Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Hobbit animated film

Here is a rarity I ran across in the book "Film and TV Graphics 2: An International Survey of the Art of Film Animation" by Walter Herdeg (1976, Zurich : Graphis Press ; New York : Distributed by Hastings House.)

This is concept art for a proposed animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" , by Geoff Dunbar and Oscar Grillo (Dragon Productions, London).  This production obviously never came to fruition , but it's interesting to see something pre-Rankin & Bass, pre-Bakshi era in relation to animation of Tolkien's stories (and yes, I'm aware of the Gene Deitch version).

(click to view larger)


This is the cover of the book these pages appear in:

You can find a scan of the book on .

Monday, May 23, 2022

Hand Drawn Animation is not "2D" animation

Before the mid-to -late 1990's I never heard anyone refer to hand drawn animation as "2D" .  In fact , most of us were endeavoring to draw our characters with solid construction so the illusion of the character existing in 3-dimensional space was convincing.  

In traditional hand drawn animation it's all about making the drawings look dimensional , as if these characters exist in real space.  They're not "2D" characters existing on a flat plane.   We draw characters with 3D shapes, not 2D shapes: Cubes , Spheres, Cones, Cylinders , not  squares, circles, triangles, rectangles.

What is "2D" about this kind of thinking ?  -- 

These drawings by Preston Blair reminded me of why we didn't ever think of our work as "2D".   I still do not like the term "2D animation".   I prefer the term hand drawn animation or traditional animation.

I'm reminded of Gene Deitch's video from 2009 where he discussed this at length. 

The speech was called "Quo Vadis Animation?"

Gene Deitch:

“The core of my speech is a pitch for the survival and eventual return to primary favor of “drawn animation.” (Don’t provoke me by mentioning the term “2D” in my presence!)

“I am here to raise a cheer for what I prefer to call Drawn Animation. We who have been raised on the tradition of animated drawings, attempting create what Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston called, “The Illusion of Life,” have been more and more pushed aside and given the demeaning title of “2D” animators.   I am quick to remind you that anything projected onto a flat movie screen is essentially 2D. It’s a meaningless term. I repeat that the entire world of graphic art, every drawn or painted style can be animated in any fanciful way, which in turn would lead to the widest range of storytelling and endless visual variety.”

The entire speech is on Cartoon Brew in written form:

Unfortunately the video of Gene delivering this talk is no longer available to view on Cartoon Brew.  It's marked on Cartoon Brew as a "private video" . That's a shame , because it is worth revisiting , or watching for the first time if you've never seen it. 

Fortunately some kind soul re-posted the video here:

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Animation Clean Up Drawings Line Quality Examples

 Just posting these clean up examples here for reference , in no particular order 

(click on images to view them larger in a slideshow) 







Sunday, December 12, 2021

Raggedy Ann and Andy Model Sheet drawn by Richard Williams

 Just posting these here to archive the images. 

Drawings by Richard Williams from "Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure" (high-res. scans from the book "The Animated Raggedy Ann and Andy: An intimate look at the art of animation its history, techniques, and artists" by John Canemaker )

 Raggedy Ann and Andy Clean Up Model Sheet drawn by Richard Williams based on Tissa David's drawings of Ann and Andy :


Tissa David's animation of Ann dancing -


Clean up animation drawings by Richard Williams from Raggedy Andy's song "No Girl's Toy" ,


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Inexpensive Large Format (11" x 17") Scanners for scanning Animation Drawings

If you've ever priced a large format (11" x 17" tabloid size) scanner you know that they are generally very expensive (starting at $1,200 for basic 11" x 17" flatbed scanner , ranging up to $4,000 to $8,000 for an industrial strength Auto-Document Feed 11" x 17" scanner) .

EPSON now has a series of large format (11 x 17) scanners in a comparable price range as the Brother 11x17 Scanners.   The advantage of Epson scanners in my experience is that the EpsonScan scanner interface in Professional Mode  is much better than the default Brother scanner interface.

Epson Workforce WF-7510 Scanner (discontinued)  Epson Workforce WF-7610 or WF-7620 Scanner

(currently the WF-7610 is around $150.00 on ,  the WF-7620 is around  $230.00 on )

EpsonScan Professional scanner interface:


 Another good scanner is the Brother MFC-J6920DW .  Same general price range as the earlier Brother MFC 6490-CW.   Relatively low-priced for an 11" x 17" scanner.  The others in this series are  Brother MFC-J6520DW  and Brother MFC-J6720DW .

These run from about  $169 - to - $229  on  depending on the model .

I haven't used this particular model Brother scanner , but it's functions are similar to the older MFC 6490-CW scanner which I have.   For traditional hand-drawn animation our interest in these scanners is that they are relatively inexpensive scanners that can handle full-size 12 Field animation paper.  (and also  cut-down 16 Field paper .   Standard 16 Field paper is 16.5" x 13.5" , which won't quite fit in the auto-document feeder which takes paper up to 17" x 11" .    But , for example if you use HD 16:9 aspect ratio your 16 field scannable area will be within an area approx. 16" x 9.75" , so 16 field paper that has had the top lopped-off so it is cut down to 16.5" x 11" size will run through the Brother's auto-document feeder or fit on the flatbed.)

 (for  those of you using the Brother scanners I suggest ditching the default Brother scanner interface and using VueScan as you scanner interface)


I own and use the older model  Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner --- which retails for about $299.00 (although I've seen it for as low as $199.00 - to -$219.00 after a mail-in rebate) is also good .
The newer Brother MFC-JDW series of 11 x 17 scanners replace this one.

As you know if you've priced out an 11 x 17 scanner, until now this was really unheard of to find such an inexpensive 11 x 17 size scanner which can handle full-sized 12 Field animation paper fed through an Auto-Document Feeder (ADF) for very fast scanning .

Combined with an Auto Peg Hole Recognition system in software such as TVP Animation, Digicel Flipbook, or ToonBoom Animate PRO/Toonboom Harmony , this new Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner is a great tool for independent animators or students.  In my experience TVP Animation's Peg Hole Registration is the easiest to use and the most accurate.   The Brother MFC-6490 CW scanner is aimed at the small business and home-office user, so I doubt that it is necessarily built to hold up for a long time under heavy-duty feature film or tv production use, but for the student or the independent animator on a tight budget this product at least puts an 11" x 17" scanner within an affordable price range. At this price you could actually replace it several times over if it broke down before it would cost you as much as the usual 11 x 17 ADF scanners from Epson, Fujitsu, Ricoh, Canon, etc.

Animation student Dan Caylor first alerted me to the existence of this relatively low-cost 11" x 17" scanner. Here is Dan's review of the scanner on his site:

Dan is using it with Digicel Flipbook, but this auto-document feed scanner should work with any animation software that has Auto Peg Hole Alignment (such as TVP Animation.) I've personally tested it with TVP Animation and it works fine. If you're looking for a relatively low-cost 11" x 17" ADF scanner for your animation drawings then you might want to consider it.


A good overview of setting up the Brother Scanner for a production system of scanning animation drawings is in this 8-Part Tutorial by Nate Foster.  Nate is using ToonBoom Animate Pro  (ToonBoom's  "Optical Registration" peg reg. system is notoriously finicky) .  If you use TVPaint then you'll find TVPaint's Peg Hole Registration system a lot simpler to use.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Inbetweening for Traditional Hand Drawn Animation

INBETWEENING is an essential skill .  Good inbetweens make the animation flow smoothly , but bad inbetweens can kill a scene.

Here is a playlist of 7 videos I've found on YouTube which cover how to do inbetweening . 
A lot of the so called "tutorials" on inbetweening found on YouTube are actually pretty bad , but these tutorials are good ones . The first six cover inbetweening . The seventh tutorial , titled "Animation Drawing Clean-up", is more of a "digital inking" tutorial , since it doesn't really cover cleaning-up sequential animation drawings (dealing with issues of maintaining consistency of volume and line weight from drawing to drawing) , but it's a good tutorial on how to approach cleaning-up a rough drawing .

