Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kimball Thumbnails

Ward Kimball animated a little musical number involving Ludwig von Drake for Disney's 1961 TV show Adventures in Color. At that time Kimball didn't enjoy animating Von Drake very much, he was still frustrated having fallen out of favor during the production of the live action musical Babes in Toyland. After disagreements with Walt over the film's story and casting he was "asked" to return to animation. This scene doesn't represent Kimball's best work, but it is still very good. It is also VERY long, and would be a challenge to any animator to keep the acting business fresh and inventive throughout. The lyrics go something like this:
"I am blue as I can be, green with jealousy, look what you've done to me. I've got those green with envy blues, I mean those red with anger blues. And there is orange, you gonna squeeze me with the seed. Need to mellow, yellow moon, so I can loose the green with envy, red with anger, purple passionate blues."
It is amazing to see how detailed and thorough Kimball's thumbnails were, Those are all the key drawings necessary...just add inbetweens. He went straight ahead and figured the complete scene out on one 16 field sheet of animation paper.

Check out the scene in this YouTube video, the scene appears about seven minutes into it.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Milt's Thumper

We all know that Milt Kahl does "Eccentric" very well. Medusa, Madame Mim, the short Tiger Trouble etc. He also does "Realism" well. Bambi, Peter Pan and Prince Phillip.
Of course he also had a knack for "Cute" as you can see in these rough animation drawings of Thumper. It is interesting to see how loose his work was in the early classics. But in order to avoid poor clean up, Milt gradually drew tighter, so he could control the quality of final drawing on the screen.
This is a classic scene. Thumper has just been asked by his mother:"What did your father tell you this morning?" He replies:" If you can't say something nice...don't say nothing at all."
Milt recalled in a later interview that child actor Peter Behn wasn't able to deliver a long sentence. He would pause trying to remember the line. Milt used such a pause here, and Thumper also tries hard to recall his father's words.
The drawings shown here on two sheets are out of order. I presume an assistant or another animator cut them out to create impromptu model sheets.
So much emotion and insight into the young rabbit's personality.

I intended to include some of these drawings into the Milt Kahl chapter of my book on the Nine Old Men. But there just wasn't enough room. The process of elimination was painful. I have enough Disney rough animation art for three more books. So, go ahead and order your copy, if this book is successful there just might be an "Encore" edition with more animated treasures.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wilhelm M. Busch 1959

To start off, let me inform you that my book on Disney's Nine Old Men has been published. If you order it from Amazon, it's not a pre-order anymore (even if it says so). Also, Amazon just added their "Look Inside" option, which allows you to check out quite a few pages. I am so thrilled about the book's layout.

Moving on...German illustrator Busch published Honore de Balzac's novel La Belle Imperia in 1959.
His drawings are quite a bit looser here than what you might expect from this modern master of book illustration. And there are plenty of ink drawings in this volume, which tells me that Busch truly enjoyed the subject matter. Look at the cinematic staging and the way characters relate to each other.
Makes me want to DRAW! Damned brilliant stuff!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Effects Animation

There are times when I want to make the switch from character to effects animation...at least for a little while. Effects animators are not concerned with the often intense analysis of character development and acting. Their world has to do with mood, interpreting nature and inventing surreal imagery. This sounds so much easier than dissecting movements of human and animal characters. But I know that this is not the case. Just look at these concept sketches for The Sorcerer's Apprentice. How do you create these stunning visuals in motion? It represents a challenge as difficult as animated character acting, particularly if you want to be inventive and find new ways of presenting effects.

Whenever rough effects were needed to present a convincing character animation pencil test, I really enjoyed animating water, shadows, dust etc. And I got a big kick out of finding out that often (not always) the effects animators kept the essence of my rough effects work.
One of my future projects include a short film that combines music and abstract animation.

The following magazine article shows how inventive Walt Disney Productions proved to be time and again not only in regards to animated imagery but sound as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Smee in Trouble

A photostat of actors as pirates, as they go through the motions of threatening Smee. As the sequence's story goes, they feel they are wasting their time near the island and would rather set sail to find ships to loot.
The brilliant animation in the film by Ollie Johnston shows that ideas of this live action reference could be adopted, but needed to be re-staged and pushed for cartoonier staging and acting.

It's unbelievable to see how far Ollie went to portray Smee's anxiety, having the pirate's saber  getting closer and closer. Completely unrealistic animation, but you sure feel his jitters. Great scene!
(I had originally planed to show key drawing from this scene in my book, but we ran out of room.)

Smee's body is basically a water ballon, resulting in extreme squash and stretch animation.

Great facial reaction on Smee as the blade approaches his neck. These emotions are entertaining, but they also ring true.  Most people would put on a similar expression being caught in a predicament such as this one.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tease 5

Milt Kahl was a junior animator in his 20s when he animated this scene with a dove "delivering" a kiss from Snow White to the Prince. I find this key drawing simply stunning.
It shows that Milt was already a master of staging a situation (as well as a master of drawing hands).
The bashful tilt of the dove's head is PERFECT! In the hands of a lesser artist, this moment could have been a B continuity scene, instead it turned out to be an A+.
A lot of dedication and love in this drawing.

It appears in my book on Disney's Nine Old Men.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pinocchio Premiere

It is a mystery to me why Disney's Pinocchio wasn't as big of a box office hit (in its first release), if not bigger, than Snow White had been. The film deserved that. So it wasn't a romantic love story, but just like its preceding feature film, there is so much depth, darkness as well as happiness in Pinocchio. Every single character is interesting, and there are sequences even Hitchcock couldn't have imagined. Luckily time has been very kind to this cinematic masterpiece, and today it ranks as one of the greatest films of all time.
Pinocchio premiered at the Center Theatre in New York on February 7, 1940.

The theater's lobby showcased a full scale exhibition on the making of the film.

A magazine article which focuses on the movie's voice talents.

A gorgeous background painting from the film's opening sequence. I don't know if this is a study or the final BG, but watercolor application and lighting are astonishing.

Look who seems to be lost in the crowd at Pinocchio's premiere in the lobby of the Center Theatre!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tease 4

One of Madame Mim's best acting moments, and one of my favorite Frank Thomas scenes.
The witch is setting the rules for the wizard's duel against Merlin: "(Rule one: no mineral or vegetable!) Only animal. Rule two: No make believe things like, oh...pink dragons and stuff. Now..."
Quite a while ago rough drawings from this scene were offered for sale all over the place. It took me years to collect most of the important ones, which can all be seen in sequence in my upcoming book on Disney's Nine Old Men.
This scene showcases yet again Frank's virtuosity as an actor. Mim first gets into a thinking pose, as she dreams up the next rule. Wild gesturing follows, emphasizing the "outrageous" idea of turning into a pink dragon.
This is the kind of work that still awes me and inspires me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More Liu Jiyou

These stunning paintings appear in a book on Chinese painters, which I recently purchased.
Beautiful brushwork and gorgeous watercolor textures. Liu Jiyou studied Western painting and incorporated its realism into his own work. His art is bold and delicate at the same time.
How about an animated film in this style? Now that would be something!!

More on Liu Jiyou's art here in these previous posts:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tease 3

I will be discussing this Maleficent scene by Marc Davis in my upcoming book The Nine Old Men.
Most key drawings will be shown in sequence. It is interesting to see how rough this scene is drawn, compared to Marc's drawing approach in his earlier work on the character, which is very clean and tied down. My guess is that by this time in production his clean up crew had become very familiar with the character, allowing Marc to draw loose and get through his scenes quicker.
Evil power combined with sophisticated elegance!