Category Archives: Drawn animation

Bad Penguin on a mission to preserve traditional 2D animation

Bad Penguin

“Once upon a time, in a far away land, cartoons were drawn by hand. Teams of artists painstakingly illustrated cartoons frame-by-frame, creating lavish worlds and colors only previously seen in imagination. In today’s computer world, this craft is all but forgotten,” writes British Academy Award winning animator and author, Tony White.

In a bid to revive the ancient art of hand drawn animation Tony is in the process of raising funds to make a trailer for a project called Bad Penguin at They are 90% funded and have until June 5, 2011 to get the last 10% (otherwise they don’t get anything!).

Bad Penguin tells the story of Cooper, a blind jazz musician who befriends an angry, armed-to-the-teeth penguin that wishes to show Clover City how it feels about Christmas. In a world where a man’s life is worth less than the change in his pockets, can a blind man teach the bird that people and Christmas are both worthwhile?

Character sketches for Bad Penguin

The beauty of this project – should it ultimately get going – is that it will be run through a virtual studio concept. This means that it can involve traditional animators from around the world, keeping the quality high and the costs low.

If you pledge money to this project there are various goodies on offer depending on the amount. They range from Bad Penguin postcards, buttons and t-shirts through to your likeness as a character in the feature with your name in the trailer credits.

You can find out more and make a donation at (until June 5, 2011).

Click Here To Select Your Free Stitching Cards Pattern

David Hand Book of Keys – reference pages

Following on from Mitchell Manuel’s guest post about the Book of Keys, here are some photographs showing the early pages in the book. They are colored images cut out of books or magazines and pasted into the book. This gives an interesting insight on the book as an educational tool.

In Animator Issue 10 there was a report on The Art Babbitt Classical Animation Course. These pictures reminded me of something Art said about the necessary qualifications for an aspiring animator:

“He must possess at least a cursory knowledge and an appreciation of all kinds of art. From Rembrandt to Jackson Pollock – from Breughel to Picasso – from Rowlandson to Ronald Searle.”

“In sum – an animator must be a student of everything that might or does exist. From the shiver of a blade of grass, affected by an invisible breeze, to the behaviour of a starving hobo eating the first steak he has had in years. From a baby, tentatively trying to walk for the first time, to an elephant doing a can-can.”

Click on the small images below to see a larger version.

David Hand Book of Keys – G.B. Animation

Lion cub

Following on from Mitchell Manuel’s guest post about the Book of Keys, here are more images from his collection of David Hand drawings and model sheets. They are model sheets from the British animation studio G.B. Animation. They are probably from the Animaland series of short cartoons (1948 – 1950).

Young lion

Bear cub




Cuckoo model sheet 1

Cuckoo model sheet 2.

Pop model sheet.

David Hand Book of Keys – Snow White

Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy and Dopey relative proportions.

Following on from Mitchell Manuel’s guest post about the Book of Keys, here are some more images from his collection of David Hand drawings. They are model sheets from the Walt Disney feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

Doc model sheet.Dopey model sheet.

Happy model sheet.




David Hand Book of Keys – Pinochio

Jiminy Cricket from Pinochio

Following on from Mitchell Manuel’s guest post about the Book of Keys, here are some more images from his collection of David Hand drawings. They are from the Walt Disney feature film Pinochio (1940) and The Reluctant Dragon (1941).

Apprentice boy rough from The Reluctant Dragon

Apprentice boy cleaned up.

Click on small pictures below to see a larger version. From Pinochio.

Disney animator David Hand’s influence on New Zealand animation

The book of keys

Disney animator David Hand was invited to England in 1944 to help set up GB Animation. It was to be a studio of sufficient size and capacity with which to challenge Disney’s supremacy. Key drawings and character sheets believed to be by David Hand were later taken to New Zealand by animator Bob Morrow, with the aim of setting up a studio there. Mitchell Manuel tells the story in the following guest post.

The History of the Keys

By Mitchell Manuel.

The images illustrating this blog post are from a book of keys put together by Robert Snowden Morrow, a Scotsman, who came to New Zealand in the late 1940’s with ambitions to build an animation studio in NZ.

Bob trained in Cookham (Rank Organization – British Gaumont) in the mid 1940’s and trained with David Hand, John Reed, Ralph Wright and Ray Paterson – to what degree and with which American I do not know. Bob was impressed with David in particular.

Pinocchio rough drawing

Pinochio after clean up

Basically the images were a collection of keys which allegedly David Hand, John Reed, Ralph Wright and Ray Paterson had brought with them to England when they left Disney. Bob was adamant that this was in fact true and was part of a small consignment which he was then able to bring with him to NZ. When I often questioned him about the images and their authenticity he would chuckle and say ‘look at them, they flow symmetrically and with rhythm’ and my being naive at the time didn’t see it for what they were – treasures of a period where excellence, artistry and craftsmanship was truly magnificent and unbelievable.

The pencil drawings are original keys from the original movies. There are also a number of images that are photostat or xeroxed copies from model sheets etc.



The book of KEYS were meant to be used as a training medium for animators which is why they all appear to be keys with key holes and registries for animation desks which were orginal keys from Disney.

In the eighties I trained with Bob’s small company Morrow Productions and befriended both he and his new business partner and budding animator Michael.H.Walker. During the 50s, 60s, 70s and up until 1980 Morrow Productions made an impressive amount of animated training films, documentaries and commercials and these have since been given to the NZ film archives for safe keeping and for historical use.

Sadly Bob passed away in 1981 and Michael in 2004. I worked then and continue to work in the NZ film industry and was gifted the images/keys in the late eighties when Michael believed that the keys were worthless and of no real value. Personally, Michael was incorrect in his summation of the keys and over the years a number of people have expressed that belief. The times have changed and Disney memorabilia is more in demand then ever before.

