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Results 1 - 25 of 122
1. Read Inspiring Handwritten Letters From Animators to Young Artists

A project aims to collect as many letters of encouragement as it can from animators.

0 Comments on Read Inspiring Handwritten Letters From Animators to Young Artists as of 4/19/2015 4:05:00 PM
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2. Are you an Animal Helper?

image training marcy griffith with tortoise lin_and_sebastian bobcat with ball Victoria with raccoon

The pet industry is a billion dollar business and many Americans share homes with four-legged friends, or aquatic creatures. Each day people are taking care of their animals and enriching their lives just like the people featured in the Animal Helpers series.

In a recent interview, Author Jennifer Keats Curtis shared with Arbordale how zookeepers and rehabilitators have influenced her interactions with her own dog. Just like animals in zoos, pets need enrichment. Even the smallest fish can be trained.

So, here are a few training experiments that you can do at home to enrich the lives of your pets.


Your dog might have hi-five down or may love a game of fetch, but what about when you are away?

Newton26-27flatPlay a game of find and seek with treats or even your dog’s food. When you dog is in another room place small treats or a little food in simple hiding spaces around a room. Have your dog use it’s nose to seek out the food. For the first few times you may have to help your dog out, but they will quickly get the hint.

Take learning one step further with puzzles. Many local pet stores carry treat puzzles where dogs must use their nose to get the reward. This enrichment will entertain and tire out your pooch!


Cats may be a little harder to please, but they are easily trainable too! A happy cat has many toys to bat around, or even a bc_20-21fishing pole with a furry ball at the end can entertain a cat for hours, but many people have trained their cat to do much more.

Start out small with treats or a piece of food and hold it just above the cat’s nose. Lift the treat until the cat sits down. Repeat this several times and give the cat a treat as soon as it sits. Soon the cat will be siting each time you lift the treat.

Many cats scare easily so be sure to reward your cat and not stress it out. Scaredy cats are very difficult to train.


You can train your pet fish to recognize when it’s dinnertime. Flash a light and then goldfish_1feed the fish. Do this over several days feeding the fish the same amount of food each time and see what happens. Some fish put their mouths out of the water; others may swim in a pattern. This is a fun experiment in animal behavior just like Pavlov’s Dogs.

Do you want to learn how zookeepers entertain and train big cats, sharks or even a gorilla, check out Jennifer Keats Curtis’ series Animal Helpers and coming soon Primate School!

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3. Miss Emma Ant

My newest picture book for children is here! "Miss Emma Ant" tells the story of  talented, hard-working Emma, the architect for her colony's anthills. Ants in the colony, not recognizing their own special skills, grow jealous of Emma, and taunt her until she quits her job. Chaos ensues! Will pleas from apologetic ants convince Emma to return to work? Vibrant, expressive illustrations and fun

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4. John Canemaker Unlocks The Secrets of ‘Fantasia”s Sweatbox Notes

What do long-lost sweatbox notes reveal about the creation of one of Disney's finest films?

0 Comments on John Canemaker Unlocks The Secrets of ‘Fantasia”s Sweatbox Notes as of 2/17/2015 10:03:00 AM
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5. ‘Dumbo’ Animation and Design Notes

Student Marc Hendry has put together an in-depth analysis of the use of design and animation principles in the 1941 Disney film "Dumbo."

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6. This Maya Tutorial Begins Normally But Just Keep Watching

All is not what it seems in this Maya walk cycle tutorial by Nathan Hibberd.

0 Comments on This Maya Tutorial Begins Normally But Just Keep Watching as of 12/22/2014 3:28:00 PM
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7. Monarch Madness: Facts about an Incredible Insect

ButterflyHope_187Officially launched to yesterday, A Butterfly Called Hope by Mary Alice Monroe with butterfly expert Linda Love and photography by Barbara Bergwerf is sure to inspire young entomologists out there.

Kick off the school year with this fun book about a young girl and her experience with the amazing journey of a Monarch Butterfly! This book not only shows the entire metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it also provides interesting facts for readers to learn more about these flying beauties. This is the fourteenth book by New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe, and features incredible photographs by Barbara Bergwerf that document Hope’s entire journey in raising a butterfly.


Curious for more? Here are some fun and interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies:

-Did you know that Monarchs go through four generations each year?

-Did you know that Monarchs are the only insects that can migrate up to 2,500 miles?

-Did you know that Monarchs are actually poisonous as a defense against predators, but are harmless to humans?

-Did you know that male Monarchs have black spots on their wings, and the females don’t?

-Did you know that Monarchs migrate during the winter to warmer climates like Mexico and Southern California?

-Did you know that the first 3 generations of Monarchs only live up to 8 weeks, but the fourth generation can live up to almost a year?

-Did you know that climate change is a threat to Monarchs? Wetter climates during the winter can cause Monarchs to freeze to death because they can only survive in dry winter climates.

Do you want to learn more fun facts about butterflies visit the webpage and download the free For Creative Minds section and Teaching Activities where you can even learn how to raise your own monarch butterfly! http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=ButterflyHope

Send us your favorite butterfly fact and you will be entered to win a copy of A Butterfly Called Hope!

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8. A Lesson on Character Design by ‘SpongeBob’ Artist Robertryan Cory

Robert Ryan Cory, a veteran character designer on "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Secret Mountain Fort Awesome," has posted a helpful set of notes from a character design lecture he presented recently to CalArts animation students.

0 Comments on A Lesson on Character Design by ‘SpongeBob’ Artist Robertryan Cory as of 3/11/2014 2:30:00 AM
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9. The Best Thing You’ll Ever Read About Pitching Animation Ideas

Mark Mayerson, a TV show creator, animator, and teacher, has written what may be the single best thing I've ever read about the contemporary animation pitching process.

0 Comments on The Best Thing You’ll Ever Read About Pitching Animation Ideas as of 4/5/2014 6:27:00 PM
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10. This Week on Cartoon Brew-ED

Cartoon Brew-ED is our new educational initiative that is edited by veteran animator and teacher Colin Giles. This new forum offers helpful animation tips, links to learning resources, and original educational content.

0 Comments on This Week on Cartoon Brew-ED as of 5/9/2014 1:46:00 PM
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7 Rhyming Picture Books about Animals from
the US and Australia.
FUN as well as educational!

About ten years ago I had this series published in eBook format by Writers Exchange. This was an Australian publisher. CEO Sandy Cummins was wonderful to work with - helpful, supportive and open to suggestions. However, at that time eBooks were a novelty, and the eReaders of today were still a glint in their designers' eyes. The series received terrific reviews, but sales were dismal.  

Now, thanks to Sandy allowing me to offer the series to Guardian Angel Publishing, a publisher that specializes in child friendly and educational picture books, my Wild and Wonderful series is being published in soft cover, and will be available on Amazon and other sites:  Guardian Angel Publishing, + my websiteYEA!!!

 I am absolutely THRILLED that my Wild and Wonderful series is finally being published in soft cover.  It has been a long wait, but well worth the time and the effort.

                                                                 Already in soft cover and on sale are:

Now at the printers and available soon:

Never Say BOO to a Frilly: 

  Includes -   Never Say BOO - Rainbow Birds - Tasmanian Devil Dance

Coming Next:

Prairie Dog's Play Day:
  Includes - Prairie Dogs - Bald Eagle Rules - The Stinker (skunk)

Last 3 Books -  Coming SOON: 

*Don's Eat Platypus Stew -3 individual stories
*Squirrels Can't Help Being Nuts - 3 individual stories
*Humdinger Hummers - 1 story

Link to illustrations and news about my DREAMTIME MAN picture book.


 Books fpr Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques


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12. Know Your Feature Animation Cliches: The Dead Mother

On a couple occasions throughout the years, people have asked me, Why do so many animated films have dead mothers in them?

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13. Earn Big Money At Last! Learn Animation!

If you can draw a circle, we can teach you animated cartooning.

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14. Learn How Satoshi Kon Edited Space and Time

In his four features and one TV series, the late anime director Satoshi Kon developed a unique style of cutting and editing, says Tony Zhou in a new video essay.

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15. The Evolution of TV Cartoon Characters

To the average cartoon viewer, SpongeBob is SpongeBob and Bart Simpson is Bart Simpson, but cartoon connoisseurs recognize that characters evolve over the years, not just personality-wise but graphically.

0 Comments on The Evolution of TV Cartoon Characters as of 8/7/2014 3:02:00 AM
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16. Sony Releases Free Zombie Character Rig from ‘Hotel Transylvania’

In a nice bit of Halloween-themed marketing savvy, Sony has released a free character rig of a zombie bellhop from "Hotel Transylvania."

0 Comments on Sony Releases Free Zombie Character Rig from ‘Hotel Transylvania’ as of 10/9/2014 7:33:00 AM
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17. 6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery

In this 1980 tribute to legendary animation director Tex Avery, fellow legendary director Chuck Jones shared six lessons that he learned about comedy from working with Avery in the 1930s. The advice remains essential to animation director working today.

0 Comments on 6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery as of 10/19/2014 8:58:00 PM
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18. Blog Tour Launch & $100 Giveaway: A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters

The Blog Tour has begun!

A Year in the Secret Garden

Just this week our delight was compounded when Valarie announced that the physical version of the book had arrived, just in time for the upcoming launch and blog tour.

A Year in the Secret Garden

This book was a labor of love between two creative people (Valarie and Marilyn) who not only wanted to bring a classic children’s tale to life, but encourage families to step away from the computer and into the garden, craft room and kitchen.

Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden | Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters | Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

Amazon * Audrey Press * Goodreads



A Year in the Secret Garden provides the perfect companion to the original story.  The book is divided into major sections by months of the year.  For each month, a character from the book (e.g., Mary Lennox, Dickon, Colin) is introduced and their role in the story is described.  Each month also features a number of activities including planting activities, crafts, recipes, children’s games, as well as snippets of information about some of the themes covered in the story (e.g., death in Victorian England, language spoken in Yorkshire), and so much more!’-Renee @Mother/Daughter Book Reviews

In honor of this exciting new release,  there will be a special blog tour that will run from November 1 to 30, 2014. We encourage our readers to stop by and experience the magic of A Year in The Secret Garden through book reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts from this activity-packed book.  The blog tour will include a shared giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize, open worldwide.

To get a snapshot of A Year in the Secret Garden book month-by-month AND a sneak peek at the blog tour schedule, go HERE.

For a chance to enter to win our Amazon $100 Gift Card, Go HERE

A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule

A Year in the Secret Garden blog tour


November 1

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch)

Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)

November 2

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Hope to Read (Excerpt)

November 3

Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)

Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)



November 4

BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)

Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)

November 5

Monique’s Musings (Book Review)

November 6

SOS-Supply (Book Review)



November 7

Randomly Reading (Book Review)

November 8

Adalinc to Life (Book Review)



November 9

100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

November 10

Edventures With Kids (Book Review)



November 11

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

November 12

Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)



November 13

Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)

November 14

Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)



November 15

Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Purple Monster Coupons (Book Review)

November 16

Stacking Books (Book Review)



November 17

Oh My Bookness (Book Review)

November 18

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)



November 19

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

November 20

All Done Monkey (Book Review)

November 21

Geo Librarian (Book Review)

Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)



November 22

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 23

Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)

My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)

November 24

Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)

Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)


November 25

Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)

November 26

Jane Ritz (Book Review)

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 27

I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)



November 28

Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)

November 29

Mommynificent (Book Review)

November 30

This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)

Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Visit our A Year in The Secret Garden page to learn more about this one-of-a-kind unique keepsake book for children and families.

PicMonkey Collage

The post Blog Tour Launch & $100 Giveaway: A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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19. Fred Moore and the Moving Silhouette

Among the most important things an animator must keep in mind when animating is making sure that drawings read clearly to the viewer. By using strong keys, solid staging, and clear silhouettes, the audience can understand the actions that a character performs onscreen.

Legendary Disney animator Fred Moore, known for his broad yet overwhelmingly appealing drawings, took that idea one step further in his animation. Not only did he have strong silhouettes in his keys, but he ensured that his animation had strong silhouettes throughout a scene. The clarity of his silhouettes remained even in the breakdowns and inbetweens.

In this scene from Pluto’s Judgement Day, Moore animates Mickey struggling to regain order after Pluto, covered in mud, chases a kitten into his house and wrecks havoc:

Despite how frantically Mickey is moving around in this shot, as well as being obscured by Pluto and the mud effects, his action is still clear because Moore kept the silhouettes intact from drawing to drawing for most of the scene. The negative space between Mickey’s limbs, head and ears as well as the kitten’s paws, ears and tail help bring out the poses. Further, he exaggerates his poses for readability, especially during anticipations. Moore also uses strong arcs, both in Mickey’s torso and his arms, to visually guide the viewer where the actions is going next.

I went over the whole scene and blacked out Mickey and the kitten to show their silhouettes more clearly:

Disney story artist Mark Kennedy talks about silhouettes in greater detail on his blog.

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20. One Smart Pig!

In Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries you meet Lisa the pig, a 700 pound loveable animal that just got too big to stay with her owners. Sanctuary One’s newest resident pig Jigsaw is just as loveable and very smart. Just watch how well mannered this pig is:



Sanctuary One provides the community with a place to connect with nature and meet animals that children or adults may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. They are very passionate and we hope you enjoy the video, and meeting them in the book Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries.
The Animal Helpers series by Jennifer Keats Cutis is a great way to introduce children to the challenges and rewards that a career helping animals entails. Each book in the series features work of special organizations and caretakers like Sanctuary One. These organizations are able to use the book as a fundraiser; it is expensive, and requires a lot of work to care for a farm of formerly homeless animals.
We at Sylvan Dell are happy to feature the great work of not only Sanctuary One, but also the other Animal Helpers. If you, or your children are interested in caring for animals there are organizations all across the country that need support and volunteers!

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21. A Ducky Rescue

Today started out as a typical day in the office, but by mid-morning we were in rescue mode.

On Wednesday mamma mallard and ten baby ducklings were wandering around the grass outside the Sylvan Dell office building. With a small pond nearby and a downpour of rain the day before it is not uncommon to see waterfowl outside our windows on occasion.  Baby ducklings however, were too cute in a line behind their mother that we couldn’t help but watch as they waddled around.

When our editor and Buddy the office dog went outside this morning, she found  that mamma duck was no longer with her babies and there were only four still quacking, six were no longer living. Stuck in the landscaping, and unable to get out of the well around a tree, the staff decided to help.

Mamma duck was quacking away in the nearby pond and so we tried a ramp, but they were afraid and the ramp was steep. Next we worked together to herd the babies into a box so that we could deliver them to safety. After several tries and many strategies the three of us were able to get three of the babies into the box and one baby was actually able to make it out of the well and ran all the way to the pond to quickly jump in. Mom swam over to her ducklings as they all hopped into the water.

It was a successful reuniting, and we were very happy to bring the family back together. We must  thank Jennifer Keats Curtis for writing the books Baby Owl’s Rescue, and Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators, she gave us the inspiration and knowledge to save these babies from harm.


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22. A Summer of Sharks!

When heading to the beach, the last thing I want to hear about is a shark close by, but it seems like sharks are taking over aquariums, the big screen, and bookshelves all across the country. Even in our office, we have all fallen in love with our newly released spring title Shark Baby by Ann Downer, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.SharkBaby_128

Shark Baby follows one little shark as he embarks on his ocean-wide journey to find out what kind of shark he is. This book includes other fun sea inhabitants such as various shark species, sea lions, an octopus, and a “mermaid?” Shark Baby will melt the heart of any reader regardless of their original feelings about sharks.

SB page 1SB page 13

An article from the Wall Street Journal recently reported the new trend in aquarium attractions, diving with sharks! Aquariums all across the globe are beginning their own diving programs including  Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. There are even a few aquariums in the United States where shark diving is offered such as Cleveland and Denver. The Georgia Aquarium offers divers a chance to swim with the biggest fish species in the world, the whale shark. This up close and personal encounter with sharks does have a few perks. The environment is more controlled, thus sharks are well-fed and used to the presence of divers. Also, it cuts down on the logistics of traveling to distant dive sites and guarantees a face to face meeting with these creatures. Although this seems like an exciting adventure, I don’t think I will be including it on my bucket list any time soon. You can read the full article by following this link:


