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Watch These Videos of Glen Keane Drawing

(Image via Cartoon Brew)

Judging from the amount of process videos that go up on social media, I think it’s safe to say that artists love watching other artists. Ashley and I are no different; if you were to sit next to us while I watched a drawing tutorial, our reactions are so intense you’d think we were engrossed in some kind of sports event or action movie.

“Did she really just use that brush?”

“NO WAY, I never use that layer blending option!!!”


And so on.

It’s something that we really don’t take the time to immerse ourselves in, but we benefit in inspiration and technique every time we let ourselves do it.

For your viewing pleasure today, let’s check out some videos of the great Glen Keane doing his thing. There’s so much more to animation than drawing—great drafting skills are only the basic prerequisite to a good performance, after all—but we illustrators can learn a thing or two from our animator cousins!

Here are a couple of really basic things to note when you’re watching:

Glen references real things when he talks about design. It’s so important to look at real objects, even when you’re abstracting them down to their basic shapes. I learned this from the great Maurice Noble via Tod Polson’s fantastic reference book The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble  and the Zen of Animation Design.

• He seldom draws from the wrist or fingers. Watch him—most of the time his fingers and wrist are totally stationary while his whole arm moves at the elbow or even shoulder. Drawing from the wrist or fingers when you’re laying down shapes makes for stiff figures.

You can see thousands of hours of practice. Even with the amount of “thinking lines” he puts down, it seems like every dadblamed line is where he dadblamed wants it to be. This is the beauty of deliberate practice: forging solid neural pathways, a true body-brain connection, and reliable muscle memory.

• He holds his pencil away from the point. I used to unintentionally choke up on my pencils, with my fingers millimeters from the point, until I noticed how far he rides up. I tried copying it and it feels so much more comfortable and stable.


How Glen draws the Beast, with design based on existing animals:


Here’s a fun older one where Glen contrasts the head & face design of Ariel and Pocahontas:


This one is fun to watch with the quick, gestural poses underneath:


This has less straight-on drawing footage but it’s still beautiful to watch:


And just for funsies, here are some bonuses:

A promo clip of Mr. Keane drawing life-size in VR:

And a review of Glen Keane’s favorite pencil, the Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni 10B (yes, you read that right… it’s basically drawing with a stick of black butter):

So, what about you all? Did we miss any awesome Glen Keane videos? Leave a comment!

Click below for Maurice Noble’s design class wrapped up in attractive hardbound form:

And get your very own butter pencil here (tastes great on an English muffin):




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