Friday, August 31, 2007

The "Freddie Moore Girl"!

In my last post I referred to the "Freddie Moore Girl" in describing the type of very cute and curvy cartoon girls that you would see in some of the Disney films of the 40's and 50's. Fred Moore was an animator who has become somewhat legendary to Disney animation aficionados over the years. He was largely self-taught, but with an innate ability to draw everything assigned to him with great visual appeal. Those who worked with him claim that he couldn't have done a bad drawing if he'd tried, so natural was his talent. I'm not going to give a whole history of Fred, suffice to say that he was the animator who really determined the final designs of the Seven Dwarfs, as well as having helped Mickey's design to constantly evolve into ever more appealing and animatable forms. In his off time, Fred was most renowned for his numerous sketches of cute, innocently sexy young girls, which were in high demand from his many fans within Disney's animation department. Fortunately for we Disney collectors, some of these sketches have made it onto the open market through various animation art auctions. I was lucky enough to have gotten the two that you see here:

This was my first acquisition, and it is somewhat unique in that he actually signed this one. Many times it appears that he did not, as I suppose he was tossing them off so fast that he probably didn't consider them particularly noteworthy himself. I love the "baby fat" on these girls - it's a shame that nowadays that look is not as fashionable as it was back then. I think they look very cute and cuddly, myself!

This was my second purchase several years later. What I find really interesting about this one is the fact that it's so unfinished. It's as if Fred got bored and left it before he finished up the ink outline. From my standpoint, it's neat just to be able to see how he worked: starting out with soft coloured pencil sketch, adding a few splashes of watercolour for substance, then finishing it with a somewhat more refined ink line. I always like to think the older sister resembles the young Natalie Wood!

Here is some more art that I have in my collection that relates to Fred Moore, whether or not any of these are actually his work. All three of these are clean-up pencil drawings from the "Pastoral" animation in "Fantasia". Yes, that's right, I said CLEAN-UP drawings, in a way that you'll never see them done now, sadly, due to the requirements of scanning them into the digital colouring system for the films being done these days. I just adore these drawings for the "sculpted" thick and thin linework. Just look at that first one particularly, of the centaurette shaking off the water droplets. That had to be done with a nice soft pencil, not too sharp, where the variation in line weight is achieved through the angle of the pencil and the pressure applied. You sure can't do that today with those silly, needle-thin mechanical pencils all the studios are using. Yep, we've lost a lot of the glorious craftsmanship from the past in this computer age we live in now. That's why my Disney animation art collection is limited to mostly the Walt era.

By the way, if you want to see a ton more of great Fred Moore drawings, check out Jenny Lerew's "The Blackwing Diaries" blog. She's far more knowledgable on his life history too, and her writings are really quite interesting. The bulk of her Fred Moore artwork seems to be in her archives, roughly from April 2006 through July 2006, with a smattering of stuff before and after as well. Definitely worth studying for all you animation students too!


Amir Avni said...

On the topic of Mickey's design:
I heard it was Zack Schwartz who added the white to Mickey's eyes, changing from the Ub Iwerks black circle eyes. Issit true?

David said...

Zack was an art director/layout artist on The Sorcerer's Apprentice (which if I recall correctly is the first time the new eye design was used on Mickey) , but I doubt he would have been the one to make that design change . I've always heard that change attributed to Fred Moore.

I suppose it's possible that Zack had some hand in suggesting to Fred that they try something new with Mickey's eyes for Sorcerer's Apprentice ?

Pete Emslie said...

I'm glad you fielded that question, David, as I had no idea! I believe that the first time Mickey was actually portrayed with complete eyes, though, was not onscreen but on a printed program for a Disney employee event entitled "Walt's Field Day" in 1938 celebrating their success of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". It was a drawing of Mickey playing golf, done by Ward Kimball if I recall correctly.

Regardless of how the change came about and whose idea it was, I think it was essential that it took place when it did. Though many would argue that Mickey was funnier in the B & W cartoons of the 30's with his big dot eyes, I think he had to evolve as quickly as he did in order to remain a viable character for Disney. Those dot eyes were very limiting to work with in putting over expression or eye direction and the change to complete eyes with separate pupils kept his design more consistent with the animation artform that was evolving at a furious pace at that time.

Curiously, Mickey actually started out with complete eyes in "Plane Crazy" and "The Gallopin' Gaucho", both of which were animated prior to what is generally thought of as the first Mickey cartoon, "Steamboat Willie". In those cartoons, Mickey has big buggy eyes that touch in the middle. By the time he was redesigned for "Steamboat Willie", the outlines of his eyes were gone and what had formerly been just the black pupils within the whites of his eyes now were interpreted as the complete eye in themselves. The rounded 'M' shape that we think of as his eyebrows today (where his flesh colour meets the black of his head), started out in life as the exterior outline of his eyes.

Randeep Katari said...

Thanks for posting this Pete - always a delight to see Freddie Moore drawings - had no idea you owned these!

Jenny Lerew said...

Wonderful post, Pete! I'm about to point my visitors here via your Freds(can I call them that?); I too love seeing the cleanups and yes, the craftsmanship is mind boggling: talk about overqualified--I'd bet that every CU artist(as well as the ink and paint girls, as we know)was a Chouinard or other art school grad--a really good one.
We--or rather Walt and Roy--can thank the Depression for their employment in this important but anonymous job.
And thanks for the plug!
Finally--that brunette does look like Natalie Wood, you're right.

Brian Mitchell said...

Hey Pete,
Great posts about Fred all the art, especially your figure drawings.
Terrific stuff.
Yes, I agree, the artists today are better than most of the artists from Walt's age, but in general I prefer the way animation was done before 1970, with a heavy attention to appeal that seems to be sorely lacking nowadays.
The art of the line is definitely lost in animation,...don't see much thin to thick to thin line anymore except for illustrations.

It seems like every animated cartoon today has to look screwed up in order to be animated.
Does anyone in charge have any real passion for good design?
Brian Mitchell

Pete Emslie said...

Jenny - Thanks for the nod on your blog too! It's much appreciated. I've long enjoyed all the Fred Moore articles you've posted over the last year or so. I didn't know that much about his life or history with Disney, so it's nice to read more about that in addition to seeing the wealth of art you've shared with your readers.

Brian - Nice to see you here too! And don't worry - the Disney "Cheapquel" will never be celebrated here on this blog! :)

Hodges said...

Hey pete awesome collection, I disagree that its not possible to draw like that in the digital age though, you can still scan and bucket fill colours, and some programs have settings to allow for gaps, I think the real problem is that the digital age has allowed for things to be done faster and cheaper, and thats all big companies care about. Recently i found animagic studios site, Which is headed by Sergio Pablos, and it looks like the work their putting out is really more about quality then price. Anyways i hope your new classes are going well and hopefully sometime soon we can run over some designs with you on our film. cheers -sean

Fabián Fucci said...

Hi there! Excellent blog and very interesting stuff. I am a fan of Fred Moore myself, too!