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Advanced animation skills

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I used some of the essays we did at uni for my animations, but also one video that I liked the way the character lifts the heavy object:

To do the animal gates, that was the most difficulte, to managde the four legs, it’s not as evident, to animate two is already a hard work, but four…I spent basecly 4 weeks to study the horse walk and thanks to Richard Williams I finally understood. There was a video on you tube with a horse walk on 600 fps which helps me a lot to understand the quadruped walk, but I still didn’t know where to start from animating the horse. And that was as well the first animal I draw in my life.

The video that helps me to understand how a quadrupede walks and the video of Richard Williams’ lessons about the horse walk:

I also drew horses, starting from the bones, muscules, drawing thumbnails of them… :

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For the obstacle course , again  Richard Williams’ The animator survival kit was a help for the run aniamtion. The course I saw a video on youtube, which I could not find, that is quite interesting, it was made in 3D.


Ub Iwerks

Ubbe Ert Iwwerks born in Knasas City, Missouri in 1901, graduated from Ashland Grammar School in 1914. From 1919th Ub’s life and caree is closely related with those of Walt Disney. They both first met this same year in 1919, in Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where each of the was hired as an apprantice commercial artist.

Less than a year after meeting, Iwerks and Disney jointed together and formed a company in 1920 called Iwerks-Disney Commercial artists. The work of Windsor McCay’s Gertir the dinosaur really caught their attention and inspired Iwerks and Disney to study animation techniques further. But, unfortnately, their company was filed for bankruptcy late that same year. In March 1920 Iwerks jointed Disney to work at the Kansas City Slide Company, where they made primitive commercial animations for th local cinémas.

What Walt saw in Iwerks, aside from friendship, the ability to draw with astonishing speed i twas an ability that meant he was taior-made to be an animator.

In May 1922 Walt incorporated Laugh-O-Gram Films, that produce short-animations based o the fairy-tailes and children stories ; and later in the year Iwerks left the Kansas City Ad Companyto joint hi as a  heard animator. When Laugh-O-Gram fils folded in 1923 and Waltwent west to Los Angeles to be with his Brother Roy, a tuberculosis sufferer, Iwerks remained behind, rejoining the Kansas City Film Ad Company. Doubtless he wasn’t too keen on the notion of pinning his fotrunes any further to the brash young entrepreneur who had already folded two companies.

In march 1924, Walt asked Iwerksto joint him in California, an offer Iwerks inutally refused, but a monh or two later accepted starting work under Walt at a princely $40 per week, more than Disney got.  There’s a letter where Walt ask Ub to joint him in California :

This is the letter – which has been quoted in such books as Mike Barrier’s The Animated Man, Bob Thomas’ Walt Disney: An American Original, and Leslie Iwerks/John Kenworthy’s The Hand Behind The Mouse – in which Walt convinces Ub to come to Hollywood and join the studio… the rest, as you know, is history. Mike has graciously allowed me to post the letter exclusively on Cartoon Brew for all our readers to enjoy.

Note the envelope (above) and letter (thumbnails below, click to enlarge) is on Disney Bros. Studio letterhead, and addressed to his “Dear friend Ubbe,“. Disney pens (transcription in full):

“Dear friend Ubbe,

I’ll say I was surprised to hear from you and also glad to hear from you. Everything is going fine with us and I am glad you have made up your mind to come out. Boy, you will never regret it – this is the place for you – a real country to work and play in – no kidding – don’t change your mind – remember what ol’ Horace Greeley said” ‘Go west young man – go west!’

We have just finished our sixth comedy for M. J. Winkler and are starting tomorrow on the seventh of the first series of twelve. Miss Winkler is well pleased with them and has given us some high praise – she is leaving New York for here June 1st, and I believe we will be able to start a twice a month schedule, instead of our monthly schedule.

I can give you a job as artist-cartoonist and etc. with the Disney Productions, most of the work would be cartooning. Answer at once and let me know what you want to start and I will write more details. At the present time I have one fellow helping me on the animating, three girls that do the inking, etc. while Roy handles the business end. I have a regular cast of kids that I use in the picture and little Virginia is the star.

Write and tell me how soon you want to come out – if you can leave before the first of the month all the better – of course you would sell all of your furniture and also your car? Wouldn’t you? I believe it would be best if you did. Anyways, write and let me know all the details. Give my regards to everyone at the Film Ad and the boys at the Arabian Nights, and also to your mother. As ever your old friend.

Walt –––

Don’t hesitate – Do it now – !

– P. D. Q. –

P.S. I wouldn’t live in K.C. now if you gave me the place – yep – you bet –

Hooray for Hollywood – !!”

For a coulpe of years he animated on the long string of Alice Comedies that Disney Studios produed, first for Margaret Winkler and then for her cohort and husband Charles Mintz.

They hit their stride with Alice Comedies series (also known as Alice in Cartoonland ), which combined cartoon characters wit live-action film of a little girl, called Alice. The novelty and free-form storytelling typical of the period , caught on. The Alice Comedies star at 1923 with « Alice’s Wonderland » and end in 1927 in « Alice in the big league ». – Alice’s Wonderland

Sometimes around the end of 1926 or in the early months of 1927, Walt and Iwerks together created a new cartoon character Oswald the Lucky rabbit. The very first, original, Oswald was too old and fat, sot hey redesigned it in younger and leaner mode and the first cartoon to start this new character – Trolley Troubles (1927), premiered in June.

  • 1927 Trolley Troubles
  • 1927 : Oh Teacher
  • 1927 : The mechanical Cow
  • 1927 : Great Guns
  • 1927 : All Wet
  • 1927 : The Ocean Hop
  • 1927 : The Banker’s Daughter
  • 1927 : Empty Socks
  • 1927 : Rickety Gin
  • 1928 : Harem Scarem
  • 1928 : Neck ‘n’ Neck
  • 1928 : The Ol’ Swimin’ Hole
  • 1928 : Africa Before Dark
  • 1928 : Rival Romeos
  • 1928 : Bright Lights
  • 1928 : Oh, What a knight
  • 1928 : Sagebrush Sadi
  • 1928 : Ride’em Plowboy
  • 1928 : Sky Scrappers
  • 1928 : Ozzie of the Mounted
  • 1928 : Hungry Hoboes
  • 1928 : Poor papa
  • 1928 : The fox chasé
  • 1928 : Tall Tomber
  • 1928 : Sleigh Bells

The Alice series had been moderately successful ; the Oswald series was if anything a little more so, although neither of them set the houes afire. Now Disney Studios began industriousley to turn out a whole string of Oswald movies.

In 1928 Walt Disney loose his rights on Oswald , was forced to relinquish all claim to the character. During the train trip back from New York to Los Angeles, he and his wife created a new series  character- Mickey Mouse, whom origninal name was Mortimer, but it didn’t match that much with the character and his personality ; it’s Disney’s wife who gave to the new character the name of Mickey Mouse. In fact i twas Ub Iwerks who designed the new character who was at first distinguishable from Oswald only by the shape of his ears, tail and perhaps face ; there is therefore a very good case for saying that it was not Walt who invented Mickey Mouse at all, but Iwerks. It has been counterclaimed by the Disney establishment that , while Iwerks may have designed the form of the new character, Walt was responsable for creating Mickey’s personality. Apperantly Iwerks realised by himself the short « Plane Crazy » the first Mickey Mous with phénoménal speed : it had taken him about 3 weeks from a standing start to get the sels ready for inkling, which means he must have done something like 600 drawings per day (if he worked a 15-hour day and didn’t stop for food or lavaroty, that’s about one drawing every minute and a half. But such feats weren’t entirely unheard of among the early animators.)


On May 15-th they trie dit out in a local movie theater and the following day Walt applied for Mickey Mouse to be made a trade mark ; the movie it self was copyrighted on May 26. Disney tean had been preapring « Steamboat Willy », aprimitive soundtrack with the music of « Steamboat Will » and « Turkey in the straw » added. More or less from the moment Steamboat Willy was given an advence screening at the Colony Theater in New York, on November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse was set to take the world by Storm. The reason wasn’t the character or the animation, nor even the quality of the vocal soundtrack which consisted almost exclusively of grunts and squeaks, but the fact that the cartoon had sound at all and that the sound was approximately synchronised with the on-screen action.

Iwerks ‘s contribution to Steamboat Willy, the one all the fuss was about, was not inconsiderable either ; apart from animating it, he was the one who had dug out a gadget called the Cinephone and use dit to synchronised the soundtrack. As a result of all this he was assured of a steady job and in 1929 he wa provisionally promoted from just plain « animator » to « director ». Moreover, for a time Walt was actually paying Iwerks a higher salary than he was paying himself.

1928 : Plane Crazy

1928 : The Gallopin’ Gaucho

1928 : Steamboat Willie

1929 : The Barn Danc

1929 : The Opry House

1929 : When the cat’s away

1929 : The Barnyard Battle

1929 : The Plow Boy

1929 : The karnival kid

1929 : Mickey’s Choo-Choo

1929 : Mickey’s Follies

1929 : The Jazz Fool

1929 : The haunted House

1929 : Wild Wave)

1929 : Jungle Rhythm

1930 : The Barnyard Concert

1930 : Just Mickey

1930 : The Cactus Kid

It was’t long before Iwerks was put in charge of training new animators, this was both a blessing and curse for him and those who was training ; blessing because Iwerks demanded perfection and was able to helm breed some of Disney’s best animators, a curse because Iwerks had a short temper and it showed often against those who didn’t give projects 110% or for those that didn’t fully appreciate the art of animation. But the result was better animators.

The musician, Carl Stalling, who was Disney Studios primary source od scores, had an idea for a new series to ber un in tandem with the Mickey Mouse cartoons. Essentially the notion was to produce musicial scores based on the classics and then animate them. They tried the idea with Walt’s permission and the result was « The skeleton dance », released in 1929. It was succesful enough to engender what would be the studios long-running silly-symphones series.

6 minutes short ; the first of the Silly Simphonies produced by Disney ; the title basically tells the whole story. What plot the movie has is based on the program of Saint-Saens’s  Dance Macabre, although the musical accompaniment is in fact an arrangement by Carl Stalling – whose idea the movie was – of Gried’s March of the Dwarfs.

1929 : The skeleton dance of Walt Disney

1929 : El terrible Toreador

1929 : Springtime

1929 : Hell’s Bells

1929 : The Merry Dwarfs

1930 : Summer

1930 : Autumn

1930 : Arctic Antics


Iwerks directed a number of the other Silly Symphonies, but he was beguinning to grow restive about working for someone alse : from his viewpoint, he was the talent behind Disney Studios, and surely he should be striking out on his own.

In early 1930 he decided to give up Disney and start to work for himself, so he signed a secret contrct with Disney’s distributor at that time called Powers, and when Disney found out about that contract, he was devastated. Ub Iwerks set up Celebrity Pictures and set to work producing a series of cartoons featuring a new character, Flip the Frog – 1930-1933

Flip (37 cartoons) is a standard cartoon character in the early 1930s mode : he hops around cheerfully, gets into all sorts of scrapes, and has very little personality. Ub and his staff tried to make Flip into a star. They revised Flip’s appearance several times, to make him cuter. They were not averse to putting Flip into surprinsingly mature situations : two Flip cartoons, « The Office Boy «  and «  Room Runners » contain surprising amounts of sexual humour and near-nudity. Chaeacters in Flip the frog cartoons were not above saying ‘Damn’ now and then – monething that startles American audiences even today. These things did draw the public’s attention, but not favorably. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which distributed the Flip short, watched the profits decline. The quality of the animation varied as Ub hired more people to work with him. Perhaps the best Flip cartoon is ‘Spooks’ in which Flip takes shelter from a Storm in a haunted houes/ The animation is smooth and accomplished, the gags well paced.

When Iwerks presented Fiddlesticks, the first Flip the Frog cartoon to Powers, Powers knew there was something less than satisfactory about it but wasn’t quite sure what. There was some consternation he had been planning to sell the Celebrity Pictures output to MGM and hère he was with a pilot that wasn’t up to snuff. Tha animation was fine – as good as Disney Studios was peoducing, for obvious reasons – and there were one or two good gags, but the movie didn’t speak any audience interestin its eponymous character. Powers concluded that it was character itself that was a fault, and insisted that in future shorts Flip become less froglike and more humain. Iwerks obeyed and beginning with « The village barber (1930), the third on the series, Flip was essencially no longer a frog in abything but name. The change was effective enough for sale to MGM to go through. In fact, the standard of the Flip shorts did steadily improve, but i twas not enought to make the character in any way a rival to Mickey. The two man tried just about everything to improve the popular appeal of the series – even ses : shorts like ‘The Office boy’ (1932) and ‘Room Runners’ (1932) are sufficiently salacous that one may think twice, even today, about showing them on kids’ télévision. Iwerks recruted an incredibly strong team to Celebrity Pictures : Carl Stalling provided most of the music, while his roster of animators included such legends of the industry as Shamus/Jimmie Culhane (who is credited by both names on different occasions). Norm Blackburn, Al Euguster and Grim Natwick. A very youthful Chuck Jones had a job as a cel washer but didn’t last long. IN later years, Jones would identify nother reason for Celebrity Pictures’ long dark twilight of mediocrity : Iwerks ‘has no sens of humour’.

  • 1930 : Fiddlesticks
  • 1930 : Flying Fists
  • 1930 : The village Barber
  • 1930 : Little Orphan Willie
  • 1930 : The Cuckoo Murder Case
  • 1930 : Puddle Pranks
  • 1931 : The village Smitty
  • 1931 : FThe Soup Song
  • 1931 : FLaughing Gas
  • 1931 : Ragtime Romeo
  • 1931 : The New Car
  • 1931 : Movie Mad
  • 1931 : The Village Specialist
  • 1931 : Jail Birds
  • 1931 : Africa Squeaks
  • 1931 : Spooks
  • 1932 : The Milkman
  • 1932 : Fire-Fire
  • 1932 : What a Life
  • 1932 : Puppy Love
  • 1932 : School Days
  • 1932 : The Bully
  • 1932 : The Office Boy
  • 1932 : Room Runners
  • 1932 : Stormy Seas
  • 1932 : Circus
  • 1932 : The Goal Rush
  • 1932 : Phoney Express
  • 1933 : The Musci Lesson
  • 1933 : Nurse Maid
  • 1933 : Funny Face
  • 1933 : Coo Coo The Magician
  • 1933 : Flip’s Lunch Room
  • 1933 : Techno-Cracked
  • 1933 : Bulloney
  • 1933 : Chinaman’s Chance
  • 1933 : Pale-Face
  • 1933 : Soda Squirt

The popularity of Flip, never High, slowly waned : the writing was clearly on the wall for the series. It was ugrent that Iwerks and Powers come up with some replacement . This provide to be Willie Whopper, a little boy who, sparked by some incident in daily life, is inspired to tell his friends tall stories about his own supposed adventures. Thus, in the series pilot, « The air race » (made in 1033 released in 1936). Only 14 Willie Whopper shorts were made before the series was abandoned, the last – apart from the « posthumous » release of The Air race – being 1934’s Viva Willie.

Since Flip had vanished after 1933’s Soda Squirt, the studio’s future depended on another series begun in 1933, the ComiColor Cartoons, which were, effectively, clones of Disney’s Silly Simphonies, as developed after Iwerks’s parting of the ways with Walt. These were much more successful that th Flip and Willie series, and they compare very well with the early Silly Symphonies – probably because, once again, they were of necessity story-driven. However, they showed no particular progression : they did not get steadily better , as one might have expected, but all remained of roughly the same standard and nature. Unlike the output from some other studios, it’s impossible to stablish any kind of chronological order simply by watching them : the early ones and the late ones are extremely similar.

Thanks to the ComiColor shorts, Celebruty Pictures struggle on another couple of years, until Semptember 1936n when MGM canseled the series. The last of the ComicColor Cartoons to be released, Happy Days (1936), was in fact the pilot for this new series. ComiColor Cartoons (1934-1936) – The Brave Tin Soldier (1934), Little black Sambo (1935), Mary’s Little Lamb (1935).

