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: