Tuesday, September 19, 2017


This story sketch by Bill Peet inspired Milt Kahl, who aimed this scene featuring Madame Mim, as she temporarily turns herself into an "ugly" creature in front of Wart. Milt used practically everything Peet provided in terms of staging, expression and design.
There are beautiful key moments here that make the scene so successful and satisfying to watch:
Mim completely covers her face with her hair, before she reveals a scary face. There is a a strong squash expression on "B" followed be a stretch for the "OO".

A simple scene, beautifully executed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bambi Realism

Unless we study the real thing thoroughly, we cannot caricature or animate our characters convincingly.
One of Walt Disney's insightful quotes that makes complete sense. Milt Kahl would add:
"Our characters distinguish themselves from the ones at other studios, because they have real bones and muscles."
I would add: and real weight. 
Once you know the inner workings of a human or any given animal, you can then go to town and do whatever you'd like with that knowledge. Look at Samson, Prince Phillip's horse in Sleeping Beauty.
He walks and runs like a real horse, but his design is highly stylized. The width of his lower legs is so thin, almost down to a single line.
And observing the real thing can be a ton of fun. Studying live footage and sketching Siberian Tigers has been absolutely essential for the title character of Mushka in my upcoming film. There is something wonderful and exciting about this pre-production phase. Like Milt said:"You learn so much about your subject that you don't need the live action (rotoscope) reference any more."

Any tiger scenes left to do on Mushka...let's go! All that studying gives you the confidence to tackle any type of action.

I don't know who drew these terrific studies for Bambi, but as you know, this research paid off big time. The animators were able to turn realistic motion into animated poetry.

Images/Heritage Auctions

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Richard Williams animates Frazetta


I remember visiting Richard Williams Animation studio in London for the first time in the late 1970s. It was also my first time in the UK, and my first time traveling by plane (from Duesseldorf/Germany).
Before my trip I had arranged appointments with several animation studios, Williams, Halas & Batchelor and Richard Purdum.
Dick Williams was in the US on business when I set foot at his studio. But I did get a tour of his studio in Soho and a personal screening of their latest animated commercials. Man, was I impressed then, and looking at this kind of work now, decades later, I still am.
One of the spots was for an After Shave called Jovan. It felt revolutionary to me. I had been familiar with Frank Frazetta's work, but here it was...in motion. Dick had animated whole camera moves, character and background. He would tell me later that the spot was corny. Of course it was, but in the most amazing way! It was bold and groundbreaking!
It made me realize that animation can go much further than Disney.

Hans Bacher posted this scene breakdown a while ago on his terrific blog:

In those days London was the hub for animated commercials. There were quite a few studios that all produced high quality work, because most of the talent had been trained at Richard Williams Animation at one time or another.
Here is the youtube link to Jovan Sex Appeal:

Cels, Heritage Auctions.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

From Bill Peet to Frank Thomas

Three terrific story sketches by Bill Peet of Pongo, as he is sent flying during a fight with the Baduns.
Peet could have been a top animator as you can see in the action break down displayed here.
Three moments from a quick action scene.
The flight, the impact and the recovery. Frank Thomas animated parts of the sequence in which Pongo and Perdita face off with Jasper and Horace Badun. You can see how Frank was inspired by the story sketches. Pongo's end position shows his front legs pointing forward, which makes sense from an animator's point of view. After the body comes to an abrupt stop, the front legs swing through.
It seems like when working from Peet's boards, your scene was half done.

The story sketches are currently available at Van Eaton Galleries:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Versions of Tigger

It's kind of funny to see early concepts of Tigger, before the final design was set.
This is the cover of sheet music for the Sherman song "The Wonderful thing about Tiggers"
You can see that Winnie the Pooh is finalized, he looks like he appears in the classic short films.
Tigger not so much. Milt Kahl must have been busy with another assignment, he certainly had nothing to do with this temporary design, or the way story artists depicted the bouncy character.

There is a looong way from these unrefined concept designs to what Milt finally came up with.
Milt loves to draw some of his characters with an underbite mouth configuration. Madame Mim, Shere Khan, Bagheera and the Fisherman Bear from Bedknobs & Broomsticks to name a few.
Tigger is no exception. In this case it adds personality and looks more interesting, graphically.
One of Marc Davis' favorite Disney Characters.

More infos on the development of Tigger in this previous post:

Friday, September 1, 2017

T.S. Sullivant in Color

A gorgeous Sullivant illustration from around 1905. His black and white work was mostly published in Life magazine, some in Judge magazine. But occasionally a color Sullivant cartoon such as this one would appear in newspaper print.
As always, there is charm, inventive caricature and...genius.

Here is the link to my first post on Sullivant, more than six years ago:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Filming at the Walt Disney Family Museum

A couple of pics taking yesterday at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, during the filming of "The Making of Mushka". My exhibit "Deja View" will run until October 9, and we thought it might be a good idea to film a few interviews there before it ends.
That's Marina Villar Delgado in the first photo, she designs all exhibitions at the museum. An amazing talent. She has an eye for how artwork should be displayed to bring out the personality of the artist.
The second pic shows Sybil Byrnes, daughter of Milt Kahl...and me. We were discussing many things, including the influence of her father's work on my own animation.
It was an extraordinary day!