Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Michael Sporn and John Canemaker Storyboard Reference

Michael Sporn and John Canemaker have been sharing a lot of great storyboards from classic animated films (and some more modern). If you want to see how powerful cartoon stories are told, check out all these wonderful posts!

Note that the drawings don't always have to be tight or even too on model. The important thing a storyboard artist should concentrate on is creating and telling the story. Continuity, staging, pacing and entertainment. There are other departments to refine visually what the story artists write.

Most old cartoons were timed to musical tempos. Cartoons were meant to appeal to the senses. They aim to look good, sound good and move pleasantly.

Disney had a luxurious production system. His storymen would draw rough boards first just to get the ideas and rough continuity down, then they would draw tighter boards with rendering and even color - sometimes just to impress Walt and help sell their ideas.
Then they would time them and shoot them on test reels to see if the continuity was working. They left it open at every stage to lots of changes and revisions according to how well the stories worked visually and rhythmically.

They sculpted their stories with groups of people, constantly tweaking and changing and revising. Of course all this was very expensive at Disney's since it was always open to changes. The other studios streamlined the process.

Even the folks who rebelled against Disney stylistically still used the basic logical cartoon production system.

For lots more details on great story art from your favorite cartoons, click the link at the top and go through many pages of classic storyboards.

Clampett's Drawing Style and Milt Gray on Clampett's Tale Of Two Kitties

Bob Clampett has a really appealing drawing style. I think the characters never looked better than in his cartoons. Many animators came and went in his unit, but the style was always there.

I remember when I first saw Clampett cartoons, I was really taken by this unique and lively drawing style. It was interesting that even though the animators used a wide leeway in drawing their own interpretations of the characters, there was still an overall style that held it all together.I especially noticed the way he drew eyes.

I worked with Bob Clampett and watched him draw. I loved his drawings but he, like Ralph seemed to like other artists to interpret his style their way.

When I knew him, he still drew in his late 30s, early 40s style, but he would get me to redraw his drawings in Friz' 50s style! I think he thought that's what modern cartoon fans were used to.

Jerry Beck also witnessed the master at work:

I eventually convinced him to let me draw in (what I thought was) his style.Then he would color them in with crayons. He would reward me with one of Sody's homemade cheese sandwiches!

Clampett had a style that was unaffected. He didn't try to make up a style. His style came out of his personality and the kinds of stories he wanted to tell. Some cartoonists might put their styles first and try to think up something obvious that makes them stand out. Then they are stuck with the problem of having to limit their stories to tales that fit into the drawing style. I tend to identify more with the styles that just come naturally, like Clampett's.

Anyway, animator and historian Milt Grey sheds some light on Bob's drawing prowess here:

Hi John,

I just read your post about Clampett's pacing in Tale of Two Kitties,
and I absolutely love it! I hope Eddie has told you how much I also
love your other recent posts that analyze Clampett's work. Right now
I can't think of any observations to add because you have been doing
such a thorough job of analyzing and describing this subject.

Who Did The Layouts For Tale Of Two Kitties?

But I did want to tell you that Clampett told me that on Tale of Two
Kitties he was temporarily without a layout artist, and so he drew
all the layouts on that cartoon himself, with no layout help from

He happened to mention that while telling me the chronology
of his creation of Tweety, beginning with the little bird he drew on
the MGM stationary to a traveling musician friend while Bob was
setting up work on the John Carter on Mars cartoons at MGM -- I'm
sure you remember those stories.

I don't know any other details about Bob drawing those layouts, except that he was creating Tweety's personality on the fly while drawing the layouts, since his main focus on that cartoon was to present the characters of the two cats, as Babbitt and Catstello.

I'm really eager to hear your reaction to the article that I just
recently wrote about Clampett. I think that my article and your
recent posts about Clampett are perfect counterpoints on Clampett's
career and virtuosities.

Phil Monroe
Another thing, before I close -- you mentioned in a recent post that
Greg Duffell mentioned that animator Phil Monroe was first with
Tashlin, then Freleng and then with Jones. But Phil Monroe told me
that he also worked for a short time for Clampett, between Freleng
and Jones.

And I just recently noticed that Phil Monroe has a screen credit as animator on Clampett's The Wise Quacking Duck. I believe -- but this is just an educated guess -- that Phil animated a few
scenes early in Hare Ribbin', where Bugs grabs the dog and slams him up and down on the ground and then throws him down into the rabbit hole. I think that is by Phil because in those scenes Bugs looks too much like the Freleng Bugs, not the Clampett Bugs.

Best regards,

Thanks Milt! I can't wait to read yur article. Where is it?

Here are some great Clampett eyes...

Clampett also had the best looking Bugs Bunny. There are 2 model sheets drawn in 1942'43 by Bob McKimson that are almost the same.

Clampett told me he went over McKimson's poses with a sheet of tracing paper and made suggestions to make Bugs more appealing. Clampett gave him eyes that were on angles for one thing.

McKimson was a great animator but didn't have a naturally cute drawing style, yet his Bugs looks much better in Bob's cartoons than in his own.

Here is a comparison of Bugs in Clampett's day, and then by McKimson without Clampett's influence.
What a difference!

Clampett at a different studio with different animators:This is Clampett's hand lettering too which is very stylish and cartoony, just like his drawings.

Clampett is Clampett even with different artists working for him.

Wouldn't it be great if we could draw cartoons this well today?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Art Of Bakshi Book - PT 1

Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi (The Force Behind Fritz the Cat, Mighty Mouse, Cool World, and The Lord of the Rings)

Wow! An art of animation book that totally gives you what you want! Jon Gibson and Chris McDonnell bring you
The Complete Ralph Bakshi
I think this might be my favorite animation book yet. It's absolutely filled to the borders with great cartoon art from Ralph Bakshi's career.
Ralph has to have the most eclectic and varied cartoon taste of any cartoon producer I have ever known. He is Mr. Anti-formula. There are a ton of great cartoon styles and experiments all through his movies and even more in the developmental stages of his films.

Ralph, although a great artist himself, surrounded himself with formidable talent. Probably more than any other producer, Ralph really admired other cartoonists. A fan as well as an artist.

He discovered and encouraged many unknowns, brought already famous cartoonists from other fields into animation and just did things that he wanted to do, according to his own whims and tastes - with the rest of the industry against him!
There is just enough written history in the book to give you all the interesting things about the Bakshi story, and with some rare fun photos too. Can you figure out which one is Ralph in this Terrytoons crew pic above?

There are lots of early Ralph cartoons and comics too.

Did you know Ralph created some of the very first Saturday Morning cartoons? There is a hilarious story of how that came to be in the book.

Damn. Ralph's own art is so unique and brilliant. I remember always asking him why he didn't use his own designs intact in his cartoons. He seemed humble about his own work and always thought other artists were slicker, but I think we sometimes lost a lot of the intense feeling and knack for varied shapes and composition in Ralph's own art. Luckily there are a ton of his inspirational sketches in the book. Thanks to Chris McDonnell for getting Ralph to share it with us.
These drawings are incredible!
I don't know who did these below. They sort of look like Ralph's characters slightly Disneyfied...really great.
I'll do more posts about the book and tell you some stories from my own experiences with Ralph. I'm just one of many lucky artists that Ralph gave a big break to. Let me tell you, every single day with Ralph was an adventure. There is a force field around Ralph and if you are ever lucky enough to get inside it, you will witness a world that has its own laws of physics that don't work anywhere else.

The guy is a force of nature, an American original, a pioneer and a true legend. One of the most imaginative and feisty animators ever. And he can kill you.