24 02 2014

I recently found the ‘finale’ for the TOONTOWN-sequence in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, a part of a storyboard that HARALD SIEPERMANN and I created in the summer of 1987 in the AMBLIN-studio on the UNIVERSAL-lot. it was never used in the film, – since our boards summed up to about 15 min of film the director, BOB ZEMECKIS, cut the sequence down to 45 seconds.


© amblin entertainment / universal pictures / disney enterprises, inc

die nibelungen

25 01 2014

the first film adaptation of the german epic poem DAS NIBELUNGENLIED from around 1.200 AD was done by legendary film director FRITZ LANG in two feature films – SIEGFRIED and DIE NIBELUNGEN, KRIEMHILD’S RACHE in the year 1924. only 90 years later I have started now visual development on an animated feature film project DIE NIBELUNGEN. HANNES RALL, who produced last year the animated short DAS KALTE HERZ, is writing the screenplay and will direct the film. financing for now comes from MFG film funding baden-wuerttemberg. we don’t have a finishing date yet but it might be a few years in production. I am excited to work on this epic project, it will be mostly traditional animation, the story is good and I can go visually wild, getting lost in the world of expressionistic painting. below some of my first designs.


© hans bacher + hannes rall

la peau de chagrin 2

18 01 2014

my first post about this masterpice is from 2008, here now a lot more and better quality screen captures – LA PEAU DE CHAGRIN, ZAGREB FILM from 1960. script dragutin vunak and tomislav butorac, directed and designed by VLADIMIR KRISTL, animated by zlatko grgic, backgrounds by zvonimir loncaric.

la peau de chagrin 1
la peau de chagrin 2
la peau de chagrin 3
la peau de chagrin 4
la peau de chagrin 5
la peau de chagrin 6
la peau de chagrin 7

© zagreb film

you are right

27 09 2013

birds 6a
birds 12a
birds 21a

if you believe these designs were from another axed disney animated film – you are right. more about it in the next post…

© disney enterprises, inc

down the drain

24 09 2013

fraidy 1

ANDREAS DEJA just posted his beautiful designs for the main characters on a project that was called FRAIDY CAT, and that was eventually shelved after the story had been systematically destroyed. when the story research group presented the rough 3 page treatment to me and aked me for my opinion, I thought first it was a continuation of 101 DALMATIANS. it was a charming crime story taking place in london of the sixties, a bit of HITCHCOCK’S ‘REAR WINDOW’ with animals. I told them it was the best treatment I read for a very long time and we should start immediately to develop it. what I did, andreas joined later. it was planned for CG, so I designed everything very stylized, a bit still remembering the look of another shelved project only a few months prior to that – WILD LIFE. the original author was apparently not good enough, another one was hired, and more followed – it went more and more down the drain. my interest followed, the charme was gone. well, I did not experience this for the first time – too bad. I still hear myself screaming in meetings, until I finally left. below some of my designs for the environment.

fraidy 2
fraidy 3
fraidy 5
fraidy 6
fraidy 7
fraidy 8
fraidy 9
friday 10
friday 11
fraidy 12

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 8

31 08 2013

mulan early design

one of my earliest hun-attack designs, probably from 1995

© disney enterprises, inc

milkweed ballerinas

30 08 2013

you can see here some of the dozens of screen-captures I used to recreate a background from disney’s FANTASIA, THE NUTCRACKER SUITE. it is my favorite segment of the 1940 released masterpiece. backgrounds from FANTASIA are extremely rare, so I ‘just’ needed to re-create one. that turned out to be one of the most difficult tasks, since it is not just a side pan with dozens of little milkweed ballerinas flying around, it is a multiplane scene as well. what means that the different levels move in different speeds. anyway – it took me a while, and I had to paint a lot additionally. below is the result

milkweed ballerinas recr

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 7

10 08 2013

the REFLECTION-song in disney’s MULAN was much longer in an early version what was storyboarded by DEAN DEBLOIS. the shorter and final version as it is in the film was boarded by CHRIS SANDERS. below are DEAN’S boards.


© disney enterprises, inc

nasty canasta

25 06 2013

NASTY CANASTA is the villain in one of my favorite BUGS BUNNY shorts, BARBARY COAST BUNNY. the cartoon, released in july 1956, was directed by CHUCK JONES, animation by ABE LEVITOW, RICHARD THOMPSON and KEN HARRIS, layouts by ROBERT GRIBBROEK, backgrounds PHILIP DE GUARD. below some scene captures.

barbary coast bunny comp

© WB

mulan findings 6

16 06 2013

during the pre-production of disney’s MULAN several amazing artists worked in the visual development team, PAUL FELIX was one of them. he always created the most stunning black+white pencil-’paintings’, in his own style – very designed and stylized. he did not mind that I added some color to his black+white jewels, following the stylization in his drawings I wanted to test a different look in color as well. paul worked ( and still works ) after MULAN as a production designer at disney and created the most beautiful artwork for several animated feature films.

felix mulan 1
felix mulan 3
felix mulan 2

© disney enterprises, inc


10 05 2013

so far I guess I have recreated more than one hundred backgrounds from disney’s BAMBI. you probably know that only a few originals from the film are left because most of the scenes where shot in levels with the MULTIPLANE-camera, had to be painted in oil on glass, and after the shots were successful some poor guy had to scrape off the master-paintings from the glass. glass was rare during WWII and had to be reused. the recreated BG’s below were seen the last time in original around 1941/42. the first one is about one third of the full length of the opening pan of the film, shot in 8 levels to create the feel of depth.

bambi comp 3 A
BAmbi 9027
BAmbi 22054
bambi CCC62
BAmbi 11164
bambi A008a

© disney enterprises, inc

who killed cock robin?