The fifth video in the playlist is an excerpt from a longer DVD tutorial by Scott Petersen.   I'd recommend purchasing the full set of DVD lessons from Scott -!animation--drawing-training-dvds/c6he

For those of you using the program TVPaint Animation here's a print tutorial I put together on inbetweening in TVPaint :

Inbetweening in TVPaint (click link to view)

The Animation Meat site has a good tutorial called "10 Steps To A Perfect Inbetween".

Also see this tutorial called "Clean Up Hints" .


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Justin Murphy to produce independent animated feature film

Animator/director Justin Murphy is in the process of developing an independently produced animated feature film called "Dawgtown" .

Justin originally developed "Dawgtown" as his MFA thesis project at Academy of Art University.

The animation in Dawgtown will be traditional, hand drawn animation, but will be produced digitally with TVPaint Animation , with Background art in Adobe Photoshop , and also some CG elements (vehicles and props) .

Kickstarter page:

Facebook page for the movie:

Dawgtown is the story of a young Pitbull named Max who is taken from his owner and thrown into the brutal world of underground dog fighting. As a competitor in the most well-funded pit-fighting organization in the world, he becomes a sign of hope to the others, and must lead them in a dangerous fight for freedom. It’s Gladiator meets Animal Farm. “I’ve been researching this subject for years,” says director Justin Murphy, “and talking with various rescue organizations. In order to protect their anonymity, I cannot name them, but they’ve been involved in some high-profile rescues, including busting up Michael Vick’s operation.” Refreshing about Dawgtown is that it is being produced in the style and technique of traditional hand-drawn animation, which audiences are seeing less and less of these days with the proliferation of CG. “This is indie filmmaking,” Murphy continues, “it’s done all the time with live action, why can’t it be done with animation? We have the talent on board, and the technology makes it affordable now. This is PG-13 material, and it deals with socially relevant issues about animal cruelty and the abuse of power.” The filmmakers are seeking to raise the $75,000 in pre-production money through Kickstarter. This will enable them to hire the actors needed for the voiceover (one of which includes an internationally known talent) and complete the storyboards for the entire film. The project runs from September 20 - October 20. A portion of this fundraising effort will go towards Pitbull rescue organization efforts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Michel Gagne's Secret Production Blog for "The Saga of Rex"

Michel Gagne is making an animated film based on his graphic novel , “The Saga of Rex” .   He is funding the film through Kickstarter.

Anyone who makes a contribution of $20 or more will gain access to The Secret Production Blog on the making-of the film

Michel writes:

“I will use the Secret Production Blog to share what I learn, divulge my tricks and give a real insight into my process. I want to make this a great tool for animation students to see how I do things—sort of "a crash course in making a classically animated film". Hopefully, potential creators will be inspired to put that knowledge to use in their own future productions... and by the same token, help keep the art of 2D animation alive. I'm going to be learning a lot myself and sharing will make it all the more worthwhile.

If you know of any animation/art schools, students, or enthusiasts that would be interested in getting a real behind the scene look at this endeavor, please let them know and pass the link around. Once again, thank you all for your support!”


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Drawing everywhere ..."

“Paperman” director John Kahrs talks about the importance of DRAWING in the CG age.

I'm excited about this film and hats off to John Kahrs and everyone else at Disney who is pushing CG animation in a new direction (combining CG with hand-drawn) but I guess what I'm still sort of scratching my head about is : if Disney wants to retain the look and appeal of hand-drawn animation , then why not just DO Hand-Drawn Animation ?  Am I missing something ?   Seems to me what has really hurt the advancement of hand-drawn animation lately is not the technique , but the the subject matter .


Friday, May 25, 2012

Poe Project on IndieGoGo - Michael Sporn Animation

 UPDATE #2 , May 26, 2012  -   Well, the IndieGoGo site shows that  POE didn't quite reach the funding goal of $13,000, but it got close.    Good luck to Michael Sporn as he continues to press forward with this independent animated feature. 

*However, this just in from Michael Sporn:
"The amount shown on PayPal doesn’t reach the $13,000 goal requested, just $12,225. But several people had difficulty with PayPal and asked to just send me the money directly. With that additional $1450, we’ve definitely reached and passed the goal, and I couldn’t be happier:  $13,675."


