houses in art 6

28 07 2020

below I have collected some of my own artwork containing house-designs from all over the years…

© walt disney enterprises
© universal pictures/amblin entertainment


disney historic 1.4 part 3

12 06 2020

first I would like to refresh your memory with an art timetable, where you can locate the different style epochs and their according years in time.

wherever you go to study the architectural details of some of the GOTHIC cathedrals, CHARTRES, REIMS, PARIS, COLOGNE, ULM, MILAN, AMIENS, or SALISBURY, you will find the same style elements. it is interesting to compare those characteristics with the style of the handwritten lettering of the manuscripts. it is mainly the emphasis on the vertical and the playful ornamental opening-letter designs that seem to be repeated in the supporting beams outside the cathedral as well as in the stainless window structures.

what EARLE doesn’t mention in his autobiography, is one of the key reference elements for the style of SLEEPING BEAUTY, the french tapestries around the UNICORN. THE HUNT FOR THE UNICORN and THE LADY AND THE UNICORN, 15th century. JOHN HENCH, one of the old timers, – layout, background and production design -, had seen the tapestries and recommended them to EYVIND EARLE.

tomorrow I will post the last part…

© walt disney enterprises

disney historic 1.3

8 06 2020

EYVIND EARLE, the production designer, developed the style of the film. he described it in his book – HORIZON BOUND ON A BICYCLE
‘I knew I was going to style SLEEPING BEAUTY, as well as paint all the key backgrounds, and all I had to was to do it in my own style … at home I began practicing doing sleeping beauty’s forest scenes. after all my favorite artists were ALBRECHT DURER, VAN EYCK and BRUEGEL, and all GOTHIC ART, and THE HOURS OF THE DUKE DE BERRY. the whole project fit me like a glove … JOHN HENCH had just about finished two masterful layout drawings in black and white of two forest scenes. they were given to me to paint as I wished. JOHN HENCH’S renderings were RENAISSANCE ROKOKO to my mind. I wanted stylized, simplified GOTHIC. straight tall perpendicular lines like gothic cathedrals. the figures should be straight and tall and thinned out and elongated like gothic sculpture. I took john hench’s masterpieces and straightened up the curving bending winding trees. I used one-point perspective. I rearranged the bushes and trees in geometrical patterns. I made a medieval tapestry out of the surface wherever possible. all my foregrounds were tapestry designs of decorative weeds and flowers and grasses. and since it is obvious that the gothic style and detail evolved from the ARABIC influence acquired during the CRUSADES, I found it perfectly permissible to use all the wonderful patterns and details found in PERSIAN MINIATURES. and since PERSIAN MINIATURES had a lot in common with CHINESE and JAPANESE ART, I felt it was ok for me to inject quite a bit of JAPANESE ART, especially in the close up of the leaves and overhanging branches … I started taking close up photographs of every different bush or tree I could find in the san fernando valley, and then I took VAN EYCK, and PETER BRUEGEL, and ALBRECHT DURER, and BOTTICELLI, and THE HOURS OF THE DUKE DE BERRY, and the PERSIAN, JAPANESE and GOTHIC ART, and on top of that all that I injected a little piece of EYVIND EARLE.’

© walt disney enterprises


26 05 2020

digging through my archives I found this caricature I did of VANCE GERRY in 2000. vance gerry, 1929 – 2005, had been with DISNEY since 1955, had worked in layout on 101 dalmatians and sword in the stone, and moved then to storyboard during the production of the jungle book. from then on he worked in story on most of the feature films. towards the end of his career he worked closely with JOE GRANT and BURNY MATTINSON on the development of new ideas for future productions. that was, around 2000, when we shortly worked together on an idea joe grant had brought up, MR.POPPER’S PENGUINS written by richard and florence atwater and published in 1966.

joe grant’s idea was a mix of live action and CG, with penguins similar like in mary poppins, just animated in the new technique. I created a few designs and then never heard about the project anymore.

much later I found out that the story had been produced and released in 2011 by 20th century fox, MR.POPPER’S PENGUINS, a live action/CG mix with jim carrey.

© walt disney enterprises © 20th century fox © richard+florence atwater

disney jewels 1.4

26 03 2020

© mary blair / disney enterprises, inc


24 04 2018

tin soldier

27 05 2017

in summer 1994 I started to work at disney, after several years freelancing, with a seven-year contract. my first assignment was the style development and visual research on 5 projects – all at once! HERCULES, TIN SOLDIER and BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH ( both FANTASIA 2000 ), DINOSAUR ( first CG prod.) and FAMULAN. I don’t know what the reason was for that ‘overload’, it was a challenge. I started to work on the single projects one every week, using the weekend as kind of a mental break. but it didn’t really work that way, because the production schedule didn’t follow my schedule. the result though were dozens of color sketches and the complete color-script for HERCULES, until GERALD SCARFE took over in autumn 1994. TIN SOlDIER was first planned as traditional animation, they changed it then into a CG piece, horrible in my opinion. and BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH turned out a bad experience, because I could not work with the director. DINOSAUR was a lot of fun, because it was a new world, they invited specialists, who taught us about the look of dinosaurs and the environment of that time. and then of course FAMULAN, what became MULAN. based on my early designs BARRY COOK, the first director on the project, asked me beginning of december 1994, if I wanted to take the job as production designer.
below you see some of the designs I did for TIN SOLDIER. I had to restaure some of them, the color xerox quality in the nineties was bad.

© disney enterprises, inc

style 9.6

1 10 2016



style 9.5

28 07 2016


artists have always been inspired by other artists. otherwise impressionism or cubism had never developed and been explored by so many different artists. in animation disney first used children book illustrators like tenggren and nielsen as inspiration for the style of the first feature films. UPA was smaller and could afford to experiment with new looks, using modern art like dufy and modigliany, but as well upcoming cartoon and caricature stars like steinberg, searle and kurtzman for inspiration. later john hubley went even further with his shorts and a complete abstract look influenced by picasso, shahn and prestopino. I could continue this until today, where modern filmmakers get excited by art they accidentally find on the internet. it is so much easier today to look for reference or inspiration, everybody has a vast collection of art from museums, books, auctions or collectors at home available on the world wide web.
I was always interested to find out how looks were developed in the past. it was like a guideline for my own work, to find ways for developing new styles. now I am trying to teach those secrets to new generations. difficult, because you have to first learn about all the existing art in the world, figurative and landscape or environmental art, get enough knowledge about films of the past – and, experience by analysis how the look of the most interesting films was developed. the real challenge starts when you try to develop your own style for a project. one piece is already tough, but then the problem is to create a whole series of environments in the same style.

human faces+art

faces in art 1

alex nino 12

25 07 2016


another one of ALEX NINO’S masterful pre-visualizations of the hun attack in disney’s MULAN

© disney enterprises / alex nino


13 03 2014

scheherazade 5065 color 2

fun creations 4

11 02 2014

9wooden BG 216
10tiger AA 9122
8jojo E7712
7dino 227
6landscape pan A
5midnight 409 H
4opening dogs
3foliage test26
2interior A
1indian B626

© b i l d e r f a b r i k

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

mulan findings 8

31 08 2013

mulan early design

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

© disney enterprises, inc

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

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

mulan findings 1

3 01 2013

you probably have made that same experience – you search for something and find tons of stuff way more interesting than what you were looking for. it took a long time since my archives has grown too big, but it was worth it. you will see a lot of it in my next posts. today I start with some of my oldest MULAN color designs, from 1995, a mushu cel set-up and a directional map with sequence numbers.


© disney enterprises, inc

mel shaw ( 1914 – 2012 )

25 11 2012

MEL SHAW, one of the last DISNEY-LEGENDS, has passed away at the age of 97.

the picture shows him working on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in london, september 1989.

more information here
and here

mel shaw

29 08 2012

MEL SHAW, born december 19, 1914, in brooklyn moved to L.A. in 1928. after an art education at the otis art institute he joined the HARMAN-ISING studios as an animator, character designer, story man and director. during that time he had a chance to work with ORSON WELLES storyboarding a live action/animation version of THE LITTLE PRINCE. WALT DISNEY hired mel personally after he saw him play in a polo match. before WWII interrupted mel’s career he worked on FANTASIA, BAMBI and WIND IN THE WILLOWS. after the war he started the ALLEN-SHAW productions together with former MGM animator BOB ALLEN, where he created toys and architectural masterplans like century city in california, as well as the illustrations for the first BAMBI children book for disney. mel told me the story where he was involved in the ( stone by stone ) move of the 1831 built LONDON BRIDGE from london to LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZONA, in 1968. the bridge was dismantled, every stone numbered and then shipped and trucked via long beach to arizona. what a project! in 1974 mel shaw returned to the disney studios where he helped the new artists on productions like RESCUERS, FOX AND THE HOUND, GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LION KING. I met mel during our pre-production work for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in london in the fall of 1989 and had a chance to witness ( and videotape ) his incredible charcoal technique and the birth of dozens of beautiful paintings.

© disney enterprises, inc / mel shaw

mulan historic 1

10 08 2012

as comparison here are some kind of ‘historic’ designs I did for disney’s MULAN in october 1995. starting with the very first rough black/white sketch, about postcard size, and together with my own logo for the fim, at that time after ‘the legend of fa-mulan’ as a working title ‘the legend of mulan’. the dragon survived in the final logo. then a step inbetween, a marker sketch, about 6 x 10 cm. and the final 12 field acrylic painting on cardboard. the last design in this post is the very first planned cover of the ART OF MULAN book by jeff kurtti. I like the final cover with the original powerful poster much better.

© disney enterprises, inc

The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World is the best place for your personal blog or business site.