MONDAY AFTERNOON INSPIRATION: Random 50s Design

Here’s some random art from 1950s cartoons which appeal to me for different reasons. To start things off, below are four details from UPA background paintings. The complete BGs will be printed in my upcoming book on 50s animation design (pre-order at Amazon). From top to bottom, the paintings are by Paul Julian, Jules Engel, Bob McIntosh and Herb Klynn. I was prepping these particular paintings for print this weekend, and was marveling at how utterly great all of them are. The paintings really drive home the point that there was no house style at UPA. Artists at the studio were free to paint in whatever style they desired, and when that luxury is allowed to artists of this caliber, you’re bound to end up with some gorgeous stuff. Bonus points to anybody who can identify which films these paintings are from.

UPA BGs

A lot of people create ‘stylized’ art to hide weaknesses in their drawing skills, but the best designers are invariably excellent draftsmen as well. These two concept drawings for SLEEPING BEAUTY are the real deal and leave no doubt about Tom Oreb’s drawing skills. It’s all there: an understanding of drapery, anatomy, perspective, and an uncanny ability to create appealing designy shapes while maintaining solidity of form.

Oreb drawings

Here’s a few model sheet drawings of the sun character created by UPA for the Bell Science special OUR MR. SUN (1953). The entire model sheet, which has a lot more of these sun-heads, will be included in the book. It’s a very decorative approach to character design, but it’s also an interesting design solution that makes a character who is a basic circle look interesting and unique. I haven’t been able to solidly identify who created the model sheet though I’ve narrowed it down to director Bill Hurtz or designer Lew Keller (I’m leaning towards the latter artist because of the drawing style). If anybody knows for sure, please drop me a line.

Our Mr. Sun