Sunday, March 16, 2008

BG Painting 4 Styles Compared

It's hard to talk about color choices in old cartoons anymore, because evil remastering engineers like to change all the colors.

They seem to be particularly fond of purple and pour it all over the cartoons.

I like these BGs a lot, even though I suspect the colors are completely different than they are on film. I have early transfers of this that are bright and clean but very different colors.
It's not like the old transfers are just faded. It looks like on some cartoons, they now change all the colors in the scenes one by one, not just pump up the whole image.

These are stylized, but still moody.


Here's a pink that isn't your modern typical MLP pink.

Here are pre-Maurice Noble super-stylized graphic BGs for a Roadrunner cartoon. I think this style works better for the cartoons, because it doesn't distract from the characters.

The engineers have really pumped these up.

Not your typical navy blue to purple to pink sunset that you see in most cartoons today.

I tend to favor deep rich colors like these.
Oddly, when they remastered The Hep Cat they turned down the colors! Maybe they felt guilty for turning all the other cartoons pink purple and turquoise.
The BGs on earlier transfers of this are much richer, but you can kind of get an idea of at least how moody the cartoon is.



Andy J. Latham said...

I'd be interested to see some direct comparisons of digitally enhanced scenes with the older versions you have. It would be good to see the same shot from both versions side by side.

Do similar problems plague black and white cartoons?

Visit Andy's Animation!

Emmett said...

I love these backgrounds. There's not only mood, but a complete image to walk away with. Once the cartoon is off, you still have images of it in your psyche. Great color schemes like these help to give that cartoon a clear memory.

Also, do you have any more of that Mickey Mouse cartoon down there? I recognize it from years ago.

PCUnfunny said...

I love the colors in these backrounds. They are so warm and natural. You clearly tell the artists of the backrounds actually went outside to observe life. Today someone has dictated that the sky is only certain hues of pink and purple. I have seen pink in the sky of course but it's one of several colors.

Larry Levine said...

Bob Givens is still very much alive, did anyone approach him to consult on the Looney Tunes color restorations?

Whit said...

Something happened when acrylic paint was started being applied to cartoon backgrounds. It took skill to work with, but it lacked the warmth of full-on watercolors. This is not to detract from Warners, MGM or Disney, who had ace painters. But the change really walloped Terrytoons backgrounds. Gene Deitch knew what to do since he was after a specific flat look but acrylics lent themselves to a cooler look overall. If Terrytoons had been forced by, say, the CIA, to remake "Iffle Meets Piffle" in 1959, they would've been stuck due to acrylic b.g.s.

Gavin Freitas said...

Hey John. On those backgrounds for "Trans-6500" cartoon, what kind of medium do you think that is? My guess is Gouche but I could be wrong...

Mitch L said...

I like the backgrounds of transylvania 6500 the most. Don't exactly know why but I think it is because it is the mood and the design.

I hope you will make a post about breaking down Rocky and Bullwinkle! I really would like to hear that. Especially from Rocky and the angles and shapes.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Why are DVD customers more important than videocassette customers?

I remember back in the 80's and most of the 90's Warner Bros. being super-keen on releasing their cartoons to the video market. And although the prints of the cartoon seemed crisp, they NEVER looked like they were painted with Candyland colors!

Why are they doing these to DVDs and not to the videos? Is it because we won't buy cartoons today (bright and shiny) if we think that the originals aren't equally diseptic?

- trevor.

pumml said...

These are a real pleasure to look at. It's a shame about the color adjustments though. As stand-alone paintings, I find those Bugs Bonnets ones the most striking and appealing, but I do enjoy all of them. So much nicer than digital!

Anyone know how many cartoons still use traditional painted bgs? I can only think of a few off the top: Mighty B (coming soon), Camp Lazlo, and SpongeBob? Any others?

Chris said...

I suspect that the use of the color choices for kid's cartoons these days is not due to mere bad taste. Look at the affects of color on the brain here: Pink Causes relaxation; Blue Lowers blood pressure, regulates sleep: Purple Feels soothing, peaceful, stimulates creativity. Seems that these color choics, along with the usual dream state that TV puts the brain into leaves kids even more susceptible and open to marketing and consumerism.

Julián höek said...

hello john, it think it would be better if you could compare today's remastered looney tunes with your old copies.

Brian said...

I really like the background colors from Hep Cat and the Mickey cartoon. Bright colors just pop off of neutrals like those.

I just recently got Disney's Melody Time a few days back and was amazed at how amazing the backgrounds were in the Pecos Bill and Johnny Appleseed cartoons. I know they've been touched up, but wow!...they're a treat for the eyes!

Kali Fontecchio said...


Brian said...

I can't believe I said "amazed at how amazing" the backgrounds were. I need a nap.

Anyway...I'm really enjoying your blog, John. Thanks for all the great posts!

classy sparrow said...

I love the bugs bonnets backgrounds! I'm really trying to develop a nice background for some portfolio pieces, and these are great references. Thanks for sharing them :D

Jim Rockford said...

I think its sad that they feel the need change the colors in the cartoons on the DVD sets.
Dont they realize that adult collectors who buy these things want to see them as they were intended,without the sickening rainbow brite treatment?
They need to stop tampering with the artists original work.
Those Colonel Bleep shots at the top look pretty faded.

Kadoogan said...

Wow! So strange to see those frames from the old series Colonel Bleep. I haven't seen those since I was a kid living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They used to come on every lunch hour along with another cartoon called The Mighty Heroes (which I believe was created by your old pal Ralph Bakshi, John. Loving your blog, btw. Just stumbled on it today. Keep it up!

Captain Napalm said...

How would you assess the changes to "Baby Bottleneck"? I menation that one in particular because the remaster strikes me as particularly Kool-Aid-ish, especially with the yellow-organce backgrounds.

Captain Napalm said...

Another question I just thought of: are there any existing computer programs that can synthesize painted backgrounds with foregrounds? Or do you have to use the same virtual tools for everything?