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Drawing for Animation - Inspirational Sketches Derived From Disney

Remy Francis is a social | artistic | tech | entrepreneur in Dubai.

It is my pleasure to present to you the first in my animation series on HubPages with a 'Drawing for Animation' theme.

Drawing is an important skill required of any animator. Strong drawing skills and great animation go hand-in-hand in a successful animation career.

Even if one is a born artist, the art and craft of animation makes it mandatory to practice high-speed drawing. Therefore, quick sketches are a craft which develops with practice.

The following are some of my early official sketches as I religiously followed the above rule. I frequently made these quick sketches to develop this very important skill required for traditional and modern-day character animation.

It is suggested that the aspiring animator make it a daily routine to study from life-forms.


My take on Life-drawing

Life drawing sketches, such as what you see here, are required to master the Art of Animation. I made these way back in 1990-91 when I was an aspiring animator with a Disney dream.


Back then, Animation was all new at our modern South Indian Metro. However, we – a group of wide-eyed passionate female artists who were just out of science and fine arts Graduate Schools – paid models on weekends with our own money, so we could practice Life Drawing.

Thanks to our perseverance in following our distant dream with the direction from the books to follow the foot-steps of some great Disney master animators of the golden years, with some volunteered studio-space it was all motivational enough to let our endeavors going. Let yourself be guided by a good mentor who only means well for you.If you are at this stage, this article maybe a good start for you.

Constant practice and in-depth research is paramount to developing stronger skills in drawing. This grounding is required of all interns aspiring to work on reputable animation productions around the world.

The mid-1930s were the best years for animators, especially Disney animators, because there was a mammoth growth in the studio during the exciting exploratory, experimental golden era of animation. This was when it all started with the Nine Old Men of Disney. Disney is a pioneer today because it instilled in its animators a spirit of constant study, soul-searching inside the art, and more study to keep them advancing.

This trend was set by the legendary Walt Disney as early as the 1930s, when he realized the importance of drawing in animation.

He hired Don Graham to teach drawing once a week to improve drawing talents of the Disney Staff. He started teaching regular Life Drawing, but thanks to Walt, who was very difficult to please, Don had to get into an intensive method of training because Walt Disney wanted him to become an outstanding authority on line-drawing in all of the USA.

Walt Disney wanted him to teach his animators what they were never taught in art school.

Don studied in-depth about Life Drawing, to be able to meet Walt's enthusiasm for making his team master its complexities. In order to assist Don, who was just an art instructor, with becoming able to teach drawing in context with animation, he got Don to learn animation.

Here are some of the sketches featuring Walt Disney’s own explanation for each type of drawing method. Also included are my Suggestions from my experience in Animation and Art. Enjoy the ride!

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A feeling of life and movement is paramount in drawing for animation. Figure drawings of about one to five minutes should suggest movement, volume and structural clarity.

Portfolios should demonstrate the skill to quickly capture the qualities of volume and vitality in line. These should be from Life Drawing class and/or from everyday surroundings.

Spirited drawings that suggest mood, character and altitude are the best of all. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)



My take on Gestures

Practice sketching the human being on a daily-basis. Visit gyms, aerobic centers, tournaments, cafeterias...just to capture moods and attitudes of people. And draw, draw, draw!!


Animal Quick Sketches

The ability to quickly and clearly draw animals in movement and at rest is of great importance. These drawings should show an understanding of how animals naturally move as solid structural volumes in a three dimensional space. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)


My take

It pays off to make field trips to places like the zoo and wildlife sanctuaries with the purpose of sketching animals, in order to be able to quickly sketch them while in movement.

I was once sketching an elephant in a South India Zoo under a Banyan tree. My companion Linda, who came along to enjoy her day out in the zoo while sitting with me, had fled from the scene. She was no more to be seen next to me. Now why was that?!! I had not noticed that the elephant stood right next to me. I was horrified!

While quick sketching the gigantic beauty from afar, I kept my eyes glued to my paper (doing the finishing touches). I did not notice her with her care-taker passing by me, as the elephant was being taken for her regular bath.

While quick-sketching, for best results one needs to keep the eyes glued to the subject, as the target time of completion must be less than one minute.

Figure Drawings (more developed works):

In addition to rapid gestures, these are some of the more completely resolved representations of the human figure. These works should be simple and clear and primarily rendered in line. Be sure to draw hands, feet and faces whenever possible. Work to create a variety of dynamic, lively poses and angles. (c) Disney Feature Animation recruitment (internship portfolio reqt.)


My Take

It is suggested that students of such sessions compulsorily should have gone through Life Drawing sessions. Life Drawing is a major part of ArtSchool, where the artists are asked to sketch from live human models. The human body is the most complicated yet beautiful creation artistically speaking, and yet the toughest to create or draw. An aspiring animator/character animator must study the human body like the palm of our hands. This could enable them to eventually animate a human 3D model, seamlessly. If animators have no grounding in this area, it will show in their lifeless animations and forms.

Animals: (more developed drawings)

This represents more finished animal studies. Again, it is best to use linear techniques to show more specific nuances of an animal’s structure and character. Search for a natural sense of how each animal moves and behaves. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)

Refined Works:

Refined works are extended drawings. These could be figures, portraits, animals or compositions of landscapes or architectural environments. A few illustrations and compositions interpreted from photographs are okay, but preferred are examples drawn from observations of life. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)


It is said that Don Graham eventually became the best in line drawing, but the intellectual accomplished this only with his patience and perseverance. There had been many nights of pressure for Don till he broke the ice as he made his injection into the actual work of animation seamless.

Before I say adieu this time, let me show you my evolution into the field of animation spanning from 1987-1994. It was long and painful, but surely pleasant to have joined the club of animators like this.

Charcoal Sketches

Charcoal Sketches

Charcoal Sketches

Charcoal Sketches

ISO 9000 cartooning gig

ISO 9000 cartooning gig

ISO 9000 cartooning gig

ISO 9000 cartooning gig

Character Design for Harpic Commercials

Character Design for Harpic Commercials

In 1994, I joined the then India's premium animation studios that took off with the Kawasaki Bajaj fame, having brought (an international animators' association) to India for the first time, and having been the first to bring the Travelling Art Show to India. Today, animation still keeps me busy in my work-life very regularly, with me directing and fine-tuning what my team does for my films, never completing a branding endeavor without my animations in it.

In 2006, while I drove past Disney Feature Studios at Burbank, California, I could not help thinking about my Disney Dream 20 years ago. Though I never got to working there, it still seems all surreal because that dream and a perseverance to draw for animation got me travelling and connecting with the people who till today make waves in the field of animation, living the Illusion of Life.


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© 2010 Remy Francis


Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on September 16, 2012:

Hi Zera

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes definitely you can. All the best with your drawing exercises.

SotD and Zera on August 25, 2012:

One of my weaknesses in drawing is speed- I tend to draw really slowly. It's good to know that this is something that can be overcome with practice! Thanks for the great advice.


madhu mondol on March 05, 2012:

good job

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on February 10, 2012:

Thank you kittyjj for your kind words!

Ann Leung from San Jose, California on February 09, 2012:

Beautiful drawings. Love them all! :)

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on October 24, 2011:

Hey Ricki Thank you so much for your comments. I am glad I was able to scintillate your want to sketch more again. All the best!

Ricki Landers from Gatlinburg, Tennessee on September 29, 2011:

Love it, thanks so much for posting. It has been a while since I did sketches like this and I hope to find the time soon to focus on it again. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my thoughts again ;)

My husband has done art all over the world including at Disney, I wish he would focus more on his art because I think it would make him a much for happy person if he focused on his art.

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on August 30, 2011:

Hey there jperry106 Thanks for your appreciation. I am glad you are participating in the animation subject in spite of not being in the field...that is also my intent to get whole communities interested. Thanks!

