January 12th, 2018

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Design: Two Disney Concept Artists

Disney Concept ArtDisney Concept ArtToday, we digitized more vintage model sheets on loan to us by Animation Resources Alliance member, Van Eaton Galleries. (For our previous posting, see… Reluctant Dragon and Pinocchio Model Sheets.) Among the collection were some fascinating early concept sketches by two very unique designers… Albert Hurter and Charlie Thorson.

Albert HurterAlbert HurterAlbert Hurter was born in Switzerland in 1883. He came to America during the first World War and found work in the New York animation scene. He moved West and ended up working at Disney as a concept artist. His influence is seen in many of the Silly Symphonies and early features. His strengths were an unfailing solidity of drawing, and an eye for creating situations, not just designs. For more info on his life and career, see Bud Plant’s Biography and John Canemaker’s book, Before the Animation Begins.

Here are some inspirational designs by Albert Hurter…

Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter
Albert Hurter


Charlie ThorsonCharlie ThorsonUntil Gene Waltz’s book, Cartoon Charlie: The Life and Art of Animation Pioneer Charles Thorson, few people had heard of Charlie Thorson, but once you see his work, it’s hard not to recognize his unique style in many cartoons from the 1930s. Thorson was responsible for the first model of proto-Bugs’ Bunny and the Porky Pig redesign at Warner Bros, as well as numerous characters in Disney Silly Symphonies and Fleischer Stone Age cartoons.

Here are two beautiful model sheets Thorson created for Disney’s “Little Hiawatha”…

Charlie Thorson
Charlie Thorson

I’m not sure who did this next piece, but it impressed me with the amount of detail and refinement Disney allowed his concept artists to instill in their work… I’m sure when this concept drawing was created, no one had any idea how the delicate pastel rendering technique would be translated into ink & paint!

Disney Concept Art

Van Eaton GalleriesVan Eaton GalleriesThese original production photostatic model sheets are available for sale by Van Eaton Galleries for $50 apiece. If you decide to add any of them to your collection, tell the folks at the Van Eaton Galleries that ASIFA-Hollywood referred you, and they will donate a portion of your purchase price to the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive.

For more vintage Disney model sheets, see… Reluctant Dragon and Pinocchio Model Sheets. Thanks to the Van Eaton Galleries for their support of Animation Resources.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

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Posted by admin @ 2:06 pm

January 11th, 2018

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Animation Resources Members: RefPack 020 Available For Download NOW!

All The Funny Folks

Animation Resources Members!

Login to the Members Only page to download Reference Pack 020!

This time, we’ve packed the download with terrific reference material… A book from 1926 that brings together all of the Hearst newspaper comic characters, a pair of rare silent films by comedian/stop motion animator Charlie Bowers and MORE! We’ve started including Members Only surprises in the Reference Packs. To find out what the surprise is, you have to login and check it out.

Charlie Bowers

This Reference Pack will only be available for a limited time. At the end of February, it will be gone forever. So login to the Members Only page now!

If you aren’t a member yet, JOIN Animation Resources today. If you are a creative person with an interest in animation, cartooning or illustration, you should be a member!

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 3:27 pm

January 8th, 2018

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Art Education: Practice Types

Last time we talked about how to objectively judge a person’s current ability within a discipline using the Dreyfus Model. Today I’ll be giving my personal theory about what types of practice are best for students and professionals of various levels, and how to determine what type of practice is right for you.

I formed this theory by combining my own experiences learning sports, art, music, and mathematics with advice given by notable teachers of animation and art. My litmus test has been that I must be able to apply these practice methods to any subject a person might want to learn, although practicing skills is this system’s focus, not academic memorization.

The five categories I’ve identified are listed below with a short description of each and an example of the type of activity you might engage in if your goal was to learn how to draw. Remember that these are broad categories however, and may be applied to any skill or discipline.

Willy Pogany’s Life Drawing Lessons


When first approaching a subject, the concepts and working methods are all completely new, therefore the first and most basic type of practice is the type which is most widely used in the classroom: Academic practice. This would include all newly introduced or researched information which comes from an authoritative source such as a textbook, tutorial, lecture, or guide.

