Animation Artifacts &Bill Peckmann &Illustration &Layout & Design &Models &repeated posts &Rowland B. Wilson 26 Mar 2012 07:23 am

Thumbelina from Rowland B. Wilson

- Thanks to Bill Peckmann‘s extraordinary collection of design material, I have access to quite a few model sheets by Rowland B. Wilson.

His models for Don Bluth‘s feature, Thumbelina, fill a binder. I’m gong to have to break it up into two posts.

Here, I’ll reproduce the article Rowland had written for the in-house organ “Studio News.” This follows with models for some of the lead character models.

These models were done in pencil and ink, sometimes in color. Unfortunately, all of these are 8½ x 11 xerox copies. Blacks wash out and washes blacken. Regardless, they all come across fine enough to get the idea.

Any feature takes a lot of work. You can understand that just in the large number of model sheets that grace the production. When you have a talented artist such as Rowland Wilson doing that modelling for you, your art is off to a good start.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

2 3

Here we have the model that Rowland drew for Thumbelina.
This is definitely not the rotoscoped princess that we saw in the film.

2 3
Here we have a lot of different costumes Thumbelina
will wear as she travels on her expeditions.

4 5
An original idea – a character who wears
more than one costume in a film!

6 7

8 9

Jacquimo Swallow

In color but copied in B&W.

Jacquimo 1

Jacquimo 2

Jacquimo 3

Jacquimo 4

Jacquimo 5

Jacquimo 6

Some other birds in the course of the film.

This film is far from the best of Don Bluth, but it goes to show how much solid work is done for any feature film. There’s also quite a bit to be learned from any feature. Many of these models didn’t end up in the film (take a look at Thumbelina herself in yesterday’s post) but the drive was a forward one.

Off to the modelshow:

(Click any image to enlarge.)


Another color one copied in B&W


5 6







14 15




19 20







Some notes


Finally, here are two color photos Rowland took of his presentation art.


8 Responses to “Thumbelina from Rowland B. Wilson”

  1. on 26 Mar 2012 at 9:21 am 1.Mark said …

    Not Wilson’s best work (and I think he’s amazing!). It’s no wonder–bluth is HARDLY inspiring. And, of course as usual, the final cartoon is a dreadful mess on every level.

  2. on 26 Mar 2012 at 12:44 pm 2.Stephen Worth said …

    A lot of those designs are a checker’s nightmare… checkerboards, tons of diddly costume details, etc. I guess that’s what Bluth thought was “quality”.

  3. on 26 Mar 2012 at 1:32 pm 3.Suzanne Wilson said …

    There were something like 85 characters designed for Thumbelina! Probably a record!

  4. on 26 Mar 2012 at 8:15 pm 4.The Gee said …

    A lot of those designs are a checker’s nightmare… checkerboards, tons of diddly costume details, etc. I guess that’s what Bluth thought was “quality”.”

    I haven’t seen the movie. Do the final designs hold up in terms of some of the details, the costume flourishes?

    All in all, it is nice look stuff. I’m looking forward to reading the article, too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. on 26 Mar 2012 at 9:04 pm 5.The Gee said …

    As for Kickstarter incentives: you mention the t-shirt.

    Is there anyway that design can be shared with potential and current donors?

    For current ones who may not check out the main site, perhaps you could email them the design but for potential ones who check out the site or the Splog or the Kickstarter page…is there a way to show that?

    Yes is a great answer.

  6. on 26 Mar 2012 at 11:15 pm 6.Scott said …

    thumbelina is, even for bluth, one of the worst cartoon features ever made. Songs by Barry Manilow, and with a coochie-coochie frog played by Charo. And disco dancing thumbelina. Hilariously awful on so many levels. The rotoscope of the main characters throughout is embarrassingly bad, and seem to be doing everything else BUT expressing any specific emotion to move what thread bare story there is (mangled by Bluth’s inability to actually TELL a story).

  7. on 28 Mar 2012 at 9:44 am 7.David Nethery said …

    It’s always odd to me when a studio hires a designer , has them do their thing … and then doesn’t use the designs. Every character in the finished movie looked just like every other Don Bluth character. The only thing that seems to have survived is Rowland’s versions of the little bug characters.

  8. on 28 Mar 2012 at 12:04 pm 8.Michael said …

    I couldn’t agree with you more, David. I actually went back to make sure that these models weren’t used anywhere in the film. Why waste all the talent and money when you have no intention of using the work?

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