Well not really jperry106 as you may notice there is a certain beauty in traditional disney-style cel animation as there is for Computer generated animation too. You look at Lion King (the circle of life animated movie) or snow-white and Finding Nemo (computer animated movie), Avatar (3D movie). All look fascinating in its own way. Of course I do most of my work using the computer as a tool. These days (happening for many years now) computers have been used to simplify/clean up our original work on paper...those days it took months if not years for things we could accomplish today within days.

Another aspect in the value of the drawn animation of yester-years is the value of Animation art. Just put a search for Animation Art collection on google and you would know its value in the market. Even concept art cels (acetates) are sold. Best part is it appreciates in time and is a valuable collectible. Walk into an Official Disney Merchandise Store and you could find limited editions/certified and sold to you.

jperry106 from Castle Hayne NC on August 30, 2011:

I do not know too much about animation only from what I see on TV, Comic Books and Movies. Do you think that they will stop drawing on paper and just do everything through the computer? Also your drawing are beautiful.

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on August 26, 2011:

Thanks so much Pixienot...for having stopped by and your vote ;o) Your interest motivates me to write more on the subject...I promise to make time! sorry missed seeing your message earlier.

Hey Patkay

Thank you so much for your compliments.

I sure will continue on this cause...Thanks for your endorsement too! Much appreciated.

Patrick Kamau from Nairobi, Kenya on August 26, 2011:

In life, it is important for one to make use of ones talent. And that is what you are doing. Your drawing is superb. Continue like that, I will have to check on your other hubs.

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on August 23, 2011:

Hey Cashmere

Thank you for stopping by...and all your kind words...wished and friendly jealousy ;o)

Oh you can draw.... Just practice..sketch sketch sketch and you will get it. Try to look at the world like a paining in a frame....that's all there Cashmere. TC

cashmere from India on August 22, 2011:

beautiful sketches, love the shading you give.

Wish I could draw a straight so jealous :)

Pixienot from Clarksville, Indiana on February 09, 2011:

Rembrandz, I so much enjoyed this hub. I look forward to seeing your other hubs.

Voted up and awesome.

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on January 04, 2011:

Hello SchwarZ22

Thank you for stopping by. Congrats! Your talent makes it all the more easier to help you draw anything. But as you read in this hub I can't stress enough, how important it is to practise drawing. Just keep sketching human anatomy from subjects in real life as you go about doing your daily chores, and you'll master the skill eventually. The more you sketch with passion the better you get. So the key words here are passion, practise and patience. I will try to suggest some books as reference in this journey of yours. All the best!

SchwarZ22 from Davao, Philippines on December 29, 2010:

i have a "raw" talent in drawing, i mean i can draw full figure of a male and female. the problem is that i can draw them in static format, which means i only have 1 angle of it; the semi side view. i find full front view difficult to draw. if there is any you can tip me for starting to draw figures that has diffirent angels please do..^_^

i want to someday be on animation world and draw ...

Website Examiner on December 13, 2010:

Rembrandz, I am on the HubPages feed and saw you reply, so I can respond quickly. I am fine, thank you. Having spent nearly one year on the site, I have gotten things set up pretty much the way I had intended, and this gives me freedom to work on projects. I would like for you to write creatively. If I can support you with proofreading, mentoring or anything else, I will be happy to do so free of charge, within reasonable limits. Feel free to contact me via my profile page.

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on December 13, 2010:

Thanks WE always great to hear from you. Thank you again for your kind words. Am pleased if my readers are able to gather something off my experiences. Which becomes good tips for newbies.

Am good WE and you?

Well my wish is to keep up with my writing and sharing passions. But life gets in the way. But I somehow try to squeeze in some time to have a hub or two here. I wish I could have writing part of my main life someday.

Website Examiner on December 12, 2010:

I admire your creative talent, both in words, images, and ability to think original. Every time you write, it is something substantial and really worthwhile. It has been awhile since I had the opportunity to informally critique your work; hopefully you are well.

hatemsalah on December 12, 2010:

thank you see this link :

Remy Francis (author) from Dubai on December 02, 2010:

Thank you for stopping by and for your appreciation Mark.

Mark Ewbie from UK on December 01, 2010:

I love your drawings, thanks for sharing.

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