Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Happy Pride Month!


I drew this poster for a party in Paris many years ago. (The paper is showing its age). And a great party it was. To be clear: this image of affection between Herc and Gaston is imaginary. There is no doubt that Hercules is pursuing Meg, and Gaston is insisting on marrying Belle.

But it's fun to play around once in a while...

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Muzzle Off


This is a beautiful example of classic Stretch and Squash. The beaver opens his mouth extremely wide as he holds the top part of Lady's muzzle right between his upper and lower teeth. This is top notch staging because you want the audience to focus on the upcoming bite. The beaver's stretched open mouth is an anticipation in animation terms, but the viewer is also left anticipating and wondering if the bite will be successful. And you guessed it, the animator is Milt Kahl.

To see a few rough animation drawings of this character by Eric Larson, go here:

Thursday, June 10, 2021

10 Years


I can't believe it's been 10 years since I started this blog. 10 years!!! So much fun to share my passion for hand drawn/pencil animation with you. It's glorious history and... doubtful future, as far as Disney full fledged articulation is concerned. What I love is the fact that animation these days tells all kinds of stories.

Political, social and commercial statements.  But I do miss Walt's  drive for personality driven hand drawn stories. I feel so proud of having been apart of the modern "revival" of animation. 

Here is a pic of me working on King Triton for "The Little Mermaid". The maquette  you see is the only one in  existence. It was deemed too large to be cast and reproduced. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Mushka Scenes

Those scenes represent a little over half of the film. I need more scene stackers. There are other piles of scenes around my studio that need to be stored properly. 
Home stretch, bits and pieces of footage left to animate, and one long important scene. I guess I'll sell some of these animation drawings to benefit charities that are important to me...

Monday, May 31, 2021

Remembering Hercules


I drew this sketch for a friend many moons ago. Before production on the film began I struggled like crazy to try and set the design for Hercules. Gerald Scarfe was our inspiration for the overall visual design of the film. I think I was the last animator to get my character design approved. The Scarfe influence is more subtle than in most of the other characters. 
Tate Donavan gave a terrific vocal performance, I think he was just perfect for the role.
The crazy thing is that when Tate was a young aspiring actor, way before Hercules, we lived next door to each other for some time in a neighborhood near Lake Hollywood. He shared a big house with a few other acting students. During that time I ran into him occasionally, but who knew that we would work together in the future. 

When the movie premiered in New York in 1997 we both did press interviews together. A lot of fun.
Unfortunately at that time my dad passed away. So I had to stop my PR work and fly back to Germany for the funeral. But afterwards I did join directors Ron and John in South America to continue promoting the film.

One thing I want to say about Tate, he is a terrific actor, somewhat underrated. Just check him out in the TV drama Damages (2007 - 2012) next to Glen Close.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Sullivant Original II


"Darling, something tells me that the baby has fallen out of bed again."

Another original illustration by TS Sullivant, published in LIFE magazine on July 19, 1923. It measures 22 x 14". Be sure to  click on the image twice for full size and resolution. I find it somewhat unusual but interesting that the sofa chairs' armrests visually almost create two extra "legs" for the hippo couple. But that doesn't bother me, Sullivant can pull off unusual staging like no one else.

Unmatched cartooning artistry.

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Rescuers Article

John Culhane wrote this article at the time of the film's release in 1977. He inadvertently had became the model for one of the characters, Mr Snoops. As a longtime Disney fan and historian, John was elated to have been "immortalized" by animator Milt Kahl. Who wouldn't?

The article gives you a pretty good idea where the studio was at, regarding the transition from the old guard to a new generation of Disney artists.

I miss John. When it came to animation he was so enthusiastic and always fun to talk to.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Medusa Original Rough


Medusa has just thrown one of her boots toward Snoops, when she lets out a gleeful "Ha!" There is some weird but wonderful stuff going on here drawing wise. That one line starting at her lower back  flows right past her shoulder and arm to end up in her fingertips. Crazy! I love that Milt exposed so much gum above her teeth. That adds so much character and menace. You would think that all those hair lines would boil and distract when seen in motion, but it all works.

