The Disney Archive Series: Animation

by Disney Editions

The Disney Archive Series: Animation (Amazon)

In a nutshell

A collection of animation drawings from the Disney archives.  There is a short introduction by John Lasseter, and the rest of the book is pure artwork.

Rating

Entertainment  
 Inspiration  
 Instruction  n/a
 Technical  n/a

Key quotes

“Every animator is really an actor performing in slow motion, living the character a drawing at a time.” – John Lasseter

My thoughts

This is a beautiful book to own.  As you would expect from the Disney greats, the artwork is superb.  Each image is given plenty of space, so they don’t feel too crowded – often there will only be one or two images per page.  Going through this book you really get a sense of the history of animation.  It starts with images from the 1920s, and ends with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog.  It covers the majority of Disney’s feature films (notable exceptions that I would have loved to see are The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood and Tarzan).  Sometimes there are notes or spacing charts on the pages, which I really like.  It’s so interesting to see the thought process behind the animation, and the things that the artists wanted to draw the attention of the inbetweeners to.  According to the blurb on the back, many of these drawings have never been published before.  I’m not sure whether this means in a book, or made public, as more and more pencil tests etc. are emerging on the internet these days (check out Pencil Test Depot and Andreas Deja’s blog if you haven’t already!).  Either way, I’m sure there’ll still be plenty here that you haven’t seen before.

It’s a lovely book, with beautiful drawings, but I would really like there to be more sequences.  As this is the “Animation” book of the series, it would be nice to see some of these scenes extended, rather than just have one or two frames for each.  Don’t worry – there are a good number of sequences, like Dumbo’s mother reaching down to cradle him in her trunk, the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp and The Rescuers’ Medusa removing her false eyelashes – and others too.  But it just felt like far too often I would come across a single image where I would LOVE to see some more of the scene, but that’s the only one.  Some films only have a double page spread dedicated to them.  Perhaps it was felt that the quality of artwork from these films, wasn’t as good as the others, and obviously there are only so many pages you can reasonably put in a book.  However, with the limitations of space, I would have preferred to see them focus on just a few of the best films, and go into more detail on those, with proper sequences that really allow you to see HOW these scenes were animated.  Rather than try to cover as many films as possible, which sometimes means just single frames of the main characters.  This is just one book in a series showcasing Disney’s rich history, so I would have loved this book to really demonstrate the purpose of these images – moving and bringing the characters to life.

As it is, it’s still a great book to look through and marvel at the draughtsmanship or gain some inspiration.  I just feel that it could have focused a little more on the “animation” perspective, in terms of the flow of drawings through a sequence, and not just single frames that you can’t see in relation to the others that went with it.

Not essential reading, but definitely a treat.

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