Character First! (even when animating Forces)

I enjoyed looking at this drawing from Disney’s ‘The Fox and the Hound’ and thought I’d explore it a little. It is likely drawn by Glen Keane (I have no reason to think otherwise).

There is a danger of reading too much into an artist’s intent so this is not so much of an exercise into what Keane was thinking as he drew as it is one of getting into the idea of how forces and forms, personal spaces, points of view and such flow through ever scene and are there waiting to be discovered by us.

In the final image you can see two boxes in the lower left and upper right corners. These are spaces that reflect what the character is actually seeing. Although I haven’t made an attempt to draw them, it’s a pretty safe bet that when looking at the scene we’ll see some of these POV shots briefly in order to keep us fully immersed, caught up in the emotions, and empathetic to the characters.

When personal space diminishes to where two people are face to face or nose to nose (or at least reasonably close) the two are either in love or in conflict. Either way they are fully engaged in the moment.

There are many words come to mind while viewing this image but the one I’m feeling the most is ‘tension’. These two are not in love. So, we are storing up energy as we anticipate the release of the intentions of two characters motivated by too little personal space. The conflict is dictating… forcing… something to happen.

I’d have to compare this drawing to what appears in the film to see what made it all the through but I’m also attracted to the sloping ground plane. Note how gravity (the gravity of the shot and the situation) is not working in favor of the fox. It’s almost as if he’s about to slide under the mass of the bear. It would certainly take more effort for him to move up and out of screen left and he can’t escape through the ground. The only other option is to meet this monstrous bear head on and fight!

At any rate… that Glen Keane sure does some nice drawing.
If anyone knows where to find the other six drawings associated with this key drawing, I’d love to see all of them in sequence and in context.

Source of image: Rossini Auctions (

About Rodney

Cartoonist and Animator! I'd tell you more but then I'll have to debrief you.
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