I know that Milt Kahl would have kept on breaking conventional rules in his work had he stayed on for another film or two after The Rescuers. But he thought the overall Disney standard had fallen too low for him to stick around. In any case, Milt enjoyed eleven years of retirement before passing away in 1987.

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Sullivant Original I


Dr. Monk: Take a hundred and fifty of these pills with five gallons of hot lemonade before you go to bed tonight, and let me know how you feel in the morning.

This Illustration appeared in LIFE magazine On December 27, 1923. TS Sullivant passed away in 1926.
The image was also recently published on page 288 in the book A Cockeyed Menagerie, The Drawings of T.S. Sullivant.

I love the idea that the sick elephant is reaching for the prescription with his drippy trunk. Sullivant's search for perfection often led him to erase unwanted ink lines from the cardboard's surface, with a knife or a blade of some sort. Lines were erased under the elephant's trunk in order to set back the left arm.
He also redrew the monkey's hand with the prescription. 

So much personality in these three characters, if you count the skeleton image. (I wonder what animal that would be, a pig perhaps?).
Image size: 20 x 13 1/2 "

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Prince Philip: A Closer Look


Here is another closer look, this time at Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty. These images are photos of the original, oversized model sheet. But unlike the recently posted Peter Pan sheet (which showed photographs of Milt Kahl's roughs), in this case his animation drawings were cut out and mounted on this beige cardboard.
Again, most of you have seen this model sheet as a print or somewhere online, but I hope these hi/res images give you a new appreciation of Milt's work on the character. Sophisticated lines that define sophisticated shapes. The Peter Pan drawings (just a few years prior) are all about dynamics and fluidity. Philip is all about graphic accuracy and perfection.
It is outrageous to realize that these are Milt's rough animation drawings, you could practically ink the images right on to cels. And yet new clean up drawings were produced as the final guide for the inkers.

I want to point out again that Milt literally hated to work on this character. But that fact did not keep him from maintaining a high standard, as these drawings clearly prove. 

Friday, April 30, 2021



Disney's Animation Research Library is a marvel. It houses tens of millions of artworks from all of the companie's animated films. Story sketches, layouts, animation drawings, background paintings, models and much more. 
When I started at the studio in 1980 this massive collection was housed in the basement of the Ink & Paint building on the Burbank studio lot. At that time it was called the Morgue. A few years later all the art was moved to a state of the art, temperature and humidity controlled site nearby. 
As an animator I had the privilege to visit the ARL frequently and study scenes (the actual drawings) from Snow White to The Rescuers. Classic short films as well. 
It was important that before each visit I sort of knew what I was interested in researching. Without a clear idea in mind your brain would drown in this seemingly endless archive of masterpieces.

Analyzing the work by Disney's incredible animators was simply the best school you could ask for. And then to have the opportunity to ask Frank, Ollie, Milt, Marc and Eric in person why they did things a certain way!  

You can find "mini tours" of the Are on youtube. here is one of them:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Peter Pan: A Closer Look


I am sure most of you have seen this model sheet of Peter Pan before. Copies of it have been circling the animation industry. 
Here are hi/res photos of the actual oversized original model sheet from 1951. All drawing are from scenes by Milt Kahl. These are photos of Milt's rough animation, the real drawings were sent to a clean up artist (possibly Iwao Takamoto), who then drew the tied down versions right on top of Milt's roughs.
And today these remain within complete scenes at the Disney Animation Research Library.
Be sure and double click on the images for full resolution.

Each one is a master drawing, full of life with that unique appeal that only Milt could bring to a character.
Peter Pan's subtle proportions are everything. A bit more realism, and you would have steril looking images. A bit more cartoony, and the character would loose believability.
Milt just knew instinctively how to find that perfect, precious balance. That's why Walt wanted him to animate Peter, and the film's villain Captain Hook went to Frank Thomas.

This previous post shows Milt's version of Captain Hook, the character he wanted to animate instead:

Monday, April 5, 2021

Mushka and Sarah Maquette

Strangely animation maquettes are often finalized late, toward the end of production, and Mushka is no exception. Hand sculpted by Craig Elliott, cast and hand painted, after a sketch of mine.