legends 2

30 04 2009

JOE GRANT was born may 15, 1908 in new york city. his father worked for one of randolph hearst’s newspapers, so it was natural that joe started in the same business. he became pretty successful with his celebritry caricatures beginning of the 1930s for the LOS ANGELES RECORD. walt disney was a big fan of his work and asked his artists to copy joe’s style for the characters in a 2 1/2 min ‘PARADE OF THE NOMINEES’ in the 1932 OSCAR presentation. it featured MICKEY MOUSE for the first time in color! pretty soon, in 1933, disney hired joe grant who designed as his first job all the celebrity characters in MICKEY’S GALA PREMIERE. by the mid-thirties he was in charge of the character development department at disney and every single character and model sheet had to be approved by him. for SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS he created the queen/witch, he co-wrote DUMBO and was responsible for the story development of FANTASIA and PINOCCHIO. in 1949 he left the studio and started his own ceramic tile and business card business. it took until 1989 when he returned to disney to work on all the feature films until his death in may 2005.


in a later post I will have some more about joe grant.
following are two pictures, with him, walt disney and dick huemer during FANTASIA, and one from a christmas party in 2003 with ollie johnston and franck thomas.



© disney enterprises, inc



29 04 2009

following are some hand-outs I prepared for my students. in most of ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S films there is usually one or 2 sequences that stand out. like the dream sequences in SPELLBOUND, the desert plane attack in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, the shower sequence in PSYCHO or like in this case, THE BIRDS, the bird attack. I am not a big fan of his films in general, to me they look a bit static, too much rear-projection, because he did not want to go on location and preferred to shoot everything on a set. the whole set atmosphere often looks artificial, the use of tons of light create a lot of shadows and you really feel like on a set. then I prefer FILM NOIR, where nearly everything was done on location, with limited lights, because the budgets were so small. but – these few ‘master’-sequences in hitchcock’s films make them unforgettable. he worked with some of the best designers, like ROBERT BOYLE and SAUL BASS. BASS, who designed numerous film posters, for hitchcock’s films as well, was responsible for the PSYCHO shower murder. ROBERT BOYLE storyboarded nearly the whole BIRDS film. hitchcock preferred to have everything planned well, he said – when the storyboard was finished, the film was finished for him. during the shooting he didn’t even care to look through the camera. he could draw very well himself and prepared the boards himself in his erlier films. I think the following storyboard is a masterpiece in planning, there is a lot to learn from.






© universal pictures

cut up

28 04 2009





© bilderfabrik

# 200

27 04 2009


for the 200. post I have selected some of GUSTAF TENGGREN’S beautiful designs for disney’s PINOCCHIO. he got the inspiration for the village from the german town of ROTHENBURG.






© disney enterprises, inc

legends 1

26 04 2009

Image by Joe Grant, © Jennifer Grant Castrup

Image by Joe Grant, © Jennifer Grant Castrup

Image by Joe Grant, © Jennifer Grant Castrup

Image by Joe Grant, © Jennifer Grant Castrup

Image by Joe Grant, © Jennifer Grant Castrup


© joe grant
© disney enterprises, inc


25 04 2009





© disney enterprises, inc
© amblin/universal

midnight 2

23 04 2009


© bilderfabrik


22 04 2009

richard williams introduced me to JOHN WATKISS in 1985 in london. immediately we started to have heated discussions about the arts, anatomy and the idiots around us. discussions with john were always extremely passionate, he did not tolerate anything mediocre. he invited me to his studio then, close to regents park, where he showed me some of his paintings and drawings. he is probably the best drawing artist I ever met in my life. it is not even depressing anymore to look at his work, because I know I would not even get close to that quality. at that time he worked for advertising, throwing storyboard sketches on paper that you wanted to frame. he never used any reference. for several years he had studied the old masters, leonardo da vinci and michelangelo, had analyzed anatomy to a degree, that he was able to draw any bodypart from any angle with every single muscle displayed. he showed me. I still have those sketches – scary.
they must have hated him in the advertising world, because he told them open what he thought of morons. he always said what he thought, what did not necessarily help him through his life.
we met next when I worked at AMBLIMATION in acton, where he conducted life drawing classes. after I joined disney in 1994 we lost touch until he sent his portfolio to the studio, I think in 1996. most of the artists who saw his drawings could not believe their eyes and he was hired immediately. he started to work on TARZAN and painted probably over one hundred big inspirational scenes of the jungle world, all in acrylics. sometimes one in two days. his office was next to mine and I had a chance to see all these masterpieces, from sketch to final artwork. the executives loved them and they ended up framed in their offices, especially in the the big dwarf- supported building. oh well…
today I wanna show some of his black/white sketches for the later big TARZAN paintings. in a future post there will be more of his work.






© disney enterprises, inc

midnight 1

21 04 2009


© bilderfabrik


20 04 2009

disney’s first animated feature film SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, released 1937, has some of the most beautiful watercolor backgrounds. only a few are left in the disney archives ARL. following are some of them recreated from DVD screen captured images.







© disney enterprises, inc

fischerkoesen 2

19 04 2009

last year in nov. I had a post about WEATHER-BEATEN MELODY, or VERWITTERTE MELODY, that the FISCHERKOESEN animationstudio near bonn in germany in the forties produced. here now are some scenes from advertising commercials the same studio did in the fifties.


© fischerkoesen


18 04 2009


some leftover studies for my book DREAM WORLDS

friday inspiration

17 04 2009

DALE NICHOLS, 1904 – 1995, was an american regional landscape artist, who illustarted a lot of books as well, some with woodcarvings. I accidentally found a few of his paintings years ago, and especially his snowy landscapes reminded me somehow of disney- and WB-short backgrounds of the forties and early fifties. maybe he influenced some of the designers.


© dale nichols

wood 2

16 04 2009


© bilderfabrik

alex nino 4

15 04 2009

here are some more inspirational designs ALEX NINO did during prproduction on disney’s MULAN.








© disney enterprises, inc

1939 BG styles

14 04 2009

the following recreated backgrounds are stylewise very interesting because they belong to DISNEY shorts from about the same production time. 1 – PRACTICAL PIG 1939, 2+3 – SOCIETY DOG SHOW 1939, 4 – BONE TROUBLE 1940.





the PRACTICAL PIG BG is very much in the tradition of the SILLY SYMPHONIES, like FARMYARD SYMPHONY or the other 2 later LITTLE PIG shorts. very soft watercolor backgrounds with broad shapes and very little detail. I am not sure who developed that style. when TENGGREN joined the studio in the late thirties, a lot of the silly symphonies had established the look already. SOCIETY DOG SHOW is one of my favorite shorts of that time with its amazing action towards the end. I remember when RICHARD WILLIAMS was planning the climax of his THIEF masterpiece, he referred a lot to the camera-angles in that short. the BG’s are painted similar in style and technique like the ones in SNOW WHITE, what premiered two years earlier. the BONE TROUBLE background is layout-wise interesting, but paintingstyle-wise it could belong to the shorts of the early thirties.

© disney enterprises, inc

comparison 1

13 04 2009

deep in some drawers I found accidentally a few xeroxed layouts from universal’s/amblin’s 1995 released BALTO. for some of them I had the corresponding reproduced BG’s. there is enough for another later post, here are the first 6 scenes. I added the artist’s name as far as I remember them…




© universal/AMBLIN


12 04 2009


I selected some trees from all different DISNEY feature films to show the incredible style variety coming just from one studio, over a period of about twenty years. the films are – SALUDOS AMIGOS ( aquarela do brasil ), BAMBI, SLEEPING BEAUTY, PETER PAN, MAKE MINE MUSIC ( peter and the wolf ), PAUL BUNYAN, 101 DALMATIANS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND. hopefully one day I can find such a variety in our depressing CG-era.









© disney enterprises, inc


11 04 2009

as I mentioned in some earlier post, the idea at disney was to have the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST story take place in the french LOIRE-area. there were some earlier locations like the black forest in southern germany and the neighbouring french alsace, but – maybe because of the french author CHARLES PERRAULT – everybody seemed to be happy with the loire area with its beautiful castles. that was the reason why a small team spent a few days there to get the right inspiration.
following is my BEAUTY AND THE BEAST castle version. it is based on my favorite castles in the loire area – CHAMBORD, USSE, CHENONCEAU, CHALLAINA and BRISSAC QUINCE. you might notice a big difference to the german castles, especially the often used NEUSCHWANSTEIN.



© disney enterprises, inc

bunnies etc

8 04 2009


The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World


WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World


WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.