Michael turned his back on animation to focus instead on feature and television movies. The animation business of Morrow Productions ceased when the NZ competition became fierce and the advent of computer animation, in it’s infancy, was a huge learning curve for both Michael and I – both of which we decided wasn’t a direction we wanted to follow.

Having left animation behind, Michael and I made three films: Kingi’s Story, Kingpin and Mark II. Check out We won modest accolades but then in the late 80’s Michael was struck down by an illness which required more stress free work and but to a pension retired as a mentor to myself and others.

Coming back to the keys however, I had sent similar keys to David Hand’s grandson David inquiring as to the images his grandfather produced and out of our correspondence David had told me his grandfather was not much of a collector of his own work and David asked If I could send him my original keys for exchange for a book. Suffice to say I lost touch of David and the keys were not sent since I wasn’t prepared to part with them a decade ago.

Since looking up David’s website I see that he is now selling copies of the keys and some of which I have which he does not. When I was emailing him there was no intention on my part to sell or use the images except for the delight and interest of collectors, his angle, although quite legitimate, wasn’t something I was keen to help him with.

In terms of origin, technically the keys are British and American in origin but have made their journey here to NZ by way of Disney, David Hand, Gaumont, Morrow Production’s and then to myself.

The book of keys have from my estimate contain about several hundred keys from Disney and Gaumont and is not a serious collection as such but I have had people wanting to buy or seek to procure via my so-called charity but I have not been so forthcoming to part with the originals and I suspect that my collection isn’t as rare as some suspect.

I have visited a number of antique animation key sights in the USA and marvelled at the keys for sale and display and honestly I am very disappointed in the quality and questionable sources from which they came. I understand that Disney shut down access to the Disney keys, cells, images in the sixties since he could predict that if he had not taken such a step that the history of not only Disney but significant American animation history was being eroded by thrifty vision-less hawkers and thieves. I think David was none of the before mentioned but a visionary nevertheless.

Disney was and is a visionary of his time and American animation being at the cutting edge and forefront of an amazing animation history which has affected and enchanted millions and countless more.

Ferdinand the Bull

Richard Taylor, Creative Director of Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand, loved the drawings. Other animators in NZ have seen them and have been inspired. However, the only American people who have actually seen the the book in its entirety and verified their authenticity – as well as offered me some kind of remuneration are two Americans who worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the rings Twin Towers. Bert and Jennifer Klein whom I believe may still be senior animators for Disney. Bert was particularly struck by Ferdinand the Bull. As you may have guessed I didn’t part with them and only met with the couple on the basis that we wouldn’t discuss selling or buying and was simply like-minds meeting to admire beautiful art although ironically by Americans looking at American art in New Zealand.

You have to put images like these in context to NZ animation – there are brilliant animators in NZ but Disney art from the 40’s in Wellington, New Zealand doesn’t come along everyday.

Gipetto rough

Gipetto cleaned up.

Snow White and the seven dwarfs

See Animator Issue 19 for more information about G B Animation.

250 Walt Disney characters by Juan Pablo Bravo

With a timeline from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 through to The Princess and the Frog in 2009 this huge diagram charts 250 scale drawings of the Disney characters. Main characters, villains and secondary characters are defined with differently coloured silhouettes. Artist Juan Pablo Bravo has posted this on his Flickr Photo page for anyone to download. The original is a whopping 20779 x 440 pixels.

Build a simple webcam animation rostrum

Home made animation rostrum

How do you support your webcam when you are filming pencil tests? Do you use a tripod, a chair or a pile of books? This post will tell you how to build a simple webcam rostrum using just a screwdriver, a drill and a saw. If you get your wood merchant to cut the wood to size you won’t even need a saw. If you opt for the bracket method you may not need a drill.

Before we start building lets take a look at a couple of ready made rostrums that I found on the
Animation website.

A large Animation Rostrum complete with lights.

This rostrum has a rigid stand and decent lighting system. The base board is 45cm x 45cm and the column is 92cm high.

It includes a baseboard, column and 2 Lights. Price £149.99.

A small Animation Rostrum.

This compact rostrum is for lightweight compact cameras. It’s a good choice for those starting out in animation. Its baseboard is 30.5cm x 23cm and column height can be set from 7 to 30.5cm.

It includes a baseboard and telescopic column. Price £20.99.

At the price of the small rostrum it is hardly worth building your own. However, maybe you are on a tight budget or just enjoy dong it yourself.


You may already have some off-cuts of wood in your workshop that can be utilised. Or your local wood merchant may have an off-cut bargain bin.

Baseboard: Chipboard 18mm thick, width and depth about 150mm larger that the animation paper you are using.

Column and top arm: Planed Smooth Timber 44mm x 44mm square, length around 400mm.

Camera bracket: Planed Smooth Timber 44mm x 18mm x 100mm.

Screws: 60mm long.
Camera bolt: ¼ inch Witworth fits most cameras. If you are unsure take your camera to the hardware store and try it. Be careful not to damage the camera thread when testing.

Click diagram for larger version.


Click diagram for larger version.


Top arm = A – B.

Column = C – D.

Base board depth = E + F.

Baseboard width = animation paper width + 20mm.

The length of the column (C – D) can be be worked out by holding the camera above a sheet of animation paper and moving it up and down until you get the best fit of the paper on the screen.

Cut the materials to size.

Drill, screw and assemble using the diagram as a guide.

An alternative method of assembly is to use brackets.

Lighting can be the available light in the room since webcams usually work in low light. Or you could use a couple of small desk lamps, one either side, to give more consistent coverage.
If you fancy building a more comprehensive stand suitable for a video camera or light 16mm camera then take a look at my D.I.Y Rostrum article in the magazine library section of this blog (Animator mag issue 14).