2 05 2013

‘Who killed Cock Robin? I, said the Sparrow, with my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin.’ – this is the first verse of the 1744 published rhyme in TOMMY THUMB’S PRETTY SONG BOOK. the DISNEY SILLY SYMPHONY with the same title was released on june 26, 1935. DAVID HAND directed the short, the main characters – COCK ROBIN ( BING CROSBY ) and the MAE WEST – like JENNY WREN were designed by JOE GRANT. there are some additional hollywood star caricatures of that period, like a cuckoo bird – HARPO MARX, and the KEYSTONE COPS.

who killed cock robin 2
who killed cock robin

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 5

29 03 2013

here is some more visual development artwork for disney’s MULAN. it was done sometime early 1994 before I joined the team


© disney enterprises, inc

kem weber

17 03 2013

kem weber

KEM WEBER, 1889 – 1963, born in berlin, germany, was a furniture- and industrial designer, an architect, art director and teacher. his first name KEM is the short for his full name KARL EMANUEL MARTIN. before he enrolled at the school of decorative arts in berlin in 1908, where he studied with BRUNO PAUL, he was trained as a cabinet maker. already in 1910 he became involved in the construction of the german pavilion at the the brussels world fair. after graduating in 1912 kem worked for the german government on a display for the san francisco PANAMA PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION in 1915. to supervise the project he was sent to san francisco and was stranded there after WW1 ( 1914 – 1918 ) erupted. while teaching in santa barbara, california, kem opened his own design studio, became a U.S.citizen in 1924, and headed to L.A. as an art director for barker bros. furniture. from 1927 on he also designed modern sets for hollywood movies and private residences in his own studio. in 1934 his AIRLINE CHAIR became famous.

1930s Art Deco Kem Weber Airline Chairs

kem weber’s design style of POST ART DECO and MODERN STREAMLINE DESIGN got the attention of walt disney who made weber the principle architect for the new disney studios in burbank in the late thirties. kem designed the whole look of the new studio, inclusive all the furniture and the interior architecture. the very specific desks, like the animation desks, layout-, BG- and checking desks, as well as the director’s- and ink&paint desks, are not just brilliant designed in their functionality, they look stunning as well. weber’s design influence became almost iconic with the disney look of the late 30s, he even developed a very special font to be used throughout the studio.

disney studio logistic
kem weber disney 1
kem weber disney 2
kem weber disney 3

when the new disney studio opened in december 1994 his influence was still visible everywhere, in the interior architecture and furniture, and even the KEM WEBER FONT was visible everywhere. kem weber’s furniture pieces from the old studio, like all different desks and armchairs have become collector’s treasures all over the animation community.

kem weber fornt
anim.desk weber

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 4

14 02 2013

this is the color script for one of the first sequences in disney’s MULAN that went into production – the song sequence I’LL MAKE A MAN OUT OF YOU. the head of background in the florida studio BOB STANTON painted the thumbnails

mulan color script MAN

© disney enterprises, inc

corto maltese

25 01 2013

HUGO EUGENIO PRATT, june 15, 1927 – august 20, 1995, was an Italian comic strip artist who combined strong storytelling with extensive historical research. like his most popular creation, CORTO MALTESE, whose stories first appeared from 1970 on, pratt was a restless world traveller all his life. born in rimini, italy, he spent most of his childhood in venice, then moved with his parents to ethiopia. back to italy he became part of the VENICE GROUP, an association of writers and artists, one of the members – DINO BATTAGLIA. together with them he worked on several comic strip series until because of poor work conditions for comic strip artists in post war italy he moved with a few others to argentine in 1949, where he created numerous comic series for argentine magazines. then pratt taught for a while at an art school in sao paolo, brazil, until in 1959 le left for london to contribute his work to war picture libraries. he briefly moved back to argentine, but settled finally from 1962 on in europe, first in milan, italy, then from 1970 to 1984 in france, later in lausanne, switzerland where he died in 1995 of cancer.

pratt at work

pratt is considered to be one of the greatest comic artists, who cited ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, JOSEPH CONRAD, FENIMORE COOPER and JACK LONDON as influences, along with cartoonists WILL EISNER and MILTON CANIFF. pratt’s cult series protagonist, CORTO MALTESE, an anti-hero sailor-adventurer world-traveler, takes the reader to the most fascinating places in the world, from the WWI-era pacific islands and their smugglers and pirates to dramatic events during the russian civil war after the october revolution and the spanish civil war.

corto maltese side
corto 2
corto pratt orig.1976

one of pratt’s stories, CORTO MALTESE IN SIBERIA from 1975, has been translated to the big screen as a traditional animated feature film. LA COUR SECRETE DES ARCANES released in september 2002 in france. directed by PASCAL MORELLI and with stunning backgrounds by FREDERIC BLANCHARD, GISELLA GIAMPIETRO, LUCIE TREMBLAY, OLIVIER VATINE and JEAN-FRANCOIS MIGNAULT, creates a believable ‘pratt-world’ with all his characters come ‘alive’. it must have been a challenge to go from comic to animation. it shows in some parts of the film, – what works in a graphic novel doesn’t necessarily work in film. but, compared to a lot of other animation, this film is a visual masterpiece. below some of the artwork.

1corto poster
corto maltese 1
corto maltese 2
corto maltese 3
corto maltese 4
corto maltese 5
corto maltese 6
corto head 2
corto head constr.1

© hugo pratt / ellipse animation / canal+

big day

24 01 2013

I just found these historic color-slides hidden with 1000s others in one of my slide boxes. it was a big presentation in the disney studio that day, sometime in the fall in 1995 – the first presentation of the style designs for MULAN. we had mounted on boards some of the older paintings together with the latest look. that was as far as I remember the meeting where I was asked by some higher ranks if I could add a bit more detail to my designs, they looked too empty, the audience might think disney could not afford more elaborate backgrounds. oh well…

1mulan present.1995c
mulan present.1995a
mulan present.1995d
mulan present.1995e
mulan present.1995f

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 3

13 01 2013

mulan title+poster

you probably remember the MULAN-poster, the red-one on the left .this version was used in the US and in europe, other versions were developed for the rest of the world – here you can see 2 alternatives for asia. FRED TIO and his designers in disney publications created the designs. I remember the presentation meeting, wow, I could not believe my eyes. stunning! it could not be better! but not everybody was excited, for some of the executives the motif and the execution was not ‘disney’ enough. it was a fight. fortunately the poster was chosen and became a huge success. the cover for the follow-up vhs-cassette ( at that time there was no DVD yet ) is another story, less nice.
anyway, the dragon was from the beginning the ‘leitmotif’, I developed the first one for the emperor’s seal. for internal use I came up with a preliminary logo as header for our artwork with a more stretched dragon. that dragon made it into the final logo. for a while I was involved in the search for that logo, a typical lettering and even the title. in the very beginning it was FA-MULAN, as you can see we had several very different titles and chose the simple short ‘MULAN’ in the end. a good choice.

mulan logos

funny coincidence – I live now for 2 years here in singapore. and in one of singapore’s many parks, the chinese garden, there is a HUA MULAN ( her original name ) sculpture.

Sculpture of Hua Mulan in Chinese Garden, Singapore

© disney enterprises, inc

mulan findings 2

10 01 2013

before I became the official production designer for disney’s MULAN in december 1994 a small team of visual development artists had explored all different artistic directions for a possible style of that project. some of them had nearly worked on and off for 2 years on that. it was a challenge, the chinese typical painting-look was very difficult to copy for the use in animation. it still was supposed to be a disney movie but the studio wanted to come up with a story-typical style for the new projects. it had been successfully done with HERCULES, ALADDIN and LION KING where art-historic and geographic elements had been combined and ‘disneyfied’. below a few of the hundreds of paintings and sketches from that early stage of development. some more will follow


© disney enterprises, inc

albert hurter

7 01 2013

albert hurter AA
albert hurter on pinocchio

ALBERT HURTER was the first visual development artist in the disney studio, most of characters and environments for the disney shorts in the thirties, the SILLY SYMPHONIES, but as well as for the features SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, FANTASIA and THE RELUCTANT DRAGON were designed by him. born in switzerland in 1883 he studied architecture in zurich and went then for seven years to an art academy in berlin. probably because of the dangerous situation and the beginning of WWI he left europe in 1914 and went to new york where he was introduced to the animation film industry. in the barre-bowers studio he worked on the MUTT & JEFF cartoons and became very fast well known for his amazing drawing talents. around 1930 he applied for work at the disney studio where he was disney’s VISUAL SKETCH ARTIST for more than a decade, drawing whatever came to his mind, playing with the ideas of a new story and working on films they would be produced long after his death, like PETER PAN and LADY AND THE TRAMP. I am sure that he introduced the disney artists to european masters like HEINRICH KLEY, WILHELM BUSCH and the caricature artists of the SIMPLIZISSIMUS. in 1942 he died of a weak heart, and seven years later a book HE DREW AS HE PLEASED was pubished, put together by TED SEARS, one of the story artists hurter had worked with. the book has about 700 of hurter’s sketches throughout his years at disney, and a lot of them have always been my favorites. I post them below in a bigger size.

michael sporn has posted the complete book in 2 parts on his blog – you can find it here and here.

hurter book

© albert hurter and disney enterprises, inc


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