Saturday, June 18, 2011

Frank Thomas

Here is a gallery that spans a few decades in Frank Thomas' career.
As you can see, Frank had no limitation as an animator, he was great at everything.
Comedy, drama, evil, pathos, you name it. Even though he admitted to struggle 
 with his draughtsmanship, the final results and its emotional impact were very much admired by other animators who had an easier time with drawing and design.
Any of these drawings showcase an inner feeling for the character, animation from the inside out. 
Here are a few comments he made over the years about these characters:

Frank was proud of the the work he did with the dwarfs, mourning the death of Snow White, because for the first time audiences cried watching animation.

Pinocchio was like a little boy, but he had absolutely no life experiences yet,
he had just been "born". His animation required that the usual squach and stretch
be avoided in order to make him look like he is made out of wood.

Bambi was probably his favorite film.

Frank used some of Walt's own gestures when animating Mickey in "The Pointer".

Walt Kelly complemented Fred Moore on the opening animation of "The Flying Gouchito", when in fact this was Frank's work.

Toad was someone who "acted" in front of other characters.

He animated Ichabod Crane riding through the forest at the rate of about forty feet a week.

As far as the successful performance of Cinderella's stepmother, he gave credit to  actress Eleanor Audley, who voiced the character and provided live action reference. "One of the greatest voices we ever had".

After a long search Frank found inspiration for the Queen of Hearts while playing
the piano with the Firehouse Five plus Two on Catalina Island.
He watched a lady in the audience, who acted both, dainty and brash.

Captain Hook needed to be entertaining as well as frightening, but some of the action scenes with the crocodile went too far, he felt.

"Lady & the Tramp" had very rich character relationships.

Frank watched little old ladies in supermarkets as a study for the Three Fairies
in "Sleeping Beauty".

"101 Dalmatians" was storyman Bill Peet at his best.

"The Sword in the Stone" had great sequences, and he loved doing the squirrels,
but the relationship between Merlin and Wart lacked warmth.

Dick van Dyke's legs were constanty in the way of his penguin's choreography.

"Jungle Book" might have a very simple story, but these characters are some of our best.

When we started "The Rescuers" the time had come to add new, fresh talent to the crew.

Check out this great tribute by Ted Thomas to his father :


  1. kind you are !!!!!!!!:D:D:D.......wonderful post once again,,,,,

  2. I am glad you enjoy this "stuff" as much as I do !!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. What link above, not sure what the problem is.

  5. These are beautiful, thanks for all of the great posts so far, Andreas! The Ted Thomas link should end with .html though, it didn't work at first for me.

  6. Ok, I see the problem, getting to the F. Thomas tribute.
    Just click on the blog's title "Storyboard", then go down
    one post.
    Sorry about that.

  7. This is all great stuff! Frank always made his drawings beautiful. Is it just me, or was he really good at drawing necks?

  8. Haha I love the idea of him battling with Dick Van Dyke's legs! That's a fantastic thought.

    Frank Thomas I think animated more of my favourite scenes than any of the other Nine Old Men. I didn't know that he struggled with his draftsmanship. I would have loved to talk to him about that and ask him how he dealt with it as it's something that's very close to home for me.

  9. After studying Thomas' scene big/long scene from THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR, I became sold on everything else he had done. The guy was a brilliant animator who relayed so much emotion in his work. This is a bit of genius that he had.

  10. thanks Andreas for sharing; this is great stuff. Those thoughts and comments Frank made on his work that you chose to share are great insight.

  11. Wow, these pages are in excellent condition, considering how old some of them are.

  12. I'm drooling all over here. My favorite is the Lady and Jock one.

    By the way, the link isn't working!

  13. Thanks again for this wonderful post! I'm learning so much more by studying these works.

  14. I'm kinda in heaven right now. I absolutely love Frank's work even before I knew it was Frank Thomas' animation! I had the pleasure of meeting his son, Ted, at Roy's memorial service (though I wish we could have met under different circumstances...). He was such a sweet gentleman and his documentary about Frank and Ollie was a brilliant dedication to their work. A marvelous post for Father's day =]

    I would have loved to have studied and talked with Frank in person! His art always had such a life and character, something that I hope to achieve some day.

  15. I can't believe I get to see this stuff from you, oh how I love technology. Btw, we wouldn't mind seeing your stuff too. Remember that we are also in awe of your art and what you have done and the others that you have worked with.

  16. Hi Andreas, thank you so very much for what you have done for the Walt Disney Co. and yourself. I certainly am a BIG fan of yours. You are such a wonderful talent. Like many, I have enjoyed reading your blog with all the historical drawings and videos. Again, thank you! :0)

    One of my passions is to draw Disney characters and I too hope to work for Walt one day myself.

    Panama City Beach, FL

  17. Well.. that scene of King Louie picking the fleas out of Mowgli's hair is a personal favorite for staging. It's a cheat, in a sense. Once he lifts up the far leg he's no longer truly able to hold Mowgli's head, but the focus is so clearly directed at the hands and the eye direction, you do not notice at all. On top of this tricky staging is such an amazing performance, and to a musical beat to boot! Inspiring stuff

  18. Sooo, this blog has swiftly turned into an amazing resource! Nice work! I have literally been reading it every day. It sometimes seems your posting these pages faster than i can read them. xD
    They have all been brilliant so far. But Frank Thomas, for me personally, is possibly one of the most inspiring animators to date. He may not have had the draftmanship that he claimed of others. But boy, do his drawings and animations stand out. Such energy, and life! It is as you said. He draws from the indside out.
    You just have to look at those frames of hook. The way he searches for lines always looking for something that tells just that little bit more about the character key. Or that frame of Mowgli pulling on baloo's arm. Beautiful stuff.
    I could not possibly cite a favourite shot of his, theyre all pretty good. I was at a talk with Klay Caytis the other week and he mentioned the scene of pinocchio (when he sings 'I have no strings') as being one of his favourites. And justifiably so. Such thought behind all the action.
    I think my favourite scene of Frank Thomas's however . . . he didnt even animate. Its the cameo of Frank and Ollie in the Iron Giant as two train drivers. Brilliant.
    Thanks again for a brilliant post. Look forward to seeing more. :)

  19. Awesome blog! Thanks for sharing all of this great artwork, and amazing stories. Please keep posting more.

  20. Frank is wondeful! I love the way Lady Tremaine's eyes and smile make the audience know what's going around in her mind... just perfect!

    Andreas, you're the best! Love your job! I loved the way you animated the Great Prince in Bambi 2.. by the way, do you think Cinderela 3, as well as Bambi 2, honored the original movie? I hate sequels, but this two are so magical

  21. Walt's "Bambi" is the classic, haven't seen any Cinderella

  22. Can't believe that Frank (and Ollie) have all three Fairy ladies on the same page! That would have been tough to animate all three at the same time/timing like that. Amazing.

  23. Wonderful stuff! The resolution is so good we can even print these out and hang them on the wall pretending they are originals! :)

  24. Thank you for posting such amazing art! Great postures and use of dynamics. I just love the one of the Lady and the Tramp.
    Keep posting please!

  25. Beautiful drawings! So much character, thank you so much for creating this blog, i really enjoy discovering the past!

  26. It feels like opening a treasure chest!
    Thank you so much for this feeling!