Sunday, December 30, 2007

Don't miss CHIP-n-DALE on "Cels and Setups!"

The first post is up on our new companion blog, CELS AND SETUPS.
Be among the first to have a look!

Here, in honor of CELS AND SETUPS debut, the "set" for the scampering antics of Chip-N-Dale... Walt Disney's desktop!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

We're back!

Due to a tremendous wind storm in the Hollywood hills, we lost all power (and internet connectivity), temporarily disrupting the daily blogging schedule.

Everything is now back to normal... and posts should once again appear daily, as per usual.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


"From All of Us to All of You" was a 1958 Christmas special of the Disneyland TV show.

The show has re-aired infrequently in the US, but in the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) the show has been broadcast every year since 1959, and has become a holiday classic. Ratings has shown as much as 40% of all Swedes watch it on December 24.

I wish we could see it here. But until then, from it... here is a magnificent painting of a Christmas setting as only Disney artists could do it.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2007

CHRISTMAS EVE: The Star Of Bethlehem

Here, the final re-created background from my "THE SMALL ONE" archives.

Evocative and lovely....

have a beautiful Christmas Eve.

THE SMALL ONE continued

Here, a set of beautifully rendered backgrounds from Disney's THE SMALL ONE (1977).

I'd highly recommend getting out your "Classic Holiday Stories" Disney DVD tonight. Cuddle up with your loved ones, and share watching this wonderful, heartfelt film.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Here, the title card and more digitally recreated backgrounds from MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Magic is in the air!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

GIFT WRAPPED (Warner Bros., 1952)


Our yuletide animation art excursion just HAD to include Warner Bros. GIFT WRAPPED. Sylvester, Tweetie & Grannie celebrate the Holidays in hilarious fashion.

These backgrounds contain the requisite elements; a Christmas tree, presents and toys. The simple backdrops are clean, stylish, colorful and unpretentious. These B/Gs embrace their own cartooney-ness!

I included the Title Card and credits, a newly recreated pan background, and several non-pan B/Gs as well.

BTW, as is usually the case, this Warner Bros. cartoon is laugh-out-loud funny. Look it up, you'll have a great time!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mickey's Orphans (1931)

Re-creating this delightful background was a bit tricky! Mickey, Minnie, moving drapes, candle light effects and swarms of kitten orphans had to be digitally eliminated.

But the result?

An incredibly charming early Disney black & white background.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

From All Of Us, To All Of You

This 1958 production was a Disney gift offered via television. This special yuletide installment of "The Wonderful World of Disney" included new animation segments, as well as theatrical cartoons ("Toy Tinkerers") and non-Holiday segments from Disney classics: Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Bambi and Snow White.

"From All Of Us, To All Of You" was also the show's memorable theme song.

While the lovely holly and berries serves as the background, the star of this setup is the magical unfolding Christmas card. Perfect artwork to savor this time of year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More TOY TINKERERS: and more presents!

Donald has his hands full, waging war against Chip and Dale. Here are two wonderful recreated B/Gs.

The first B/G, his present barricade, shows an orderly stack of gifts leading all the way to the Christmas tree.

The second B/G shows the shattered remnants of the presents after an explosion. Donald's foot and hand (included) remain stationary throughout this scene. These bodyparts are either included in the B/G or on a non-animated cel layer. Donald's face and other arm are animated, but were digitally removed to reveal the B/G.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Animation Backgrounds Named BLOG OF NOTE!

ANIMATION BACKGROUNDS has received the honor of being named a "BLOG OF NOTE," today, December 18th, 2007.

I've gotta tell you, I am really knocked out!

Many thanks to the good folks at Blogspot and Google. Of the umpteen zillion blogs out there, it is amazing to have mine acknowledged this way.

My career is as a professional musician. But my passion for music is matched by my admiration of the animation art form. Since I can barely hold a pencil, animating is out of the question.

But I know how to manipulate images in Photoshop! Digitally re-creating classic backgrounds is my way of participating in the animation art form, and my way of paying tribute to the artists who created the cartoon landscape in which characters come to life.

Piecing these backgrounds together is incredibly rewarding. It is fascinating to see a background revealed, and to study the B/Gs as pieces of art in their own right.

I'm planning on a long run here. We'll continue the holiday and winter theme through New Year's Day. Then, we'll return to the usual potpourri of diverse artwork from various films.

Thanks again, Blogspot and Google.

And many thanks to my readers, and loyal animation fans worldwide!


From MGM's "Night Before Christmas"

Monday, December 17, 2007

THE SMALL ONE: The Marketplace

This is an interesting image. I actually own several cels from the movie (a personal favorite). The most recent acquisition was a two cel setup from the musical number with a trio of swarthy characters. My setup has the three singers, and a cel with the top part of the "goods" to the right and the left. So it appears there was a background, a character layer, and two layers of cels with the "goods."

Here's a look at the B/G with the characters digitally eliminated, the other cel elements intact.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The tree's the thing..

Tom (the cat) is all over the pan background in this scene. As a matter of fact, it was virtually impossible to completely eliminate him. The animators never revealed the entire bike. Similiarly, the red gift box on the far right is animated on a cel, and while it bounces around a bit, it never moves out of the way completely.

So... here's the entire pan shot, re-created with Tom and the red box remaining!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


These dazzling (digitally recreated) B/Gs by Disney artist Thelma Wittmer exude oodles of Yuletide cheer!

Is your tree up and decorated yet?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Under The Christmas Tree

More digitally re-created bacground art from MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS... including two pan B/Gs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers



Here's one of our rare excursions into non-Disney artwork!

Tom and Jerry celebrated Christmas together in MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1941).

The level of artistry at MGM was tremendous, as evidenced by this lavish recreated pan background.

(And the character animation of Tom and Jerry was stylish, entertaining and endearing.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Presents Are Wrapped...

...and serving as a barricade in TOY TINKERERS.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Background art attributed to Thelma Wittmer.

Isn't this utterly fantastic??!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

DALMATIANS at Christmas!

Here's a view you've never seen, a screenful of sooty Dalmatian puppies in this recreated pan of Roger and Anita's living room, complete with Christmas tree!

OK, I couldn't eliminate all the animated pups from this background. But many of the puppies were "fixed position" and only a few were animated anyway. (The effect worked very well.)

So, forgive me the minor indiscretion of a few foreground (animated) pups remaining?

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


This is the interior of the pine tree Mickey chooses, then chops down, little knowing Chip and Dale are inside!

This is a beautifully composed B/G. Note the the dark splay of needles on the edges, and the bright "lighting" at the center, all contributing to a beautiful stage for the animation to play out.

Then there's the "background within a background," with its delicate palette of yellows and greens.


And there's more to come...


The holiday short PLUTO'S CHRISTMAS TREE has incredible backgrounds credited to artist Thelma Witmer. This first installment is a pan background of Mickey Mouse's living room. Pluto chases past the couch when he discovers Chip and Dale inside the Christmas tree.

This is just a teaser, actually, with just a few presents and the edge of the Christmas tree. Wait 'til you see the forthcoming, dazzling interior shots of the trimmed tree!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

This art from "Mickey's Good Deed" (1932) includes the animated snow, but very chilly Mickey and Pluto have been digitally removed.

Disney artists were making quantum leaps in this period, ramping up to produce SNOW WHITE in 1937. When you think this B/G is a mere four years after STEAMBOAT WILLIE (with its sparse, primitive B/G art) the artistic growth is obvious. And while not yet in Disney's full bloom, this B/G is nonetheless stylish and evocative.

Hot Cocoa, anyone?