Thursday, December 06, 2007

Color Theory 9 - BG Color: Donald's Diary

I'm a sucker for great color and it's very rare when you find it in cartoons.

Disney has had amazing color in many of their cartoons, and I would have been doing posts on them earlier, but unfortunately most of the remastered dvds of Disney cartoons have changed all the colors and contrasts to make them appeal to more "modern tastes".I finally found a digital copy of one of my favorite color cartoons and here it is. Yeah, the colors have been pumped up, but I took down the saturation a bit to get them back to the way I remember them.
These colors are very original and intelligent. There is an overall scheme to the color ideas in the cartoon.
Most of the colors are mixed down with a milky gray.
There are areas of related colors in the scenes-like the yellowish area next to the grayish area in the street pan above.

All the colors in Daisy's room are related, but not monochromatic which would make it look dull. Brown is the main color, but some browns are reddish, some are yellowish, some pinkish and each have different percentages of mixes.The rendering technique is very rough and fast. This is pretty unusual for Disney. It would look sloppy if it was rendered realistically this way and with the typical cartoon colors, but these colors are so unusual and striking that you don't really notice until you look close.


A nice balance of textured areas next to flatter areas.


These park scenes knock me out!
Nothing is the "logical" color. No blue skies or water. Even the greens are very unorthodox.


I will post more from this cartoon in a few days, but I'm in a rush to go do a CG movie pitch if you can believe that...

53 comments:

Ben Forbes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pumml said...

Great post, John. I like how you observe and break these things down for us. It's very helpful for understanding the methods, and the examples are beautiful!

Ben Forbes said...

I really like the colors in this. They don't hurt your eyes.

And you're pitching a CG movie? No way! Wonder when we will know what your pitching.

boootooons ltd. said...

i always figgered you'd do a CG project eventually. jimmy in bjork's 'i miss you' video gave it away.

thanks for the color post, john! anybody know the reason why the remastered cartoons look bad?

- trevor.

Jim Rockford said...

Those are beautiful backgrounds,as you pointed out,you can tell they put some thought into them.
They were much more adventurous with color back then.
its sad that future generations wont see them the way they originally were thanks to "digital restoration"
It sucks because all the dvds have been digitally destroyed for the most part,I bought some of the Warners and Tex avery cartoons,but sadly most have been altered.
Maybe if more people would voice their discontent with this digital destruction they would stop it.or maybe thats just wishful thinking.
Anyway thanks for all these informative posts,you make people stop and notice the subtle things that make these cartoons so great
The backgrounds alone stand as works of art.

Chris S. said...

Get out of here! A CG movie pitch? Whatever it is, it must be a unique idea in that field ... good luck!

Those DD BGs are beautiful and unlike anything you see today ... the idea that colors are overly saturated now to appeal to "new" sensibilities is about as unnecessary as throwing hip-hop culture on EVERYTHING like Alvin and the Chipmunks "Kids like rap! Put hoodies and track jackets on 'em, and pose 'em in a 1883 hip-hop stance."

It sounds like it takes people like yourself to save history before the digital age destroys the subtleties of the past. Before I came to your blog I assumed remastering was a form of preservation.

John S. said...

Holy crap!!! This is my all time favorite Donald!!! It is the ONLY Donald I really love!!! Thanks so much for posting this!!! I could never remember the title. Is it out on any of the Treasurey sets?

Ryan G. said...

Great colors and technique! Ive been curious of what you could do with a CG film. Are you pitching story ideas, or character designs? Let us know how it goes.

Chickens And Beandip said...

See I was all bummed out that I would never get to work with John K cause I was in 3d. Now it might be a possibility. Awesomerad. If it goes through and you find out where it's gonna be made that would be wicked.

Can you post the remastered stuff so we can see the differences in the colour?

Jake said...

I like the names on the perfume bottles... "bothered" heh

Bitter Animator said...

CG... movie... pitch? Wow, surprising but this could be very interesting. Good luck with it. I'd love to see what you could do with some great animators and 3D tools.

Speaking of which, anyone see Happily N'Ever After? Oh dear lord...

Love the colours on the outdoors especially. The sky is gorgeous.

Julián höek said...

will you eventually talk about that at your pitch blog?
and good luck!

lastangelman said...

Here's hoping you get green lighted - I've never seen this Donald Duck toon before - this is amazing, it's almost like they jumped to the future and saw a Huckleberry Hound or Yogi Bear cartoon and thought they'd try the color schemes - was this made for television originally?

Mitch Leeuwe said...

Wow, this looks different than the disney shorts I know :S
Too bad we don't see this anymore on tv...
Im curious how they came up with the idea or what kind of proces they used for the colors.

"a CG movie pitch"

Tell, tell, tell.....

John A said...

Ralph Hulett and Mary Blair were two of the best color stylists at Disney's, and even though the background appears to have a lot of sharp edges, the subtle curves and pleasing color combinations give the environments an organic look that compliments the more traditional drawing style on the characters. Also,even though everything is drawn in a relatively flat way, with a lot of ornate design elements, it doen't look as cluttered as a background from something like "Foster's"

Ryan Kramer said...

oh man...beautiful colors. Great post! Good luck with the pitch.

John A said...

I just noticed Ty Wong's name in the Chinese restaurant!

By the way, good luck on the pitch, I hope the studios realise that the world wants to see more John K. I keep hoping you'll make an actual feature someday, with a real budget and no television-style restrictions.

Jim Rockford said...

Hell,most of the live action movies back then had fantastic colors as well.
I was watching the original 1963 Jerry Lewis Nutty proffesor again last night and the whole film is amazingly vibrant and colorful,I wish I could live in that world!
Jerry Lewis's "The Ladies Man" is
another great example.
visually dazzling,the sets are ultra clean ,colorful and modern.
The finished product is highly polished,unlike the churned out thrown together crap of today.
I am simply amazed at the incredble amount of talent that we had in the entertainment industy back then.its astounding how far we've fallen since then.

I dont know if it was the technicolor process or the quality of the film they used,but the colors really seem to "pop" on the old movies and tv shows.
I think it in some way the poor use of color today also reflects our attitude and outlook on things.
Look at how colorful the sets,clothes and exteriors on the original 60's Star Treks were,then compare them with the ugly subsequent versions.
everything today is drab,depressing and washed out looking.
Everything "futuristic" is depicted as dark and hellish and distopian.
There is no more imagination put into things.

Jim Rockford said...

The perfume bottles are funny.
Bewitched,bothered and bewildered,obviously a reference to the song from Pal Joey.

Mr. Semaj said...

Interesting observations.

Which city was Donald and Daisy residing in in Donald's Diary? I ask only because of the hilled streets in the beginning.

Dan! said...

I would definitely be interesting in seeing a CG movie in the hands of an actual cartoonist and not someone who wants to be trendy or realistic. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

Sean Worsham said...

I wonder if the pitch is for Blue Sky ;)

Sean Worsham said...

Great, I stop doing CG and now you're pitching a cgi film. I feel left out...

Charlie J. said...

super great colors!

Larry Levine said...

Pitch a CG movie?? John, have you been seduced by the Dark Side?

Traditional hand-drawn animation is the true nature of the Force. Obi John Kenobi, you're 2D animation's only hope!

PS: Even though I loathe CG, I wish you great success with your pitch.

Whit said...

Jim Rockford,

Technicolor had a lot to do with it but so did skill. Compare the photography in "The Godfather" and its first sequel with that of "The Godfather III" and you'll see the difference. Even though it was the same director and d.p. in all three films, III's saturation is muddy, there are no crisp blacks and the colors fail to pop. The first two films were among the last to be printed in the old Three Strip Tech process while III was shot and printed in the Eastmancolor version of tech, like almost everything else after 1974. Night and day.

Weirdo said...

The backgrounds are definitely more than earlier Disney cartoons. Very interesting. Is this a funny cartoon? It seems like it would be considering how great Jack Kinney was as a director.

PCUnfunny said...

I love the neat-o colors. And a conicidence you bring this up because today is Walt Disney's birthday.

"but I'm in a rush to go do a CG movie pitch if you can believe that..."

I think I just heard Rod Serling's voice.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Those look great, especially the park scenes, like you said.

A CG MOVIE? I thought you hated the very idea of CG! Didn't you post something about how they're just glorified puppets?

Anyways, good luck.

Dave said...

I have often thought that the Disney colors were unique.

Roberto said...

Good cartoon breakdown, John. Those BG designs are very creative. The colors add to them and make them look even better.

"I will post more from this cartoon in a few days, but I'm in a rush to go do a CG movie pitch if you can believe that..."

What an amazing leap! I'd never knew you'd go that far (though I know you've been animating in Flash for a couple of years). I'm not much of a CG fan, but good luck on the pitch.

Pete Emslie said...

