graphite + oil

27 03 2009

as I pointed out in earlier posts, nearly all the backgrounds of disney’s BAMBI don’t exist anymore. what you can still find in the disney ANIMATION RESEARCH LIBRARY ARL are probably all the original layouts. in the old days they were all done in graphite, very soft B2 – B6, on vellum, different from the way layouts were created during my working time in animation, in blue on normal paper. probably the reason for that was – someone took the name blueprint too literal, or the tracing for the BG-artists was easier, because the black pencil tracing lines were clearly visible on top of the blue. during the bambi days the tracing was done different anyway, – they were painting on glass, and a metal stylus was used for the tracing. you can clearly see the deep carved lines in the original vellum layouts.
following I arranged the layouts next to the recreated BG’s to study the work procedure during that project. interesting are the additional tonal sketches and the corrections made by the art director within the original layout.




© disney enterprises, inc




5 responses

27 03 2009
Michael Sporn

How infrequently we see anything like this. Thanks, Hans, for the display. I also wasn’t aware that any backgrouds were painted on glass. Certainly, ovelays for the multiplane camera were done on glass, but was that true of the Bgs as well? Astonishing.

from hans –
michael, about 90% of the BG’s were painted on glass. most of them were multiplane anyway. I guess only the last layer, some out of focus sky or forest
image would have been done on cardboard and mounted on the last glass-layer in the multiplane camera. but I am not sure about that. unfortunately nobody could
ever tell me. and – there was not just one simple overlay. there were up to 5, 6 layers. and they all had to match. not just in dimensions, in color as well. I saw color swatches especially prepared for the glass-layers. they had to compensate the thickness of the glass what resulted in a more greenish and darker color the lower you went down the levels in the multiplane camera stand. what a perfect technology, and that in the forties!

25 08 2010
lisa keene

Hi Hans,
this is a great website,
I just thought I would tell you what I know about these Bambi BG’s, I thought you may be interested. The first time I saw the glass plates, I think it was around ’83 and they were housed in a corrugated steal building where the ABC building is now in the far west corner where the grass is. A dark drafty building where the low level light showed the dust partials in the air. It really left and impression on me because Bambi is my all time favorite Disney film and I was shocked that they were treated so casually. I was surprised they weren’t all broken. I can’t remember what else was in the building but there was lots of other stuff.
Many of the BGs that were not multiplanes were of varying mediums. Of course the paint on the glass was oil but many were painted with watercolor or thinly with oil. It seemed that what ever the artist was more comfortable using it was just fine. We had to use these BGs to copy from and learn the technique so I was surprised that they weren’t all the same.
I suspect that often the glass plates were covered with a nuetal color, grey, so that when the glass moved over another plate nothing showed through a thinly painted level. We still did that when we painted on cel and oddly enough still do when we are on the computer. Also if the paint is thin on the sides of an area when ever that overlay level passed over the one below and the below level was dark the edges on the one above would appear to ghost when the camera lights would hit it, so it needed to be backed carefully. You see some of that especially in the opening shot.
Transferring the layout with a metal stylus was used with graphite paper turned downward and the layout used on top using the stylus so not to ruin the layout. If no graphite paper could be had we often made our own.

Anyway I’m sure you know all of this but I though if you hadn’t seen the old building where the glass plates were you might enjoy the story.
I hope you are well?

from hans –
thank you so much, lisa. it is so good to hear from you. I did not know some of the technical details you explain. but I think I was in that room or a similar one in 1979 when ERIC LARSON arranged a tour for andreas deja and me through the studio. of course I was most interested in the multiplane camera, that’s why we might have seen a bit more from that part. I remember the big ELLENSHAW glass-painting of aereal london from mary poppins stored careless in one corner dust covering it completely. I wonder where all that stuff is. you say you even used the old BG’s for learning reasons in those days. I hope someone finds them one day. to see only a few of these masterpieces in original would explain so much more about the artistic level of that film than my simple recreated BG’s. please be so kind and write these kind of memories down and publish them. even in our CG-age there are still lots of artists interested in the secrets of the past. thank you again, lisa. hope you are doing well too.

27 03 2009
matt dawson

Many thanks for sharing all this wonderful archive material! I’m so glad to have found your newer blog after really enjoying your inspirational book. It’s great to see the 50’s / 60’s Hubley materials… have you read “Cartoon Modern”…? Enough sycophancy…

Sorry but I’m a little unclear on how the metal stylus was used in the translation of the graphite layouts onto glass… They didn’t incise through the vellum and inscribe onto the glass did they. However it was done the preparatory layouts and final BG’s are masterpieces!

from hans –
good question, from what I have seen in glass paintings left in the studio, they apparently added a layer of a special fast drying and opaque color in grey on the glass within the areas to be painted on. grey, so there was no reflection below on the next glass level-surface. then the details were traced in the old fashioned way onto that priming coat. in some of the BG’s I restored I could see bits of that coating where they were a bit sloppy to scratch it off.

14 04 2009
fun virtual worlds

I didn’t know that the bg paintings for traditional cel animation were painted on glass in that period. I have always thought that its done on some transparent sheet/paper material for the multi-plane purpose. Its really a tedious process producing cel animation during those times.

5 07 2009

this is a beautiful website! thanks for sharing these wonderful disney images. i am 25, and still a HUGE fan of disney. the art looks even more amazing when you see them as still images like the ones you posted. thanks!

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