Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Bernard Garbutt's Animal Sketches

Bernard Garbutt (1900-1975) was an animator and teacher at Disney during the studio's golden age. He taught animal drawing during the production for Bambi, when everyone was trying to understand the structure and movement of animals.

Bernard Garbutt grew up in southern California, where he worked as a staff artist for the L. A. Times, producing sketches of horse races and county fairs for the Sunday edition. He also wrote and illustrated children's books about dogs and horses.

Veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston said that when he worked at Disney Studios, Garbutt would help the other animators figure out how a certain animal should move.
"Garbutt would perch on the edge of the table, more like a bird than a draftsman (he never seemed to sit in a chair), and start explaining, and while he talked his pencil would start making a thin line that seemed to meander aimlessly across the paper. We would turn our heads first one way. then the other, trying to see what he was drawing, but the lines resembled a tangled cobweb as much as anything else. Then, suddenly, we saw a deer in the precise phase of the movement we had described; only Garbutt was drawing it upside down so it faced us."

"While we were blinking and trying to absorb that combination of rendition and explanation, he would continue: "Now with a camel, he'll put this leg out first and keep his head down. ..." When he had finished drawing a camel getting up, he would go on to the buffalo, just so we would have a thorough understanding of what was unique about the deer in this particular action."

Thanks, Paulo


nuum said...

Gurney and Garbutt: Beyond Talent.

Thanks, James.

BirdD said...

He seems to have been a masterful illustrator, and his drawings do an incredible job of capturing animals in a loose style.
I've heard before that the reason Disney had to bring in skilled draughtsmen to teach their animators how to draw animals was because nobody was teaching it to students at the time. Presumably then, Garbutt developed his skills through observation of live subjects on his own, which only makes them more impressive.
Thank you for sharing his work, I find it very inspiring.