Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tytla's Doc

I found these beautiful animation drawings printed in a vintage Disney Animation publication.
They are the work of the "über" talented Bill Tytla. 
Boy, these were done at a time, when moving the character's masses, not lines, was on the animators minds. That's why this squash and stretch feels so dimensional and believable. During this "take" the whole arc of Doc's body is being reversed, his head moves backwards while his belly comes forward.

Tytla drew pretty rough when he got into a character's personality. Strong gut feelings on paper. That meant that his clean up assistant had his work cut out for himself, as you can see in the last image.
There are all kinds of refinements going on here, as well as a few alterations. Fingers needed to be more detailed, the edge of the beard was lowered to avoid tangents with the hands, and even the overall weight was placed on Doc's left leg by adding an s-curve to his belt line.
This assistant knew what he was doing, because he had to keep track of the movement of these changes. Way back these great guys really had to know how to draw on model as well as how to animate.
A lot of unsung heroes, who didn't get screen credit for their important contributions to the Disney Classics.


  1. I think this example reveals how hard it is to achieve a great, dynamic poses and a beautiful detail at the same time. It reminds me about 'pose to pose' vs 'straight ahead' rules, but this time for just one frame.

    It also seems that it took a lot of effort to inbeetween properly for such powerful poses. If the lines change so dramatically between frames, this would look just like flickering when played at 24fps. So I guess there were perfectly design inbeetween frames to make the transition between these poses.

    I understand that Bill Tytla had to forget about the details, to concentrate on poses, emotions and dynamics of the movement. The clean up assistant could just stick to the perfectly designed pose and fill the details. Probably noone could achieve both at once. And there is still ink and paint after this clenup, however the cleaned up Doc looks almost like already inked.

    This also explains what Glen Keane meant, saying that almost none of his original drawing remains in the final animation. Definitely, his recent idea of making a film with original animator's drawing remaining visible is something very difficult, evan with today's tools.

  2. Tadeusz, I left a message for you on my previous post!

    1. Thanks a lot, that's really nice :) You've made my day!

      I've just played around a bit with these Tytla's rough drawings of Doc. I was curious how this would look in motion. Here are the links to animated gifs I've created - you make find them useful:

      First I've just connected these 4 frames at 4fps. Then I tried to smooth the motion a bit. Finally, I've used my custom Potrace-Ghostscript method, to see how this would look inked.

      Even in such primitive animation, the squash and stretch looks amazing, the weight of Doc's belly is convincing, and the movement of the clothes is unbelievably good, considering these are just 4 frames.

      It seems, that Bill Tytla could do a convincing follow-up of loose clothes in just 4 frames. And looking on inked version, we already see the beautiful, smooth looks of Disney's lines even if these were just uncleaned, rough drawings!

  3. You know Bill Tytla was revered and respected when even Milt Kahl showered praise on him for his work! Tytla's devil in Night on Bald Mountain is still a wonder to behold.

  4. Andreas, I'm guessing there's a fine line between what the clean up artist does to fine tune the animation, and the fear of altering or messing up the intended performance in Tytla's animation. Does that often happen during the process?

  5. So much guts, which is typical of Tytla...and yet, the clean-up artist added to it in incredibly subtle ways, down to the overlapping fingers!

    In the years since, rough animation has become incredibly tight, and some cleanup artists scrape by solely by cleaning up the line. (I am fortunate that Emily Jiuliano gave a talk at my school and demonstrated the level of refinement good cleanup demands.) The achievements of both artists in this scene blows my mind. Big thanks for sharing, Andreas!

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  7. I saw these sketches from the late 30's Disney Tryout Book posted on Animation Resources. I figured these sketches were the work of Bill Tytla, but I'm glad to know for sure that it really is Bill's work.

  8. Terrific terrific terrific! ';)

  9. Your commentary is equally valuable. Thanks for writing your take on these Tytla drawings, too!