Sunday, December 11, 2011

Penny and Rufus

Ollie Johnston did a lot of work on "The Rescuers".
The mice Bernard and Bianca were developed by him and Frank Thomas. 
Most key personality scenes of characters like Orville, the albatross, as well as Rufus the cat and Penny were animated by Ollie.
Part of the reason for this big amount of footage was that he didn't over analyze.
Ollie had a gut idea about who his characters were and how they felt in each scene. And he really did kind of fall in love with them after some initial research.

These are development sketches that were done before animation began.
Ollie captured the loneliness of a young orphan very well, by exploring specific 
sentimental attitudes and poses.
As far as Rufus is concerned, John Canemaker is right, that character ended up being a self portrait.
I love these realistic studies of a cat, the way form and shape of ears are thoroughly analyzed. The sketch of the cat scratching it's head is amazing.

During the few years before Ollie's passing  2008 I tried to visit him at his home in Flintridge as often as I could. Even though it had gotten difficult for him to talk, he did welcome company and was grateful to people stopping by and spending time with him. Occasionally I took friends or students with me on these visits to liven up the conversation and to offer a little stimulation. 
Ollie repeatedly mentioned how lucky he felt to have had that kind of a career at Disney, and  to have lived that kind of life.  He said he was at the right place at the right time.

Photo by Mark Kirkland


  1. Wasn't Rufus supposed to be a self-portrait?

  2. I always liked that cat. It made me wonder if there really is just a plain brown cat out there somewehere. :o

  3. Great post once again Andreas, it truly is a treat everytime I come to your blog. I hope you don't mind me contacting you this way, so here goes.

    Hi my name is Tom Sanders and I am a freelance animator in London, England. I graduated in 2009 and did the whole travelling thing the year after and for the last 7 months I have been starting out as a 2D animation freelancer. I have had a few bits of work here and there working for big companies such as IKEA and Nokia, doing mainly internet commercials and corporates. My main aim is to work within the childrens industry, creating and producing cartoons for television and film. Obviously this is hard what with the current lack of tax breaks for the animation industry. However I am very positive that I will succeed and am always trying my hardest to improve my animation and build up both my contacts and skill base.

    This year I decided to make a Christmas film that showcases my skills as an animator. It is a 2D hand-drawn film that was produced solely by myself and took me approx. 2 months to complete. I am a big fan of your blog and understand the high upstanding it has within the animation community. I wondered if you would be so kind as to put my film on your blog and help me reach a wider audience and hopefully help me grow as a freelancer. I would really appreciate it if you could do this or if you have any criticism of my film then that would greatly received as well. Here is the link to it on my Vimeo account: and my blog is

    Thanks for your time and I look forward to all your posts in the New Year

    Merry Christmas

    Tom Sanders

  4. To echo Nicolas' comment, That's a great photo of you two. Seems to have heart.

  5. What a fantastic photograph! I hope you realize (and I'm sure you do) just how lucky you are to be a part of such a great legacy. You have worked with and are a participant in a group that has changed lives. So many great family memories and traditions from Disney... I am envious.

    1. I TOTALLY agree to what Ryan stated. You are very blessed in many ways Andreas.

  6. That last picture is so sweet! And 'The Rescuers' is such a great movie! The opening title sequence is so beautiful.

  7. Wonderful drawings, and an equally wonderful photograph of you two!

    I remember one night, I was animating late at night at SVA, and I brought up a bunch of Ollie's drawings and scenes on my laptop beside my desk, including the Rufus and Penny scene. The one thing that struck me the most about that sequence was the one scene of Rufus reacting to Penny's story about what happened at the orphanage. In the span of barely a few seconds, there is so much Rufus is conveying; sadness, sympathy, disappointment, and trying to figure out the best thing to say to cheer this little girl up. It awed me to think that somebody can convey all that and more just through a character's eyes. I watched that scene over and over, and it was like inspiration fuel, it powered me through the night. Then the next morning, I found out that he passed away the day before.

    Thanks again for sharing, Andreas!

  8. So much character in those sketches I love it. I can't help but laugh to myself at the one face of Penny that is scribbled over. I guess even the masters don't like some of there sketches from time to time.

  9. While Ollie was blessed to have been there I can't help but think you were doubly blessed to have shared in his experience. There is something about that last image that is especially appealing (the spine/line of action, sense of weight... of Rufus's interest/purpose conveyed... Wonderful post Andreas.

  10. Incredible sketches, that's an awesome picture of you two. So much passion from Ollie there. I suggest to all if they get a chance to pick up the Documentary " Frank and Ollie" it is the most inspiring.
    And Andreas, I love how they are both next door neighbors too. Did you get to see and ride his train at the back?

  11. Matthias,
    no, that just happened by accident.

    I can't believe you finished your film in two months.
    I enjoyed it and encourage everybody to check it out.

    thank you very much for the nice compliment.

    I did have the chance to ride Ollie's train. I have some pictures of that weekend somewhere.
    Ollie used to fire up the train regularly, and friends and kids would come over and have a great time.

