Friday, January 31, 2014

Robin Hood & Little John in Drag II

I have posted some material on these two characters dressed as gypsies before, but I have more to show. The doodle sheets above and below were drawn by Milt Kahl. He is trying to find entertaining solutions to the problem of fitting a dress on the body of a fox and a bear.
Beautiful sketches!

This model sheet includes most of Milt's key drawings from a scene in which Little John reacts to the arrival of Prince John's royal coach:  "Now how about that for luck! It's only a circus, a peanut operation." During the dialogue the bear is tying the bonnet's strings into a knot, which is a lovely piece of business. At the end of the scene he turns to Robin screen left.

Ollie Johnston tries a different costume arrangement.

Frank Thomas and Milt Kahl research ideas for interesting looking outfits.

More of Milt's designs. At one point he attempted to keep the ears in the open, but their shapes interfered with the front bow. 

Here is the link to an earlier post about these two characters as gypsies:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I have had these prints for a while, I hope you enjoy them.
Woolie Reitherman, Ken Anderson, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas meet up with some of the Robin Hood Disneyland characters outside of the animation building. I would guess 1973.

Below are a couple of pics taken on April 9, 1978.
The University of Southern California chapter of the Delta Kappa Alpha National Cinema Fraternity recognizes the "Nine Old Men" with the "Pioneer in Film" award.
From left to right:
Les Clark, Eric Larson, Ollie, Ken Anderson, Woolie, Ward Kimball, Frank, Marc Davis and the boss.
(John Lounsbery had passed away in 1976, and Milt Kahl had moved to San Francisco).

Singer Peggy Lee attended the event, here she is congratulating Ollie.
(Eric Larson animated the character Peg from Lady & the Tramp to Lee's voice more than two decades before)

I believe this photo was taken at the restaurant on the upper floor of the animation building, early 1970s. From left to right:
Ken Anderson, Milt Kahl, Card Walker (Disney top executive) and John Hench (Disney background painter and Imagineer).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Line, Shape and Form

…all of those in a magnificent balance for this moment from the film 101 Dalmatians. 
"Melody first my dear, and THEN the lyrics."
So many graphic lines are directed toward the main business of Roger's finger touching Anita's nose. Her long neck, the lines in her hair and the curve of her nose clearly point to the subtle contact about to happen. Roger's whole body leans forward toward Anita's face, and every line, from folds in the fabric to his basic anatomy, leads the viewer's eye to the specific area of interest.
Then there is the background's layout. Look at how those lines defining the wooden edge of the sofa seem to move upward toward the characters' heads. 
(I love the perspective change of the sofa's right side, it's flat and dimensional all at the same time!)
There is an absolute unity between the shape language in the background and in the characters. It feels like ONE artist is responsible for the entire image. 
We all know that Disney animation is about family entertainment, but vintage stuff like this is also high art.
Milt Kahl animated both characters in the scene. Below is an out-take rough drawing of Roger. 

One of Milt's countless masterpieces. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Reluctant Dragon

I was thrilled to discover the other day that NetFlix has started streaming a beautiful HD version of Disney's Reluctant Dragon. This is the whole feature, which includes the Robert Benchley backstage tour as well as the Goofy short How to Ride a Horse and The Reluctant Dragon.
The photo below shows John P. Miller, who storyboarded the famous Baby Weems section of the film. It looks like Miller is still at Disney's Hyperion studio, working on designs for Pinocchio and Dumbo.

Here is a link to a previous post on Baby Weems:

A couple of Miller's charming story sketches.

Baby Weems meets Albert Einstein in this Miller sketch and the maquette from Joe Grant's character model department.

Ward Kimball is featured in this story sketch for his live action appearance.

A poster from the 1941 movie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

French Sketchbook

I wasn't quite sure what kind of stuff I might post today. Then I noticed a pile of old sketchbooks in a corner of my studio. One of them dates back to 1994 , when I spent some time in Paris to work with Disney's French studio on the Mickey short Runaway Brain. My fabulous apartment was on the Ile Saint- Louis with walking distance to just about everything. Occasionally I would take my sketchbook and walk along the Seine to the beautiful Musee d'Orsay. I sketched sculptures I saw  along the way, and then inside the museum. 
One day I noticed a little booth on the museum's lower level. A sign said that a special discount was available for professional artists who wanted to purchase an annual pass. So I told the lady behind the booth's open window, that I'd like to buy an annual pass. She asked me if I had any documentation that would indicate I was a "professional artist". I quickly pulled up my official Disney ID and explained that I was an animator. The lady held the ID card in front of her, paused for a moment, and then….busted up laughing, out loud!!  She literally couldn't control herself. I thought: What the…. when she turned to her buddy in the back of the booth and showed him my Disney ID. Then HE laughed hysterically, with her!
I stood there like an idiot, not knowing what's going on. So the lady finally calmed down to inform me  that the discount was only available to REAL artists who paint in oil or do watercolors. (My French was good enough to understand what she was saying). I briefly tried to explain that animators study art, too….but she wouldn't have it. I walked away fuming (she was still chuckling), but suddenly had a thought: Looking at my Disney ID the lady probably thought I worked at Disneyland Paris, and that I held a job as a costumed character, like Winnie the Pooh or Grumpy. 

Here are a few pages from my Paris sketchbook.

Go here, if you want to check out pages from my (mostly) Rome sketchbook:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jungle Book Studies

Ken Anderson and background painter Al Dempster had something to do with these color studies for the Jungle Book. The beautiful cel above of Mowgli and Bagheera is a Milt Kahl drawing.
There are endless ways to portray the Indian Jungle, including this early version by color stylist Walt Peregoy:

As you know, Walt Disney opted for a light, airy jungle, since the story included mostly comedic sequences. Dark, mysterious backgrounds would have worked for a more dramatic story treatment.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Test Screening

Looks like Walt Disney is getting ready for a screening in one of his sweatbox theaters on the Burbank studio lot. The photo was probably taken in the early to mid 1940s. 
And look at the audience, men and women in equal numbers. I wonder what film they are about to watch.

Friday, January 17, 2014

John Lounsbery Characters

There certainly isn't enough art by animator John Lounsbery shown on this blog.
This unassuming man never gave any filmed interviews, he never wrote a book, as a matter of fact, he just wasn't into self-promotion. Lounsbery just focused on his work (and raising a family outside of Los Angeles). His contributions to Disney Animation were enormous. His amazing performance of Ben Ali Gator in Fantasia's Dance of the Hours sequence made him a break out animator at the studio.
The photo shows him animating Willie the Giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk, around 1947. 
Here are just a few examples of characters who came to life through Lounsbery's touch.

A great key drawing of the policeman arguing with the professor in front of the zoo's entrance from the film Lady & the Tramp. Look at how Lounsbery feels that strong pull. Every line defining the professor helps to support that pull. Amazing!

Jasper from 101 Dalmatians threatens to kill the puppies. Beautiful definition of fabric in his jacket, and great feeling of stretched skin on his face.

A few key drawings of Sir Pelinore's dainty walk from The Sword in the Stone.
Frank and Ollie said that Louns could come closer to Milt Kahl's type of drawing than anybody else.
I think this sheet proves that point.

A couple of key drawings from The Aristocats, involving the mouse Roquefort, Scat Cat and Italian Cat. Great staging in both of them.

More on John Lounsbery in this earlier post: