Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sleeping Beauty at 60

After all these decades Sleeping Beauty remains a stand out film among Disney animated features.
A grand experiment in artistic style and storytelling, which did not pay off at the box office in its original release in 1959. But after many re-releases in theaters and on home video this film is now beloved by just about everybody.

An early character study by Frank Thomas.

Incredible backgrounds with cels that don't match. It's worth zooming in on some of the gorgeous painted detail.

A couple of expressive roughs by John Lounsbery.

A haunting looking BG from a later sequence in the film. Merryweather is not supposed to sit on the chair.

A stunning Eyvind Earle study for the Sleeping Beauty walk through at Disneyland.

There are plenty of previous posts on Sleeping Beauty. Just type the film's title in the upper left corner, and they will all pop up.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Frank Thomas Animates the Chairman

One of Frank Thomas' last animation assignments, the Chairman of the Rescue Aid Society from The Rescuers.
I love this candid photo of Frank in his office taken in 1976 or early 1977. I believe he is working on the same drawing as pictured below. Frank didn't do all of this character's scenes, but he animated the best ones. Expressive, full of personality with natural movement. 

Character actor Bernard Fox provided the warm, character rich voice.
Here he is twenty years later in Titanic.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

...and Another Kley

As so often with Heinrich Kley art, you wonder about the meaning behind the illustration.
Depicted here is a female nude presumably flirting with an oversized semi-nude man, while riding a rhinoceros.
Unlike Frazetta's sexually charged drawings and paintings, Kley's nudes always look innocent and wholesome.
I believe that for this watercolor drawing he just let his mind meander, perhaps starting the illustration at one point without knowing what the final result might look like.
In any case, this Kley is a feast for the eyes.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Aladdin Flashback

When I look back at my career at Disney, I remember that once in a while everything came together just about perfectly for an animated film I was a part of.
Aladdin is one of those films. It remains arguably the most beautiful looking film of my era.
I think everybody was in the right spot as far as casting. Directors, writers, animators, voice talents,
composer etc, everybody's work jelled and made for an amazing film.
Eric Goldberg took us to a new direction with his animation of the Genie. Fluid, simple and uncluttered. Stylized while still being commercial and accessible. His influence on the movie can't be overstated.
That being said, we did have our bumps in the road. After the first story screening, Jeffrey Katzenberg walked off remarking:"You can keep the title (of the film)."
The story got reworked, Aladdin's mother got the boot and certain songs were cut, because they didn't promote story or character.
As for myself, Jafar was a joy to design based on several artists' work. When it came to his color scheme I did argue though with our production designer's choices.
Still, it all came together in the end.

Above Ron and John behind Kent Melton's beautiful character maquettes.

Next up John Musker with Jafar's voice Jonathan Freeman and Aladdin's singing voice Brad Kane.

Jonathan with lyricist Tim Rice and composer Alan Menken.

A few scenes that represent my earliest animation on the film.
Iago by Will Finn, the Thief by Dan Hofstedt.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Quiet, Wart!"

Milt Kahl sure had some fun animating dialogue scenes with Sir Kay from the Sword in the Stone.
In this scene from an early sequence Kay turns toward Wart who is observing Kay's hunting "skills" from a tree branch above.
Milt drew facial expressions and mouth configurations that let you know right away, this guy is not very bright. The puckered lips for QUIET and WART, then the wide open mouth for QUIET, and later for WART. There is comedy in the way the mouth moves during the dialogue.

When I was animating Jafar way back, I tried to aim for humor in some of his dialogue scenes.
Weird mouth shapes that would hopefully express character while still being in sync with the words spoken.

The thing with Milt is that the flat graphic character design still turns absolutely three-dimensionally in space. He could draw any mouth configuration from any angle.

Come to think of it, I would have added some teeth to the last mouth shape in order to pronounce the T in Wart. But what do I know?

Here's more on Kay:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Milt Kahl Moves

A great self caricature of Milt Kahl announcing his change of address. Not sure exactly when this occurred, but I have a way of finding out. I googled the address and these images came up.

PS This image was offered on eBay a while ago. I believe it is a tracing of Milt's original ink drawing.
Here is a version from online, which I believe to be the original.

Friday, January 4, 2019


We are at it full time! More and more final color is pouring in. I am so excited!
Honestly, I didn't expect the final footage to turn out this beautiful.
Above Sarah is encountering a tiger cub during a winter sequence in Siberia.
The cub's mother isn't happy about this, so she attacks.
What is the outcome? You'll have to wait and find out.

© Andreas Deja

Here is an earlier post regarding this scene: