Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas

I didn't get around to drawing up a new holiday illustration, so instead here are a few doodles for a scene from Mushka that is set in the winter.  Actually the film includes a few sequences in the snow, but this one will look different in terms of rendering and camera moves. 

I hope all of you are having a nice holiday season. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

An Old Tossed Idea

At Disney during Walt's time, there were numerous projects in development over the years, but then cancelled for one reason or another. One of them is Reynard the Fox. Developed in the 1930s at the studio over a few years, it was eventually shelved one day. The main character was too much of a thug and a rebel. Qualities Disney did not want to see in a title character. 

Many years later, after Walt's death, the studio decided to produce the tales of Robin Hood, but with animal characters. Robin was going to be a fox, so for internal research, the artists referred back to what had been drawn for Reynard the Fox

Milt Kahl ended up animating Robin, and I know that he referenced this vintage story sketch for one of the character's opening scenes. This is no coincidence. Look at the two poses! The old inspires the new. Lightning is going to strike me, but I have to admit that I prefer the lively story sketch over Milt's version.

This sketch is currently offered by Heritage Auctions. 

Heritage's latest online auction also includes this beautiful cel from one of my favorite Robin Hood acting scenes. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"Don't worry about me!"


...Mowgli proclaims to Bagheera, who for the moment is fed up with the boy's reluctance to be taken back to the man village.

This is a very simple scene animated by Milt Kahl. There is subtle movement within one pose. The body attitude is defiance, Mowgli's clenched fists show his rebellious temper. What a shame that The Jungle Book film presentation on Disney + is a 16 x 9 format. It completely cuts off Mowgli's lower body. The movie's proper format is 4 x3. 

These copies of Milt's rough animation drawings were given to me by Dave Michener, who did assistant work on the film. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Thomas Ragon

If you are an animator looking for daily, visual inspiration, look no further than Thomas Ragon's daily  Tweets. I like everything he posts ....

Illustrators from all over the world, most of them unbeknownst to me. Thomas gives you the name and life span of the artist, and then it is up to you to google these incredible artists. I have bought books on Ebay based on his postings. 

Thomas Ragon, you are a treasure trove. THANK YOU!

Here are just a handful of images from his Twitter account. 

Go there and be inspired:

Saturday, December 11, 2021

"You've just made a serious mistake, my friend!"


Kaa is threatening Bagheera, who has just smacked the python against a tree branch. It was the panther's quick reaction that saved Mowgli's life. Just like the boy before, now Bagheera is being hypnotized. 

I remember watching this scene in a movie theatre -ages ago- and the strange feeling I got from seeing Bagheera's eyes become as large as tennis balls. It is an exaggerated effect to show that he, too, can't avoid Kaa's hypnotic stare. 

Bagheera is a relatively realistic character, with proper big cat anatomy and motion. So you don't expect such a cartoony expression at all. But it sure lets the viewer feel what the panther is going through in this situation. I love this scene, animated by Milt Kahl. These are copies of his rough animation drawings. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The World of Bruno Bozzetto

This is what I call an early Italian Christmas. I just received this incredible box set of films by Bruno Bozzetto, on blu-ray. Available at Amazon/Germany. It includes three of his feature films:

- Allegro Non Troppo

- West and Soda

- The Super Vips

Also, a booklet, most of his award winning short films and two documentaries. Language choices are Italian and German. This whole collection is a dream come true. The picture quality is fantastic!

I highly recommend this box set.

Here is a link to a previous post on Maestro Bozzetto:

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Milt Kahl's MacBadger

"Angus MacBadger is trying to straighten out the tangled finances of his gregarious but irresponsible friend Toad. Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole come to help when MacBadger sends out a distress signal. These drawings were done in 1941 for an earlier version of the film, which was shelved due to the war."

John Canemaker, in the 1982 publication of Treasures of Disney Animation Art

This scene does appear in the final version of the film though. After MacBadger fights off Toad's lenders, Rat and Mole show up and escort the exasperated Badger from the front door of Toad Hall back into a study. There he collapses against a writing desk. 
Milt's work is pretty rough here, and it represents his drawing style during the early 1940s. His animation roughs from Pinocchio look like this. 
Of course I admire his drawings and animation from any period of his career. Wether loose like these or meticulously designed during his later years, they all show true genius.


Friday, December 3, 2021

Frank and Ollie Interview


Here is a link to a terrific interview with Frank and Ollie. Michael Barrier talked to them in 1987. It is fascinating to see them both talking so candidly. This conversation is more about what went wrong during their time at Disney, and less about what went right. Since many of us know that part already, to hear about their frustrations and disappointments is super interesting. 

At one point Frank talks about how difficult it was to animate Cinderella's stepmother. I had always thought that he enjoyed the challenge of drawing this subtle, powerful villain...apparently not that much. The role wasn't "juicy" enough for him. Frank criticized Milt Kahl's early character designs for Lady Tremaine. Too realistic! You can find those drawings here (followed by a few of Frank' animation roughs):

Here is Mike Barrier's interview:

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Bill Peet Books

I haven't had the chance to see any of Bill Peet's life drawing (from a nude model), but Milt Kahl told me way back that "they knock your socks off." Milt was a huge fan of Peet and his storyboard work for Disney. As were all of the animators.

Heritage Auctions offered this concept piece for the cover of his 1989 autobiography a while back. The final version for the book removes the artist from the composition. What an outstanding storyteller, at Disney as well as in his "Childrens' Books". (They can be enjoyed by adults as well.)

Peet started to illustrate books in 1959, while still working at the studio. His first book was "Hubert's Hair-Raising-Adventure". 

Here is the Wikipedia link to Peet's life and work:

I am just so thrilled to have met him, and I recall our lively conversation during the reception of my wire sculptures exhibit at Disney in 1989:


Sunday, November 28, 2021

101 Dalmatians, Behind the Scenes V

Last part of images from an Italian booklet about the production process from Disney's 1961 animated feature 101 Dalmatians
When you create something that's innovative, beautiful and entertaining, it will be for the ages. 
101 Dalmatians falls into that category.