Monday, February 13, 2012

Masterful Doodles

When Ollie Johnston showed me his collection of Disney drawings years ago, he came across these two small sheets (8 1/4 x 6") showing design sketches of the character Georges Hautecourt from "The Aristocats". 
"Are these Ronald Searle drawings?" I asked Ollie. "No, these are Milt's", he responded.
As I examined them closer it became obvious that Ollie was right. But I had never seen Kahl drawings that resembled Searle's style to this degree. 
Then again Milt shared Searle's sensibility for a sophisticated balance of strong straight lines against curves. And when the drawing is rough and loose, the lines remain thin and delicate.

I don't know why Milt used such small sheets of paper for these character studies, he normally drew design work on large 16 field animation paper. Perhaps there were done during a story meeting, and only small sheets were around.
In any case, even in this size there is great detail in the definition of bony hands and loose facial skin. Just beautiful!


  1. So solid, really feel the weight of that old man on the chair and on the cane. Love the playful faces. The last page top right looks like he's sayin' "So what d'ya think?".

  2. Love this character and these drawings! Though, I'm glad they shortened/redefined his nose slightly for the final design - a few of the bottom poses seem to bizarrely remind me of wicked witch in Snow White(lowest central?).
    Animation of georges getting out the car is utterly brilliant.

  3. Fantastic- like he's taking a Searle design for a walk

  4. There is a big difference though between Milt's drawings and how Ronald would approach a drawing. Looking at Milt's designs you can tell that he was thinking of the "next" drawing, a habit animators tend to have because they need to move characters around (Oscar Grillo spellt this out one day and it rang true). Designs that you can turn in any direction. Ronald would never make that a part of his thinking. A drawing would be done for that one angle with no concern of how the character would look like from any other angle. Therefor Ronald's poses are approached differently too. Sometimes they seem to have no weight at all but are full of life nevertheless. When Ronald drew a character more than once, it would have different proportions in each drawing but still feel like it is the same one.
    Milt's drawings are full of "Searlisms" but probably a lot more 'constructed'. Both artists were brilliant in their own right and unsurpassed in their individual approach.

    1. The great thing about this blog is that I learn just as much from comments/opinions as the posts themselves. :D There are so many people here that are wayyy more experienced than me, and I absolutely love that.

  5. Perfect...I love those sketches...thank you for post Andreas!!!!

  6. To me they feel so serene and delicate... those lines... wow...

  7. man these are just wonderful, thanks for posting these andreas!

  8. This is wonderful! It seems that both Khal and Searle had a vast knoledge of Bezier curves long before the advent of Illustrator and vector graphics. The contrast between smooth and straight lines is amazing. The japanese anime boom changed the way to draw characters and while Disney tried to keep an eye with its traditions there's no doubt about the fact that Disney animation was influenced by this new, extremely different, graphic style.

  9. Milt Kahl was right. There was nothing he couldn't do. Great stuff!