Random semiconscious musings

Friday, June 09, 2006

Artwork in Animation, Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed how important it is to view a specific artist's style in order to help one decide who did what. I emphasized how even down to the individual drawings, it's possible to seek out discerning factors which reveal the penning of artwork. Now we'll look at the actual animation.

Regarding the animation itself makes it easier to determine the artist. This is mostly due to the fact that now we have many other attributes outside of character construction and line quality which tell us more about who drew the section in question. We can look at the timing, the posing, the staging, plus even more 'signature' items which make their way into each scene.

Remembering the previous post, I pointed out four of the main artists who worked on the WB cartoon, "Puss N Booty" and what characteristics they added to their animation which made it possible to pinpoint the scenes they were assigned. Now we will have a chance to actually scrutinize the moving images by watching the cartoon.

In the same excellent manner that Thad K uses to identify artists in his blog, I have employed the same technique, as I feel that it's easier to make those idenitifications when there's current cues visible to study the accompanying action. Here is a brief summary to keep in mind when watching:

Art Davis:

  • wonderfully twists and distorts the characters around
  • uses the character's faces, expecially the eye movement, to convey expressionism- he also rounds the eye markings on Rudolph to contour the shape of the eye
  • sometimes goes off-model to achieve the impact of the action

Cal Dalton:

  • usually simplifies the character design too much, quite often dropping details
  • animation is sometimes rather primitive-looking and unusual in appearance
  • hides portions of animation behind other objects

Don Williams:

  • gives all characters a somewhat blocky-looking design (he builds characters out of geometric shapes and animates them that way)
  • uses dry paint wipes to move characters between poses (this is not so obvious in this particular cartoon, however)
  • characters have unsually heavy eyebrows
  • animation appears somewhat jerky- Don makes his key poses very significant

James Culhane:

  • gives specifics to the cat's design outside of the other artists, for example, the ruffled breast and minimal whiskers
  • accentuates the cat's expression by devoting more room to the face on the head
  • has a nice fluid motion to the action
Keeping all this in the back of your mind, and the specific scenes I mentioned previously, here's the cartoon to watch.... Enjoy!

Special thanks to Thad K for hosting and posting this cartoon on YouTube :D


  • Thanks for posting this great analysis of one of Frank Tashlin's greatest. If you want my honest opinion, I can't think of a single Tashlin film I flat out-and-out dislike... Which would give him a better track record than his peers...

    Art Davis is the greatest!

    - Thad

    By Blogger Thad K, at 3:54 PM  

  • Puss 'n' Booty rules.

    By Blogger David Germain, at 12:27 PM  

  • In those scenes where the cat is animated by Culhane, his expressions and movements are quite similar to that of the lion in "Inki and the Minah Bird", which we all know Culhane animated. That was also the first time I have ever seen that cartoon in its proper medium (black and white) and wow! It certainly comes across much better than in the horrible redrawn version, where Ruldolph sleeps with his eyes open.

    By Blogger Nick, at 6:45 AM  

  • I previously saw the black-&-white version on Toonheads a few years ago. But it's still a relief to see THIS instead of that colorized version and its creepy gliding animation. >_<

    Shamus Culhane, with his years of experience from Disney, was a truly talented animator. I don't get why he never got any screen credit at Warner Bros.

    One joke I really like is the bird's malicious grin after dropping a mallet on the offscreen cat's noggin.

    This cartoon would later inspire Friz Freleng to make the equally hilarious I Taw a Puddy Tat six years later. But the ending here is slightly funnier.

    By Blogger Mr. Semaj, at 8:21 PM  

  • Hey, Larry! Thad directed me over here and I'm glad he did!

    Great analysis and nice examples in this and your previous posts. It's great to put names with those different styles after all these years.

    What amazes me is that "some" folks think you cannot identify animators' scenes by "simply watching a lot of cartoons." I gues "some" folks can be wrong about "some" things.

    And then there are "some" folks who over-use "quotation marks!"

    Keep up the good work!

    Craig Davison

    By Blogger Craig D, at 8:25 AM  

  • awesome cartoon! rock on, and do post more...

    By Blogger John Surname, at 6:47 AM  

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