Saturday, October 13, 2012

Living Lines

-By Dan dos Santos

I attended NY Comic Con yesterday, and afterwards was lucky enough to have dinner with some really wonderful friends. Fellow illustrator, Zelda Devon, showed off some new books she picked up at the Disney Booth while at NYCC. She had purchased Layout & Design from the Walt Disney Archive Series, and A Disney Sketchbook. I had never seen the sketchbook, but was, as expected, blown away. The other book, 'Layout & Design', I am quite familiar with, as I purchased a copy myself a few months ago. The book, as well as the entire series it is a part of, are must owns for any artist interested in animation.

I've recently been working on a personal comic project, and in doing so, have a new found appreciation for the work that animators do. Just making my characters look the same from one panel to the next has proven more difficult than I expected. Yet good animators do it 24 times a second, while managing to breath more life into their drawings than I can muster even once.

As such, I've been buying a lot of animation-centric books of late, and browsing a lot of animation and character design websites. Some of these books and websites came up in last night's dinner conversation, and I thought them worth mentioning here.

All of the typical 'Art of' books came up in conversation, in particular the 'The Art of Tangled'. I know there are a lot of amazing 'art of' books out there, but I mention this one in particular because it is often overlooked. The film tends to have a feminine connotation, and so a lot men I know just don't even think to give it a look. They don't know what they are missing! The character design is amazing, the background paintings are impressive as always, but the mood paintings... Oh my. The mood paintings in this book are some of the best I've seen!

As for websites, one of the most impressive I've come across, is Living Lines Library. This website is dedicated to compiling the production art, character designs and background paintings for every major animated film you can think of. Seriously... there are a TON of them!

The collections are by no means complete, but most of the scans are of good quality, and they are very well categorized by film and subject. I don't know who does all the work maintaining this blog, but a sincere 'Kudos!' to whomever it is, for this website is an absolute goldmine!!!

The other website I've been frequenting daily now is the Character Model Tumblr. Like any Tumblr, the site is composed of images scoured from all over the web. But this Tumblr in particular is well curated, and updated several times a day.

Whereas Living Lines is a bit of a reference site for me, Character Model is more of an inspiration site. I tend to just browse through it, finding little gems throughout that I never would have expected.

Take a little time today and flip through these sites. I promise you'll leave inspired!


  1. Always looking for inspiration. Thanks Dan.

  2. Re: Living Lines Library -- WOW! Dan, thank you SO MUCH for linking us to this resource. I'm going to get a lot out of it, and my daughter (17yo HS senior, bound for an art education in college) is going to make a long, loud SQUEEEEEE before settling in for some serious study.

  3. I would also like to recommend Hans Bacher's blog He has often posted recreations of stunningly beautiful backgrounds from the Disney classics - perhaps many of these are also included in the Layout & Background book, I don't know. He also posts fantastic development work from different productions. Here's a brilliant example from Snow White:

  4. A Dan dos Santos comic book? I'm first in line for that!

  5. I'm so giddy you're working on a personal comic project, Dan! That's gonna be crazy-cool. (I've been hovering around the same idea but it scares the pants off of me.) Can't wait to see what you do, and thanks bunches for the links!

  6. Livlily (Living Lines Library) is my precious! :) Big THANKS for this post, Dan!

  7. Wow this is really awesome! just what I want! Thanks a lot!

  8. Does anyone know any instruction books about character design just like production drawings?

  9. A book called "The illusion of life" is definently worth a look.

    1. Thanks a lot! I really appreciate it!

  10. Quite interesting and different post.. Keep posting..Stay blessed!!
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  11. Thanks for the plug, I run Character Model and appreciate the thumbs up.


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