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Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 1: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures Paperback – March 23, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

For nearly thirty years, the artists that passed through the gates of Disney Animation, and even non-artists like myself, were influenced by the craft, skill, wisdom, writings and sketches of Walt Stanchfield.

Roy Disney

Walt was a kind of Mark Twain for us at Disney. He always taught with humor and skill. You learned to see the world through his eyes. I remember him one day encouraging us to leap into our drawings with boldness and confidence, "Don't be afraid to make a mistake. We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us so the sooner you get them out the better!" Sitting in Walt's class was as much a psychology course as it was a drawing class. One couldn't help walk away with your mind and soul a little more open than when you entered.

Glen Keane, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Stanchfield's classes and writings were little distillations of the man: quirky, strongly stated in a genial voice, and brimming with a lifetime of sharp observations about story telling and graphic communication. Whether he drew with a ball point pen or painted with a brush dipped in his coffee cup, he got to the essence of things and was eager to share what he learned to his eager disciples, myself among them. He was grizzled and he was great and proof that there was more than one Walt at the Disney Studio that could inspire a legion of artists.  

John Musker, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Stanchfield was one of Disney Animation's national treasures. His classes and notes have inspired countless animation artists, and his approach to drawing of caricature over reality, feeling over rote accuracy, and communication over photographic reproduction gets to the heart of what great animation is all about. Huzzah to Don Hahn for putting it all together for us!

Eric Goldberg, Walt Disney Animation Studios

During the Animation Renaissance of the 1990s, one of the Walt Disney Studio's best kept secrets was Walt Stanchfield. Once a week after work, this aged but agile figure jumped from drawing board to drawing board, patiently teaching us the principles behind the high baroque style of Walt Disney Animation drawing. Being in a room with Walt made you feel what it must have been like to have been taught by Don Graham. Having one of your life drawings be good enough to be reproduced in one of his little homemade weekly bulletins was akin to getting a Distinguished Service medal! Senior animators vied with trainees for that distinction.

Tom Sito, Animator/Filmmaker/Author of Drawing The Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson

This exciting collection of master classes by the great teacher Walt Stanchfield is destined to become a classic on the order of Kimon Nicolaides' exploration of the drawing process. Stanchfield (1919-2000) inspired several generations of Disney animators and those of us outside the studio fortunate enough to happen upon dog-eared copies of his conversational notes, which we passed around like Leonardo's Codex Leicester. Stanchfield beautifully communicates the essence and joy of expressing ideas through the graphic line and accumulating a visual vocabulary. DRAWN TO LIFE is a treasure trove of cogent, valuable information for students, teachers and anyone who loves to draw.

John Canemaker, NYU professor and Academy Award-winning animation filmmaker

Walt Stanchfield, in his own unique way, taught so many of us about drawing, caricature, motion, acting and animation. Most important to me, was how Walt made you apply what you had observed in his life drawing class to your animation. Disney Animation is based on real life, and in that regard Walt Stanchfield's philosophy echoed Walt Disney's:

'We cannot caricature and animate anything convincingly until we study the real thing first.'

Andreas Deja, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Stanchfield's renewed emphasis on draftsmanship at the Disney Studios transformed the seemingly moribund art of animation. His students were part of a renaissance with The Little Mermaid and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a renaissance that continues with films ranging from The Iron Giant to Lilo and Stitch to Wall-E.

Charles Solomon, Animation Historian

I'm so grateful to Focal Press for publishing these fabulous Walt Stanchfield books. They are veritable 'gold dust' for the serious (and aspiring) animator! So 'hurrah' to Focal and 'hurrah' to Don Hahn to committing himself to compiling them. I ordered my copies the minute I saw them and will of course hope my students are smart enough to do so too! 

Tony White, DigiPen, Author of 'Animation: From Pencil to Pixels' and 'How to Make Animated Films'

About the Author

Don Hahn's name is synonymous with some of the most critically acclaimed animated motion pictures of this generation, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast (the first animated film ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture--before the Best Animated Film category was established). He was also the associate producer for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the groundbreaking 1988 film that pioneered new techniques for combining animation and live-action. His other film credits include Fantasia/2000 and Atlantis. He is currently at work on his next Disney animated film and writing several other books including The Art of Disney Animation: The Storytellers.
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Product Details

  • Series: Walt Stanchfield Lectures (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (March 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240810961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240810966
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Gabriel on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
These two volumes are a master class in Disney style animation thinking. Essentially, a goldmine of what we learned here at Disney as young animators trying to follow in the shoes of the masters of the craft of character animation. I was lucky enough to have been taught every one of these lessons from Walt himself over my thirty years and running as an animator/story man/director/designer at Walt Disney Studios. I only wish you all could have met the man who brings this wealth of knowledge to these pages. He made you feel good just being around him. He was never dour or sour or in any way unhappy. If he was, he hid it completely from us. He was the coolest "old guy" you could ever hope to be taught by. Athletic, youthful in every way, passionate, inquisitive, searching and digging for the answers all the time. He stayed hungry for improvement his entire life and we all try to emulate that to this day and make our teacher and friend proud of us for trying. You will not only most definitely be a better artist after reading these volumes I practically guarantee you will be a better person for having gotten to know Walt Stanchfield and his way of looking at life and art as one. We all feel this way at Disney, believe me.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I acquired Drawn to Life thinking it would be nice background material on typical Disney animation characters - sort of an insider's look at their production and development. Perhaps even a way to acquire some unusual character drawings. Wrong entirely!

What this book is, is a very specialized art instruction book aimed at animation artists and Disney animation artists specifically. Still, it does teach focus on, and simplification of gesture in a way that can be effectively used in any medium. Had I to reduce Drawn to Life to its barest topic, it would be just that - capturing and communicating gesture. Animation requires special techniques adapted to 2D line drawing. Those are the heart of the book, along with Walt Stanchfield's philosophy, optimism, and personification of Disney post-WWII history.

The book is a collection of Walt Stanchfield's weekly lectures to the Disney animators, consisting of drawing handouts and notes. The lecture topics were, and are, essentially random (his own term) as this wasn't intended as a course of study, but as professional development and continuing ed for an existing, highly-accomplished staff of artists. There are 149 lectures in the first volume alone, under such titles as "Using Cylinders", "Think First ...", "Get Out Of Your Way", "Action Analysis", "Silhouette", and so on.

Having dabbled in art classes and books over the years, I often find such material highly-technical ... and deadly dull. Drawn to Life is neither. Though the volume is large (nearly 400 pages), each lecture chapter is short and to the point. Stanchfield's teaching style is literate and personable, often humorous and riddled with stories.
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Format: Paperback
The first volume of DRAWN TO LIFE covers mainly basic gesture drawing, while the second volume explores how to 'push' the action and create distinct personalities in gesture sketches. These two books are a wonderful addition to the library of animation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 0:18 Mins
Drawn to Life is a collection of lectures from long-time Disney animator Walt Stanchfield. He has worked for Disney since the 1950s.

There are two volumes, each with over 400 pages. The reason for two volumes is probably to make the books easier to handle. Both are on gesture and life drawing, even though the cover art might suggest otherwise, especially the one with the lion. You can start reading from any book and any lecture. The order isn't important.

There are plenty of essays in the books. Each is a lesson relating to drawing and animation. It can be tangent drawings, creating believable characters, learning to observe, understanding gestures, etc. There are tips on almost anything relating to drawing. Loose and sketchy sketches serves as examples to the lessons.

These books are more thinking than drawing technique books. For example, the lessons are not about how to draw perspective, the lessons are about how to use perspective. You can view sample pages for volume one and volume two on amazon.com to get an idea.

The books represent a tremendous wealth of information and insight into drawing, animation and observation. After all, Walt Stanchfield has more than 50 years of experience in animation.

This book is recommended to those who are into animation and drawing.

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Walther Stanchfield's later career with Disney was as an instructor for a wave of new animators that came to work in the 70's. Even if you are not a fan of Disney style animation, this book is essential because of the quality of writing, clarity of discussion and illustration. The author does a fantastic job of breaking down drawing and animation concepts in a way that is useful for both those who are getting started and those that are looking for ways to gain additional insight on their work.

The format for this book is in the form of a series of lectures, focused on many different aspects of animation and drawing. Many of these are no more than a page and a half, with illustrations. Content ranges from the very specific "how to" type of instruction to more generalized concepts. In one example he illustrates an important principle of drawing for those just beginning, breaking down complex shapes into boxes, and then add back in the complexity little by little. "What Not to See" discusses what to begin with and what to leave out when sketching. From there the book launches into other essential subjects such as gesture, action, perspective. "Draw Verbs, not Nouns!" The way that the book is laid out is in general sections, but inside each section, the topics encourage browsing and skipping around.

The editor made little or no changes to the author's writing, and illustrations are the author's own examples that he chose, in some cases from xeroxed copies that he handed out in class (not to worry, the quality is fine throughout). For the cost of this book you are getting access to the same kind of instruction that Disney's own animators had access to. It is quite a bargain.
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