|Thumbnails by Milt Kahl|
In a recent blog post, Andreas has uncovered the thumbnail sketches that legendary animator Milt Kahl used to animate his classic scene of Madame Medusa, the villainess of The Rescuers, removing her false eyelashes in the mirror.
The scene is one of Milt's best; a shot I often show in class to illustrate the importance of great acting choices in character animation.
|Medusa adjusts her ear-ring.|
Andreas came across the thumbnails in the form of a lecture given by animator Chuck Harvey at California State University in 2017.
Chuck showed and discussed several Milt Kahl thumbnails for Madame Medusa, the "make-up removal section", where Medusa removes her eyelashes.
The images are low quality - they are "frame-grabbed" from the video, but you can still see how Milt used the thumbnail sketches to plan his work.
Note how Milt also marks the aspect ratio in red, carefully planning how his drawings will be composed within the scene.
Madame Medusa from The Rescuers
You can see the original animation in the video below.
What is remarkable is how closely Milt sticks to the thumbnail poses he first sketched out.
These thumbnail sketches are so important because it's easy to forget, looking at polished, final animation, how much planning went into its creation.
It's like looking at a beautiful building like St Paul's cathedral; without seeing Wren's original plans, you cannot possibly know how the building was created.
A system for planning animation
Student animators need to learn a system for planning their work. Nowadays, 3D animators don't necessarily need to draw that well, but the ability to use thumbnail sketches to plan animation is still an important part of the animator's toolkit.
Thumbnail sketches and animation
To see other how to use thumbnail sketches to plan your work, see more examples below:
- Why thumbnail sketches need facial expressions
- Frank Thomas' thumbnail sketches for Baloo in the Jungle Book
- Thumbnailing Boog from Open Season
- Fagin thumbnails by Glen Keane from Oliver and Company
- Thumbnail sketches of Ursula from Little Mermaid by Ruben Aquino
You can find Andreas's original blog post here:
Chuck Harvey Lecture
And here is a link to the original lecture, given by Chuck Harvey at California State University in 2017.
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