Drawn to Life is a collection of lectures from long-time Disney animator Walt Stanchfield. He has worked for Disney since the 1950s.
There are two volumes, each with over 400 pages. The reason for two volumes is probably to make the books easier to handle. Both are on gesture and life drawing, even though the cover art might suggest otherwise, especially the one with the lion. You can start reading from any book and any lecture. The order isn't important.
There are plenty of essays in the books. Each is a lesson relating to drawing and animation. It can be tangent drawings, creating believable characters, learning to observe, understanding gestures, etc. There are tips on almost anything relating to drawing. Loose and sketchy sketches serves as examples to the lessons.
These books are more thinking than drawing technique books. For example, the lessons are not about how to draw perspective, the lessons are about how to use perspective. You can view sample pages for volume one and volume two on amazon.com to get an idea.
The books represent a tremendous wealth of information and insight into drawing, animation and observation. After all, Walt Stanchfield has more than 50 years of experience in animation.
This book is recommended to those who are into animation and drawing.
(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
New England Yankee
I acquired Drawn to Life thinking it would be nice background material on typical Disney animation characters - sort of an insider's look at their production and development. Perhaps even a way to acquire some unusual character drawings. Wrong entirely!
What this book is, is a very specialized art instruction book aimed at animation artists and Disney animation artists specifically. Still, it does teach focus on, and simplification of gesture in a way that can be effectively used in any medium. Had I to reduce Drawn to Life to its barest topic, it would be just that - capturing and communicating gesture. Animation requires special techniques adapted to 2D line drawing. Those are the heart of the book, along with Walt Stanchfield's philosophy, optimism, and personification of Disney post-WWII history.
The book is a collection of Walt Stanchfield's weekly lectures to the Disney animators, consisting of drawing handouts and notes. The lecture topics were, and are, essentially random (his own term) as this wasn't intended as a course of study, but as professional development and continuing ed for an existing, highly-accomplished staff of artists. There are 149 lectures in the first volume alone, under such titles as "Using Cylinders", "Think First ...", "Get Out Of Your Way", "Action Analysis", "Silhouette", and so on.
Having dabbled in art classes and books over the years, I often find such material highly-technical ... and deadly dull. Drawn to Life is neither. Though the volume is large (nearly 400 pages), each lecture chapter is short and to the point. Stanchfield's teaching style is literate and personable, often humorous and riddled with stories. Drawings accompanying each lecture are quite loose and sketchy, invariably on-point, and amazingly convincing. Who knew that the subtlest shift in the slant of a line could be so compelling?
I walked away with a renewed appreciation for animation artists, an enhanced vocabulary that includes terms like stretch and squish, and tools I lacked to evaluate animation quality. Recommended, not just for artists, but for anyone intrigued by animation. Naturally, the Disney characters and commentary sprinkled throughout are fun, too.
I had the privilege of studying with Mr. Stanchfield at the Walt Disney Animation Studio. His classes were electrifying and incredibly helpful to animators. Stanchfield's lectures have been collected in two wonderful books (so far I have just the one, but I'm sure the other will be equally outstanding.) If you are interested in learning about the portrayal of humans and animals in motion, even if you are not an animator-- this is the best book you could get on the subject. There is simply nothing else like this book out there. It is beautifully written, very funny, and very informative. Run, don't walk, and get both books today. I can't wait to get the other half of the set.
Almost all of the content in volume 2 can be found in volume 1. The handouts contained herein are really more about inspirational speaking than they are about practical or theoretical information... for example chapter 48 is all inspirational quotations "Love the inner you and keep moving ahead because you can't stand still and improve at the same time." Most of the drawing examples in here are student drawings, whereas volume 1 has more pro examples. The student drawings aren't really worth studying, because they lack the kind of orchestration found in pro drawings. A drawing is essentially made up of marks and graphics, and student drawings don't have the profundity and cohesion found in top quality work. This is all to say that good drawings teach you how to draw good. Romanelli's "Draw the Looney Tunes" is a superior book by far, fewer words, bigger pictures... you'll still have to deduce for yourself what is really making the pictures work though.
Timothy J. Palkovic
This is a perfect book especially for those who draw without formal instruction. The books 'Drawn from Life' are notes made by a master teacher to students after a animation drawing class. Many examples include student drawings with the corrections of the instructor. The class and the instructor used ball point pen for drawing so the illustrations are perfectly clear. But the drawings are only half the story. The lively accompanying commentary has the feeling of informal speech. The stories are compelling making this a good read especially considering the fact that these are drawing books. Though I am not an animator, but a scene designer, I find that I have applied the principles taught here in filling my design sketches with figures that seem to move, making my scene designs come to life.