Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nottingham Wolves

A while ago I posted a few sheets with rough drawings by John Lounsbery showing his early design approach for the henchmen wolves from Robin Hood. 
As always Milt Kahl came up with the final refined designs, shown here. I think they look terrific. The way their hoods often obscure the eyes makes them look dangerous, but a little dumb at the same time.
When you break up the proportions from the hood, then the torso to the skirt part, they are all different lengths. Milt knew instinctively that even proportions result in boring, uninteresting designs.
This philosophy is evident in any of his character designs.
Great drawings!

Here is the link to Lounsbery's earlier versions of the wolves:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Ken O'Brien Scene

There is very little information about animator Ken O'Brien online or in books. This is a screen grab from a short 1986 interview, which was posted on youtube by Jerry Beck. Here is the link:

What strikes me is that Ken in his demeanor and speech reminds me so much of Marc Davis.
Kind of serious, confident, with the occasional chuckle during his answers.
He mentions working with Fred Moore (among others), and I can clearly see that influence in terms of clarity and fluidity applied to key poses for this scene depicting Jim Dear from Lady and the Tramp.
At the end of the film Jim Dear takes a photograph of the new dog family. The old fashioned flash light explodes, resulting in smoke filling the room. Here he makes a run for the window, before opening it in order to clear the air.
O'Brien is in full control of animating this realistic design convincingly. The overall body rhythm reads simply and clearly. There was live action reference involved, but O'Brien always altered his animation drawings to get more dynamic results.

A final frame with effects from the scene.

Check out this previous post on Ken O'Brien:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Genius of Hans Bacher

Hans Bacher knows what he is talking about. He is an avid student and admirer of classic animation as well as modern art. Hans knows color like nobody's business. He is an expert at composition, staging and mood. His work on Mulan elevated that film into one of the two most beautiful Disney films from the modern era. (The other one being Aladdin. Richard Vander Wende was responsible for the look of that film.)
Here are a few pages from Hans' Mulan style guide. Extraordinary!

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I had almost forgotten that I animated this logo for Disneytoon Studios a while back.
I remember sketching out about five different versions for the spot, and this is the one they picked.

Here is the YouTube link:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Martins and the Coys

Here is another rough animation drawing by Milt Kahl that was discarded. This sheet comes from the estate of Disney animator Ken O'Brian. It shows the two lead characters from the short The Martins and the Coys, which was part of the 1946 feature Make Mine Music. 
Grace Martin and Henry Coy are dancing energetically on their wedding night. For fast action like this, the animator most likely did all of the drawings (on ones) to ensure fluidity and readability of motion. This is a young Milt Kahl, who knew how to combine his knowledge of human anatomy with  cartoony drawing and motion. This single frame from the dance is a JOY to behold!
I would say that the overall character styling is still influenced by Fred Moore. But Milt takes it a step further, because he knew so much about the human figure, composition and action analysis.

The full sheet is pictured below. As you can see, once discarded, Milt used it as a surface to sharpen his pencil. There are notes, calculations ($ 3000 ?) and what looks like telephone doodles.
I am glad that Ken O'Brian saved this gem for all of us to enjoy more than a half century later!!

More stunning sketches from this sequence in this earlier post:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Alice on Trial

Milt Kahl animated all scenes with Alice as she is hopelessly defending herself against the Queen of Hearts at the trial. Look at this beautiful, unused rough drawing that somebody must have gotten from Milt's trash bin. Parts of the line work is so delicate, such as her face and hands.
But when something needs to be worked out like Alice's dress, Milt goes at it forcefully.

Below are copies of the cleaned up key drawings. In the scene Alice reacts to the sudden appearance of the Cheshire Cat on the Queen's head.
Dialogue: "Your Majesty..."

Many more of Milt's Alice rough drawings here:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Upcoming Exhibition

I feel very honored to showcase some of my art at the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco. The exhibit will include my work at Disney, personal projects like wire sculptures as well as a preview of my film Mushka.

For more information go here:

By Grim Natwick II

Another Cartoonist Profiles article written by Grim Natwick about his buddy Bill Tytla. Grim gives us terrific insight into Tytla's work method as well as his intense relationship with animation. 
Don't we all wish he could have had his whole career at Disney, pushing the boundaries of character animation for a few more decades. We'll never know how Disney animation would have evolved with this artistic giant at the helm.