Monday, October 17, 2016

Collecting Original Animation Production Drawings - A Quick Overview

Original production animation drawing in red, blue, green, yellow, and graphite pencils of Pinocchio from "Pinocchio," 1940, Walt Disney Studios; On watermarked five peg hole paper with production stamp lower right; Numbered D-20 in pencil lower right; Size - Pinocchio 8 x 5 1/2", Sheet: 10 x 12"; Unframed.

To purchase this drawing or to visit the Art Gallery, CLICK HERE!

Note: The following overview is specific to Walt Disney original production animation drawings.

Most animation art collectors begin with drawings, because they are less expensive compared to painted animation cels and easily understood as works of art. Pencil drawings of a character accomplished on peg hole animation paper represent the first step in the animation process. They are also from the hand of a master animator, and therefore more easily understood as being one-of-a-kind and collectible. Condition issues of drawings are relatively simple; the paper may be darker or lighter or there may be small tears or creases; and most of these imperfections are the result of normal handling occurring over time.

Production drawings fall into various classifications: concept, layout, model, rough, clean up, and color call out. Concept drawings are just that, conceptual drawings that are created as the character is developed. They represent the first step that the animators undertake while working out ideas on how a character will look and move. Layout drawings are used to show how the character will appear in a given camera shot, and are distinguished by rectangular camera frame lines centered around the character. Model drawings are mostly derived from tracing a cleanup drawing of a character, usually separated into individual character parts, with each on a separate sheet of paper. Model drawings are used by the animators to make sure the character is drawn consistently between different animators throughout the character's appearance in the film. Rough drawings are very loose fluid drawings of a character, to show movements and represent an early step in the animation of a scene. A clean up drawing is the final drawing created before being sent to the Ink and Paint Department to be inked and painted onto celluloid. Color call out drawings are usually completed on cleanup drawings, and contain lines drawn to specific areas of a character with an associated number. The numbers correspond to paint colors created for that film. It is interesting to note that each film had it's own batch of paint colors created, so that the black paint used in "Peter Pan" would be different than the black used for "Lady and the Tramp."

In the case of my own Gallery, I made the decision to concentrate almost exclusively on clean up drawings. The clean ups are the final stage in the animation process and the characters are always on model, so they are drawn exactly as they appear in the finished film. For many collectors, the more notes present on the sheet and if the clean up is also a color call out, increase the drawing's collectability.

If you have collected drawings, it quickly becomes apparent that for any given character, the drawings on the market are from specific scenes. For instance, there are a large number of drawings from the sequence of the Old Hag/Witch from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at the window of the Dwarf cottage. In comparison to drawings of her at the cauldron preparing the poisoned apple; where I have never seen a single drawing. I point this out because many collectors think they can acquire a specific drawing from their favorite part of the movie, and in most cases this is simply not possible.

Drawings of Mickey Mouse from the 1930's and 40's are prevalent, however drawings of him from the 50's are practically none existent. Drawings and cels from Mickey's first color appearance in "The Band Concert," 1935 are also very rare. In fact the key setup of him from this short is the most expensive piece of animation art ever to sell. Drawings from "Steamboat Willie," 1928 (Generally considered Mickey's first appearance is film and the first animated short with synchronized sound) are prevalent and also expensive (thousands of dollars). Over the past several years I have been offered several of these drawings, however all of them have been fake. I have a feeling that a great many of the "Steamboat Willie" drawings of Mickey Mouse with a pair of sticks in his hands, floating about in the market are in fact fake drawings.

Original production animation drawing of Mickey Mouse in red, yellow, green, and graphite pencils; Numbered 32A lower right, and used during the production of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence of "Fantasia," 1940, Walt Disney Studios; Size - Mickey Mouse: 5 x 5 3/4", Sheet 10 x 12", Frame 16 1/2 x 19"; Framed using an acid free mat, gold wood frame, and UV conservation clear glass.

Original production animation drawing of Mickey Mouse from "The Band Concert," 1935, Walt Disney Studios; Graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 337 upper right; Size - Mickey Mouse: 5 1/4 x 5 1/2", Sheet 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.

It is interesting to note that you have a much better chance of acquiring a drawing of your favorite character from the vintage Disney films (1959 and before) than you do from the contemporary (1961 and after). (I will discuss the reason for this in a future blog.) Drawings from "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," 1961 and all other films afterward are extremely rare. For instance only a handful of drawings are on the market of Marc Davis's masterpiece Cruella De Vil; and you would think with all those puppies there would be at least one drawing on the market... nope! In the case of "Robin Hood," 1973; in 20 years I have only seen a few drawings of Sir His and a handful of roughs of Prince John. I have never seen a drawing of Kaa, only two of Shere Khan, I have had only two drawings of Madame Medusa, and there are very few drawings on the market from "The Aristocats." It should be noted that drawings are now beginning to appear on the market from the last of the Disney films specifically, "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," and "The Lion King." The drawings are animator roughs and sell in the hundreds of dollars. Collectors should be very wary of cleanups, as the Walt Disney Studios have not authorized any of those drawings for the retail market, and so they reside in the Walt Disney Animation Archives.

Original production animation drawing of Cruella De Vil from "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," 1961, Walt Disney Studios; Size - Cruella 9 1/4 x 8", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2", Frame 29 x 31 1/4"; Sheet stamped with production numbers lower left; Framed with a silver wood frame, two linen mats, a silver wood fillet, and UV conservation clear glass.

There are drawings of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" holding the heart box, however they rarely appear on the market. This is due to a very strong demand by collectors for the drawings, and so they are usually traded privately. I have owned about five of her with the heart box and run across three that were fake. I again warn collectors to be careful in regards to the Queen with the heart box, and to consult the advise of an expert.

Original production animation drawing of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937, Walt Disney Studios; Graphite, green, blue, and red pencils on watermarked five peg hole paper; Production numbers stamp lower left and numbered 156 in graphite pencil lower right; Size - Queen 10 x 5 1/2", Sheet 10 x 12", Frame 28 x 29 3/4"; Framed with a gold wood frame, two acid free linen mats, gold wood fillet and conservation clear glass.

In addition to drawings that exist on the open market that are rare, there are also characters that no clean up drawing has ever been seen: The Magic Mirror from "Snow White," the Headless Horseman, Ichabod Crane, the majority of characters from "Alice In Wonderland" including the Mad Hatter, Lady Tremaine/The Wicked Stepmother from "Cinderella," and many others. There are also characters where only a very few drawings have been seen in the market; Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, Bambi, the Queen of Hearts, and Dumbo just to name a few. Note: The drawing pictured below is one of only a very few drawings to exist on the open market of Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox, and the only clean up drawing of Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, and the Tar Baby on a single sheet. I do consider this the greatest drawing on the market from "Song of the South!"

Original production animation drawing in red, blue, green, and graphite pencils of Br'er Bear, Br'er Fox, and the Tar Baby from "Song of the South," 1946, Walt Disney Studios; On five peg hole paper; Numbered A192 in blue pencil lower right; Size - Characters 7 1/2 x 10 1/2", Sheet: 10 x 12"; Unframed.

Once you have your prized animation drawing, now what? Some collectors keep the drawing flat and in an acid free environment, however the vast majority want to display the work to enjoy. Framing  should be completed by a reliable framer using only acid free mats, acid free foam core backing, and UV conservation clear glass. The object is to keep the drawing looking it's best, but at the same time maintain the drawing for future generations. Some collectors float the drawing using acid free hinges so that entire sheet of paper can be seen; while others want to mat out the notes, peg holes, and numbers to focus on just the character. Either framing option is fine, it's simply a collector's choice. My only advise it to not bend or fold the paper, never erase a note or number just to make the matted character look better, and avoid any type of restoration to a drawing. Minor paper toning, creases, or small tears to the sheet edges only add to the fact that this was something that was used to make an animated film.

My parting advise for Disney original animation drawing collectors is that you should look for drawings that you like; after all you are the one who is going to be living with it. Each drawing, even from the same sequence, is different. The character may be eyes and/or mouth open, have a fantastic expression, or some other factor that appeals to you. If that drawing sells the next drawing you see for sale, even from the same sequence, could be radically different. If you see a drawing that you think is perfect for your collection, you may want to pounce; because chances are you won't see it again!