Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mary Poppins HORSE Cel

This particular setup is one of the most elaborate I've done to date.

Readers know of my near-obsession with MARY POPPINS. It was Walt Disney's masterpiece, bringing together all the studio's magic - animation, live action, special effects, storytelling, and music.

It's been an exciting part of collecting animation art to build my POPPINS collection. No matter how many pieces I have, there always seems to be "just one more" that I must have... and the collection continues to grow.

I recently acquired an original production cel of a horse from the animated "fox hunt" sequence. This is really quite a find - I've never seen another like it.

When I am offered a cel, I always go to the film to find the key frame in which the cel appears. Here's the horse's key frame:

So... the horse originally had a hunter.Finding the matched hunter production cel is unlikely at best.

What to do?

I asked my restoration artist (who was "ink and paint" trained at Disney) if she could recreate the Hunter overlay cel. She not only recreated the cel, but used a special technique to make her hand-inking look like Xerox lines! It's just briliiant, and so is she. Of course, we agreed the word "re-creation" should be hand-inked at the bottom of the cel, and it was. (Due to image cropping you can't see it here.) Here's the beautiful new Hunter cel:

The next step was to layer the cels together. Here's how the Horse and Hunter look together... re-united after forty years!

The setup would be incomplete without a digitally re-assembled key master background, which I created.

I think you'll agree, the end result (pictured at the beginning of this post) is a tremendous setup, worth all the time and effort.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More MARY POPPINS: Penguins and Barnyard Birds!

Disneyland's Art Corner saved many wonderful cels, and decades after it closed it still provides an ongoing source of artwork for animation art collectors.

Here's a delightful setup with two cels from MARY POPPINS, from different scenes! I have a large collection of original POPPINS cels. But in over a decade of collecting, I've never seen any cels of the barnyard sequence animals. So I jumped on this!

Typical of Art Corner setups which were literally just thrown together (and sold for about a dollar apiece!), this has a completely unrelated print background from SLEEPING BEAUTY! Sorry for the flash glare - I didn't take the photo.

When I saw this setup, of course I immediately went to the DVD and found the key frames:

I then digitally created two new, separate master backgrounds, so the cels can be set up separately. Here are the backgrounds:

As soon as the cels arrive I will create the new setups, scan them, and post them here. I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May Restorations!

Today I am sharing three new setups, all Disney, all 1960s, all films with Sherman Brothers music! OK, technically, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS was released in 1971, but it was in production in the sixties.)

I actually have two "fish" cels from the "Beautiful Briny Sea" number in BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS. That segment combining live action and animation is a knockout. (Did you know the music was a "trunk song," left over from MARY POPPINS?)

The newest acquisition has the left two fish. Here's how the cel looked when I got it, bad mat and all.

It is one of those mysterious cels that matches the sequence but doesn't appear in the film. (Cutting room floor?)

It was unfortunately severely trimmed by the previous owner. I re-created the background with the empty shell on the left, but I retained a pose of the right side fish I liked. Here's the digitally composited background:
In the finished setup, all three fish are swimming along together, once again. I now can have a "Beautiful Briny Sea" cel at home and in my dressing room at Hollywood's El Capitan theatre!Another childhood favorite was THE SWORD AND THE STONE. While it may not hold up quite as well as some other Disney features, it has some good moments, especially the wizards' duel, and the squirrel sequence where
the little girl squirrel gets all "twitterpated" about young "Wart" as a squirrel.

I acquired this cel earlier this year.This was one of those B/Gs where the characters never completely clear the B/G. When this happens, I hand paint the character's edges in Photoshop, so when the cel is placed on the re-created B/G, the ink/Xerox lines don't show. What's behind the cel isn't crucial because it's covered. (I'm giving away my secrets here!) I only do this when it's impossible to recreate the entire B/G. Sometimes I'll leave 2-3 cel points so I can exactly place the cel as it appears in the film. With
the squirrels, I kept Wart's hand (paw?), his eye area, and part of his tail. In this way the cel can be perfectly positioned. When I recreate the entire B/G, sizing is exact but I have to ballpark the positioning using elements of the background.At any rate, the squirrel setup is a great pose, and now once again has its key master (laserprint) B/G.
Last - Madam Mim as a beauty!!!

I was able to get this, and settled for eyes closed because I'd never seen a cel from this very short segment, literally just a few frames. It was a tight shot. The Art Corner cel (released as a souvenir at Disneyland) was (as often is the case) heavily trimmed.

Here's the digitally recreated key master background:And finally the finished setup with laserprint B/G. You can clearly see where the trimmed cel sits on the finished B/G. I haven't decided exactly how I'll mat this. I thought I'd leave the scan "as is," uncropped, so you can see the entire piece.
All in all, a very good day's work for the animation art form and my collection!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Art Corner Restorations: Pete & Donald

Ah, the magical, mystical Art Corner. Long ago, it was Disneyland's dispatch center for thousands of vintage Disney cels, where you could buy original Disney artwork as a souvenir!

The Art Corner setups were often very puzzling - unlikely characters from completely different movies thrown together, with non-matching print backgrounds.

The cels were trimmed (often badly). I'm sure the idea was, the smaller the trim job, the smaller the mat... less cost! And the mats were not top-of-the-line to begin with!

All this showed how little regard was given to the actual artwork. It was making movies that was the thing... the artwork was just a part of the process, thought relatively worthless once photographed.

