Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera

That's character actor Sebastian Cabot in the photo, standing in front of story sketches by Vance Gerry.
Cabot voiced the black panther Bagheera in The Jungle Book. And beautifully so!
Bagheera is one of my favorite animated characters, for three reasons:
-I love his ernest personality, which strongly contrasts Baloo, who just wants to have a good time.
-The way Milt Kahl designed him with an ultimate economy of lines. Pure feline elegance!
-Most of his personality scenes were animated by Milt ( Bagheera pushing Mowgli up a tree) and Ollie Johnston (the night time conversation between the panther and Baloo about how to get Mowgli back to the man village).

Bagheera is like your dad, always sensible and concerned, while Baloo is like your crazy uncle. It is obvious why Mowgli wants to hang out with the bear. 

Bill Peet scribbled these terrific early character concepts, before eventually leaving not only the project, but the studio.

Story artist Vance Gerry continued working on sequences that involved Bagheera.
Here are a couple of his story sketches.

Milt Kahl researches design possibilities that would work with Sebastian Cabot's voice recordings.
At one point Bagheera apparently had colored pupils, and his upper jawline was defined. The final design doesn't show that jaw/ cheek line. As I said, simplified to perfection.

A few key drawings, done by Milt for Ollie Johnston scenes.

After Baloo got Mowgli into trouble, he screams for help. This rough Kahl scene represents Bagheera's initial reaction: "Well, it happened!"
Simple, full of personality, gorgeously drawn and animated!


  1. Do any of the drawings belong to you?

    1. Hello, Mr. Andreas. I know you probably won't respond to this but I still want to try. I'm a 18 year-old student from a country, far away from America. I work as a filmmaker but my heart is leading me through the path of animation. You are one of my inspirations. Such a huge talent. I wonder how could I apply for a job at Disney Studios - if that's possible, that is. Also, I love all of your drawings. Have you ever thought that you would become so successful?

    2. In case you came back to check for a response:
      Go to the disney animation home page, they have answers to some of your questions:

  2. I've watched A Jungle Book just recently. I was astonished with the character animation, Bagheera and Shere Khan in particular. I think this film has the best visual style of all xerox era - the lines are very strong comparing to ink or digital ink, but they work perfectly with the minimalistic design. I need to watch it again soon, and I'll take a specific attention to the design of Bagheera after seeing these sketches.

  3. Bagheera has a certain masculine felinity that I find very interesting. :D
    I'm also curious – what have you been up to since your last Mushka update?

  4. I am fascinated by those storyboards that Mr. Cabot is standing in front. What beautiful drawings and staging.

  5. What a pleasure it was to share an office with the great Vance Gerry while working on The Jungle Book.

  6. Milt Kahl never, ever ceases to amaze.

  7. Bagheera boasts some of the finest animation you'll ever see.