Friday, April 19, 2013

Dalmatian Art



The more I think about it, the stronger I feel that "101 Dalmatians" is the most modern of all Disney animated features.  Artistically this is the peak, right here. A film which embraces modernism and a gutsy graphic style never attempted before or since. 
It is almost surreal to remember that this movie is over 50 years old! So why hasn't Disney Animation advanced even further in the decades following Dalmatians? I think part of the reason is the fact that Walt Disney himself did not care for this "artsy" look. He probably thought the film looked rough and too unpolished.
To me the beauty of it is that it makes a statement which challenges the audience:
Look, this is a sketch, but it is alive and real at the same time.

And of course audiences completely bought into this concept and embraced the movie.
Come to think of it, Disney experienced another breakthrough not so long ago:
Mike Gabriel's short film "Lorenzo", which took pencil animation to the next level.
More on that in an upcoming post.

Above and below, concept art by Ken Anderson, inspired by Ronald Searle.
The anatomically correct Pongo caught me by surprise.



Story sketches by the one and only Bill Peet.







Avant-garde Vis Dev by the one and only Walt Peregoy.




Final frames from the film reveal the sheer joy of experimentation for an animated film.



24 comments:

  1. I wish I could buy a book filled with these layouts just to flip through and admire :)

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  2. 101 Dalmations has Always been a favourite of mine since childhood, but I did not realize then, how absolutely gorgeous this film really is!
    The concepts for Roger's flat are so detailed, so wonderful..

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  3. alter schwede.... die zweite Skizze von Ken Anderson ist SO superschön und solide.

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  4. I love the look of 101 Dalmations - art wise is my other favourite next to Sleeping Beauty, just beautiful. Why didn't they release Lorenzo? I feel like I'm missing out on something huge because I still haven't seen it.

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  5. 101 Dalmatians is an enormous tentpole in animation's history. The style of animation marked a change in the way humans were handled by the Disney artists. The color and the Art Direction couldn't have been better, and the use of Xerography was experimental right down to the use of the rough skeletons left lightly on each cel. Production-wise, it's an enormous success, possibly the last of the great and Golden films from the Nine Old Men.

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  6. Ronald Searle's style has been beautifully captured I had to look twice!

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  7. "The anatomically correct Pongo caught me by surprise."

    Oh boy! Now I think I feel vindicated over having watched that live-action film!

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  8. these are great! so much I've never seen. Thank you for sharing

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  9. The film itself is absolutely beautiful in how it treats the thicks and thins of the animator's clean ups and matches the backgrounds stylistically. Personally, I like the black lines used here as opposed to the grey ones in "The Rescuers." It was interesting that,back to back, Disney produced two milestones in animation as far as design is concerned ("Sleeping Beauty" and this).Reminds me of when Disney produced possibly his best two pictures("Fantasia" and "Pinocchio")subsequently.

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  10. I would LOVE to hear more on Lorenzo from you, Andreas! I would kill to see it someday, it's such a pity it's never been released. :(

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  11. The more I look at 101 Dalmations' art, the more I love it – the opening scene especially. :D

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  12. Yes, the sketchy style of this film is great. It is always wonderful to see how characters are created, built, and animated. It truly gives the viewer a great sense of appreciation for all of the effort put into filmmaking.

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  13. I would like to include the layout work of Homer Jonas in this list. He worked on Dalmations, Sleeping Beauty, Paul Bunyan, and Windwagon Smith. He often gets overlooked when lists of Artists from this period are mentioned. Find his amazing work on Facebook. Thanks fer sharing!!

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  14. Ah gorgeous art. Such a unique and beautiful style...

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  15. "101 Dalmatians" up and running in about six months. "Tangled" took about ten years. Gosh, anybody wonder why?

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  16. I have never seen that painting of Pongo and Perdita in the snow before. It has such a lonely fill.

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  17. Too bad Walt never cared for the film; it's always been in my top 10. Love it!

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  18. This was by far one of disney's best films. Storywise as well it was not the commercial princess film, and the style and look developed by Ken Anderson is so graphic and cut out, it looks so modern and beautiful!! Even the colors were in pale tints and pastel shades. It's brilliant.

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  19. So refreshing after years of slogging through Sleeping Beauty. It was a pleasure to work on that movie.

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  20. Speaking of "Lorenzo", how long we'll have to wait to have it released on blu-ray? I mean, we had the Fantasia box set and they added just "Destino", then we had "One by One" as a bonus of The Lion King 2 and we'll sure to have "The Little Matchgirl" as a Little Mermaid's extra. I wonder why then intend to keep it secret. The Aristocats could have been the perfect occasion to include it, still they didn't. Do you have any news about it?

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  21. Agreed! The art here is truly spectacular.
    A visual treat.
    Do you know any other films with similar style? I would like to know :)

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    Replies
    1. The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet comes to mind.

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