Meanwhile Iwerks was out of a job. He was swiftly picked up by Leon Schlesinger of Warner, where, during a brief stay, he directed a couple of Porky Pig Looney Tunes – Porky and Gabby (1937) and Porky’s super service (1937) – before accepting an offer from Columbia to direct from their Color Rhapsodies series of shorts.


During the next four years he directed 14 shorts for Columbia , most of them featuring Scrappy, a cheeky little boy created by Dick Huemer in 1931 and the studio’s mainstay alongside Krazy Kat. A total of 14 shorts in four years suggests that Iwerks wasn’t exactely over-employed – this was, after all, the man who could singlehandedly animate a short in three weeks. It seems that he stuck with Colombia as long as he did simply because there was no particular inducement for him to leave. Eventually, in 1940, he left.

After his studio closed for good in 1940, Ub did what was for many unthinkable. Walt Disney was known to hold a grudge against people who left him, but somehow this didn’t apply to Ub. Perhaps they were never as close as they once had been, but Walt and Ub worked together again until Walt’s death in 1966. Ub rarely worked as closely in the animation département as he had before, instead working as an inventor and researcher to help develop new technologies. He was the technical Genius behind such animation/live-action movies as « Song of the South » (1946), Mary Poppins (1946), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), as well as the dramatic, Oscar-winning effects for Disney’s « Twnety Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1964).



Won two technicals Oscars : the Technical Achievement Award in 1960 for the design of an improved Optical printer for spécial effects and matte shots and the the Academy awards of Merit (shared) in 1965 for the conception and perfection of techniques of for color traveling matte composite cinematography. His best known Oscar, however, was the one he didn’t get, although he was nominated for it – for Best effects, spécial visual effects for his work on o Alfred Hitchcock’s « The Birds » (1963). Much earlier he had devised the techniques whereby drawings could be xeroxed onto cel rather than painstakingly traced in ink ; it’s first major use was in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). When he died  – on July 7, 1971 – ha was remembered mainly for his technical achivements rather than his aniamtion.

I don’t think that anybody can deny the incredible talent of Ub Iwerks and his astonishing speed of drawing, I don’t think either, that anybody, whoever, can deny that if it wasn’t Ub Iwerks the starf of Disney Studios would be the same, because it’s Ub who created Mickey Mouse, but I think everybody will agree after reading Ub Iwerks’s life, that he does not have what Walt Disney have – the leadership and the salesmen skills, which are essencial to be of the head of a company. Iwerks and Disney were the perfect match to begin their own business in the animation. What Iwerks had was an animator talent, that Disney noticed from the beginning of their first meeting, and Walt Disney had a strong leadership, a good salesmen with a very good and inovative ideas. Well I think that from the beginning there was a little bit of jelousy. Iwerks didn’t want to stay behind the curtains all his life, he wanted his work to be recognised by the audience. He thought he will be more successful by himself, but he wasn’t, he couldn’t, apperantly he didn’t have any sens of humour and no sens of storytelling which Disney had. I think Ub couldn’t without Disney more than Disney couldn’t without Ub, because, as it happened, in fact, Disney just after Ub left, his production wasn’t that good, but he just needed animators, he had them and then everything continued, even progressed in every next short, but for Ub wasn’t that simple. I don’t wanna say anything bad about Ub, I think he was a great person and incredible artist, but in the animation it’s not good enough to be just an excellent drawerer; not eveybody can do everything, every person has his own talents and skills.

References :

50mostinfluentialdisneyanimators [n.d.] Ub Iwerks, [Online] Available at : [Accessed: 15th January 2012]

Cartoonbrew (March 21, 2011) Disney’s 1924 letter to Ub Iwerks, [Online] Available at : [Accessed: 15th January 2012]

H2g2 (March 12, 2002) The Animated cartoons of Ub Iwerls, [Online] Available at :  [Accessed: 15th January 2012]

G. John (2001) Ubbe Iwwerks : Masters of Animation, p. 125 – 129

Wikipedia [n.d.] Ub Iwerks [Online] Available at : [Accessed: 15th January 2012]

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