Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preston Blair Book "Animation"


My Scribble Junkie partner Pat Smith made fun of me because I was such a fan of Preston Blair's book "Animation". Again, he's WRONG!!! Pats a cool guy, very handsome and a great animator but he's been hanging out in "Raffles" too long drinking those Singapore slings. Come on Pat break out of your tropical stupor!!

That classic yellow oversized book, as been my bible since I was 12! First of all Preston Blair is one of the all time great animators from the Golden Age. His work on Fantasia's "Dance of the Hours" is classic. But to me his creating of the dance scenes for all of the Red Hot Riding Hood shorts puts him in the Animation Hall of Fame. Creating dancing in animation is one of the hardest subjects to draw because the body goes through so many changes and contortions one really has to be great at anatomy. But Preston Blair totally nailed it. The dancing sequence in Red Hot Riding Hood is one of the all time great pieces of animation. His animation book breaks down the dancing girls frame by frame and also the dancing alligator from Fantasia.

Plus I learned how to do lip sync, character design, facial expressions, hand design (which I'm still trying to learn) and most importantly line of action. It seems so basic now how animated characters should have great designs but I look at a lot of student films and the characters have no dynamic personality or design because they lack the line of action.


Around 1987 I was visiting a friend in Monterrey, California and I called Mr. Blair up out of the blue and he invited me over to his Carmel home. He was very nice to me although he's never heard of me even though I had an Oscar nomination. He showed me his boxes of art from the Tex Avery cartoons. I was drooling like a madman. I asked him how he was able to do such great dancing women. He said he didn't use models, no rotoscope, it was all in his head. Now that's genius!!And to top it off I made my lightbox using his instructions on the last page of the book. I still use the lightbox and book today.

with Preston Blair

11 comments:

  1. Hard to believe Red's dancing was purely from Preston's head as well. He definetly was a gifted animator.

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  2. Two animation greats, in one handy photo!

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  3. In case anyone reading hasn't seen the rare first edition of the Preston Blair book, ASIFA-Hollywood has posted the entire book for download at...

    Advanced Animation Part One

    Advanced Animation Part Two

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  4. I built my first lightbox from Blair's design too! That thing served me well for many years, and was constantly upgraded until I built a desk years later.

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  5. no fair. you bringin' out that photo of you and preton... jeez bill. good retort.. i still think he started a lot of bad habits though.

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  6. I think Preston Blair made a great book. Does it have flaws, yes it does, but then anything made by human hands is bound to have a flaw or two. I think you just need more than Preston BLair's book. You need to to look at anatomy books, design books, books on motion, etc. Also, lokk at other cartoonists in other mediums (magazine, comic strip, comic book) as well as fine artists of all type. That way you have a more rounded education. It's like what every great animator has said, study everything.

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  7. I love the instructive illustrations, thanks for recommending this book. One of my passions is to draw cartoons and I always try to learn new techniques even if they are basic.

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  8. I am so incredibly awestruck that you got to meet Preston. I am more in love with him than ever because he was so nice to you. Way to go calling him.

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  9. I'm super jealous! I found your blog by chance just like I found my own copy of Preston Blaire's Animation book in the basement of a departed friend of the family. At the time I was a huge fan of his work but didn't know who he was. I grew up with the book as it guided me and sculpted my artistic style. Now as an adult I see the skill in the creator of this book and it makes me jealous that I will never get to meet Preston. Kudos!

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  10. If Preston Blaire's book created bad habits as some would say,
    it's because it was the only book out there about animation at the time. I was eight years old when I found that book. (Year 1966) There was nothing els out there to study unless you count "The Art of Animation" by Bob Thomas which seems more like a promotional
    book for the Disney movie "Sleeping Beauty" than a how to book.

    Hats off to Preston and thank you.

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