I mentioned in my last post that a huge influence of my drawing style is Disney. This post is just to introduce one of the Disney animators by name as one of my influences.
Eric Larson is known for his contribution to such Disney classics as Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan (my childhood favourite) , Fantasia, 101 Dalmatians, Pinocchio, A Jungle Book amongst a few others.
He has been a great influence to many people today, some of which went on to be successful animators themselves. Tim Burton and Andreas Deja went through Eric Larson’s training programme and both went on to be animators for more recent Disney movies. Tim Burton was responsible for the animation of The Nightmare Before Christmas and the characters of Scar from The Lion King and Jafar from Aladdin were the work of Andreas Deja.
He had a real passion and love for the characters he created and this shone through in his finished works. He made his characters believable, relatable and memorable and they had a liveliness about them that make them amazing to watch.
Andreas Deja reveals that during his training under Larson’s training programme, Larson told him “the nice thing about Cinderella is, that you always know what she is thinking”. I think that is a sign of truly great animation if the characters can express their feelings without the need for dialogue (this is something that I am trying to teach myself to achieve)
Some of his best remembered characters include Figaro from Pinnochio, Cinderella from Cinderella, the vultures from A Jungle Book and the Pegasuses from Fantasia.
According to 50 Most Influencial Disney Animators the personality for Figaro the cat in Pinnochio was inspired by the personality of his nephew. “A 4 year old kid is quick to feel hurt if he doesn’t get what he wants,” he explained. “He is probably going to put on a show for us, a tantrum. Take an animal, like Figaro, move him around as a kitten would move. You don’t take any liberties with that kind of acting but now you inject into him a personality of this young kid who is used to having everything he wanted. This is where we would cross from realism to fantasy, in my opinion.” (50 Most Influencial Disney Animators, 2011).
The success of his animal characters is helped by the fact that he makes them relatable and recognisable by giving them very human-like personalities, but still makes them move and act like the animal they are.
It was the opinion of many who worked alongside Larson, that he had a very warm and sincere style. The best example being Cinderella. Larson drew Cinderella to come accross as warm, sweet and sincere while Marc Davis (an animator who came onto the scene later in the production) pictured her as witty, intelligent and sexually aware. In this case, the two animators combined their ideas to result in a girl that was not only warm and sincere but intelligent, witty and who had the strength to achieve her dreams. This was what made Cinderella such a relatable character who inspires young girls everywhere.
Here are some of the sketches done by Eric Larson:
Eric Larson is also one of the artists that lead me to begin using coloured pencil to sketch the foundations of my drawings, I realised that doing this means I can my proportions and expressions the way I want them before solidifying the form in pencil. (and it means I make less of a mess of the drawing because I am not having to try and rub out my graphite pencil marks so much 🙂 )
If anyone is interested in reading further into the blogs that informed this post I will post the links below.
Andreas Dejas – Deja View
50 Most Influential Disney Animators – 9. Eric Larson
Disney Wikia – Eric Larson
Thanks for reading!