Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Drawing challenges


Part of the breathtaking quality of Classic Disney Animation is the fact that many animators didn't shy away from incorporating beautiful, but tough to draw angles of their characters into the scenes.
This takes enormous drawing expertise and good judgment in terms of when these potentially awkward looking views of the character are called for. 
Milt Kahl was accused by some of  searching for tough angles in order to show off his draughtsmanship. And yet most animators got endless help from Milt, who strengthend the look and feel of their scenes. 
"Why bother and kill yourself by trying to make those difficult head tilts look good, when you can animate the scene in a much simpler way?" This was the attitude of some animators, who indeed got their acting across without dealing with drawing challenges.
The thing is that you add such a great range by having the occasional 3/4 rear view or an extreme up or down shot on your character. It gives the animation rich texture.

Her are just a few examples of what I am talking about.




This 3/4 rear view drawing of Bull from "Lady & the Tramp" is extraordinary. It looks like John Lounsbery didn't even struggle getting this to look right. The only facial parts visible are the nose, a cheek and the jaw. I love those neck folds on his back. A very dimensional pose and so full of character.




Frank Thomas drew this pose of Lady looking back over her shoulder. By blocking in the head's components, he maintains control over the subtle up shot. Final subtleties and appeal might not be there yet, but it would take little time to add those to this solid sketch.





Here Frank has it all worked out in detail. Fauna's expression shows heartfelt sorrow for Aurora's misfortune. The look up toward the other Fairies emphasizes her emotion beautifully. This is the kind of drawing that can make you cry if you look at it long enough.





Shere Khan is about to turn his head and ask Kaa, the snake, his next question about Mowgli during this interrogation. This is a spectacular angle to start the head turn from.
The tiger's head and body are very complex in draughsmanship. The style is graphic, but nothing looks flat. The stripes add a lot of volume, and there is depth in the most subtle things like his eyelid.





This pose of Merryweather has a lot of life. Her upper body is drawn from a 3/4 rear view, her lower body, still a back view, is about to move into profile. The bend in her spine is what gives it movement. 
I think Frank did some of his best animation on this character.





There isn't an angle Milt couldn't draw with Medusa. And I have no idea why her legs come off looking so interesting, without any calfs.
Her inventive design and pose are simplified to perfection, and correct perspective is applied everywhere. 





Tony is anticipating a big gesture by raising his head and his arms. Upshots like this one are tricky. Is the nose tilted up enough to show nostrils? Or are you going to cheat a little and stay with just the shape of the nose?
Everything looks pretty broad here, but Lounsbery didn't forget subtleties.
I like the definition of the "U" mouth, the lower lip is partly covering the open mouth, which adds dimension.





Maleficent is an animated fashion drawing  (though not quite pret-a-porter).
This is an amazing pose. She is somewhat exhausted here, about to sit down, after her altercation with the goons. "A disgrace to the forces of evil!"
The perspective of the head is just beautiful. Look how the shape of the eyebrows helps define that angle as well as her mood.





I believe Eric Cleworth animated this scene of the dragon in "Sleeping Beauty".
Obviously no live action reference here. The animator figured out this 3/4 rear up shot by himself. The indication of shoulder blades visually connecting the arms to the body works really well.
What a great silhouette.





This is a clean up study by Iwao Takamoto. Aurora's head is just beyond profile, turned toward camera. You just see the far eyelash, which gives her facial angle some depth.
And the near eyelash curves around the eyeball perfectly. Iwao knew subtleties,
he was a master designer.





Ali Gator is anticipating the hippo ballerina's "landing". 
This is an outstanding pose drawn from a 3/4 rear view. The body stretch is so strong, while maintaining the solid anatomy of the animal. Great positioning of the arms, and I love how sharply the tail bends when it makes contact with the floor.





Fred Moore drew this Minnie, crying hysterically because she burnt a batch of 
cookies. A potentially difficult up shot , drawn effortlessly.




