Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Marc Davis, Anatomist

I love Marc Davis anatomical studies, because they dissect not only the construction of the body but also its motion range. Marc made these illustrations for a planned book, called The Anatomy of Motion. Unfortunately he did not finish the project. There were more drawings to be added as well as text. The main reason why Marc paused was the fact there was no interest in the publishing world for this book, if you can believe such a thing...

He mentioned that he was aiming toward artists and art students, but also physicians. "I wanted to show how things are put together and how they WORK!" 

When you combine all that knowledge with a superb sense for design and artistic flair, you are looking at an artist who became invaluable to a place like Disney. 

The images are from the 2014 book: Marc Davis, Walt Disney's Renaissance Man


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Atlas of the World

Before King Triton, Gaston and Hercules there was another bodybuilder type I animated. 

If I remember correctly, toward the end of production of The Black Cauldron I discovered certain storyboards in the basement of Disney's original animation building. (We hadn't moved out yet to a warehouse in Glendale.) These storyboards looked beautiful, and I found out that Dale Baer had drawn them, and that his studio was producing the animation for an educational film to be shown at EPCOT.

So I contacted Dale to find out if he needed any help with this project. To make a long story short, I ended up animating a bunch of scenes with the character of Atlas, who was the host in this film.

Here is what D23 says about the project:

Animated Atlas of the World, The (film) Short animated film telling of the geological and meteorological aspects of the ocean, for showing in Seabase Alpha in The Living Seas, Epcot. Opened on January 15, 1986. Directed by Mike West.

Dale gave me the film's opening to animate. I also drew a few more scenes throughout the short. I don't recall if there were other animators that helped out, but I don't think so. Dale's Animation shines here, as it always does. He was and is a phenomenally gifted animator, who was mentored by John Lounsbery in the Disney training program during the 1970s. 

My own footage still shows some inexperience, I think, but thanks to Dale's guidance it was good enough to be included in the film. A funny thing about a "host" type in an educational film: The focus is on the information being conveyed. But the character himself still needs to be interesting and entertaining to watch. So you are looking for acting patterns that show some personality without detracting from what's been taught here. Jimmy Cricket and Ludwig van Drake are classic examples of that.

Dale was married to Jane Baer at the time. Before I moved to London to work on Roger Rabbit, they presented me with two cel set ups, scenes I had animated. They were both wonderful to work for.

Here is a link to a video version of the film. Someone filmed it off the screen many, many years ago. This was posted on YouTube just recently:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Holiday Art

I love this pastel sketch by Mel Shaw for Disney's The Small One. Beautiful composition and color mood. I swear, Mel knocked out illustrations like this, one after the other. I witnessed this during Black Cauldron, Mouse Detective, Beauty & the Beast and Lion King. He was a wizard!

A pretty holiday painting by Disney background artist Art Riley. Probably for a Christmas card. Riley worked on many features as well as shorts from Pinocchio to Jungle Book.

Christmas Carols of the canine kind. Mary Blair painted this image for an early version of Lady & the Tramp. The final version of the film does not show her influence as far as color styling. But Cinderella, Alice and Peter Pan all have a Blair touch.

A charming seasonal color sketch by Preston Blair. The looseness and movement  reveal that an animator painted this. Incidentally Mary Blair was his sister in law.
Preston worked at Disney during animation's golden age. After the strike he animated for Tex Avery and later for Hanna-Barbera.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Alice Twice


I have had several posts over the years regarding Disney's Alice from the the 1951 film Alice in Wonderland. Artists like David Hall and Mary Blair created a ton of stunning development art for the film. Blair's incredible color aesthetic dominates the movie. Look at that specific and contrasting blue in the background painting for this cel set up. Fantastic!

Alice's final design was set by Milt Kahl, who also animated key scenes with the character along with Marc Davis and Ollie Johnston.

15 years later Hanna-Barbera came up with their own version of Alice for a TV special called The New Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? 

