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


kingdom 2

12 05 2010

in the early days of production disney’s ROGER ALLERS directed inka-version of THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES was titled – KINGDOM OF THE SUN. after major story problems MARK DINDALL took over and the piece was called THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, what doesn’t mean the story improved. unfortunately the beautiful preproduction artwork done by PAUL FELIX, COLIN STIMPSON and JOHN WATKISS is not reflected in the final 2000 released film. below some more of JOHN WATKISS huge acrylic-paintings.

© disney enterprises, inc / john watkiss


12 10 2009

JOHN WATKISS did a lot of designwork inclusive storyboards on the 2004 released SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. recently he worked on the new version of SHERLOCK HOLMES and you can see some of the artwork after the film comes out. john moved back to brighton about a year and a half back. he’s currently working on a lot of personal stuff, a DAVY CROCKET- project for WB, and a very large project for the Estate of Robert E. Howard. there is a lot more to see on his website.
following some of his ‘sky captain’ storyboards.


© Brooklyn Films II/Paramount Pictures/john watkiss

kingdom 1

28 09 2009

I found some xeroxes of paintings JOHN WATKISS had done in the late nineties for THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, or – KINGDOM OF THE SUN – as it was called at that time. john painted them in the same size as the TARZAN pieces, approx. 80 x 40 cm, all acrylics. different from the more action loaded TARZAN jungle scenes he played here a lot with interesting compositions and light/shadows. there must be at least 30 or 40 of these paintings, hopefully in the archives.







© disney enterprises, inc

la mancha

8 05 2009

it must have been around 1998 when the idea of DON QUIXOTE came up in the studio. for a while JOE GRANT had discussed with me all different possible stories, like PAUL GALLICO’S MY FRIEND JENNY or with the different title THE ABANDONED. and DON QUIXOTE was another one of them. but not like the original story, more on the level of the animals. I loved the ideas and we were spending some time on them. apparently management heard about it and gave JOHN WATKISS the assignment of more huge paintings, since he was finished with ‘tarzan’ and ’empire of the sun’. I don’t think there was even a treatment at that time and the whole thing looked improvised. but John came up with some very interesting characters and very impressive paintings again. here are some of his sketches for DON QUIXOTE.






© disney enterprises, inc


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

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