A couple of key drawings of Robin Hood by Milt Kahl. A head up shot with a broad mouth shape and a down shot. Both complex, but very appealing. 
His hat is not an easy thing to turn and animate.
Robin goes through a few model changes in the film, I'll have more on that later.



40 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Hey BTSpro,

      Just to let you know that the gator scene is not Milt's, he did not work on Fantasia. The animator of that scene was Hicks Lockey.
      This shows that other animators worked just as hard as Milt.
      Best.

      Sandro

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  2. Man, this is a fantastic post... I'll have to swing by again tomorrow for a closer look at these... Thanks ANDREAS!!

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  3. Sounds silly but, I'm always blown away by a well done rear 3/4 or looking up with a tilt head. Then to give the slightest hint of an expression that reads so clearly! Sometimes I just sit and stare at those in awe because I know how long I've sat and stared with disgust at my own drawings trying to achieve the same thing. They make it look so good - TOO GOOD! true masters.

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  4. I agree with Paul. Astonishing drawings. Inspiring. Disheartening. Too damn good. I think the gator drawing is Hicks Lokey but I'm not sure.

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  5. Didn't want this post to end! Just can't get tired of looking at drawings like these.

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  6. Every drawing is a lesson to be sure. Fantastic stuff!

    Andreas, who animated Ali Gator? Was it Eric Larson?

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  7. Tut mir leid, dass das Folgende nichts mit dem obigen Thema zu tun hat, aber ich würde gerne Ihre Meinung zu dieser Sache hören:
    Meinen Sie, dass es eine Auswirkung auf die berufliche Karriere hat, wo man studiert hat? Mein Problem ist, dass ich, egal wie ich es drehe und wende, nicht in der Lage sein werde die US-amerikanischen oder kanadischen Studiengebühren zu bezahlen und umgekehrt die deutschen Fachhochschulen, an denen man Animation studieren kann, soweit ich weiß, international eine geringe Rolle spielen.

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    1. Matthias, finde die beste Schule In Deutschland für Animation und alles andere wird sich ergeben. Es arbeiten viele Ausländer in den großen Animations Studios hier, die nicht in den USA zur Schule gegangen sind.
      Und versuche beim Studium überdurchschnittlich gut zu werden!
      Das heisst, lerne das technische Know How, es ist aber auch wichtig sich persönlich ausdrücken zu können.

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    2. Hallo Matthias
      leider kosten alle Schulen viel Geld, aber Versuch es doch mal an der „Animation School in Hamburg“. Das ist eine sehr gute Schule (und soweit ich weiß einzige in Deutschland) für 2D und 3D Animation.

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    3. @Andreas Deja: Danke für die Antwort.
      @kleinerLoewe: Nur die Privaten haben hohe Gebühren und sind mMn insgesamt deutlich weniger gut, als die paar staatlichen. Die Animation School in Hamburg bietet nur ein Aufbau-Studium an, für Leute, die bereits etwas aus einem verwandten Bereich studiert haben. Ich denke, ich werde min an der HFF Potsdam oder an der Filmakademie Baden-Würtenberg bewerben. Die Letztere scheint die Beste Deutschlands zu sein, setzt aber auch 12 Monate praktische Erfahrung voraus und bietet wie die anderen nur eine sehr begrenzte Anzahl an Studienplätzen. (12-14 pro Jahr meine ich mal gelesen zu haben)

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  8. Pure inspiration! Beautiful references! John Lounsbery's animation and draughtsmanship has always intrigued and humbled me, nearly as much as Milt's. Love Marc's Maleficient drawing! Splendid! Thanks again~

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  9. This. Is. Simply. Awesome. ~gives big e-hug~

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  10. Wow, this is like a master class in posing your character!
    We're STILL learning from these great artists!
    Thanks so much for posting these, and also for analyzing each single drawing!
    Looking forward to the Robin Hood model changes you alluded to! :)

    Kev

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  11. Wonderful drawings, I particularly love Lady - even in a rough sketch, this is just her iconic pose. I'd never think these poses are so difficult to make, because they were drawn by the old masters so effortlessly! This is probably the additional reason they work so well - not only that they are hard to make, but also that they were pulled out so wonderfully despite the difficulties.

