Friday, July 19, 2013

Don Towsley is Amazing!



He really is!!
Towsley was mostly a Donald Duck animator, but he also worked on some of the early Disney features such as Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo.
He created the most dynamic model sheets like the one above for Disney stars like Donald, Mickey and Goofy. His short film credits start with the 1934 Two-Gun Mickey and end with 1948 Drip Dippy Donald. Towsley went on to work for other studios in Hollywood as an animator and director.

The animation drawings I am showing here are from Donald's Cousin Gus. As I mentioned before in a previous post, Gus was brilliantly animated by Woolie Reitherman. Towsley's Donald is equally fantastic. To me these drawings show the real Donald at his peak as an animated character.
The poses are alive, they are drawn with an inventive touch, and no angle seems impossible.
As a matter of fact, those unusual perspectives add greatly to the characters range in terms of motion and acting. And that's why Donald looks so believable here. No formulas, no limitations, only  energetic, inspired personality animation.
Because of the fact that these drawings don't show any numbers makes me think that they could be tracings off Towsley's roughs by an assistant. This was not uncommon practice, tracing the animators' keys allowed the follow up artists to get to know a particular animation and drawing style.
Then again, I could be wrong and these really are Towsley's original roughs.

In any case I am totally in love with this type of approach to animation. What a freeing feeling for the animator to know that he could infuse his character with such spirited, dynamic life.









These last few drawings are from a different short.





24 comments:

  1. Wow! The second and third sheets are fucking incredible!

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  2. Thank you, these are so inpiring drawings. I love that drawing, where Donald look on plate. It´s awesome how clothes give more to pose and expression.

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  3. Oooh, top pegs. Don't see these often.
    I still don't get how Japanese animators work because every time I've seen them draw in documentaries they animated using top pegs and the peg bars just lay unattached on horizontal light tables.

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    1. Great drawings! I also notIced the use of top pegs here; could there be a specific reason for them in this case?

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    2. The only reason I can think of is that you have the bottom of the paper unobstructed by pegs to move your wrist freely. I only ever learned to flip using bottom pegs so I have no personal experience using them. As I said, top pegs seem to be very common in Japan.

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    3. All Warner Bros. cartoons were animated on top pegs. The comment about the pegs getting in the way of your drawing hand was a benefit cited for the practice. Also, the animator can easily flip the animation and not have to take the drawings off the pegs.

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    4. Don Towsley billiard sequence from Chuck Jones' cartoon "Of Feline Bondage", co-written by Towsley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ofkdamNW4bI&t=65

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  4. Donald has to be my favorite classic character from the Disney shorts. These drawings are golden! But I was watching the short the first set were from. I watched it a few times but failed to catch these keys. Are they in the short? If they are, are they random keys or in order?

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    1. They are not in order, I need to see the short again and try to find
      these poses.

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    2. According to the draft for "Donald's Cousin Gus" posted by Hans Perk, a couple of scenes at the table were dropped from the final film - these roughs might have been from one of those.

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  5. Immediately, the word 'dynamic' comes to mind!

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  6. it's so great to get knowledge from those artists (and their art) as well who weren't so frequently under the spotlights. Danke :)

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  7. Animation is so fun! A person could enjoy a animated film/short for its story, animation, and characters or enjoy the film/short for the characters, animation, story, and the efforts to create the film/short. :)

    I hope you had fun at the Making Roger Rabbit panel at San-Diego Comic Con! That film is one of my favorite films. Judge Doom actually scared me as a kid thanks to that part in the film when he reveals he's a toon and has crazed buggy eyes and a shrill voice.

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    1. The panel was a lot of fun.
      Because of traffic I arrived just moments before they started.
      I was surprised to see two thousand people in the audience.

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  8. These are terrific! I find Donald hard to draw correctly, even from familiar angles, let alone these great range of motion and expression drawings. These inspire me to revisit Donald with new enthusiasm. I really like Towsly's Jiminy scenes in Pinocchio. He has always been under rated and unknown. Good for you for finding and sharing these gems!

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    1. I don't know...this needs some investigating.

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  10. Ha! I just watched Donald's Cousin Gus last week!

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  11. The penultimate drawing appears to be a hole-punched photostat. Given that the studio was geared-up to produce registered photostats, both for resizing finished sequences where fine detail was required, and for producing the prints of live-action reference footage, was it common for animators to have sequences of roughs resized if a layout was changed? Or was this just a one-off copy - or prints from a line-test where the originals had gone missing?

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