Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday, June 08, 2015

Goofy Guy

More drawings on the Cintiq. I've been playing around with a few different programs and I've found that Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk gives me the closest feel to drawing with a pencil out of all the ones I've tried. Toon Boom Storyboard Pro gives me a pretty good line quality too, but still not as good as Sketchbook Pro and it's about a tenth of the price. Now, if only Autodesk updated the software with some storyboard templates within the program!  

Monday, June 01, 2015


I know, it's been a while since I posted some drawings. So here's a few to tide you over. Most of the time when I post some stuff, it's from sketches done on a sketchpad. Lately, I've been drawing more on the Cintiq and I have to say, I think I prefer to draw on it more than paper. It gives me a freedom that I haven't had with pencil and paper. That's because I used to press down hard to get the line quality I wanted. 

 With the Cintiq, I draw faster and lighter and am still able to get the quality that I want....and I'm not breaking any pencil tips to do it. What's even better is that my fingers don't cramp up like they used to!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Over the years, especially when I was trying to learn things about becoming an animator back in the good ol 70's, the phone became a way of contacting people to gain some insight. I must have been a real pain in the butt to many silver age animators, but there were really no books out there to learn from. I mean there was the Cartoon Animation Book by Preston Blair, which believe it or not, I picked up from a local Hardware store called Pergament in Bethpage, NY. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's Disney Animation: The Illusion Of Life was still in the planning stages. Aside from some pages of color stills from The World Book Encyclopedia of Bill Melendez Studios and his production of Snoopy Come Home, it was hard to find real material about the process. I didn't even hear about Bob Thomas' The Art Of Animation book from the late 1950's, until sometime in the mid 80's.
I made a decision that the only way to find out any more information about the process was to use the White Pages to find the names that were prominent on the films I loved and call these talents directly. At first I called Los Angeles information to get these guys phone numbers but eventually my father called the phone company and ordered a Los Angeles, California directory.
I managed to contact quite a few from Disney like Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
I talked with Jack Hannah and Bob McCrea, former Disney staffers then at CalArts. Some of them would be curt and would rush you off the phone. This is absolutely understandable as some people were just very busy. But occasionally, you'd get someone on the phone who was nice and giving of their time.
On Andrea Deja's blog, he talks about how much he appreciates the work of Hal Ambro, but never met him. I never met Hal Ambro either, but I did manage to talk to him by phone at CalArts. Ambro was one of those animators who toiled under Disney's Nine Old Men since the mid 40's, but was a very capable animator and draughtsman in his own right.
He gave me plenty of time as I explained how I wanted to land a job in the animation industry and that there wasn't much material to use as a guide. Ambro asked for my address and sent me a thick packet of material including some of his discarded animation roughs and layouts. That was a real eye opener for me as I pawed through the material. His drawings were loose yet chock full of information..really nice animation ruffs. I remember asking him why he left Disney in the mid 60's and I got this response (I'm paraphrasing) 'Sometimes, you have to move on.'  
Virgil Ross was another animator who gave me plenty of time on the phone. Mr. Ross was very helpful as he answered my many questions. The one thing that struck me about Virgil Ross was that he really downplayed the quality of his work. He didn't think of himself as a great draftsman or animator. Of course, I disagreed with him and told him that his work had plenty of personality and was brilliantly animated. But still, I don't think he bought it. He told me that he was amazed by some of the new talents that were entering the business. Thinking back on this I've come to this conclusion, there's people who have a lot of ability in drawing and can do great things with that talent. However, there are people who don't quite have the drawing skills but somehow use what they got to rise about their drawing weaknesses to do some fantastic animation. I think Virgil was one of those guys.
I don't think he realized how very talented he really was.
I still have a drawing of Bugs that he drew for me from the late 70's.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Some animation Drawings

Here's some animation drawings from a project I was developing that was inspired by Blake Edwards Classic Comedy 'The Great Race'. I went as far as animating a couple of scenes to some funny dialogue based off of Jack Lemmon's Comic creation from the movie. I was proud of the way it turned out and it came across as funny when completed. Unfortunately, it didn't go anywhere beyond these two scenes; mainly because Hanna/Barbera had already created a show that was inspired by this movie in the 60's called 'The Wacky Races' and the other wide spread belief that these characters weren't considered marketable/relatable to the small fry in the audience (which seems to be a necessary element in today's market). Now don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I loved The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and many other things that in today's world aren't considered kid relatable. Well, when I was watching these things, I was looking for the sheer fun and entertainment value! It never bothered me that these characters were adults because they acted kid-like and did funny and goofy things!  It didn't seem to concern other youngsters either. The fact is that many other kids loved this stuff too! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chuck Jones' Off To See The Wizard! OH MY!