If this character design reminds you of Princess Aurora from Disney's 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, you are not alone. In that film clean up genius Iwao Takamoto worked on Marc Davis' Aurora scenes. After Sleeping Beauty's completion Takamoto moved over to Hanna-Barbara, where he became that studio's main character designer.  

I actually quite like these drawings, which graphically fit right into the American mid century-modern cartoon style. Influences by Marc Davis and Milt Kahl are more than obvious. I have not seen the film yet, but it might be worth checking out...just for the fact that Zsa Zsa Gabor voiced the Queen of Hearts.

Here is a link to a previous long post about Disney's Alice:


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Broody Brom Bones


Brom Bones is not happy watching the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel dancing with Ichabod Crane. In this scene by Milt Kahl his frustration intensifies as he re-positions himself before noticing Tilda sitting by herself, and not participating in the festivities of the party.

A couple scenes later show him coming up with an idea to get back to Katrina, and that plot involves Tilda.

Beautiful animation, gorgeous drawing that show his emotion very clearly. I remember Frank Thomas (who also animated Brom Bones and Tilda in this sequence) talking about how he felt that at that particular time -the 1940s- Milt was just perfect for the studio. (Which implies that Milt wasn't perfect for the studio later on.)

You might want to print out these pages, flipping them is a real treat!

More posts on Brom Bones here:  https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/search?q=brom+bones

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Ken Anderson in his own Words

More comments about Walt Disney, this time by layout artist, art director and character stylist Ken Anderson. I really enjoyed getting to now Ken during the 1980s. Even in retirement he was so enthusiastic about the art form of animation, its past as well as its future. And he loved talking to young people who were just entering the animation business. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Milt Kahl Character Designs


I recently came across these two design sheets my Milt Kahl. The one above is the "Darling" character from Lady & the Tramp, voiced by the one and only Peggy Lee. I saw one of her last performances at the Hollywood Bowl years ago, she was incredible. I'll never forget that night. This sheet explores Darling's hair style, how to get a hold of it graphically. Still, those perfect Milt Kahl faces always get to me. Animator Ken O'Brien ended up animating Darling as well as her husband Jim Dear.

More on O'Brien's work for Lady & the Tramp here:




The next sheet is a xerox stat of cow studies from 101 Dalmatians. Horns...no horns, that is the issue here. In the film some cows have them, some don't. A terrific "modern" cow design approach, which also made it into the farm sequence from Mary Poppins.

The cow design sheet is currently being offered at Heritage Auctions.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Frank Thomas in his own Words

 Continuing the series, here is Frank reminiscing in 1993 about working for his boss.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Vote Now!


To my American friends:  the most important vote of our lifetime.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Mama Odie's Secret


I remember having a moment of animators' block during production of The Princess and the Frog.

In one scene during her song "Dig a little deeper" Mama Odie was searching through a chest, looking for  appropriate "musical instruments" for some of the other characters present. As she begins to dig in, the layout artist suggested that she throws out a shoe and a gavel at first.

The thing is that I had time for Mama Odie to throw ONE more item. So what should that be? A book, a piece of clothing, a plant....boring! For the life of me I could not think of anything clever (even though audiences would not really have the time to register the third object). I was starring at my animation disc forever...and then...of course, she will throw an animation disc.

I did not tell anybody about my choice, not the directors, not checking, nobody. AND IT WENT THROUGH. No phone call...what is this?...we can't have her do this...Everybody within the Disney pipeline knew exactly what this item was. By coloring the disc blue meant that this was a vintage metal animation disc. (The ones we worked on were black plastic.)

Mama Odie had some serious voodoo powers, but... she was also a 2D animator.

In order to find that frame I just took a cell phone pic off of my TV.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Ward Kimball in his own Words

 Here is Kimball in Storyboard magazine, talking about his boss Walt Disney.

A few of his terrific life drawings with clothed models. My guess is that they were done sometime during the 1950s.