Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winner and Top 3

It is so hard to choose the top three, because there are so beautiful. But here it is ...

#19 Janice

Luckely our winner is being chosen by Random :o)

And #9 is Nellie from Mijn Hobbywereld

You won the last challenge, Nellie and therefore the great price sponsored by Judi Kins.
Please email us before Saturday Februari 4th to claim your prize.
Here is the card Nellie made ;o)

Congratulations girls .... you can find your bagdes on the top of the blog ;o)

We see you in a hour!



Frosty Glow, 9" x 12" 

(With thanks to The Pastel Journal where this was originally published, with additional material included here.)

The painting looks washed out, as though someone poured bleach over it and left it in the sun too long. All the colors appear faded, like jeans after years of wear or an old flag left to disintegrate, a vague suggestion of once-bright colors. The overall effect is dull and flat. Chalkiness is a problem that can crop up in any medium, but is often found in pastel paintings, partly because of the abundance of pale colors that are available. The whitish, wishy-washy colors of a chalky painting suggest a lack of control over value, contrast and color.

A high-key painting need not be bland and characterless. Instead it can celebrate the light by maintaining control of tones, using a range of values and the right contrasts for the subject. Although the darkest dark may only be a medium value in the final painting it must nevertheless present a selection of values leading to the lightest light.

One way to defeat chalky color syndrome is to try two different challenges: First, paint an all-white subject using no actual white pastel. Second, paint a very high-key subject in which a medium value functions as the darkest dark. Each of these exercises will strengthen your understanding of how to control values while using colors. Value is the element that describes the shapes of objects and is the underlying abstraction of all painting, so increased awareness of value improves composition as well as color.


Begin with an all-white subject, which may reside inside the composition, such as a white cloud or whitewater rapids, and work to create interesting colors hung on a sound tonal structure while maintaining a sense of whiteness. Because of the temptation to pick up pure, bright white, remove it from your palette and put it where you cannot see it. Good planning must lie behind your painting, in which you first create an arrangement of interesting values and shapes. In this challenge you need not limit the values. In fact, it’s best to design a strong tonal contrast of dark darks and an excellent range of middle values to use against the light colors to achieve the impression of whiteness. Don’t use bright white paper, which will simply allow you to replace the missing white with the color of the ground. Instead, choose a light value tone in a pleasing color to set the mood of the painting and establish its overall paleness. Do not allow the white subject to become simply black and white. Utilize colors to arrive at the proper tones. Many times an over-reliance on high contrast alone results in a chalky painting. Instead, a range of strong middle values accomplished via color will make an interesting all-white subject.

Cold River Runoff, 9" x 17"

How much color can you put into white? One of the most interesting aspects of white is that it’s made up of all colors in the light spectrum. Overlapping red, blue and green spotlights can make white light on a stage, as long as the colors are equally balanced. For the artist, this means white may be flavored with any color found in nature. Consider the color cast that varying light sources give to objects. Our sun is a yellow star and gives warmth to all colors seen in daylight. In shade, the blue of the sky influences all colors, so whites seen in daylight can generally be thought of as warm yellow in the sun and cool blue in shade. However, there are varying kinds of daylight. On an overcast day the light is often cool in color, having been filtered through clouds, while at sunrise or sunset the light is strikingly warm in color. Whites seen under these conditions can be darker shades of blue and green or warm, bright tones of red and orange. Moonlight, because it is so pale, bleeds all color from a scene, leaving ghostly grays in place of whites. Firelight and candlelight make white into hot red and orange. You’re free to select from an endless array of light colors because of the fact that white contains all colors.

One particularly important tool to have on hand is a value finder. While there are many varieties, essentially this is a card printed with a scale of grays from black to white, each of which is pierced with an opening. This allows you to hold the card above a color, squint until your eye is almost closed and see where that particular color blends into its value of gray. For instance, you can hold the card above a photograph of clouds and perceive the lightest lights in the white of the billows, as well as the paler grays of the blue of the sky. There is no standard number assigned to values on the value finder. The number 10 does not always represent white. In fact, 10 might easily be called black, so disregard the actual number but understand that there is a scale of dark to light.

White is by definition the lightest value in the palette. To paint white subject matter you must first realize that no other color can possibly approach white in lightness. Therefore the challenge is to build near-whites into the painting, using far more colors in the light range of your palette. Hold the value finder above the lightest values in your photograph or painting, noting that only white registers as the lightest light. Now find colors that are slightly -- very slightly -- darker than white. This may be only a pale pearl gray value. If your palette of colors is not strong in this light range, consider purchasing very pale blues, greens, yellows, peaches, pinks, lavenders and grays that you can use when very light values are needed. However, do not rely on light colors alone to make an effective painting of a white subject. You must structure a strong range of all values into the painting, and these too must be made using colors. Particularly important to the success of the white subject is the use of interesting middle tones, where the strongest color often resides. The strongest darks will also benefit from the use of colors.

