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Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes: Volume 2: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures Paperback – March 23, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


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'


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Product Details

  • Series: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures
  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (March 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240811070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240811079
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.2 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4, 2009
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 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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Beiman on April 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had the privilege of studying with Mr. Stanchfield at the Walt Disney Animation Studio. His classes were electrifying and incredibly helpful to animators. Stanchfield's lectures have been collected in two wonderful books (so far I have just the one, but I'm sure the other will be equally outstanding.) If you are interested in learning about the portrayal of humans and animals in motion, even if you are not an animator-- this is the best book you could get on the subject. There is simply nothing else like this book out there. It is beautifully written, very funny, and very informative. Run, don't walk, and get both books today. I can't wait to get the other half of the set.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By New England Yankee VINE VOICE on April 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Navarro on July 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Almost all of the content in volume 2 can be found in volume 1. The handouts contained herein are really more about inspirational speaking than they are about practical or theoretical information... for example chapter 48 is all inspirational quotations "Love the inner you and keep moving ahead because you can't stand still and improve at the same time." Most of the drawing examples in here are student drawings, whereas volume 1 has more pro examples. The student drawings aren't really worth studying, because they lack the kind of orchestration found in pro drawings. A drawing is essentially made up of marks and graphics, and student drawings don't have the profundity and cohesion found in top quality work. This is all to say that good drawings teach you how to draw good. Romanelli's "Draw the Looney Tunes" is a superior book by far, fewer words, bigger pictures... you'll still have to deduce for yourself what is really making the pictures work though.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Palkovic on December 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a perfect book especially for those who draw without formal instruction. The books 'Drawn from Life' are notes made by a master teacher to students after a animation drawing class. Many examples include student drawings with the corrections of the instructor. The class and the instructor used ball point pen for drawing so the illustrations are perfectly clear. But the drawings are only half the story. The lively accompanying commentary has the feeling of informal speech. The stories are compelling making this a good read especially considering the fact that these are drawing books. Though I am not an animator, but a scene designer, I find that I have applied the principles taught here in filling my design sketches with figures that seem to move, making my scene designs come to life.
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