I always liked this cartoon too, though I hadn't really thought about the backgrounds before. I happen to enjoy it for the sexy 50's gal, spin on Daisy. That and the scene outside the church with all of Daisy's former sailor suitors tearfully bidding her goodbye. Funny stuff...

Kali Fontecchio said...

I like this cartoon because it is pretty.

NateBear said...

John K does CG, eh? Something tells me you're gonna make everyone else in the industry go, "oh that's the way w were supposed to do it for the last 20 years."

Robert said...

Hi John, I just discovered this page and I couldn't be more pleased with the topics that you have posted. I have been following your works ever since R & S was on MTV around '91. I've always had a great love for real cartoons as far back as I can remember and I share a lot of the same beliefs that you've always represented in your works and in your words. I have and will always support everything you do. Would love to meet you some day. Keep up the good work.

Simpsons Reviewer said...

Another great post, John. And good luck on the CG movie.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Thwob! Great backgrounds!

Roberto González said...

Heh, now I wnat to know about the CGI film AND The Perfect Holiday credits.

Seriously, though, John, I have already written the article for the newspaperr saying you are going to make the titles for The Perfect Holiday...please tell me if it's not true while I still have time to change it.

And good luck with that pitch!

I remember watching this Donald Duck long time ago, but I didn't look at the backgrounds that much. What I mainly remember about this cartoon is the unusual design on Daisy. She looks pretty cute here.

CG said...

An absolute classic.

Josh Latta said...

on. I remembered seeing it as a kid and was struck by how different(and depressing) this cartoon was. Wow, it's beautiful!
Oh, and i love this design for Daisy. She doesn't just look like Donald in drag.
I would love to see this one again.
I guess it'll be on Chronological Donald vol 3?

Taco Wiz said...

I hope that the company buys your movie! I also hope that it's a family film. Yeah, there ARE still eleven year old Ren and Stimpy fans with overprotective parents.

A.M.Bush said...

Man, that's beautiful I can't wait to see more.

Paul Penna said...

"Donald's Diary" is set in San Francisco. In the screen caps you have the hills, as noted, plus the Bay Bridge in the distance, Chinatown and the arched bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden. Elsewhere the Golden Gate Bridge is shown plus vistas of the city across the bay. Having grown up just across the GG bridge I always thought this was cool from the first time I saw the cartoon, undoubtedly on "Disneyland." I watched every one of them back in them there days.

Dan C said...

Good luck man.

Jim Rockford said...

Whit,
Thats interesting.Why would the change the technicolor process when the old system was superb?
It probably was a cost saving meausre.

J. Arkham P. said...

Hmm, a CG movie. If you're doing it, it's probably gonna be good. If anyone else does it...yeah, we've got a problem. Anyways, I've been reading your blog lately about the color and animation. I love your attention to detail on everything you mention.
But, I wanted to say that I don't exactly see the problem is with the coloring. Sure some of it is god-awful. But, I guess, since I'm a 90's born kid, I kinda find the stuff you mention somewhat, I don't know...primative.. It's my opinion.

J. Arkham P. said...

Oh, and by the way, John: I know this is a total non-sequitur question, but have you heard of a cartoon by the name of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. It's a 90's cartoon nobody remembers, but it's based on a video game. The color and shading scheme isn't exactly what YOU might call good, and I have to agree. The color is kinda based around old style comics, since it is based on a comic by Steve Purcell.

I have to say, I'm impressed with some of the character designs, but I wanted your opinion on it.

Kristen McCabe said...

Wow! This cartoon looks amazing! I've gotta see it now.

Jim Rockford said...

Wow,I remember that Sam & Max cartoon!(late 90's I think)but I havent seen a re-run of it in ages! I didnt run for very long,what happened to it? it just vanished!
I remember it was one of the funnier cartoons at the time.
They drove around wrecklessly in a 1960 DeSoto cop car and would harass people.
The comic books were pretty cool too.
I think the dogs voice was harvey atkin!

Zachary said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXA2hWgvZKo&feature=related

this disney secret lives i believe on the 4th epsiode talks about how Dumbo was made during the animation strikes with no walt disney nitpicky direction which tunred the backgrounds out very cartoony and un stylyzed compared to the more beautiful amazing realistic backgrounds from pinnochio in which walt disney was more a part of that project

lennard schuurmans said...

amazing bg!

Jim Smith said...

Top notch bgs man. Colors are splendid with just the right mix of cartoony and realistic design. The bewitched bewildered and bothered gag was the name of a popular song I think. Nice analysis too John. It keeps me young to learn new stuff.

skleppi said...

great post! thank you=)