But thank God Disney sold these at the Art Corner instead of hauling them to the dump. Little did anyone know at the time, they were saving a significant portion of animation history.

As a collector, I find the Art Corner pieces intriguing for many reasons. Not least is the fact that you could buy hand-painted original Disney artwork for a dollar! (Occasionally slightly more. The very high end pieces I'm told were five dollars. That was for large setups with multiple characters.)

As a collector, I also enjoy saving pieces of animation history that might otherwise end up lost.

Such is today's story of Pete and Donald.

When I acquired this two-cel setup it was a mess. It had just about every problem possible. Cracking and missing paint plus major adhering problems. Not only was the bottom cel (Pete) adhered to the colored art board B/G (a common malady), Donald (the top cel) had adhered to the top of Pete. Specifically, the colored paint on the back of Donald's cel had adhered to Pete's ink lines on the top of his cel.

As I said, this was a mess. A big mess.

But the beautiful thing about cel restoration (done properly) is it can bring back damaged art. Even as bad than this!

The cels went to my talented restoration artist. And I began my research.

The Donald cel was immediately recognizable from DONALD IN MATHMAGICLAND. I digitally re-created the key master B/G.

As for the Pete cel, it's from interstitial material from "Donald's Award." Walt created his TV animation in color. Some of it was filmed in both color and black and white. Maybe someday the color version will surface and we'll see it.

In the meantime, the black and white version is on YouTube. Take a look!

The restorations turned out beautifully. But even more mind-boggling, my artist friend Kathy is capable of painting stunning reproduction key master backgrounds in every Disney style and from all eras.

I sent Kathy these screen grabs.

Using her imagination, she concocted the dandy custom B/G (and its color palette) for Pete. Fantastic!

Two wonderful pieces of vintage animation art are now restored with key master background presentations.

Is this a great hobby or what??!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Pictured here, the finished setup of Cruella DeVil, one of the greatest animated villains of all time. Mark Davis was the Disney artist who brought her to life. He animated every frame of this character, a Disney first.

Here is the cel, originally released by the Art Corner at Disneyland. Great pose, beautiful colors. Imagine getting this for a dollar!Unfortunately I was about 30 years late for an Art Corner bargain. But I was still delighted to add this to my animation art collection in January 2008. I purchased it from the good folks at the Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks, CA. They are great people, with a staggering array of artwork from which you can choose. They are knowledgeable and friendly, and their prices are very fair. The Van Eaton Gallery gets my highest recommendation. When in the Los Angeles area stop by and tell 'em Rob Richards sent you!
Van Eaton's presentation had cleverly set up the cel with a laserprint of a background layout drawing of Roger and Anita's living room. It was quite nice. But ever the perfectionist, I wanted my setup with a digitally recreated key master B/G from the movie. And fortunately I knew just the guy to do it... me!

With the key master B/G recreated, Cruella was carefully positioned, and the cel now precisely recreates the exact frame in the movie. With one exception... the new setup actually lets us see more of the cel than we did in the movie!

Monday, March 3, 2008


Last year, I was delighted and surprised to find two Disneyland Art Corner original animation cel setups, featuring the unlikely pairings of Donald Duck (from the film AMERICA AND STEEL, 1963) and penguins from MARY POPPINS (1964).

These came from separate sources but appeared within days of each other! Simply unbelievable.

The likelihood of this ever happening again was absolutely impossible. Right? Wrong!

I recently received an email from a very thoughtful fellow who discovered me via my animation blogs. He'd found some original Disney cels at an estate sale, tucked in between some old vinyl records. He asked if I had any interest in them. You better believe I answered that email quickly!

I made an offer, he accepted, and the deal was done. The cels arrived today. They are absolutely mint. No restoration needed (rather unusual for cels over 40 years old). These look like they were painted yesterday! Even the clear plastic cel material (on which the art is painted) is flawless, without any rippling or shrinking so often seen on pieces like this.

Typical of Art Corner setups, the color print backgrounds provided are totally non-key, from unrelated films. The pine tree B/G is from PAUL BUNYAN and the wintry B/G is from 101 DALMATIANS! Not to worry, I am at work on digitally reconstructing the key Master backgrounds for each individual cel.

Art Corner setups included the official "Gold Seal" certificate of authenticity affixed to the back of the artwork. Here's the Gold Seal from the Donald/Penguin with the "Paul Bunyan" background:

Perhaps the most amazing thing is the original Disneyland price, handwritten in pencil on one of these setups - $1.50! Oh, if only I had a time machine...

The Art Corner presentations as originally released by Disneyland are pictured above. Below, the the cels' actual corresponding moments in their respective films. Don't forget to click on the photos to see the larger versions with more detail.

And finally... the cel setups with their new digitally re-created key backgrounds:

Monday, February 4, 2008

SHERE KHAN (The Jungle Book)

This special setup from THE JUNGLE BOOK is a true collector's prize. Shere Khan cels are very rare.

The original Art Corner cel was in pretty rough shape. Cel paint was cracked, some missing, and the original piece had a yellow art board background that had obviously received some water damage. Professional restoration brought back the stunning beauty of the image.

Here's a comparison montage of the cel, before and after restoration:

The original frame in the movie looks like this:

The re-created background was created successfully for this presentation, even though it is one of those that couldn't be completely finished, as Shere Khan doesn't completely move out of center. The small "unrestored" area (maybe 5% of the total image, in the lower center) is of course hidden behind the cel. (The finished setup is the image at the very beginning of this post.)