To check the values of your colors change a photograph to grayscale on your computer. This will allow you to clearly see how the colors translate into values. Check to make sure that your subject appears to be white in the grayscale version and that you have the proper array of values.


For another challenge, paint a subject that’s structured using mostly lighter values, such as a very sunny landscape. This is commonly referred to as a high-key painting. Use your value finder to establish the darkest dark in your painting as a medium or medium-dark value. High-key compositions must have an interesting variety of values between the lightest light and the darkest dark to avoid overly pale chalkiness, even if the darkest color is medium in value. Rather than relying on high contrasts of light and dark, look instead to color relationships. This will necessitate concentrated contrasts in color rather than a reliance on value alone. However, no painting can possibly divorce itself entirely from the issue of value, which is a basic property of color.
Fog, 12" x 9"
You’ll need to select a value for your ground. Beginning with a middle value establishes the darkest tone for the entire painting. The test is to rely on medium values as the darkest darks in a painting of a light subject. It helps to create a careful study or underdrawing to establish a range of values from medium to light. In this painting you are allowed to use white for the palest value, however, after your experiments painting all-white-with-no-white you most likely will find that white seems somewhat dead, giving a ghostly chalkiness to the piece. The idea here is to use vibrant colors that bounce and play together, achieving an overall high-key value structure that’s nonetheless colorful. The effect may be one of intense heat, giving the impression of a hot summer day or powerful sunlight warming everything in the scene, even when predominantly cool colors are used, or may result in the cool, pale effect of fog or early morning light. Confirm your limited value range by laying your value finder down alongside the painting, or put a strong dark line next to the image against which you can check your colors so that you can more easily identify darks that are becoming too deep for the limited range you’ve established. Step back frequently to see that the intensity of colors you’re using approximates the light on the subject.


As you conduct each of these exercises your control over value will increase, as will your understanding of how to use colorful lights. You will begin to see the color of light in all its many hues, and realize that pale color does not mean lack of color. Chalky paintings with an insipid, dull look will soon give way to lyrical colors in pale values that vibrate together in a well-planned structure of values.

Sanctuary, 12" x 9"


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Ollie's Three Fairies

Frank and Ollie animated most of the personality scenes with the Three Fairies in "Sleeping Beauty".
Ollie said that originally Walt wanted them to have the same personality, like Donald Duck's nephews. 
"That wouldn't have been too much fun", Ollie remembered, "so Frank and I suggested they'd have different personalities". 
And the picture is much richer because of the contrast between the three. But it goes to show you that Walt took his top animators suggestions seriously.

Here are three rough animation set ups, it's just that these beautiful drawings by Ollie aren't that rough. But then again everybody drew a bit cleaner on "Sleeping Beauty" in order to control the sophisticated design concepts.

The first image, which was drawn on there different levels, shows them reacting to Maleficent in the opening sequence of the movie.
In the second one Flora and Fauna push Merryweather forward and encourage her to grant her wish for the princess, which might counter Maleficent's spell. They are on one level here.
In the third set up, drawn on there sheets, we see the fairies in a sorrowful mood after Aurora left in frustration, when told "she is never to see that young man again".

Even though the designs are graphic, I see a great sense for perspective and depth here. When dealing with three characters in one scene clear staging and composition is so important.
Ollie loved animating these three ladies, and it shows in his drawings and in his animation.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The Pongo Muzzle Issue

Story artist Bill Peet boarded all of "101 Dalmatians" by himself.
He had definite ideas about the construction and flow of the story, but Bill also had strong opinions for what the characters should look like on the screen.
Ever since "Song of the South" (which Peet also boarded) it had been established that Milt Kahl would take a look at Bill Peet's story drawings, and from there he would polish the look of the characters for animation.
Most often this process worked swimmingly. Peet provided the overall concept, and Kahl refined it with outstanding design and draughtsmanship.
Yet when it came to finding the final design for Pongo both artist found themselves butting heads.
Milt had finished a few drawings showing Pongo next to Perdita, but Bill Peet was not impressed. "Pongo's muzzle is too large, that doesn't look like a Dalmatian, that's a Great Dane" he argued. I am sure Milt responded with a few angry choice words, defending Pongo's muzzle size to better contrast Perdita's.
In the end though Milt gave in and adjusted his design. 
I wonder if Walt himself helped to settle the matter.

Bill Peet 

Bill Peet                                    Milt Kahl

Milt Kahl

One of my favorite scenes with Pongo shows the final design.

