Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Two villains, one from the film Cinderella, the other one from Robin Hood. These two scenes have something in common, both characters are eavesdropping. Lucifer -animated by Ward Kimball- is pressing his ear against the Stepmother's bedroom door in hopes of hearing more orders for Cinderella, something he obviously enjoys.
The Sheriff of Nottingham's pose -by John Lounsbery (with a little help from Milt Kahl) - is almost identical, as he tries to listen in on a conversation between Friar Tuck and Otto. It is highly likely that they are talking about Prince John's taxes.
Both animators chose to flatten one side of their character's head, the one which is pressing against the hard surface of the door. To show soft material like fur reacting to a hard surface like this is very convincing and satisfying to see.
The pupils are looking upwards in anticipation of any revealing news.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Walrus

I believe the character sketches on this pre-animation model sheet of the Walrus from Alice in Wonderland are by Joe Rinaldi. They are terrific and scream out to be animated.
However there is one thing that's been puzzling me: How come that the animal specific tusks were left out in the design?
It's almost like drawing an elephant without a trunk, or a cow without an utter. By omitting the tusks the character ends up looking a bit more generic, this could be a Disney version of a bear or a dog.
When you look at the guy below, you can see what I am talking about.

John Tenniel's original illustrations for the Alice books show an anthropomorphic walrus whose design is definitely based on a real one.

A couple of production cels, showing Disney's high standards when it comes to character colors.

Ward Kimball animated most if not all of the Walrus' scenes. Here he runs away from the Carpenter, who just found out that his buddy ate all the oysters. "The time has come..."
This is your typical cartoon take off. The character is running in place in anticipation of the  actual get away. Yet Kimball manages to add a lot of personality to this boisterous movement.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More Fritz Hug Animals

Time for another post featuring one of my favorite animal artists, Fritz Hug. Both his sketchy as well as his more rendered work show this man's passion for animals. Mammals, birds, even insects are fascinating to him, and he succeeds in finding poses and expressions that reveal the animal's particular characteristic and personality.
You'll find quite a few posts with art from this Swiss artist on this blog, here is the link to the first one:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Gaston

How big of a jaw? That was the question I wrestled with during the character design phase for Gaston. I had preferred a more caricatured, villain looking version with a big jaw. When I was asked to go into a different direction and "beautify" Gaston, I drew the following portraits in protest, almost angry. I was thinking: Is this what you want? You can't be serious. TV soap opera looks for a Disney villain?
This type of a design will only result in stiff, lifeless animation.

So I continued doodling poses that still showed some oomph, some physicality that would help me to get a hold of the character.

One of the animators from Team Gaston was Joe Haidar, who did some terrific work on the character. He just sent me an image of a drawing I gave him way back.

These are clean up drawings (by the talented Kathy Bailey) based on my animation. As you can see, I am fighting to invent entertaining expressions while trying to keep this dude handsome at the same time.

More of Kathy's work over my roughs.

These are thumbnail sketches for a scene during "Gaston's proposal". Here he is referring to what kind of children he and Belle are going to have.
"We'll have six or seven." Belle: "Dogs?" "No Belle, strapping boys like me!"
I drew these poses off a TV monitor while I was studying the live action reference.

What a challenge this character was. A villain who does't look, but acts like one. An unusual but interesting concept.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gaston Model Sheets

Probably the most difficult character I ever animated at Disney. A high degree of realism in the design as well as motion is never easy to bring to life. Here is some material I found in my Xerox archive.
The development sketch above still shows a mustache on Gaston's face, an idea that was tossed out. No facial hair on the guy, I was told.

Studying bodybuilders' anatomy.

A couple of construction sheets for Gaston's head. If you can't draw this from any angle, I think your animation will lack range.

A whole body turn-around. Not easy to do after having animated less than five scenes. But production management always needs these sorts of things right away, even though you are still in the process of discovering aspects about the character's appearance.

What I love about Gaston these days is his "after life",  particularly as a "meet and greet character" at Walt Disney World. There are the most hilarious encounters with guests on Youtube.  Here is one of those:

For my Gaston pencil tests go here:

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Trouble with Cels that the paint won't stick forever to the celluloid sheet. It's heartbreaking to see these Disney cels in a less than perfect condition. If you are a collector and have experienced deterioration on your treasured animation cels, you know how stressful it can be to see these hand made masterpieces go down hill. Tom Sito once said that if you own a cel you own a heartbeat of the movie.
Of course there are folks who restore the paint loss. I like it when the loose paint chips are pulverized, and with special added liquid, then re-applied to the cel. This kind of restoration process is an art in itself.

Nothing wrong with these two cels from Robin Hood. I am just adding them because they show how Disney tries out various color models before deciding on the final color combination. The last image represents the way Friar Tuck and King Richard appear in the film.

Some images Heritage Auctions