Monday, June 1, 2020

Wilhelm M Busch 1959

These are illustrations for a story about a Lipizzaner stallion, written by by Uno Modin.
Busch's graphic style looks almost like a woodcut print or a linocut. I love everything about these drawings. Composition, staging, perspective...everything is masterfully executed.
Just look a the first image! How the guy is standing as he tries to control one of the horses. Just amazing!
I should call this post: So you think you can draw...!

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Thomas Touch

Another article from Sketches Magazine written by Jim Fanning, Disney historian and author.
Frank consulted on the figurine of Mickey Mouse from The Brave Little Taylor for the Walt Disney Classic Collection. It was the best three dimensional depiction of Mickey I had ever seen. A beautiful piece.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Dumbo in Sketches Magazine

Another nice article in Sketches Magazine from 2001.
Interesting quotes by Disney greats Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston and even Tytla himself.
Great photo of the man who brought Dumbo to life.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Roger Rabbit Production Process

I remember animating this scene early on in production of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The Disney Archives recently posted these three phases of our process which combined animation with live action. 
It was ABSOLUTELY essential that the animation would hide any live action gadgets that were needed to hold real props or create effects, like real water in this case. The animation needed to be on 1s (like the live action), which resulted in a ton of work. But I had a blast working out the technical challenges for each scene. Because I knew that when ILM would send us the final scene (with highlights and shadows) to be shown in London during "rushes" or "dailies" we will see magic.

Video essayist Kristian put this clever and informative youtube film together. It explains how we did some of this stuff:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Background Designs

A handsome article from Sketches Magazine, spring 1994.
Its readership consisted mostly of Disney fans, so the information is basic. But the article does make the point that even though most people believe there is ONE Disney style, beautiful artistic variations can be pointed at from films through the decades.
From early cozy looking watercolors to the gritty, almost avant garde style for 101 Dalmatians.

And yes, I do believe that Aladdin fits right in with these masterpieces of stage sets for the characters.
I remember when I saw the first finished backgrounds for Aladdin, we had just started production animation. I couldn't believe my eyes. It seemed like the studio had hired back Claude Coats, Bill Layne, Al Dempster and all the other old-timers. Aladdin represented a huge artistic leap forward for my generation of animated film makers.
And then there was Eric Goldberg's spectacular animation of the Genie....I knew then that this film was going to be extraordinary!!!

Friday, May 15, 2020


For a while during WWII Frank Thomas joined the US Armed Forces as a member of the First Motion Picture Unit, which produced training films at the Hal Roach Studio.
Frank directed this 20 min. live action/animated short film called Camouflage from 1944. He also animated the "host" character, a chameleon. How appropriate!
I remember Frank briefly talking about this project, but hadn't seen it until a few years ago when it became available online.
The character animation is incredible! But what would you expect from a young Frank Thomas who had just animated on Pinocchio and Bambi ? In films such as this one you needed to get many technical aspect of warfare across. To help hold the audience's attention the chameleon character was added for entertainment. 
This is fantastic vintage Thomas animation from the medium's golden age.

You can view the film here:

Below are are a couple of cels from the film. The chameleon and an eagle who would like him for lunch. These cels were offered by Howard Lowery a while back.

Friday, May 8, 2020

What's on my Animation Desk Right Now

I am animating a bunch of short action scenes right now which will connect longer, already animated sequences. 
Here Sarah is trying to push her tiger Mushka over the edge of a cliff into a river. Why?
I won't say. 
This is my first rough pass followed by my tied down version which will go to color. Actually the tiger is too heavy, so Sarah asks her friend Alex for help. He enters the scene a few frames later.

I was pausing today, thinking this project is the adventure of a lifetime.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Lisa Davis II

A charming article in Sketches Magazine from 2006.
Lisa Davis talks about her experience voicing Anita in Disney's 1961 classic 101 Dalmatians.

Several animators were involved in designing and animating Anita.
First there were Bill Peet's story sketches which served as a springboard to the animators.
Marc Davis (probably before getting going on Cruella) animated Anita at the beginning of the film when she meets Roger Radcliff. There is a little bit of Aurora in these animation roughs which is not surprising. Marc had just finished animation on the princess as well as on Maleficent.

Actress Helen Stanley (who had modeled for Aurora) was filmed as she acted out scenes with Anita.

At that time Les Clark was cast to animate the human female lead, but not before Milt Kahl tried out some  character designs. These are Milt's drawings.

In the end Milt took over the character of Anita, and he caricatured her facial features while maintaining a sympathetic heroine type appearance. Less formulaic, too.

Great character design, wonderful animation and a realistic, modern relationship to her husband Roger. A triumph for a straight, female  Disney protagonist.

Links to earlier post on Anita:

Monday, April 20, 2020

Roland Dupree

I have mentioned Roland Dupree before in connection with his Peter Pan live action reference work.  But only recently did I find out more about his career as a dancer and choreographer.
This lovely article appeared in Disney's Newsreel magazine in May of 2007. At that time Dupree returned to Disney Studios for the first time since he was filmed as Peter Pan to be reunited with Kathryn Beaumont and Margaret Kerry (whose comment about seeing Dupree again CRACKS ME UP!!).

Dupree was in his mid 20s when he was filmed as Peter Pan, mostly during flying and fighting sequences (Peter Pan's voice actor Bobby Driscoll was responsible for acting out more subtle moments.)
I know for a fact that various animators had a hard time translating Dupree's muscular physique into proper Peter Pan drawings because the character was so much younger.

I wrote earlier about this situation here:

Roland Dupree in action on set at Disney.

A few links that provide you with more information about Dupree's long career:

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Robin Hood

There has been quite a bit of traffic today around an earlier post regarding Robin Hood.
Perhaps this has something to to with the recent announcement that Disney is going to produce a CG version of the 1973 film. 
In this scene Robin is reacting to Friar Tuck's announcement about the upcoming archery tournament.
"Thank you, Little John, but I am sure we're not invited."
Milt Kahl worked hard to make the key poses look good, particularly #59. That pose looks almost unnatural the way the body is bent and twisted. But of course in motion the scene comes off as refined and very much in character.

Here's the pencil test put together by Samuel: