regis loisel 4

22 08 2011

now as promised more of REGIS LOISEL’S visual development designs for disney’s MULAN

© disney enterprises, inc / regis loisel

neverland jungle

13 08 2011

from disney’s PETER PAN more recreated backgrounds

© disney enterprises, inc

snow white BG’s 2

8 08 2011

a few more recreated backgrounds from disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS

© disney enterprises, inc

snow white BG’s 1

2 08 2011

recently I watched disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS again and decided to recreate some more backgrounds. I just can’t get enough of these watercolor masterpieces – see yourself.

© disney enterprises, inc

through the clouds

29 07 2011

since I saw disney’s PETER PAN for the first time I was fascinated by one extremely long scene – the flight over london and through the clouds. I was convinced that it was a very complicated multiplane arrangement. the combination of character-animation and camera-moves was never explained in any publication about the film. the whole scene is very well planned with the characters moving from far away to extreme close-ups, they turn around their axes and – to make it even more confusing, the camera moves tilted in and out of the background, towards the end apparently with several cloud-layers, below and on top of the characters. stunning!

well, I found an early layout sketch that showed me the basic planning. then I did what I have done so far with over 600 backgrounds, – patch the single screencaptured puzzle pieces of the whole scene together. in this case I have to admit, it was the most complicated ‘reconstruction’ I ever did. the characters were all over the place, covering a lot of detail in the BG, the camera was constantly moving in and out and tilting… it took a while! but it was worth it – now I can see the genius-work in the planning, what an incredible idea!

and – it is not multiplane. patching it all together I noticed that. and – when you look at the scene you understand why multiplane was no option anyway, with all the moving shadows of the flying characters on top of the clouds and all that on focus. impossible in a multi-layered scene. the simple solution – the clouds were airbrushed on different cels and then moved in different speeds. only in the last seconds of the scene, where the camera moves in close to the star, one cloud-level is multiplane. the difference in that case was, the camera was trucking in and a 3-D effect was only possible with an extra cloud-layer.

you can see below the final re-created BG as well as the whole piece with added camera-fields to indicate the camera moves + corresponding screencaptures. and – the whole extremely long BG in 4 pieces in higher resolution.

© disney enterprises, inc

NOTE on july 31, 2011 –
please be so kind and read the comments about this post below. I have to correct myself – it is a multiplane-scene. the precise movement of every single level in the multiplane camera had to be planned in advance anyway. the shadows were just connected to each of the cloudlevels where they had to appear. the animation was done according to the layout of each cloudlevel and was laid as a cel-overlay on top of each them. a little bit complicated in the planning stage, but the same department had managed more complicated assignments, like the truck through about 12 levels with animation in pinocchio ( the daybreak sequence ). sorry for all the confusion, for me the scene is a masterpiece anyway and I guess that the recreation and discussion about this lost jewel helps to understand the inventive filmmaking of the past.

regis loisel 1

21 07 2011

as far as I remember it was sometime in 1995 during the preproduction of MULAN when my producer at disney PAM COATS asked for my advice about possible illustrators or comic-strip artists who might be willing to work with us for a short time. the more diverse in style, the better. the first name that came to my mind was REGIS LOISEL, next to MOEBIUS one of the most influental french comic-strip artists. after his stunning four volume series LA QUETE DE L’OISEAU DU TEMPS he had started his version of PETER PAN that promised to be even better. I admired the worlds he created, beautifully designed environments as well as very unusual character-design. and – what I liked the most – he was as much away from disney as you could imagine! that’s why I did not really believe he would say yes. finally I talked to him on the phone, he tried to speak a bit english and I tried to remember all my half-forgotten french. somehow it was a good conversation because he agreed to come to L.A. for two weeks to work with us.

these two weeks I will not forget, we spent a lot of time together. next to working with him in my office I showed him L.A. and some of the neighborhood. and we had great dinners and a lot of wine. my french improved and REGIS even learned to comunicate with the other artists in english. he was the nicest guy and what an artist! anyway – we stayed in touch for a while afterwards until he moved to canada and I left disney. his series PETER PAN became a six volume MASTERPIECE. as soon as he had finished a new book he sent me a copy together with a beautiful sketch, treasures in my collection. recently I found copies of the MULAN-designs he had done during the two weeks he stayed with us and I am planning to post some of them. in a way his designs are very similar to ALEX NINO’S work, but he added a lot more story in his sketches, came up with great gags and ideas I wish we had included in our film.

© disney enterprises, inc / regis loisel

masterdrawings 1

18 07 2011

three stylistically very different disney animated feature films and three layout-drawings created by masters. THE BLACK CAULDRON is not necessarily one of my favorite films, but it had some interesting preproduction artwork and some amazing layouts, like the first one below from around 1983, drawn by MIKE HODGSON. the next pan, drawn by the head of layout himself – DON GRIFFITH -, is from 101 DALMATIANS, around 1960. I wrote before about the RONALD SEARLE influenced style that KEN ANDERSEN had developed. and the last stunning pencil-‘painting’ was created by TOM CODRICK for BAMBI, around 1941/42. it is the 2.level of a multiplane set-up with another foreground and a BG-level below.

© disney enterprises, inc

concept art 1

28 05 2011

below some concept art from disney’s MULAN, created by three masters – ALEX NINO, PAUL FELIX and MARCELO VIGNALI.

© disney enterprises, inc

watkiss 2

16 05 2011

JOHN WATKISS did rough studies like these to plan his big acrylic paintings during the pre-production of disney’s TARZAN.

© disney enterprises, inc / john watkiss


13 05 2011

in june 1987 I flew with HARALD SIEPERMANN to L.A. to do the storyboard for the TOONTOWN-sequence in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. we stayed as far as I remember five weeks, worked in a trailer right behind the AMBLIN ‘WHILE YOU WAIT’ – building on the universal lot, and created probably a thousand or more sketches. the final sequence was about 15 min long, what was with changes cut down to 45 sec in the final film. I remember one of the first assignments we got from DON HAHN, the assoc.producer, was to create a walk of eddie valiant through a part of toontown. we had to come up with all different light situations. harald did the sketch, that I colored from memory below, I painted then in 1987 the whole pan without the character and ILM used the whole set-up to create the light effects and the combination with the actor BOB HOSKINS as a test.

© disney enterprises, inc
© universal pictures / AMBLIN entertainment

disney legends 1

15 12 2010

just right for the christmas time I start a new series of posts – the DISNEY LEGENDS. ‘legends’ because a lot of these artists worked on the legendary animation-masterpieces starting with SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and a bit longer after WALT DISNEY’S death in 1966. I have quite a big collection of production-photographs from magazine and book publications, very interesting remnants of a nearly forgotten time. not too many of the artists from those days are still alive and probably most of you haven’t even heard of some of the names I added in the photographs.

a lot of critics accused walt disney that he was keeping his artists in his shadow. but when I looked through the publication-photo-folders in the disney archives I found it remarkable how many pictures were officially taken by a studio photographer during the production of all these movies, pictures of all different stages and in all departments, of all the artists, even a lot in the ink+paint department. only a few of them have ever been published, but at least they exist. well, during all my years working in the studio I can only remember one occasion before the release of MULAN when publicity pictures were taken of some of the artists, pictures where we had to stage some faked presentation. but there was never anybody around to document our work in our thousands of meetings or to look over the shoulders in our rooms/cubicles.

look at the footage in the background of the recent documentary of WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY. most of it is amateur-film-material, except when there were major voice-acting stars in the studio, or a documentary team came in from the outside. interesting, isn’t it? no wonder that the WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY documentary is just about the clash of the titans, they were on camera whenever possible. that small powerful group made the public believe that they were the heart of the studio, – who would want to witness the boring artistic struggle to create the artwork that kept them in their positions. in my series there will not be anything from recent years, i want to concentrate on the REAL ‘GOLDEN ERA’ of animation, the time and its images that made me want to work in animation and that is now once and forever history.

© disney enterprises, inc

a cat and a bird

11 12 2010

the last project I worked on at disney was FRAIDY CAT. similar to 101 DALMATIONS it was a crime story around a cat and a bird taking place all over london. I was the first artist in visual development who was given the outline and a few pages of the script to read, and they even asked me about my opinion! I loved the idea and the script pages were promising as well. it had a lot of atmosphere, the same what I liked about the 101 DALMATIANS so much. well, as usual the executives in charge ordered re-writes of the script, ‘to improve’ it and it was systematically destroyed. finally, after several years the whole project was shelved, I had already left the company then.

anyway – during visual development I did just for fun some poster-designs to introduce the new concept to the rest of the crew. the story had some HITCHCOCK ingredients, so I chose some of the master’s well known older films and modified their advertising posters ( a lot of them had been designed by SAUL BASS ). my spoof versions were supposed to create interest among the crew, at the same time I worked with a very small team on the designs, the characters and the locations.

© disney enterprises, inc
© universal pictures / saul bass


8 12 2010

I always wanted to somehow recreate the final background after I had seen the reproduced layout in ROBERT D.FEILD’S 1940 published book THE ART OF WALT DISNEY. it took me a while and was quite complicated, but now you can see it below – the mentioned page from the book and the recreated extreme long pan-background from disney’s november 1940 released FANTASIA ( DANCE OF THE HOURS ).

© disney enterprises, inc


7 12 2010

a few posts ago I showed a MAC GEORGE layout from the shelved disney production WILD LIFE. here is some more, first MAC GEORGE’S designs of the sewer underworld. he started with broad shapes roughly sketched with pencil, then refining these ideas more and more with felt pen in dozens of new sheets of big size paper. the sketches he didn’t like were discarded everywhere in his small room. most of the time it was impossible to enter the room because of all the trashed paper everywhere. well, out of that chaos came some incredible artwork. sometimes I gave him sketches I had done like the studio-equipment, he went over it dozens of time until he was happy and finally they belonged to the stylistic WILD LIFE world. there are three more of my sketches, the zoo, central-square with the villain magda’s headquarter and two pieces of framed kitty-artwork in her apartment.

© disney enterprises, inc


4 12 2010

one of my favorite paintings JOHN WATKISS created during visual development for disney’s TARZAN. he painted dozens of these mood- and composition-studies, all of them in acrylics and in a huge size, about 80 cm in length. and fast, together with the most beautiful sketches one design in about two days. I wonder why there was never a book published just with john’s designs…

© disney enterprises, inc


2 12 2010

MAC GEORGE, one of the best layout artists I worked with, created this stunning panorama layout of KITTY’S loft apartment in disney’s shelved production WILD LIFE.

© disney enterprises, inc

waking sleeping beauty DVD

30 11 2010

release date on DVD november 30, 2010

this is a DISNEY-press release –

WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is no fairy tale. it’s a true story about the renaissance that took place between 1984 and 1994 at the fabled WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS and how DISNEY animation regained its magic with a staggering output of hits including THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING and more. available on DVD november 30 from BUENA VISTA HOME ENTERTAINMENT, the 86-minute documentary features the people who were actually there — MICHAEL EISNER, JEFFREY KATZENBERG, ROY E.DISNEY, JOHN LASSETER and others. directed by DON HAHN, who produced some of the period’s biggest hits, and produced by PETER SCHNEIDER, who led the animation group during this amazing period and later became studio chairman, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY gives viewers an unprecedented look at the conflict, drama and tension that ushered in a decade of unparalleled disney creativity.

after WALT’S death, without his hands-on supervision, by the mid-1980’s the DISNEY animation division had fallen on hard times. the artists were polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old timers not yet ready to relinquish control. these conditions produced a series of box-office flops and pessimistic forecasts that led everyone to wonder if the best days of animation were over. HAHN and SCHNEIDER provide a fascinating and candid perspective of what happened in the creative ranks as MICHAEL EISNER, JEFFREY KATZENBERG and the late ROY E.DISNEY (WALT’S nephew) worked to breathe new life into the company. HAHN and
SCHNEIDER bring insider knowledge, and offer refreshing candor and humorous anecdotes in describing ego battles, cost overruns and failed experiments, set against dynamic tensions with top leadership.

director DON HAHN puts several memorable samples on display and marshals a vast array of interviews, home movies, internal memos and unseen footage.
bonus features:
– why wake sleeping beauty? overview featurette
– deleted scenes
– black friday
– losing howard
– recording ‘part of your world’
– research trips
– to Sir with love
– the sailor, the mountain climber, the artist and the poet – Celebrating Roy Disney, Frank Wells, Joe Ranft and Howard Ashman
– studio tours – personal video footage from animator RANDY CARTWRIGHT documenting the animation studio in 1980, 1983 and 1990
– a reunion – ROB MINKOFF and KIRK WISE
– WALT – what would WALT do? a comparison of WALT’S era and the current era
– audio commentary – view the film with commentary by director DON HAHN and producer PETER SCHNEIDER

© disney enterprises, inc

alex nino 9

15 11 2010

some more of ALEX NINO’S inspirational artwork for disney’s MULAN.

© disney enterprises, inc / alex nino

farmyard symphony 2

9 11 2010

during the production of disney’s MULAN I always had an inspiration-folder with me, a collection of illustrations, layouts and backgrounds from all different sources. one major part was from a disney 1938 SILLY SYMPHONY – FARMYARD SYMPHONY. the style of the layout drawings was interesting, the way the wooden posts, the grass and straw, the cottages were translated. thicker, rounded shapes that made them look like woodcut toys and reminded me a bit of the romantic 1900s LUDWIG RICHTER woodcut illustrations. there was no overloaded detail in these layouts, just where it was needed. and the same simplicity was so well copied and even enhanced in the soft watercolor backgrounds. the colors were earthy and subdued, and the light created an early morning mood. just in total a perfect balance with the characters reading clearly on that stage. I am still in awe whenever I look at these masterpieces created over seventy years ago.

© disney enterprises, inc


2 11 2010

three recreated longer pans from BUMBLE BOOGIE, part of disney’s MELODY TIME, released may 1948.

© disney enterprises, inc

The Hidden History of Oz

Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

Ellen Li

Illustration & Design is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Hidden History of Oz

Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

Ellen Li

Illustration & Design is the best place for your personal blog or business site.