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  12. All those guys were killers but Milt Kahl... I can't stop watching his Medusa here, the area with the arms, hand, phone and face is very complex but so clear and beautifull, everything he did was designed perfectly, it takes my breath away !
    By the way, I've created a tumblr to promote 2d ( 2dtraditionalanimation.tumblr.com )using a lot of your material, I hope you don't mind (And I've made an animation with the King Lion from Bedknobs like I did for the prince from Sleeping Beauty, I wanted to send you an email to ask you if I could post it).

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    1. Feel free to repost the stuff on this blog!

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    2. So here it is ! https://vimeo.com/46574574

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  13. Andreas, I was wondering - do you have any artwork from the Sleepy Hollow portion of 'Ichabod and Mr. Toad'?

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    1. If you search Frank Thomas on this blog you should find a few Ichabod drawings by Frank.

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  14. Wow! Amazing work to look at and learn from

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  15. Anyone else notice that the dress in Maleficient's drawing foreshadows her turning into the dragon? The front-most dress pleat looks like a tail :)

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  16. Thanks Andreas for sharing your wonderful drawings! How common was it for Disney to create maquettes of their characters so you could tilt the head or body at any direction to overcome some of these drawing challenges? Have you seen any of these maquettes in the Disney archives?

    thanks.

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    1. Disney used to make maquettes up until Dumbo and Ichabod.
      Then they stopped.
      When I started at Disney on The Black Cauldron maquettes were introduced again, and have been made ever since.

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  17. These are all great examples. I am enjoying taking the characters in and out og these poses as practice. Sure humbles you very quickly. especially moving that fairy hat around in space.Thanks fer sharing.

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  18. Great stuff-but the Minnie Mouse drawing by Moore-love the acting and dynamic pose!Was this ever used and in what cartoon?

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    1. The short is Mickey's Surprise Party from 1939. It was kind of a commercial for a cookie brand.

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    2. Thanks!I'll have to look for it now!

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  19. Wow, this is an incredible post. One of the many things that blow my mind in these guys' drawings in how they manage to get the characters eye sockets to be visibly concave, and their cheeks to be visibly convex, with no tone and only a couple of lines.

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    1. also does anyone know who drew Maleficent here?

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    2. Only Marc Davis draws like this.

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  20. Such great work!!! One of the most inspirational posts I've seen. My God that Maleficent drawing is gorgeous. Khan feels so three dimensional I could pet him. Wonderful post. Thank you.

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  21. Thanks for posting all these odd angles. Really does make a difference, variety, away from stock and formula. And to not be hindered by anything, and to create the best performance you can get possible.

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  22. While working on "The Jungle Book" Milt and Frank would often come upstairs to look at our boards. I honestly think they were itching to get started animating those wonderful characters. What great work they did, eh?

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  23. Incredible drawings like this make you really appreciate the masterful work these guys did! So often these days we can take things like this for granted, since in CG it's easy to just tilt the character's head upwards or backwards using the rig. But being able to draw from imagination and memory helps you find appeal in your poses and truly understand the character from the inside out.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  24. Looking at all the drawings over the years and the animation this great man did you see like so many others at Disney. Milt had a flair for the dramatic.Milts drawings always had such a hi level of draftsmanship that gust made you want to look at them. I would say he was not afraid of hard work to plus his animation, not to showoff or up other animators but to keep pushing himself forwards , to better his work. Like all the great Disney animators that left there mark on animation Milt was a ground breaker.

    P.S Thank you Sandro

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  25. One more thing I LOVE THIS BLOG.

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