eric Larson in action, so young there. Cool tip on what he's done, being engulfed by inspirational material related to your shot. Figaro is one of my favorite characters. Great cat drawings.

  7. I, for some reason, always find cats difficult to draw. Even though I have cats of my own and try to study them, my drawing never come our quite right. But these drawings are beautiful The movement and just the accuracy are brilliant. I especially love the last one! Such a silly picture.

  8. This is great. When I googled his name I came across "La tournée du Chat Noir" The cover reminds me of an expression I've seen in Looney Tunes shorts.

  9. Thanks for expanding our artistic horizons once again by putting the spotlight on these artists.

    In searching the web I see one write-up claims that Steinlen was 'first to draw blurring of limbs in art to show motion.' I'm not sure that is the case but it seems clear that he was one of the earliest to successfully experiment with that form which would later translate so well to comic books and animation.


  10. I think modern day animators probably find Youtube a great source for drawing cats these days.