Animation &Animation Artifacts &Disney 19 Oct 2009 07:37 am

Frank Thomas’ Jungle Book 3

- This is the last of three posts showcasing the drawings of Frank Thomas for one scene of Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book.

Frank was a very productive animator who was very defensive of his drawing ability, yet he always seemed to come up with something attractive and full of his gentle personality.

There is some nice use of foreshortening in the leg of Mowgli in these drawings. You have to be particularly good at drawing to make it work; I think I’ve seen too many bad drawings where it’s called attention to itself. Foreshortening is usually something worth avoiding unless you feel really confident about it. However, as done by Frank, it really helps the motion.

Again there is a smart use of ones and twos, and there seems to be no effort in having moved back and forth between the two. Yet, when you look at the movement, it seems natural.

The scene also ends in the middle of an action, something an editor might do, but it seems to be controlled by the animator here.

The entire scene is now up in all of the QT’s posted.
Part 1
Part 2

We start with the last drawing from Part 2.

(Click any image to enlarge to full animation sheet size.)










The QT movie below includes Parta 1, 2 &3 of this scene.

Mowgli & Kaa
Click left side of the black bar to play.
Right side to watch single frame.

Many thanks to John Canemaker for sharing these drawings with us.

10 Responses to “Frank Thomas’ Jungle Book 3”

  1. on 19 Oct 2009 at 11:33 am 1.David Nethery said …

    Thanks again to John for sharing the drawings and for your effort in scanning, registering the drawings, and assembling the Quicktime movie. (I know from experience how laborious that process can be. Much appreciated)

    I don’t know what else I can add that hasn’t already been said about Frank Thomas’s abilities as an animator. The guy was a major force and his work still bears up under close study.

    This is the sort of “simple” scene that doesn’t draw much attention to itself in the course of the film, it flows right by and seems so natural and “easy”, but the only reason it seems that way is because the animator has completely mastered his craft . I’ve got to love how every drawing is clear and works in silhouette. I was pounding home the idea of the “silhouette test” to my students last week and here’s a perfect example . Every one of these drawings could be blacked-in solid and would still read clearly.

    The character’s thought is clear : he’s completely determined to leave and is genuinely surprised when the snake grabs him and pulls him back at the last moment .

    You noted:

    “The scene also ends in the middle of an action, something an editor might do, but it seems to be controlled by the animator here.”

    I think by this time the Directing Animators (such as Thomas) truly were directing their own sequences. They may have had to submit the work to Woolie Reitherman for final approval , but the heavy lifting had already been done by the directing animator. I’m not the first to voice this idea, but I think maybe this is why we find Thomas & Johnston in particular have such affection for the later 1960′s and 70′s films, because they had a more active role in crafting their own sequences as they wanted them to be . They were more involved with these characters in many ways than in the earlier films which were controlled more tightly by Walt.

  2. on 19 Oct 2009 at 12:33 pm 2.Adam R. said …

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
    Your blog is a wealth of information and inspiration.

  3. on 20 Oct 2009 at 10:40 am 3.Stephen Macquignon said …

    very nice thanks for posting it

  4. on 21 Oct 2009 at 1:56 am 4.robcat2075 said …

    From what you indicate here, these are all Thomas drawings, none are the work of an inbetweener? Was that typical then for the animators do it all themselves?

    When I read their comments on this period in “Illusion of Life” they suggest the animators were creating drawings clean enough to go straight off to xerography, but this looks way rougher than what is in the movie. So there must have been someone doing cleanup on this, right?

  5. on 21 Oct 2009 at 8:26 am 5.Michael said …

    Robcat, I don’t think I said that Frank did all the drawings. Looking at the handdwriting of the numbers it looks as though he did all the odd numbered drawings. The even numbers were probably an inbetweener (whose writing actually looks very close to Frank’s but is missing a swirl on the “C”.)

    When these were cleaned up, some parts of the original animator’s rough (depending on who the animator was) were kept. Milt Kahl liked his extremes to be seen in the xeroxed line. I’m not sure how much of Frank’s drawings were scrubbed. In Sword In the Stone, you can see a lot of the rough lines in Frank’s scenes, and those are definitely his drawings on screen.

  6. on 21 Oct 2009 at 4:59 pm 6.David Nethery said …

    On a lot of Frank’s scenes from this period his key assistant, Dale Oliver, would do new drawings over top of Frank’s. This is why a lot of these rough scenes by Frank survive intact. Dale Oliver saved a lot of them and had them carefully bound in folders . When I was working for Dale Baer’s studio in the early 90′s Dale Oliver used to drop by to visit from time to time and would bring in these stacks of original Frank Thomas (and other Disney animators) for us to flip. Wow ! If you think these xeroxes look nice you should see the originals. After Dale Oliver died I don’t know what happened to his collection of original animation art . He had some great scenes in his collection and I think we only saw a small portion of what he had saved over the years. What was great about a top key assistant like Dale Oliver is he was a good animator in his own right, and was able to invest his clean-up drawings with a very lively line quality that gave the impression of being “sketchy” and spontaneous. He was able to “plus™” (Disney term) the roughs with his clean-ups, but not lose any of the spontaneous feel of Frank’s animation.

  7. on 21 Oct 2009 at 5:10 pm 7.David Nethery said …

    Re: what I was talking about in the above post , see rough drawing C-61 –

    and compare with the frame grab from the movie here:

    to see the difference between the rough and the final clean-up. Although in this case it does appear to me that the assistant’s clean-up drawing tones down a bit of the stretch on Mowgli’s arm … but I’m pretty sure Frank Thomas would have had final approval over the key clean-ups, so he probably approved the slight softening of that stretch on the arm.

  8. on 21 Oct 2009 at 10:26 pm 8.robcat2075 said …

    Thanks for the clarification!

    In comparing the rough and final of 61 it looks like the cleanup guy added a more realistic suggestion of an upper arm and lower arm in the outstretched arm which isn’t in that rough but is in some of the other roughs including 65 which I guess is the extreme Key pose they are heading to in 61. So in that context it made sense to put it in… is that what the cleanup guy would have thought thru?

  9. on 26 Oct 2009 at 3:59 pm 9.Floyd Norman said …

    Dale Oliver was an old friend, and as stated above, worked closely with Frank.

    I might add that Frank was a very difficult animator to follow up. I know. I tried and fell on my face.

    I confess, it was much easier to conceive this sequence on the storyboard, and then let Frank bring it to life. As I’ve often said – he made us look good.

  10. on 14 Oct 2010 at 6:30 pm 10.Jonathan Hudson said …

    I love animation and keep going back to work of Disney, books like Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s The Illusion of Life or the teachings of Walt Stanchfield in Drawn to Life, the work that was done at Disney was just outstanding, true genius.

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