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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Color Keys and Color Sketches: Background Drop-off

A Maurice color key sketch (top) with a Phil DeGuard background from "Boyhood Daze." (1957) courtesy of Paul Bussolini

Phil's final backgrounds (as in the above example) were often painted lighter and with less contrast than Maurice's color keys. The reason being that under camera each background carried an average of 5 cel layers on top of it. Each cel layer would darken the background a certain percentage. 

 A background and cel set-up from "Boyhood Daze." (1957) courtesy of Mike Giaimo. 

It is easy to see the striking difference in value and contrast between a "naked" background, and one shrouded in its cel covering. Maurice would test background/ cel setups under camera to make sure all the elements looked correct BEFORE committing to a specific design approach. A pretty background painting meant little if it didn't work under the lens. Only once key shots worked to Maurice's satisfaction would Phil would move forward with the backgrounds on the rest of the film.

Supplement to pg. 146 of The Noble Approach

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Disney Books Review

Disney Books makes a review of The Noble Approach, and likes it! Read the complete review HERE.

Photo credit- Sean Dicken
Taken at Oscar's Books, Canada

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pointers: Literal and Implied Guide Lines

Maurice often used different compositional tools to help guide the focus of the audience to a specific part of a picture plane. Most usually he would try to use background elements to support, and draw attention to a character. 

Here are a few examples of literal and implied guide lines. Literal lines (hi-lighted by solid arrows in these examples) are actual lines that point to a certain area of focus. Implied lines (here illustrated by dashed arrows) are created by elements that line up in the picture plane. The relationship between these elements help create a pointing device that support the position of the character. I've chosen examples where the Coyote is rather small. Movement of the character is key to attracting the eye. But without pointing devices, it would be easy for the character to get lost.

Implied lines are related to Gestalt reification and illusory contours. The basic idea being that the mind perceives an edge or line simply because of the placement and space relationships between objects.

Supplement to pg. 151 of The Noble Approach.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maurice Pans 005: Beginnings and Endings

A vertical pan from "Much Ado About Nutting." (1953)

Maurice taught, "The eye isn't going to see much detail in the middle of a fast pan. It will see color and pattern in an abstract way. Focus on making the start and finish of the pan work well, the parts that the audience will actually see. Then concentrate on the length and feel of the pan."

From pg 159 of "The Noble Approach."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Thunderbolt - As Retold By Eric Calande

Images: A great deal of the design for "Horton Hears a Who" (1970) was inspired by trips Maurice took to Hawaii. Posted here are some of Maurice's "designed storyboards" for the film.

Apparently while Maurice was at Disney's in the 1930's, he managed a short vacation to see his brother who was attending The University of Hawaii. Aviation was in its infancy and the only practical way to make the trip was by cruise ship. The trip itself took several days and as the ship neared the island Maurice needed to notify his brother of his impending arrival. Maurice went to the on-board telegraph office and began dictating his massage; "I've had the most amazing time on-board the ship. What an amazing experience this has been. The staff has been just incredible and I've meet the most wonderful people. My accommodations have far exceeded my expectations. I could talk about the delicious food for days. I've never eaten so well." etc. etc. Once Maurice finished dictating his message the operator told him his long-winded message was going to cost about $75 to send. So Maurice shortened the message to... "Arriving on next ship - Maurice". 

Upon arrival Maurice was greeted by his brother and while de-boarding the ship, he saw the most lovely native girl. Maurice was awestruck by her beauty. Apparently his eyes met hers, hers his, and in Hawaiian terms, both were "struck by the thunderbolt" (love at first sight). 

The two ended up meeting and spending a lot of their time together. Though the natives were SURE Maurice was going to steal the heart of, and marry one their women, Maurice's vacation came to an end and he returned to the mainland. 

Over time Maurice lost contact with the girl, and years later returned to Hawaii to look for her. Through the locals he learned that the girl's family owned one of the biggest department store chains on the island. Figuring a wealthy, beautiful woman wouldn't want anything to do with a lowly animation artist, he sadly abandoned his quest. For the rest of his life Maurice talked about his regret in not staying and marrying the girl. 

...And that concludes the story of the Thunderbolt. - Eric Calande

Artwork courtesy of Paul Bussolini

Supplement to pg. 70 of The Noble Approach. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Martian Through Georgia Progression

Above: A Maurice Noble layout and final Phil DeGuard painting from "Martian Through Georgia." (1962) The film was co-directed by Chuck Jones and Maurice.

In his early Warner career, Maurice made numerous color keys to help guide painter Phil DeGuard in the final background paintings. But by 1962 the two artists had been working together so long that Maurice could often give Phil simple shorthand color notes, such as in this background layout, to indicated what he wanted. 

Lettering by Don Foster.

Supplement to Pg. 126 of "The Noble Approach." 

To watch the film, visit the link HERE.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Color and Value: 001

Maurice most usually thought of color in how it related to value. ( The relative lightness or darkness of a color.) Always making sure that a composition worked in black and white FIRST before moving on into something more colorful. 

Cartoon Colour cel vinyl was Maurice's paint of choice. The paints were marked with a one (1) for the lightest value, and the bigger the number, the darker the paint. 

Above is a chart Maurice used to show how the value of many colors he used related to gray. 

The color number appears vertically under each color and #20 represents the darkest value. The gray values on the left are in the same order, from dark to light, and any color number appearing on a horizontal line with a gray value has that same gray value when photographed in black and white. 

How is this useful? It's sometimes difficult to tell how dark or light a color really is. When transferring a black and white sketch Maurice wanted to be sure that his colors were as close as possible to the original sketch values.

Supplement to pg. 91 of "The Noble Approach."

Clean up by Esben Sloth

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tools of the Trade

Details of a few of the simple tools Maurice used to create his art. Maurice never threw anything away, and some of these pencils go all the way back to the beginning of his career; helping create some of his greatest work. 

It is well known that Maurice wasn't a fan of the computer. He often argued that the best way to learn to control color and value was to learn to draw and paint with traditional media... THEN later perhaps apply this knowledge to the computer. 

Supplement to Pg. 125 of "The Noble Approach."

Photo © 2013 Tod Polson