This type of practice is most helpful right at the beginning of a student’s study. If you find that general knowledge about the way your discipline works is absent, or that parts of the working methods of your skill are hazy or poorly understood, this is the type of practice you should engage in first. However, as soon as a workable understanding of the concepts is obtained Academic practice should be abandoned in favor of a different type to allow the student to internalize what they’ve learned.

In drawing this would be the equivalent of learning body proportions and anatomy. These are very critical and useful areas of study, but if that’s all you practice, your work can only ever look like a textbook illustration.

Public Sketching – Gordon Grant


In order to become a confident and skillful practitioner, a student must commit to hours of practical application. In sports all minute aspects of the game are drilled endlessly until each action becomes as natural as breathing. In music, scales and rhythm exercises are used as warm-ups even by highly accomplished musicians so that they become second nature. Drilling is any task which you already know how to do, and can perform repeatedly in small rapid bursts.

This type of practice is the next most common type of activity employed by students and professionals. In essence, the purpose of drilling is to gain confidence and familiarity with your working methods. A pleasant byproduct of drilling is an increase in speed and a decrease in error making. Many professionals if not most of them continue using drilling throughout their careers as a way to keep sharp.

Drilling in illustration would represent public sketching, thumb-nailing compositions, or plein air painting just to name a few.

William Lee Hankey

Quality Test

At the point where a student believes they have learned enough to become competent, it may be time to put all of their acquired skills into practice by attempting to perform their discipline to the best of their ability. In sports, this would be game day, in music it would be the concert or recital, and in art, this would represent a single piece of artwork meant to  showcase the artist’s talents.

Art made for a quality test should be made carefully, slowly and deliberately. No time limit should be imposed and the artist should be as thorough and careful as they can possibly be in order to push the limits of their ability to the extreme.

Performing work of this type may often have humbling results, revealing exactly what shortcomings the student has yet to overcome. As a diagnostic tool, this type of practice is invaluable, and also provides milestones for the student as they progress so that they can compare their current work to their past work.

Quality illustrations should  make up much of a student’s portfolio along with life drawings.

Gustaf Tenggren Comparison


After mastering the basics through the use of Academic and Drilling practice, it becomes necessary for a student to explore their own preferred methods and to attempt to expand their ability beyond what can be taught to them explicitly. Experimental practice is done to attempt to create a new work method or a unique result which is entirely the student’s own. It is important to note that this type of practice is most useful in the hands of an already skilled practitioner of their craft, but it may be useful to novices as well, as a method of discovery.

In my opinion, this is where many graduate students and professionals fail to expand their abilities. It’s very easy to copy and reproduce from textbooks, instructors, and tutorials, but it’s a very different and altogether more frightening thing to try to create a new method of working, or a new way of seeing the world.

In illustration and art in general, those artist who are synonymous with a particular style or artistic movement likely owe their success at least partially to experimental practice. The need to perform this type of practice need not be that grand however, as even small modifications to an artist’s working methods help to personalize and internalize their craft.

Albert Hurter


The last form of practice is the free and non-structured kind which children indulge in. Although non-academic and not strictly intended to improve a practitioner’s ability, freeform practice serves as a crucial way for the student to enjoy themselves with their chosen craft. Although it may seem unnecessary to list it here, I believe that maintaining a fun and creative attitude toward your work is at least as important as academic study, if not more so.

Work of this type has one goal: to make you happy. After all, why are you putting in all of this time becoming skillful if not to use that skill in a way which pleases you? Very often unfortunately it seems that the mark of a professional artist is that they draw at work but not at home, having long since ceased to enjoy what it is they do for a living. Don’t fall into the trap of slowly choking the life out of your art, have a little fun now and then!

I hope these practice methods are helpful to you or your students. Next time I’ll be talking about motivation and forming a practice habit!

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Posted by Taber Dunipace @ 10:29 am