Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Cool it Boy, unwind Yourself!"

Animator Eric Cleworth drew the first few scenes that introduce the character of King Louie in The Jungle Book. But it wasn't until Milt Kahl animated this moment, when Louie picks up Mowgli off the ground, that the animation shows real personality.
At the start of the scene Mowgli is yelling at a bunch of monkeys, who had just dropped the kid to the floor. King Louie is watching this for a while, as he scratches his back with his left hand. He then puts his right foot into his mouth, thinking something like: Now what do we have here?
Milt takes full advantage of the comedic idea that with a big ape hands can become feet, and feet can act like hands. (Milt later animated the scene in which Louie stands on one arm, as the rest of his limbs are pointing at himself).
You don't see the scratching hand in these rough animation drawings. That piece of action is on a different level, as is Mowgli. There is a nice balance in the character's movement. As his upper body moves downward, his rear goes up, before Louie lowers himself into the throne.

These drawing copies come from the estate of Frank Thomas, who used them as reference for his own brilliant animation. Frank animated most of King Louie during the song "I wanna be like you."


  1. The thought about ape hands that can become feet, and feet can act like hands kinda freaks me out a little bit (when you have a vivid imagination.)

  2. This really makes me want to start learning to draw bonobos and chimpanzees. The range of expression and attitude one can get... and I'm finding that uncanny valley similarity with humans to be deliciously thrilling to observe.

  3. This character makes a lot of great poses I've never seen before or since. I suppose it's his proportions and behavior(mixing up feet and hands) that make him really unique

    1. oh, hey Andreas, you might not have seen this in a while (though it might bum you out) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbMlmqHAXCk

    2. Oh man...that's so in the past. It's all good, I am busier than ever trying to polish my craft.

    3. yeeeah! I'm very pleased to see you doing what you're doing