  12. I read today where Disney is putting a stop to the 2d films they were working on. I guess John Lasseter and Ed Catmull have turned there back on the 2d world of animation. So I would say they were the death of 2d animation at Disney after all. They started with Toy story and now that they are in the inside they have killed it from there. John Lasseter and Ed Catmull films are old and I am tired of the Pixar formulas for there movies they are very much the same and lack what was there in the days of the rebirth at Disney back in the 80's and 90's and I have not enjoyed Pixar films for a long time now. They have lost something in all the tech stuff, they have lost Disney not the Studio but the man Walt himself and what the films stood for. Disney said that his films should be safe for the whole family to go, a time to be a kid again and a time for the imagination to fly. That is my paraphrase of one of Walt's quotes. I don't find that in the new CGI films they fill more fake than any 2d film and have less hart to me. The computer has separated the artist from the acting but no amount of CGI pixie dust can help most acting out there even at Disney. I love Disney 2d films and I will not be going to see the new Brave CGI film. I am tired of the plastic all the same looking films. Lets face it CGI hit its peak many years ago and now we have settled for the same look from all the same cookie cutter CGI houses out there. Pixar/Disney can you see a difference. When the new CEO of Disney came on we all hoped for more 2d films, that is what people want, a good storey and great animation. John Lasseter said he would bring back the 2d films, will I guess that is what he did but I thought he would give it more of a chance. Long leave 2d Disney films. Thank you Andreas Deja for all the joy you have brought in my life and made me see again how much I love the 2d animation art form.

    Your friend in art B. Stoker

  13. Andreas you have made my day! Support and the fact that you enjoyed it means everything to me! I am such a big fan and maybe i'll take a bit longer over the next one haha. If you have any pointers then that would be great but I totally understand that your a busy man, what with your animation and now your blog. Will look forward to your further posts. Thanks so much for replying. Tom

  14. Where did you read that Disney was pulling the plug on all 2D animated films? I couldn't find a credible link for that.

  15. Hay Jon read this post I had to pick up my jaw on this one.

  16. That article is dated. Ed Catmull and John Lasetter both said that the article was misleading. Now granted, the fact that there aren't any 2D animated features in development at this time is unfortunate, but I don't see Disney giving up on it. John Musker and Ron Clements still have a project going—they want it to be handdrawn, although it may end up being a mixture of CG and hand-drawn elements; I can't really confirm. But I can assure you that that article is not relevant any longer. They ARE still doing animation—don't worry about that article.

  17. @ BTS please don't hate on particular style medium. 2d - 3d -stop motion- live puppetry and others I might have missed. Have their own flavor, and none should be better than the other. IMO its like ice cream you know, there are all these flavors.
    All are good, there might be certain ones others like more than the other, etc. And there is always plain vanilla and chocolate that are still delicious.
    I think it just goes back to the almighty "story" and design. And not for the money but for the craft, pushing to the new and unknown.
    ---off of my soap box now, haha

  18. Thanks Jon for that, can you give me that link to that article? That makes me fill better. I have seen a lot of 2d going away in the U.S. I love the 2d form of animation. I was going to be a Disney animator. Disney was talking to me, then Life got in the way and when things got turned back around Disney stopped doing 2d animation. I hope to see more 2d from the Mouse House. Herman I don't hate 3d or any other form of film making. I know it sounds like it but I don't. 3D can make some great things I will do 3d from time to time when I need to but for me it all looks the same. One place's 3d may move a little better than the other the story my be better over at the other studio but when the films comes out the over all look, looks the same. I like ice cream and that is a great enallage for what is going on, The problem is the suits are throwing out all the others flavors and leaving people with only one chose. They have good stories at Disney. John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are calling they shots over there and if they don't want to make more Princess films and I don't hate the fact they want to slow down on the musicale style I have had enough of that for a little while I would hope they would look more for a Hero concept 2d film. Disney 2d animation style could never be replicated by any one, they may favor a little but not duplicated. I think because I have worked with both mediums for a long time I have seen how the computer is taking over bit by bit the art form, what was done by hand is done by computer and in that, something is being lost. Not that computers are bad but the way people look at what they can do for them instead of what they can do for themselves. Let me clear that up. When CGI animators make water they punch in a numbers for what they want the water to do and usually it is to look real then the computer starts its thing the CGI animater steps away then the program goes from there and so on and so forth, hair is a pain to work with but I have plug ins that do that for me. Now we have physics that make very real looking animation for use but that's it for us not by us when you punch in a number in to that program and make hair or water or clouds, someone with that same program can make it look the same a carbon copy of it but when you draw it is yours you have done that not a computer but YOU. To me the stylized look of 2d animation is not in CGI it does not touch people on a subconscious level like 2d. Look at a 2d film and wonder why you fill the way you do and you will find it in all parts of the film I do not find that in CGI. 2d moves you in a deeper way, one day CGI my but not yet.

  19. Andreas, do you know what kind of blue pencil Olie was using, it looks to thick to be the color erase kind, it looks more like a prismacolor one?

  20. This might have been my first experience with Disney. Interesting to see the scratched out face - even the best make mistakes!

  21. I've just seen Frank and Ollie (1995) documentary today and reading this just make me cry a little.

  22. I've just seen Frank and Ollie (1995) documentary today and reading this just make me cry a little.