Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Prince Philip: A Closer Look


Here is another closer look, this time at Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty. These images are photos of the original, oversized model sheet. But unlike the recently posted Peter Pan sheet (which showed photographs of Milt Kahl's roughs), in this case his animation drawings were cut out and mounted on this beige cardboard.
Again, most of you have seen this model sheet as a print or somewhere online, but I hope these hi/res images give you a new appreciation of Milt's work on the character. Sophisticated lines that define sophisticated shapes. The Peter Pan drawings (just a few years prior) are all about dynamics and fluidity. Philip is all about graphic accuracy and perfection.
It is outrageous to realize that these are Milt's rough animation drawings, you could practically ink the images right on to cels. And yet new clean up drawings were produced as the final guide for the inkers.

I want to point out again that Milt literally hated to work on this character. But that fact did not keep him from maintaining a high standard, as these drawings clearly prove. 

Friday, April 30, 2021



Disney's Animation Research Library is a marvel. It houses tens of millions of artworks from all of the companie's animated films. Story sketches, layouts, animation drawings, background paintings, models and much more. 
When I started at the studio in 1980 this massive collection was housed in the basement of the Ink & Paint building on the Burbank studio lot. At that time it was called the Morgue. A few years later all the art was moved to a state of the art, temperature and humidity controlled site nearby. 
As an animator I had the privilege to visit the ARL frequently and study scenes (the actual drawings) from Snow White to The Rescuers. Classic short films as well. 
It was important that before each visit I sort of knew what I was interested in researching. Without a clear idea in mind your brain would drown in this seemingly endless archive of masterpieces.

Analyzing the work by Disney's incredible animators was simply the best school you could ask for. And then to have the opportunity to ask Frank, Ollie, Milt, Marc and Eric in person why they did things a certain way!  

You can find "mini tours" of the Are on youtube. here is one of them:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Peter Pan: A Closer Look


I am sure most of you have seen this model sheet of Peter Pan before. Copies of it have been circling the animation industry. 
Here are hi/res photos of the actual oversized original model sheet from 1951. All drawing are from scenes by Milt Kahl. These are photos of Milt's rough animation, the real drawings were sent to a clean up artist (possibly Iwao Takamoto), who then drew the tied down versions right on top of Milt's roughs.
And today these remain within complete scenes at the Disney Animation Research Library.
Be sure and double click on the images for full resolution.

Each one is a master drawing, full of life with that unique appeal that only Milt could bring to a character.
Peter Pan's subtle proportions are everything. A bit more realism, and you would have steril looking images. A bit more cartoony, and the character would loose believability.
Milt just knew instinctively how to find that perfect, precious balance. That's why Walt wanted him to animate Peter, and the film's villain Captain Hook went to Frank Thomas.

This previous post shows Milt's version of Captain Hook, the character he wanted to animate instead:

Monday, April 5, 2021

Mushka and Sarah Maquette

Strangely animation maquettes are often finalized late, toward the end of production, and Mushka is no exception. Hand sculpted by Craig Elliott, cast and hand painted, after a sketch of mine.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter!


A great Easter character illustration from 1939. Possibly By Tom Wood or Hank Porter.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Walt Disney Studios and World War II

That's the title of a brand new exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum. If you happen to be in the Bay area, you don't want to miss it. I myself will head up North soon. Can't wait to see what curator and WW II historian Kent Ramsey and the Museum staff put together regarding this important chapter in Disney history. For detailed infos go here:


Tuesday, March 30, 2021


 Here is an early example of live action use for animation at Disney. All human characters in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs relied on rotoscoping, except for the dwarfs. The more realistic a character concept, the more live action footage was used to help the animators get a nuanced performance on to the screen.

But rotoscoping is a tricky business. If not altered and interpreted by an animator, the result can be stiff and lifeless. Changes have to be made in order to portray these filmed performances for for graphic motion. A good animator will mess with the timing and proportions of the photostats.

Some of my favorite Disney characters who were successfully based on live action are Cruella de Vil and Roger and Anita Radcliff. Their design has various degrees of caricature, but the motion always feels reel.

Then there is Cinderella's Stepmother, a very realistic looking character based on live action, and she comes across as being very powerful.

Milt Kahl's comments about the use of live action cracks me up: "If you are going to have realistic animated human characters, I think the use of live action is necessary. If everybody on the picture was a Milt Kahl it wouldn't be necessary. But unfortunately they aren't."

Here is the Hunter from Snow White.