Monday, December 28, 2015

King Triton

I just realized that during my years of blogging I haven't posted anything yet on King Triton from The Little Mermaid. Actually I didn't think I had kept any such material, so to my surprise a bunch of first pass rough animation scenes just surfaced in a far corner of my archive. 
In this scene Triton is pretty darn mad at Ariel, who seems to be smitten by this human guy. His dialogue goes: "(Humans are) spineless, savage, harpooning fish eaters..."
It was fun to animate, because his emotions are very strong here. One thing I remember having just figured out was how to treat Triton's hair and beard. Earlier my first scene with him showed his hair resting on his back and shoulders, and that just didn't look like an under water scene at all. 
In order to achieve that effect, hair needs to float as it reacts to under water currents.

These are the key drawings from the scene, but I did do all of the in-betweens as well. I recall in those days we had either very few or possibly no rough in-betweeners, a cost cutting measure.
I never felt comfortable though "selling" my rough animation as a pose test, which looks like a slide show version of your scene, with missing in-betweens. So I ended up doing my own assistant work, which really didn't take very long since these drawings were loose and sketchy. 
For these scans I pushed the contrast a little, the lines on the 12 field paper are a very light blue. It is freakish to see that the paper has aged, but this stuff is now a few decades old...crazy!
Ahhh...the good old days...but actually they are still good, since I am still doing this sort of work.

One thing that puzzles me about this scene is that I didn't draw my precise graphite lines on top of each pose as per my usual work method. Instead I used new sheets of paper and tied down the character in a clean manner, so my clean up assistants would have an easier time doing their work.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

From Story Sketch to Final Frame

I talked about this scene before from Lady and the Tramp. Tramp, the salesman, is trying to convince the Beaver at the zoo how useful Lady's muzzle would be as a genuine log puller.
I just came across the story sketch,  animator Milt Kahl used as a springboard for his animated performance. Amazing to see that the idea for the characters' staging remains the same, just much improved.
The fact that the Beaver's body ends up in the air, held by his tail, adds a nice comic touch. And again Milt finds a way to connect both characters graphically by streamlining Tramp's pose and lowering his rear body.
I am always fascinated to find out how inspirational the story sketches were to the animators and how much they changed to make the scene their own.
I'll post another example shortly from Bedknobs and Broomsticks...different situation, the animator had to start almost from scratch because of a weak story sketch.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Greetings

This little (actually tiny) sketch is an outtake from a musical montage sequence in the film where we see Sarah and Mushka bond. This was sketch A, sketch B showed the tiger pushing Sarah into a deep snow bank in revenge.
The situation didn't make the cut, but I am happy to say that the sequence is completely animated to a stunning Sherman tune.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bernard Garbutt Bird Sketches

Disney animal expert Bernard Garbutt has a sensational sense for observation. There isn't a creature he couldn't draw well. Here are pages from his sketchbook showing a variety of birds, sketched at a country fair in the early 1940s. This stuff is soo good!

More on Garbutt here:

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Heritage Auctions continues to offer absolutely stunning, rare animation art, and I look forward to each new selection of artwork. I wished I would have made a bid on the piece pictured above. At first glance it looks like one of many Fred Moore girl sketches. When I took a closer look, I couldn't help but be reminded of a painting by French painter Paul Gauguin. Call me crazy to make this connection, but Moore's fully bodied proportions as well as his choice of color just might have been inspired by this Gauguin painting depicting two Tahitian women.
I understand that Fred was not interested in art history or attending art classes at Disney for that matter. But look at the girl's expression. Her mood is serious and reflective like the woman on the right in Gauguin's painting. The color palette is very similar to the woman on the left.
Fred just might have seen this Gauguin painting in an art book.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sword in the Stone Art

Toward the end of the year, here is another post featuring artwork from Disney's The Sword in the Stone. I love this beautifully crafted book which was created for the beginning of the film, as its opening pages begin to introduce the film's story.

The following story sketches by Bill Peet show again how closely the final production followed Peet's lead. Simple and so effective.

A couple of cel set ups from the film. The first one is an Ollie Johnston scene, the second one is by John Lounsbery.

Bill Peet's concepts of Wart in his oversized royal outfit.

A couple of great Milt Kahl rough drawings depicting the same scenario on a color model cel.

Here are links to a couple of previous posts about this film:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

...From Walt Disney and Staff

Walt Disney Productions' Christmas cards were often very beautiful. The artwork was produced by the studio's animators, designers and background artists. Usually the main illustration showed what production played in movie theaters that season, or what could be expected in the following year.
The card above with a great Small World image on the inside was sent out in 1966, Walt had just passed away.

A few favorites covering one decade.