UPDATE #1 , May 25, 2012 -  as of this writing only 8 hours to go.   The POE project is at $12,175 ,  just $825  short of the goal of $13,000.    That's doable if only 55 people give the minimum of $15.00 each.    42 people could put them over the top with $20.00 each. 

I just donated to this project and I recommend my readers consider it.

More information in the video and at this link:

The Poe Project on Kickstarter    IndieGoGo

"The Animatic, above, is a rough representation of animation in progress. It helps us tell the story. We hope to turn the many segments started into completed animation to be able to thrust the feature film, POE, into complete production. The  money raised through Kickstarter IndieGoGo will do that for us and help satisfy the needs of the possible distributors and financiers who are already interested."

Director Michael Sporn has worked in animation since the early 1970's , first working with other notable Directors such as John Hubley and Richard Williams , and then running his own studio since the late 1970's . He also has one of the premier animation blogs which I highly recommend you bookmark and check frequently if you don't already have it:

Michael Sporn's Splog

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Support Ken Duncan's "My Beastly ABCs" project on KickStarter

 UPDATE:  FUNDED !    They raised the $35,000 and then some.  

Yet another project worth supporting has come to my attention .    Ken Duncan's studio on Pasadena, CA,  is making an interactive animated app called  "My Beastly ABCs" 

Go to their KickStarter page to read all about the project .   I supported their project and I hope you will consider doing so , too.   Any donation amount would be appreciated.

I think independent projects funded via pages like KickStarter and IndieGoGo are the way hand-drawn animation is going to survive in the short term , so if you want to see this kind of artwork continued to be produced by masters of hand-drawn animation and design such as Ken Duncan , then throw some support their way.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Hand-drawn project worth supporting - Mark Kausler's "There Must Be Some Other Cat"

Sorry to hear that Michael Sporn's  Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his animated feature-film  "POE"  didn't reach it's funding goal.   (see the post below this one)   I supported it and I urge you to do the same if Michael starts another fund-raiser  , which it sounds like he may do soon.   I hope he keeps moving forward with it.

Onward ...

This doesn't have a KickStarter page , but if anyone is looking to support a worthy hand-drawn animation project check out the latest post on animator Mark Kausler's  "Cat Blog" :

 Mark already made the brilliant hand-drawn short  "It's the Cat" a few years ago and has completed animation on his next Cat film "There Must Be Some Other Cat" .

The pencil animation for  "There Must Be Some Other Cat" is finished (Mark showed the pencil test to me at CTN; it's great stuff !)  , but the new film is still slowly inching it's way to completion in color.    It's being done entirely traditionally , so it's hand-inked and painted on actual cels and then photographed on the last working Acme 35mm camera stand in New York City .  (owned by the producer of the film, Greg Ford) .

Like I said, they don't have a KickStarter page, but Mark is selling the hand-inked Cels from the first Cat film to raise money for finishing the new Cat film and also has set up a PayPal account to take contributions from anyone who wants to help finish the film. See his blog post linked above for contact details.

Here are the cels they currently have for sale:

I purchased this beauty:

 (actually one very similar to this one , not this exact frame .  This is from the cel gallery on Mark's website) .

Buy a cel or make a contribution if you support independent animators committed to making hand-drawn animation.    The hand-inked and painted cels are beautiful examples of a craft that is now virtually extinct.

By the way, you can watch the full  PENCIL TEST  of Mark Kausler's first Cat film,  "It's the Cat"  on his website, here:

*NEW : Kausler's Kat now on FACEBOOK (go click the 'Like' button) -


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Story of Animation - an educational film

I saw this posted on the TVPaint Animation Forum.