It's amazing what you can find on EBAY these days. About a week ago, I found this cel with the original animation drawing from Chuck Jones ABC series 'Off To See The Wizard' from the late 60's. It was offered with a buy it now option and I decided to grab it.
The sheer fact is that not a whole lot of these cels are readily available from this show. That's besides the other fact that a lot of people don't even remember the show. My sister, who's a little older than me and a Wizard Of Oz fan (she was featured in a book about Gumby...more of that in a later post) didn't even know the show existed! Well, I sure did cause I tuned in every week that it was on expecting to see an animated show with The Wizard Of Oz characters. All I got was a dazzling title sequence, neat wraparounds and end credits!
You see, the show was kind of a ABC/MGM version of The Wonderful World Of Color, where certain movies would be the featured attraction, with the animated title and wraparounds used as a device of tying everything together. Actually, to this frustrated youngster, I felt jipped.  The show only got me angry, because there were no other cartoons to be found, once you got through the title and bridge sequences.
Like the village idiot, I tuned in every week expecting a different result! Guess the joke was on all the kids out there in TV land!
It's funny, after all these years, I never forgot about the animation on this show.
Fortunately, all this stuff is surfacing on You Tube. For years now, people thought I was nuts when I mentioned the show. Here's a black and white version of the opening with information about the featured Live Action movie!

Anyway back to my story about the animation art; when I received it, it was framed in an odd way. The cel was sealed in glue from the front, just behind the glass and the drawing was glued in the from the back of the frame. Whoever put it together as a presentation piece wanted you to see the drawing behind the cel. However, somehow in the process of art being mounted, the drawing ripped by the Wizards hand. I wasn't sure why it ripped, so I decided to take the frame apart so that no further damage would happen to the drawing.
Now this is where my story gets interesting.

Taking these pieces out from this frame was an absolute nightmare. Not only was the animation art trimmed down, both pieces were glued down and sealed with more glue. Gone were the peg holes as they were chopped off to fit in the frame! To make matters worse, the animation drawing overlapped the sides of the back of the frame when mounted and whoever did the framing job (Likely Larry, Moe and Curly Joe), put two hanging screws through each side of the animation drawing (see pictures). Probably, when the so called framer was tightening the screws, it put pressure on the paper to cause it to rip! Yikes!
Look, I try to have a sense of humor about stuff like this but it's tough. I consider these things works of art and when someone just sloppily puts something together like this, you can plainly see that there's no care or respect for the material. Maybe I'm too sensitive about this, but I can't help it; I love the material that much. Bottomline is that I have to keep reminding myself that animation drawings and cels were considered a by-product of the animation process; that the films themselves were the actual product. Looking at the bright side of the situation, I have to be thankful that even with the mediocre framing disaster that this was, it still somehow managed to preserve (almost) these pieces of art for almost 50 years...and now I am able to own it!
Here's the opening of the show, some of those wraparounds (one of which features this cel) and some of the closing credits. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Animating Mickey

Over the years, I've animated Mickey on a couple of occasions; one for the Disney Company working on Dale Baer's unit (outside of the studio) for The Prince and The Pauper. I did a few scenes with Mickey and Donald in the school house section where they are having an altercation. The second time I animated the character was when NBC's Saturday Night Live was doing their TV Funhouse animated segments and I was hired by David Wachtenheim and David Marianetti to animate a few scenes with the famous mouse. It was a funny cartoon, although I was shocked by some of the subject matter, which was definitely adult in nature. A week back, I found this sketch of the little guy sitting in a drawer. I don't remember there being any purpose for it other than I felt like drawing Mickey. He can be a little tricky to draw, mainly the proportions need to be right on for him to look correct. Most of all, his ears must retain the shape of two bowling balls on top of his head. They simply shift over a bit as the character turns his head. Over the years the design has continued to evolve. I personally enjoy the look of Fred Moore's designs of Mickey from the late 40's, where the character is softer and more appealing. In recent years, the character's eyes have become more oval and smaller. When I was working on these two shorts, I had to conform to that design, but actually, I like my take a little better.