Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tease 2

This gorgeous Merryweather scene by Frank Thomas will be part of my book on The Nine Old Men. The most important key drawings will be shown in sequence.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Louis Prima

What a great photo montage with King Louie next to jazz musician and trumpeter extraordinaire Louis Prima, who also voiced the character. The Sherman brothers wrote the signature song "I wanna be like you!", and Richard Sherman still raves about Prima's vocal energy and improvisational quality he brought to the character and the song. The "scat dialogue" between him and Phil Harris as Baloo was Prima's idea.
If I would look at a concept like this one today, mixing American Jazz with (elements of) Kipling's Jungle Book, I would probably call it a bad idea. But works like gangbusters!

Hilarious concept sketches by Ken Anderson and a cel from a Frank Thomas scene.

Milt Kahl's early stunning animation. Yet Walt Disney asked for slightly larger eyes and more hair on the top of the character's head. Those changes were made by Milt's assistant Dave Michener.

A clean up model sheet of Louie's sidekick Flunkey, beautifully animated by Frank Thomas.

More on King Louie here:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ruthie Thompson

During the Legends Lunch a little over a couple of weeks ago I was happy to see a true Disney Legend, Ruthie Thompson. The first time I met Ruthie was five years ago, when she visited Disney Animation Studios, she had then just celebrated her 100th birthday. She truly validates the notion that most animation artists enjoy a long life. In this photo you are looking at a vivacious lady at 105.
Ruthie started at Disney in the Ink & Paint department during the production of Snow White. About a decade later she transferred to animation checking and scene planning, a department she would later supervise. Scene planning was very much involved in the technical aspects of multiplane scenes such as the flight over London in Peter Pan.
A while back I asked her what one one of her most challenging assignments might have been. She paused for a second and and said that the opening scene from Sleeping Beauty took a lot of brain work, since there were endless characters involved on endless cel levels.

How can you not love Ruthie Thompson ?!

Here is a link to a recent Vanity Fair article, featuring Ruthie and other Ink & Paint artists:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming to a Bookshelf near You...

...toward the end of next month:
- Hardcover, almost 400 pages
- Hundreds of drawings by the Nine Old Men, most of them never published before
- Insight into their creative process
- Stories about their artistic triumphs as well as occasional failures and disappointments
- Profiles of each animator's career achievements
- and much more...

It turned out to be the kind of book I wished I had when I was an art student.
Preorder it from Amazon, you'll have an early Christmas:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wart as a Sparrow

In this scene Wart (as a sparrow) seems for a moment smitten with Madame Mim (as a beautiful Girl). Why Mim looks like a younger version of Madame Medusa here becomes clear when you consider that Milt Kahl designed and animated  both ladies.
He also set the final look for Wart (as a human as well as a sparrow.)

Here are a couple of wonderful, rough doodle sheets, which the ink & paint department used for early color model ideas.

More on Wart's original design in this earlier post:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Disney Mix II

You can find great Disney art within many stages of film production. This color sketch by Mary Blair for Alice in Wonderland is amazing to me. She uses the most intense red as the main backdrop without making it look garish. Unbelievable!

I love this publicity drawing for the short film The Whalers. The basic staging element is a dynamic triangle. Donald's and Mickey's attitudes are as usual opposite. What beautiful poses on the characters, and what great inking!

A spooky mood study for Night on Bald Mountain. Twisted perspective and eerie lighting result in a nightmarish atmosphere.

A charming pen/ink/watercolor study by Mel Shaw for The Fox and the Hound. Looking at it, the overall style is somewhat like my film Mushka. Sketchy, lots of white and selective color.

A beautiful record cover for Cinderella, inspired if not painted by Mary Blair.
Perfect color choices!

Art Deco in motion. A film frame from the end of the Pastoral sequence. Pure elegance!

Albert Hurter's studies show the interaction between Snow White and the Huntsman. These early drawings already show attitudes and acting.

What a brilliant concept for a candle holder. The poor guy is definitely concerned about the approaching flame over his head. A prop study for Pinocchio.

And because we love her so much, another Mary Blair concept piece for Alice in Wonderland.
Wonderful scale, helped by the tiny cow and Alice's head covered by half a tree.

Monday, August 17, 2015


What a weekend!


I have no idea why I did this...

With Kathryn Beaumont-Levine during our lunch.

With Roy Patrick Disney, his wife Sheri and Roger Viloria.

With Ron and John.

With Dick Van Dyke and Sybil Byrnes, daughter of Milt Kahl.

Check out this LA Times article: