Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hercules and Scar

There are times when an animator has to think like a computer.
I remember feeling apprehensive when I started work on the scene above. Hercules is posing for a vase painter, "wearing" Scar's skin. As the camera moves screen right, a CG generated podium turns in perspective. That meant that Hercules needed to be animated holding still like a statue, but turn in perspective at the same time.
Having worked on Roger Rabbit actually gave me plenty of experience with this kind of a scene. However on that film the animation was usually very lively and energetic. But in this scene the one pose just had to match the rotation of the podium. I asked clean up to be extra careful with the in-betweens to avoid any unwanted graphic wiggles. Last time I saw the film it looked alright.

A thumbnail sheet for this scene as well as one that follows shortly thereafter, when Herc in frustration throws away the mock sword and the shield...and eventually Scar's skin.

By the way this Scar gag wasn't my idea. Somebody in story came up with it. I thought it was kind of cute though when they asked me if I was ok with the gag. I had absolutely no problem with it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More Old Art School Stuff

During my last semester at at school in Germany I already knew that Disney was producing a film titled The Fox and the Hound. It inspired me to try and keyframe a fox jumping in a circle. My analysis was far from perfect, but it still turned out to be a useful exercise.

At that time my life drawing teacher encouraged me to draw with an ink pen instead of pencil or charcoal. Scary at first (you can't erase), I eventually really enjoyed using a thin felt pen.

These cows were sketched near my home on a farm (ballpoint pen). As far as animal drawing I needed to teach myself, the school didn't offer any such classes. Still, fond memories of learning, and hoping to work for Disney one day.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Remembering a time when a holiday TV program with the Old Maestro (as Floyd Norman calls him) 
made my Christmas season. When a show like this one ran on our TV, my whole family needed to be absolutely quiet...they weren't actually, which frustrated the heck out of me. 

A few pages from vintage Disney Christmas cards.

And a Happy New Year to everybody!

Friday, December 23, 2016

From All of Us to All of You

From All of Us to All of You is an animated television Christmas special, produced by Walt Disney Productions and first presented on December 19, 1958 on ABC as part of the Walt Disney Presents anthology series. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket along with Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell, the special combines newly produced animation with clips from vintage animated Disney shorts and feature films, presented to the viewer as "Christmas cards" from the various characters starring in each one.
(From Wikipedia)

This painting is from that program, it announces a clip from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
To watch a few clips from Disney animated films was incredibly special, looong before everyone could buy the complete films on video or disc.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Genius of Heinrich Kley

I don't know exactly what year this article was published in the German newspaper "Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung". But since the text reveals that Kley had just died, the early 1940s would be a safe bet.
As I said before, Kley's work ages beautifully. Master draughtsmanship defining cartoony situations.
The first page shows you what Kley actually looked like, what a sad expression for an artist who's work makes you smile.
Occasionally Kley would copy one of his drawings and add color, either for a client for a friend.
The drawing below is one of those copies.

A huge oil painting depicting part of the German steel factory Krupp as it is being invaded by a group of demons. Kley's skills as a painter are as strong as his graphic work.

Drawings like this one inspired a generation of Disney animators...actually at least two generations, mine included.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I love this "Technicolor photo" of Kathryn Beaumont Levine as she poses in an Alice costume, around 1950/51. The kitten is of course a stand in for Dinah.
And look at all of the Mary Blair art behind them.

I wished the next photo would be in color as well. Taken early on in production of Alice in Wonderland.

One of many scenes Kathy acted out for the animators. All of Alice's key animators, Milt Kahl, Marc Davis and Ollie Johnston thought that Kathy was just perfect for the role.

A few years ago Kathy reenacted a pose from a Disneyland poster.

A while ago I posted this extensive collection of photos and drawings regarding Alice:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lisa Davis

Lisa Davis has become a good friend of mine ever since my clean up lead Kathy Bailey introduced me to her many years ago. Lisa is full of stories about her time as a Hollywood actress, and the people she worked with.
She got to know Zsa Zsa Gabor during filming of the 1958 camp classic film Queen of Outer Space (See photo below).
Lisa became known for doing a very good impersonation of Gabor, Hungarian accent and all.
The casting folks at Disney found out about this and asked her to come to the studio to try out for the part of Cruella De Vil. At that time Cruella was thought of as a campy Zsa Zsa Gabor type.
Lisa didn't feel comfortable though in that role and asked to read Anita's lines instead.
The rest is history.

Lisa at Disney around 1959.

During early scenes in the film Marc Davis animated Anita. She resembles Aurora from Sleeping Beauty a little, who Marc animated before production on 101 Dalmatians began.

In the end it was Milt Kahl who redesigned Anita and animated most of her scenes, along with Roger's.
More on this topic here:

And because it's the season, here is the inside of Disney's 1960 Christmas card, promoting 101 Dalmatians.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Most Amazing Afternoon

Many of you know that yesterday, December 15, marked the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney's death.
Recently the W. Disney Company went through great lengths to restore Walt's original office.
Over the years it had been altered greatly when occupied by Ron Miller, Roy Disney and others.
Today the office looks exactly like the day Walt died. The items you see in the photos I took yesterday are the real things. From furniture to books and figurines, all this had been kept in a warehouse for five decades.
I was thrilled to get an invitation to see this historic space, and our tour guide for the most part was none other than Richard Sherman, who reminisced about meetings with his brother Robert and Walt.
The first photos show the formal office which includes a piano. The model plane represents a new company jet that was on order at the time, but was cancelled after Walt's passing.

Richard treated us to a couple of songs, including "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins.

The working office, where stuff happened, came with a kitchen. That model plane was the kind of company jet in use at the time.

All the cabinetry is original, as you can see in the vintage photo.

Richard finds a script for the live action musical "The Happiest Millionaire", for which he and his brother wrote songs for.

A very cool model of Lady, from the early development period.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bavarian Tigers

A while back when I was studying the style of American cartoonist superstar T.S. Sullivant, I came up with a few graphic exercises like this one. I tried to apply his complex illustration style to new ideas that came to mind.
In Germany, specifically in Bavaria, we have this dance, where folklore dancers slap their knees as well as each others cheeks for no reason but to entertain. So here are a couple of tigers, wearing lederhosen having fun in front of a Bavarian setting.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Even more on Milt's Sword in the Stone

One more in a series of posts regarding Milt Kahl's work on Sword in the Stone.
Milt loved working on this film, because his character design sensibilities and overall draughtsmanship dominate the movie. (This is the only time he got character design credit, along with Bill Peet.)
He did plenty of drawings for fellow animators to improve the characters' appearance.
The following two sketches were done for Frank Thomas scenes.

This one is for an Ollie Johnston scene.

Being the fisherman that he was, Milt probably enjoyed designing the villainous pike.

Milt drew these poses of Madame Mim as a rhino, ramming into a tree, for John Lounsbery.

A sequence of drawings from one of his own scenes. Sir Ector is arguing with Merlin over the issue of Wart's education: "I'm running this place, and if you think you gonna fiddle (with my schedule, you better pack up your bag of tricks and be gone!)" 
The scene was re-used and extended later on in the film when Ector is wearing armor.

A final frame including both characters.

By the way, if you want to see a pristine HD version of The Sword in the Stone, check out Amazon Prime TV. Disney's DVD release years ago already looks very nice, but to see it in such high definition on Amazon is pure joy. For the first time you can fully appreciate Walt Peregoy's incredibly  inventive color scheme for the film.
Unfortunately I can not recommend the film's Blu-ray release, I find it unwatchable. The characters look like they were animated with thick sharpies.

For more of Milt's drawings from the film, go here: