ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Drawing for Animation - Inspirational Sketches Derived From Disney

Updated on July 15, 2018
rembrandz profile image

Remy Francis is a socially conscious entrepreneur in Dubai. She is a live artist, writer, trainer and creative video and animation producer

It is my pleasure to present to you the first in my animation series on HubPages with a 'Drawing for Animation' theme.

Drawing is an important skill required of any animator. Strong drawing skills and great animation go hand-in-hand in a successful animation career.

Even if one is a born artist, the art and craft of animation makes it mandatory to practice high-speed drawing. Therefore, quick sketches are a craft which develops with practice.

The following are some of my early official sketches as I religiously followed the above rule. I frequently made these quick sketches to develop this very important skill required for traditional and modern-day character animation.

It is suggested that the aspiring animator make it a daily routine to study from life-forms.

My take on Life-drawing

Life drawing sketches, such as what you see here, are required to master the Art of Animation. I made these way back in 1990-91 when I was an aspiring animator with a Disney dream.

Back then, Animation was all new at our modern South Indian Metro. However, we – a group of wide-eyed passionate female artists who were just out of science and fine arts Graduate Schools – paid models on weekends with our own money, so we could practice Life Drawing.

Thanks to our perseverance in following our distant dream with the direction from the books to follow the foot-steps of some great Disney master animators of the golden years, with some volunteered studio-space it was all motivational enough to let our endeavors going. Let yourself be guided by a good mentor who only means well for you.If you are at this stage, this article maybe a good start for you.

Constant practice and in-depth research is paramount to developing stronger skills in drawing. This grounding is required of all interns aspiring to work on reputable animation productions around the world.

The mid-1930s were the best years for animators, especially Disney animators, because there was a mammoth growth in the studio during the exciting exploratory, experimental golden era of animation. This was when it all started with the Nine Old Men of Disney. Disney is a pioneer today because it instilled in its animators a spirit of constant study, soul-searching inside the art, and more study to keep them advancing.

This trend was set by the legendary Walt Disney as early as the 1930s, when he realized the importance of drawing in animation.

He hired Don Graham to teach drawing once a week to improve drawing talents of the Disney Staff. He started teaching regular Life Drawing, but thanks to Walt, who was very difficult to please, Don had to get into an intensive method of training because Walt Disney wanted him to become an outstanding authority on line-drawing in all of the USA.

Walt Disney wanted him to teach his animators what they were never taught in art school.

Don studied in-depth about Life Drawing, to be able to meet Walt's enthusiasm for making his team master its complexities. In order to assist Don, who was just an art instructor, with becoming able to teach drawing in context with animation, he got Don to learn animation.

Here are some of the sketches featuring Walt Disney’s own explanation for each type of drawing method. Also included are my Suggestions from my experience in Animation and Art. Enjoy the ride!


A feeling of life and movement is paramount in drawing for animation. Figure drawings of about one to five minutes should suggest movement, volume and structural clarity.

Portfolios should demonstrate the skill to quickly capture the qualities of volume and vitality in line. These should be from Life Drawing class and/or from everyday surroundings.

Spirited drawings that suggest mood, character and altitude are the best of all. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)


My take on Gestures

Practice sketching the human being on a daily-basis. Visit gyms, aerobic centers, tournaments, cafeterias...just to capture moods and attitudes of people. And draw, draw, draw!!

Animal Quick Sketches

The ability to quickly and clearly draw animals in movement and at rest is of great importance. These drawings should show an understanding of how animals naturally move as solid structural volumes in a three dimensional space. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)

My take

It pays off to make field trips to places like the zoo and wildlife sanctuaries with the purpose of sketching animals, in order to be able to quickly sketch them while in movement.

I was once sketching an elephant in a South India Zoo under a Banyan tree. My companion Linda, who came along to enjoy her day out in the zoo while sitting with me, had fled from the scene. She was no more to be seen next to me. Now why was that?!! I had not noticed that the elephant stood right next to me. I was horrified!

While quick sketching the gigantic beauty from afar, I kept my eyes glued to my paper (doing the finishing touches). I did not notice her with her care-taker passing by me, as the elephant was being taken for her regular bath.

While quick-sketching, for best results one needs to keep the eyes glued to the subject, as the target time of completion must be less than one minute.

Figure Drawings (more developed works):

In addition to rapid gestures, these are some of the more completely resolved representations of the human figure. These works should be simple and clear and primarily rendered in line. Be sure to draw hands, feet and faces whenever possible. Work to create a variety of dynamic, lively poses and angles. (c) Disney Feature Animation recruitment (internship portfolio reqt.)

My Take

It is suggested that students of such sessions compulsorily should have gone through Life Drawing sessions. Life Drawing is a major part of ArtSchool, where the artists are asked to sketch from live human models. The human body is the most complicated yet beautiful creation artistically speaking, and yet the toughest to create or draw. An aspiring animator/character animator must study the human body like the palm of our hands. This could enable them to eventually animate a human 3D model, seamlessly. If animators have no grounding in this area, it will show in their lifeless animations and forms.

Animals: (more developed drawings)

This represents more finished animal studies. Again, it is best to use linear techniques to show more specific nuances of an animal’s structure and character. Search for a natural sense of how each animal moves and behaves. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)

Refined Works:

Refined works are extended drawings. These could be figures, portraits, animals or compositions of landscapes or architectural environments. A few illustrations and compositions interpreted from photographs are okay, but preferred are examples drawn from observations of life. (c) Disney Feature Animation (internship portfolio reqt.)

It is said that Don Graham eventually became the best in line drawing, but the intellectual accomplished this only with his patience and perseverance. There had been many nights of pressure for Don till he broke the ice as he made his injection into the actual work of animation seamless.

Before I say adieu this time, let me show you my evolution into the field of animation spanning from 1987-1994. It was long and painful, but surely pleasant to have joined the club of animators like this.

Charcoal Sketches
Charcoal Sketches | Source
Charcoal Sketches
Charcoal Sketches | Source
ISO 9000 cartooning gig
ISO 9000 cartooning gig | Source
ISO 9000 cartooning gig
ISO 9000 cartooning gig | Source
Character Design for Harpic Commercials
Character Design for Harpic Commercials

In 1994, I joined the then India's premium animation studios that took off with the Kawasaki Bajaj fame, having brought (an international animators' association) to India for the first time, and having been the first to bring the Travelling Art Show to India. Today, animation still keeps me busy in my work-life very regularly, with me directing and fine-tuning what my team does for my films, never completing a branding endeavor without my animations in it.

In 2006, while I drove past Disney Feature Studios at Burbank, California, I could not help thinking about my Disney Dream 20 years ago. Though I never got to working there, it still seems all surreal because that dream and a perseverance to draw for animation got me travelling and connecting with the people who till today make waves in the field of animation, living the Illusion of Life.


© 2010 Remy Francis


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Hi Zera

      Thanks for your thoughts. Yes definitely you can. All the best with your drawing exercises.

    • SotD and Zera profile image

      SotD and Zera 

      7 years ago

      One of my weaknesses in drawing is speed- I tend to draw really slowly. It's good to know that this is something that can be overcome with practice! Thanks for the great advice.


    • profile image

      madhu mondol 

      7 years ago

      good job

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Thank you kittyjj for your kind words!

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 

      7 years ago from San Jose, California

      Beautiful drawings. Love them all! :)

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      8 years ago from Dubai

      Hey Ricki Thank you so much for your comments. I am glad I was able to scintillate your want to sketch more again. All the best!

    • Ricki Landers profile image

      Ricki Landers 

      8 years ago from Gatlinburg, Tennessee

      Love it, thanks so much for posting. It has been a while since I did sketches like this and I hope to find the time soon to focus on it again. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my thoughts again ;)

      My husband has done art all over the world including at Disney, I wish he would focus more on his art because I think it would make him a much for happy person if he focused on his art.

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      8 years ago from Dubai

      Hey there jperry106 Thanks for your appreciation. I am glad you are participating in the animation subject in spite of not being in the field...that is also my intent to get whole communities interested. Thanks!

      Well not really jperry106 as you may notice there is a certain beauty in traditional disney-style cel animation as there is for Computer generated animation too. You look at Lion King (the circle of life animated movie) or snow-white and Finding Nemo (computer animated movie), Avatar (3D movie). All look fascinating in its own way. Of course I do most of my work using the computer as a tool. These days (happening for many years now) computers have been used to simplify/clean up our original work on paper...those days it took months if not years for things we could accomplish today within days.

      Another aspect in the value of the drawn animation of yester-years is the value of Animation art. Just put a search for Animation Art collection on google and you would know its value in the market. Even concept art cels (acetates) are sold. Best part is it appreciates in time and is a valuable collectible. Walk into an Official Disney Merchandise Store and you could find limited editions/certified and sold to you.

    • jperry106 profile image


      8 years ago from Castle Hayne NC

      I do not know too much about animation only from what I see on TV, Comic Books and Movies. Do you think that they will stop drawing on paper and just do everything through the computer? Also your drawing are beautiful.

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      8 years ago from Dubai

      Thanks so much Pixienot...for having stopped by and your vote ;o) Your interest motivates me to write more on the subject...I promise to make time! sorry missed seeing your message earlier.

      Hey Patkay

      Thank you so much for your compliments.

      I sure will continue on this cause...Thanks for your endorsement too! Much appreciated.

    • Patkay profile image

      Patrick Kamau 

      8 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      In life, it is important for one to make use of ones talent. And that is what you are doing. Your drawing is superb. Continue like that, I will have to check on your other hubs.

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      8 years ago from Dubai

      Hey Cashmere

      Thank you for stopping by...and all your kind words...wished and friendly jealousy ;o)

      Oh you can draw.... Just practice..sketch sketch sketch and you will get it. Try to look at the world like a paining in a frame....that's all there Cashmere. TC

    • cashmere profile image


      8 years ago from India

      beautiful sketches, love the shading you give.

      Wish I could draw a straight so jealous :)

    • Pixienot profile image


      8 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      Rembrandz, I so much enjoyed this hub. I look forward to seeing your other hubs.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      9 years ago from Dubai

      Hello SchwarZ22

      Thank you for stopping by. Congrats! Your talent makes it all the more easier to help you draw anything. But as you read in this hub I can't stress enough, how important it is to practise drawing. Just keep sketching human anatomy from subjects in real life as you go about doing your daily chores, and you'll master the skill eventually. The more you sketch with passion the better you get. So the key words here are passion, practise and patience. I will try to suggest some books as reference in this journey of yours. All the best!

    • SchwarZ22 profile image


      9 years ago from Davao, Philippines

      i have a "raw" talent in drawing, i mean i can draw full figure of a male and female. the problem is that i can draw them in static format, which means i only have 1 angle of it; the semi side view. i find full front view difficult to draw. if there is any you can tip me for starting to draw figures that has diffirent angels please do..^_^

      i want to someday be on animation world and draw ...

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 

      9 years ago

      Rembrandz, I am on the HubPages feed and saw you reply, so I can respond quickly. I am fine, thank you. Having spent nearly one year on the site, I have gotten things set up pretty much the way I had intended, and this gives me freedom to work on projects. I would like for you to write creatively. If I can support you with proofreading, mentoring or anything else, I will be happy to do so free of charge, within reasonable limits. Feel free to contact me via my profile page.

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      9 years ago from Dubai

      Thanks WE always great to hear from you. Thank you again for your kind words. Am pleased if my readers are able to gather something off my experiences. Which becomes good tips for newbies.

      Am good WE and you?

      Well my wish is to keep up with my writing and sharing passions. But life gets in the way. But I somehow try to squeeze in some time to have a hub or two here. I wish I could have writing part of my main life someday.

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 

      9 years ago

      I admire your creative talent, both in words, images, and ability to think original. Every time you write, it is something substantial and really worthwhile. It has been awhile since I had the opportunity to informally critique your work; hopefully you are well.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

    • rembrandz profile imageAUTHOR

      Remy Francis 

      9 years ago from Dubai

      Thank you for stopping by and for your appreciation Mark.

    • Mark Ewbie profile image

      Mark Ewbie 

      9 years ago from UK

      I love your drawings, thanks for sharing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)