Trees into logs into smoke

Last night I watched Michelangelo Frammartino's film Le Quattro Volte on DVD and have been boring people all day trying to convince them how wonderful it is.  Reviewing it last year in The Independent, Jonathan Romney wrote that Le Quattro Volte 'will set you musing on matters natural and metaphysical, using little more than some Calabrian hillsides, a stack of logs, some snails and a herd of goats – and barely a syllable of dialogue. The film is an extraordinary achievement – beautiful, moving, mysterious, and, at times, extremely funny. In its self-effacing way, it's nothing short of a miracle – one of those rare works that break all the rules about what cinema "should" be in order to demonstrate what it can be.'  He goes on to explain that 'the title – literally, the four "turns"or "phases" – refers to the world as described by Pythagorean philosophy, with its theory of a cycle of eternal transformation and reincarnation. What this means in practice is that Le Quattro Volte isn't about story, or character, or even action. Rather, this is a contemplative film about things changing into other things – like trees into logs into smoke – and about the cycle of natural changes, the internal clock by which the universe keeps time.'

In an interview for the DVD, Frammartino said, "I've tried to make the landscape the protagonist.  I tried not to use it simply as background but to make it become something more important, to bring it out and elevate it to the level of protagonist.  For example, in the film there's a moment in the first part, when our protagonist is still a man, an old shepherd.  He's lying in the grass minding his own business when an ant starts walking over his face, over his cheekbones and up towards his eyes.  The ant steals the scene and the man's face, in close-up, becomes a landscape.  There's this reversal of roles.  And then, a few scenes later, there's a landscape with the roofs of the village and a big tree emerging, the protagonist of the scene, with a little man climbing up it, as tiny as an ant.  The man is like an insect and the landscape reminds us of a man's face.  This game, this shifting of levels, which can provoke laughter, I've tried to employ it in the relationship between close-up and landscape, this game of scale, this reversal of importance."

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Friday, January 27, 2012


Water flows inward underneath a cottonwood tree

In the video clip embedded above the environmental philosopher David Abram talks about the way landscape no longer speaks directly to us.  In his book The Spell of the Sensuous, he writes that in oral cultures, ‘human eyes and ears have not yetshifted their synaesthetic participation from theanimate surroundings to the written word. Particular mountains, canyons, streams, boulder-strewn fields, or grovesof trees have not yet lost the expressive potency and dynamism with which theyspontaneously present themselves to the sense. A particular place in the land is never, for an oral culture, just apassive or inert setting for the human events that occur there.  It isan active participant in those occurrences.’  These conclusions come after a description of the importance of location for Western Apachestorytelling.  An ‘agodzaahi narrative always beginsand ends with a statement explaining where it happened, using one of thelanguage’s evocative place names (which read like compressed poems).  Abram cites the work of linguisticanthropologist Keith Basso, who found that these place namesoccur with remarkable frequency in Apache discourse.  I was intrigued by this, so I looked up theoriginal Basso article (in CulturalAnthropology, May 1988), where photographs of specificlocations are reproduced to demonstrate how well their Apache place names fit: “Water flows inward underneath a cottonwood tree”; “White rocks lie abovein a compact cluster”; “Water flows down on top of a regular succession of flatrocks.”

According to Basso, ‘the great majority of Western Apache place names currently in use are believed to have beencreated long ago by the “ancestors” (nohwizá) of the Apache people.  The ancestors, who had to travel constantlyin search of food, covered vast amounts of territory and needed to be able toremember and discuss many different locations. This was facilitated by the invention of hundreds of descriptive place names that were intended to depict their referents inclose and exact detail.’  What's particularly interesting about thdse names (for readers of this blog) is that they assume aspecific point of view, like a landscape:  'Western Apache place namesprovide more than precise depictions of the sites to which the names may beused to refer.  In addition, place names implicitly identify positions for viewing theselocations: optimal vantage points, so to speak, from which the sites can beobserved, clearly and unmistakably, just as their names depict them.  To picture a site from its name, then,requires that one imagine it as if standing or sitting at a particular spot,and it is to these privileged positions, Apaches say, that the images evoked byplace names cause them to travel in their minds.’ This travel is both “forward” (bidááh) into space, and, following the memory of their ancestors' wanderings, “backward” (t’ aazhi) into time.


It is always interesting to see what kind of research was done before classic Disney characters were finalized. 
All these drawings were made before animation began on "101 Dalmatians".
(Yes, you guessed it, this is post #101).
The animators were familiar with the anatomy of a variety of dogs. "Lady and the Tramp" had been produced just a few years before "Dalmatians".
So here four of the supervising animators sketch and find out what is unique about a dalmatian (other than the obvious spots). Some of these poses were drawn from dogs that were brought to the studio, others from live action film footage.
You can identify different drawing styles and approaches to anatomy.
Marc Davis is the only artist  who did not work on any scenes with the dogs. As you know he ended up animating Cruella de Vil, every single scene of that character.

Ollie Johnston

Frank Thomas

Marc Davis

Milt Kahl

Thursday, January 26, 2012


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