If diving with sharks is too much for you, select cities are showing theIMAX 3D film Great White Shark, released May 24. The film supports conservation efforts for the Great White Shark and hopes to tell the “true” story about this often misunderstood creature. This film was three years in the making and takes viewers all over the world to different Great White hot spots including: Los Angeles, New Zealand, South Africa, and Guadalupe Island. Filmmakers hope to show their audiences that the Great White Shark is becoming an  endangered species, and that they are not monsters, rather they are just trying to fulfill their position at the top of the Ocean’s food chain. You can check out the trailer for the film using the following link:



After looking at the shark craze that is taking over the summer, I still hope I don’t come face to face with a shark anytime soon. Shark Baby‘s illustrations are the closest I want to be to a shark. For the more courageous individuals, I definitely recommend checking out your nearest aquariums for shark exhibits, Great White Shark showings, or dives! Other suggested titles on this topic from Sylvan Dell Publishing: The Most Dangerous and Ocean Hide and Seek.

*Author: Ann Downer and Illustrator: Shennen Bersani just finished two book presentations and signings this past weekend in Cambridge, MA at Porter Square Books and in Mystic, CT at the Mystic Aquarium. Bersani will have another signing June 29 from 11-1pm in Center Harbor, NH at Bayswater Book Company.

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23. Watch 9 Famous Animation Directors Talk About Their Careers

If you were unable to attend the SIGGRAPH Keynote panel on Monday, featuring nine distinguished animation directors, you’re in luck because the 92-minute discussion is posted below.

The panel, entitled “Giants’ First Steps,” focused on the early careers of the following artists: Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas, Fantasia/2000), Kevin Lima (Tarzan), Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked), Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon), Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), Kirk Wise (Beauty and the Beast, Atlantis: The Lost Empire) and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin).

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24. “John Carter” Animator Shares An Insightful Reel of Work

I still haven’t seen Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, but that didn’t lessen (and perhaps enhanced) my enjoyment of this nifty character animation reel put together by Emanuele Pavarotti, who worked on the film at Double Negative. Pavarotti has organized the reel nicely to give a sense of how his scenes progressed from video reference to blocking to final animation, and finally, FX/cloth/compositing passes. He even drops in comments throughout the reel to explain how certain shots evolved. Emanuele has recently been working at Blue Sky Studios on Epic and the forthcoming Rio 2.

0 Comments on “John Carter” Animator Shares An Insightful Reel of Work as of 7/31/2013 7:18:00 AM
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25. Book Review: “The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design”

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and
The Zen of Animation Design

By Tod Polson, based on the notes of Maurice Noble
(Chronicle Books, 176 pages, $40, pre-order for $26.50 on Amazon)

By the modest standards of celebrity in the animation world, Maurice Noble is already a rockstar. Few Golden Age layout artists and background designers, with the exception of Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, and possibly Jules Engel, command Noble’s name recognition. Maurice’s fame is primarily attributable to his long-term association with Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones.

Noble’s collaborations with Jones include such classics as Robin Hood Daffy, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, What’s Opera, Doc?, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Dot and the Line and the long-running Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner series. Thanks to that beloved resume, Noble has been spared the ignoble anonymity of so many other classic animation artists.

With such standing in the animation world, and even an entire book-length biography already devoted to his life, one could reasonably expect that everything that could be said about Noble has already been said. Tod Polson’s The Noble Approach proves that that’s not the case. Polson has put together an irresistible package that fuses biography and art instruction, each of its page filled with invaluable insights and incredible artwork, much of it never-before-published.

Polson is one of the Noble Boys, the informal name given to a group of men (and women) whom Noble trained throughout the 1990s at studios like Chuck Jones Film Productions, Turner Feature Animation and his own company, Noble Tales. The Noble Boys have gone on to big things in the animation industry: Ricky Nierva was the production designer of Pixar’s Up and Monsters University; Don Hall directed Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and is writing and directing the upcoming Big Hero 6; Jorge Gutierrez co-created the Nick series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and is directing Reel FX’s 2014 feature Book of Life.

Some of the Noble Boys encouraged Maurice to write down his thoughts about design and layout for an eventual book. Polson has adeptly compiled and edited those notes for this book, and has combined them with the remembrances of the other Noble Boys about their interactions with Maurice and lessons learned from him, as well as archival interviews with Noble and original commentary from artists like Susan Goldberg and Michael Giaimo.

Polson devotes thirty-four pages of the book to providing a biography of Noble that follows his path which began professionally at Disney on films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. In spite of its brevity, this biographical section manages to be more revealing and historically well-rounded than the disappointing 2008 book Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble by Robert J. McKinnon. That well-intentioned book missed the mark—badly. It was understandable that McKinnon’s layperson understanding of the animation process prevented him from providing the kind of process detail that is in Polson’s new book, but his sins of omission made it a letdown as personal biography, too.

Basic and vital details about Noble’s personal and professional relationships that were omitted in that earlier biography are thankfully included in Polson’s book. For example, we learn hat Mary Blair and Maurice Noble were not only classmates at Chouinard Art Institute, but also a romantic couple. That’s a revealing historical tidbit considering that Noble’s giddy use of color is second in animation only to Mary Blair. Polson clearly expresses Noble’s unflattering thoughts about Sleeping Beauty production designer Eyvind Earle, with whom he worked during the production of the industrial film Rhapsody of Steel, whereas the earlier biography only vaguely acknowledged that Noble “may have had some difficulty working with Earle.” Polson also discusses Noble’s more-important-than-acknowledged role on Chuck Jones’ Oscar-winning short The Dot and the Line, an issue that was left untouched in the earlier book.

For all its historical value, the real meat of the Noble Approach follows the biography. In these subsequent sections, we learn Noble’s artistic process step-by-step from the start of a film to its completion. Chapters are devoted to starting a film, story, breaking down the elements, research, design, color, layout, and an oddly ineffectual and anticlimatic two-page chapter devoted to the finished film.

The material covered in these chapters will undoubtedly be familiar to anyone with an art background—values, contrast, simplifying elements, visual hierarchy, compositional grids—but the examples of Maurice’s own work gives us a fresh entry point into these topics. The section on color is particularly fantastic. Color is one of the hardest elements to get right in animated film, and Maurice knew how to walk the thin line between playful and tacky. Polson does a superb job of explaining how Maurice managed to do this by doing a deep analysis of his color palettes.

The section on color, for all its strengths, also represents one of the parts of the book that I wish the author had expanded his scope. Polson makes clear from the outset that this is “Maurice’s book,” but I can’t help but think our appreciation for Noble would have been enhanced further by offering some discussion of his contemporaries at Warner Bros., like layout artist Hawley Pratt and background painter Paul Julian. Contrasting the color theories of Julian, who was the studio’s true master of color in my opinion, would have been an enlightening sidetrip.

A lot of the best information the book isn’t technical, but rather practical advice and the wisdom of experience. This is true of Noble’s thoughts on selling an idea:

To be a successful designer, being able to sell a good idea is just as important as coming up with the idea itself. It’s hard to sell something simply because you think it feels right. You have to be able to logically discuss why it feels right.

—and his thoughts on why the production methods of yesteryear produced better cartoons:

There is more talent working in the industry now than ever before, but sadly the vast majority won’t have the opportunity to work on really good creative stories. The problem isn’t always the type of stories being told; it’s more in the way these stories are being told and developed. There is no room for visual exploration. There is no time for thought and craftsmanship. There isn’t the chance for crews to build trust and synergy.

The production design tips that he offers are applicable to artists today, even if the tools of the trade have changed:

I suggest putting all your research materials away once you start designing and never refer to them again. This may prove difficult at first. But I’ve found that if you are tied too closely to your reference, your designs will tend to look stiff. You will miss out on many fun design opportunities.


Starting rough and not getting specific too early will allow you to keep your design ideas flexible…The more ideas and work you have, the more design possibilities you will have to choose from.

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design ranks among the most unique and delightful animation books in recent memory. It goes without saying that the book’s mix of technical tips and advice makes it a must-buy title for professional artists and students, but it should also appeal to fans of classic of animation who will surely gain a renewed appreciation for the Chuck Jones canon. The book will be released on October 1st. For those who are still in need of convincing, the book’s official blog gives a nice sense of the book’s content.

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