Nice, humorous (slightly exaggerated) explanation of the production process.  Made as an educational piece for clients wanting to use animation who know nothing about the way animation actually produced.    A lot of production was done by students at  The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark  --

The Story of Animation from David Tart on Vimeo.
What is "The Story of Animation"?
The Story of Animation is an educational film about the process of animation. Although aimed primarily at potential animation clients, the film has something for everyone - animation students, animation artists, animation producers, and anyone who has ever wondered about how animation is made. Please see our website -

The Story
The film follows the journey of "You" (the main character), a 3rd-tier technical writer who dreams of one day being a product designer. Working after hours, he creates a fantastic new product. When he presents his product to his employers, they inform him that it's up to him to create an advertising campaign for the product - an advertising campaign that must be animated. This poses a problem for "you" - he knows very little about animation, and is instantly filled with doubts, and thus his future hangs in the balance. This is where our friendly narrator steps in, to guide "you" through the process of making an animated film. Step by step, our hero's anxiety and doubts are put to rest, and in the end, he is triumphant!

The Production
The Story of Animation came about as a solution to a problem: The Animation Workshop, an animation school in Viborg, Denmark, had been graduating a great number of incredibly qualified animators, animation producers, and CG artists over the past 10 years. These artists had been forming small companies and beginning to produce fantastic work. The problem was not with the studios, or the quality of work they were producing, but rather with the clients: Most of them seemed to believe that animation was a simple, uncomplicated process, and were often disappointed to learn that there were very specific stages in the animation process that required their participation (and finances). It's almost as if they believed that creating animation was as simple as pitching an idea, and then sitting back while a couple of animators with pencil and paper goofed off, told jokes, and drank copious amounts of coffee until "wallah"! the animation was finished! Furthermore, they seemed to think that there would be no difference in cost between an animated film created in flash, 2D, stop motion, cut-out, motion graphics, or fully rendered Pixar-style 3D animation! At the time Morten Thorning, Director of the Animation Workshop approached me with the idea for the film, I was experiencing similar problems with a client in Copenhagen. In fact, I'd just spent several days creating a presentation about the benefits of using animation for an environmental messaging campaign. I was tasked with convincing a panel of scientists, sociologists, environmental activists, and architects how animation could be used to create positive, engaging, and entertaining content for environmental action messaging - no small feat!

The Team
After talking things over with Morten, it was decided that I would write and direct the project, which would be produced by Claus Toksvig of The Animation Hub, and animated at Tumblehead Studios. Tumblehead, led by Magnus Moller, did an amazing job on the film, assembling a team of character designers, animators, storyboard artists, and background artists (all graduates or current students of the Animation Workshop). Tumblehead saw the entire process through, from concept to post-production. The narrator was voiced by the awesome Richard Spiegel, and the sound design and score created by Mark Menza, whose many credits include sound designer and composer for "The Jimmy Neutron Show". Additional support was provided by Thomas Ahlmark (a veteran of many Animation Workshop productions).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Setting the Scene : The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout

This is a must-have book for anyone interested in hand-drawn animation.

Let me rephrase that : this is a must-have book for anyone interested in any kind of  animation or film making , period.

Beautifully illustrated, meticulously researched,  "Setting the Scene : The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout" by Fraser MacLean goes beyond a simple "coffee-table art book" (although it is certainly handsome enough to rate as a coffee table art book) ,  rather the author goes into the real nuts and bolts of layout using examples from well-known films and from some less well-known films from various animation studios.  This book fills a void in providing highly detailed information on the art and craft of Layout .   HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

-David Nethery


"The art of animation layout takes center stage for the first time in this gorgeous, full-color volume. Animation fans and students can finally take a behind-the-scenes peek at the history of layout, the process by which artists plot scenes and stitch together the many elements of animated works. With in-depth text by veteran animator Fraser MacLean, this extraordinary book features previously unpublished art from major studios’ archives—including Warner Bros., Pixar, Walt Disney, and more—as well as interviews with some of the biggest names in animation and a foreword by Academy Award–winning director Pete Docter. From the genre’s earliest pioneers to the digital world of contemporary cinema, Setting the Scene provides an enchanting journey into the history of animation."

Fraser MacLean has worked for Passion Pictures, Cambridge Animation Systems, Telemagination, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, on such films as Space Jam and Tarzan. He currently runs Penciltown Animation and resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. Pete Docter is a longtime Pixar filmmaker and the Academy Award–winning director of Up and Monsters, Inc.

An example of one of the many illustration in the books showing the craft of the Layout Artist at work .

