Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shere Khan and Kaa

These are a few more examples that show the transition from story sketch to animation.
In other words, you can see how the animator got inspired by the story artist's work and then plussed the scene by improved staging and drawing.
I believe the story sketches are by Vance Gerry (Floyd Norman might be able to confirm that).
The animation of course is the work of Milt Kahl. I traced and combined all character levels on to one drawing. The whole sequence is almost like limited animation, often the body is on a held cel while only the head moves.

This high level of imagery, for the moment, is a thing of the past. It represents a blend of Character Animation and Fine Art, because the animator was deeply interested in both!
There is plenty of realism here, but a ton of abstractions as well. The designs are stylized, but remain very accessible at the same time. There is almost no way you could simplify the tiger's body any more. Everything is boiled down to an essence, every line has great meaning and communicates beautifully.
And the staging is as solid as a rock. Anatomy, caricature, weight, perspective and entertainment for sure.

The last image just kills me. How can you draw an extreme stretch like this one on the snake and still have it come off as plausible and believable? Yet one more inch and Kaa's head would pop off.
This set up also reminds me of a Henry Moore sculpture. Sophisticated but simple organic shapes and forms that work in three dimensions. (Milt had actually met Henry Moore).

A real high in Disney Animation.


  1. Talk about plussing a scene... Love that he twisted Kaa's head so that his eyeballs are touching Shere Khan's face. Funny too - I've watched this scene so many times, but I've never noticed how abstract his body is. Guess that can be attributed to how believable the drawings are.

    One of my favorite posts so far!

  2. These drawings are just marvelous. Their faces are so full of depth and expression, no live actor could do something like that.

  3. I feel like I see a bit of your Tigger in that final pose of Khan! :)

    Awesome stuff.

  4. Fantastic work by Bill Peet and Milt Kahl. Mr. Deja, I have a quick question for you: whenever you animated a scene, would you ever talk with board artists about how the scene will be play out and what you would add to it, or would you just tackle a scene on your own without talking with the story department?

    1. Good question.
      At Disney we used to have workbook turnover meetings, where
      the directors, animators, layout and story artists would look at the storyboard to discuss changes and improvements before a sequence went into animation. That's when everybody present exchanged ideas for better staging, continuity and acting.

    2. I came here from your recent post, and wow! This answers so many questions I had about how animators thought through every single bit of their scene! I didn't realize there was an extra stage in between story and layout. Could you talk more about these meetings in another post?

  5. Such gorgeous drawings! I could keep looking at them all day! :)

  6. These are so beautiful and 3 dimensional! Such neatness in the drawings! :) They're so alive. These were the best 2 junglebook characters.

  7. this is what seperates CG from hand-drawn animation! I also love the compositions between the two kings in Sleeping Beauty.. Milt is such a master at it!

    thanks again for the inspiration andreas~

  8. Beautiful! Haha, I love that last one :D

  9. Really cool, totally jumping off the storyboard keys and pushed to the tenth degree. Love it! colabs are the best.

  10. GORGEOUS! That last one floors me. So inspiring!!

  11. One of Milt's best scenes ever. The timing, the poses, the expressions, the track, the caricature.

  12. Seeing the stills blows my mind more than when I watch it in action!