Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Walt and Ludwig

As a kid I've always loved TV shows in which Walt appeared alongside this befuddled character, Professor Ludwig van Drake. With Paul Frees' voice work and terrific animation by some of Disney's best artists, Ludwig discussed a variety of topics such as education and how color television works.
Two shows from 1961 stand out to me, An Adventure in Color and Kids is Kids. I think that Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas had the best handle on the character, there scenes are alive and very entertaining.

For more on Ludwig van Drake, go to this previous post:

Friday, April 3, 2015


Joe Grant sure knew how to infuse the right amount of evil when he designed Snow White's Queen and Witch characters. His drawings were hardly changed at all for the film, I sure love all that dramatic black. (I remember having to argue to include the color black in the design for Jafar. Early versions showed him in fifty shades of red. Really, red only)
I love all of these sketches, they are graphically sound and scary in a groundbreaking way.

This scene was animated by a very young John Lounsbery.

Quick Mushka update:
Thanks again to everybody for your interest in the project. I started to hire only a few people, but as production continues, I will need more help. Please, keep your contacts in the comment section, so I can revisit portfolios and reels as time goes by.
The internship program will happen in connection with CTN, I will have more on that soon.
I apologize, but artists need to be local.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sir Giles

I've always loved Sir Giles as a personality from the 1941 film The Reluctant Dragon.
Skinny characters like him or Ichabod Crane have this wonderful gangly, lanky quality in their movements. When I look at the strong simplicity of Sir Giles' design, I think he would be a great character for any young animator to experiment with. His head is made up of two main masses, the cranium, and the very flexible mouth/jaw configuration. Squash and Stretch galore!

Fred Moore did some of his key scenes. I have no idea why somebody colored this rough key drawing...but it sure looks pretty! Joe Grant worked on the story for this short, and these drawings kind of resemble him.

Some of these sketches, if not all of them were offered at Howard Lowery's auctions, and I wished I had bid on them. They are stunning!! Long live Fred Moore!

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Lecture on The Nine Old Men

Some of you might know that I have been working on a book with Focal Press on the art of Disney's Nine Old Men. Right now it looks like the release date will be this coming August. (The subtitle has been changed to "Disney's Great Animators")
It has been super exciting to analyze their work again, and to show how individual each of their contributions were. Their work methods, drawing styles as well as their tastes contrasted each other immensely.

On this coming Saturday, April 4, I will give an online talk showcasing the work of the Nine Old Men. As usual this will happen in connection with my friends at Virtual Animators. 
I will also talk about these guys as people, the way I met them and stayed in touch. John Lounsbery and Les Clark had already passed away when I came to LA, but I did get to know members of their families. 
Aside from talking about the brilliant work of this group of artists, I will share with you anecdotes, because some fun stuff occured when I spent time with them. A visit with Kimball was never just a visit, I always drove home laughing my head of. 

If you are interested in joining me for the talk, here is the link to Virtual animators:

Here is a pic of Kimball and me, he is showing me a huge folder filled with studio gag drawings by himself, Fred Moore and Walt Kelly. Amazing!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Michelangelo...Yes, Michelangelo

As an animator, how can you NOT be fascinated and overwhelmed by the masters of the Italian Renaissance?! During that time the depiction of the human figure started to move, it has rhythm and life. As an art student I was utterly blown away by this Michelangelo sheet of anatomical studies for the Sistine Chapel. This is the Libyan Sibyl. She looks mighty masculine, because in those days only men modeled for artists. Michelangelo's observation is intense, he is searching for the truth under the model's skin. A triumph of human artistry. A piece of art that makes you weep.

Below the final painting from the Sistine Chapel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

King Louie by Frank Thomas

King Louie is briefly annoyed during the jungle jam session, when he notices that his sidekick "Flunkey" has joined in, taking some of the spotlight.
This nice cel from the scene is currently being offered at Heritage Auctions.

Frank did all 58 drawings for the scene, there are no in-betweens. Throughout Louie is bouncing up and down to the beat of the music, so the overall motion is pretty involved. Because if the amount of work, there was no time to tie down the drawings. That task went to Frank's assistant Dale Oliver, who traced the poses on to new sheets of paper with thin, sketchy black pencil lines.
Frank's drawings might not look as polished as you would expect, but they sure have a soul, and they communicate beautifully. I like the way Louie turns his head, as the upper cranium leads the move with the mouth unit following through. 
It's a great scene, completely alive!

More on King Louie in this previous post:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cranky Milt

This coming Sunday, March 22, is Milt Kahl's birthday.
He doesn't seem too happy in the photo with the way things are going on the film The Aristocats.
In the end he didn't like the movie very much, though he enjoyed animating Edgar, the butler and George Hautecourt, the old lawyer, less so Madame Bonfamille and the horse Frou Frou.
To me ALL of his work on the film is outstanding. Milt was way too professional to let a weak story line stand in the way of his creativity.

Here is his first major character for a Disney feature, followed by his last.