This  L-shaped pan layout with camera move indicated is by veteran Disney/Pixar layout artist Scott Caple , who , I should mention by the way,  teaches two online Layout classes for the Academy of Art University ,  ANM 377 and ANM 605  Layout Design.


Another book on Layout ?   An embarrassment of riches indeed !  --

A good companion book to Fraser MacLean's excellent book on Layout is the latest volume from the Disney Studios Archive series of books called simply:   "Layout & Background" .   The Disney Archive book is more of a typical  "coffee table art book"  , with gorgeous layout and background art from various Disney films on display, but it lacks the technical depth and breadth of Fraser MacClean's book.  However the Disney book is a worthy addition to your library as well.  (if you can only afford one then get "Setting the Scene" by Fraser MacLean ) .

(click image to see it larger)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A new Animation Pencil Test capture station: SIMPLICITY CAM 5e HD DOCUMENT SCANNER

As seen on the TVPaint Community User Forum :

This relatively new image capture station , the Simplicity Cam 5e HD Document Scanner by Recordex-USA may be of interest to online students who are looking to purchase an image capture station or scanner for digitizing their animation drawings --

This unit is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS .

Capture resolution up to 2560 x 1944 (which is actually higher than Academy Full Aperture 2K Film res. of 2048 x 1556).

Manual control of White Balance and Exposure.

Max. capture area of 12.75" x 17.25" (so this will capture the usable drawing area on 12 Field [12"w x 9"h ] and 16 Field [16" w x 12.75" h] animation paper.)

Image capture is much faster than scanning on a Flatbed scanner , but the capture resolution of the Simplicity Cam 5e is equivalent to using a scanner and the resolution is much higher than most webcams or mini-dv cameras that are typically used for pencil testing on a down-shooter.

Confirmed to work with TVPaint Animation running under Windows and Mac OS. (potentially works with any other pencil test software such as Digicel Flipbook, or Toki Line Test, or ToonBoom Pencil Check. But check with the Tech Support Dept. of the software you are using to be sure it meets the specifications for capturing images into your software)

NOTE: You'll need to add a peg bar and the base of the unit will need to be bolted down to a table top or a board so it can't be knocked over or jarred out of position (the base is weighted, but it needs to be completely locked down for animation) . 

This reseller has it listed for $178.00 (price visible if you add it to the cart) -

Lists for $199.00 from this reseller:

More information about this image capture station can be found HERE:


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Lion King roars again

To mark the special occasion of the re-release of "The Lion King" to theaters (in "3D" ) master animator Andreas Deja has posted some pencil tests of his wonderful animation of Scar from "The Lion King" :

I have to say as someone who worked on this film back in 1993- '94 I'm feeling a bit of pride (pun intended) in the fact that The Lion King  was the #1 Film at the Box-office in the U.S.A over this past weekend . It took in close to $30 million dollars (which is nearly twice what industry analysts had projected) .

If you haven't seen it yet go see it now while you have the opportunity to see it on the Big Screen (as it was intended to be seen !).    It's actually playing in some theaters in conventional "flat/2D" projection, so if 3D projection is not your thing you can see it in it's original form.

So now the debate starts: Is it successful because it is "3D-ized 2D" film and the only way for hand-drawn animation to succeed in a big way at the box-office it to jump on the 3D bandwagon, or does common sense tell us that it is successful because a compelling, well told story with appealing characters and top knotch animation will always be a success whether it's done in hand-drawn , computer, or stop-motion ? (I say the latter is the rule , despite some notable exceptions that should have been hits, but were not , like The Iron Giant).

While I think the 3D conversion was done well for the most part and it didn't hurt the original animation overall ,  I think Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew summed up the 3D conversion of The Lion King best:

“Is this trip really necessary”?  No.   3-D adds nothing new to the greatness of Disney’s Lion King.
But anything that returns hand drawn animation to the big screen, and to the attention of the public, is a good thing.  [bold emphasis added by me -DN]
At various times during both screenings I kept thinking how fantastic a new drawn film, designed and shot for 3-D, would be. I hope the public, and the animation community, will one day have a chance to find out."


*UPDATE: Andreas Deja has posted even more of his Scar animation and some drawings on his blog: