Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved watching Looney Tunes. Actually, I was an animation buff all my life and still am to this day (I don’t buy movies or tv shows on DVDs. I buy animation). But I was never into the backgrounds.

Even when I was trying to get into the animation business, I never understood why anyone would want to be a background artist (how ignorant I was!).

But very recently, I’ve begun to truly appreciate backgrounds in cartoons. In particular those of Looney Tunes (and Merrie Melodies).

Below are some screen grabs from the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4 DVD box set I recently devoured. Now the unusual thing is, I am not a particularly big fan of the later stuff (not that they are bad, it’s just that after seeing the golden age stuff from the 40s, the later era just no longer compared) and I never was a fan of Speedy Gonzales.

You can imagine how thrilled I was to find that disc 3 of the set is exclusively Speedy cartoons. I watched them anyway because there was a cartoon featuring both Speedy, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner that I haven’t seen before but wanted to see. So I skimmed through all the cartoons– good thing I did. I really love the backgrounds on these Speedy Gonzales cartoons!

The colours, the bold brush strokes, the sharp angles– love them!

This series come from The Pied Piper of Guadalupe. I like how the houses were drawn with the silhouettes of the trees or telephones (whatever they are) in front of them.

This was a particularly difficult screengrab to get because I was using VLC to do it and also the scen moved fast. But I swear this is a Dali scene.

This was also a difficult screengrab. VLC makes it too hard to get the right spot and I couldn’t pause frame by frame. Anyway, the camera follows the barrel as it rolls down the stairs while you see the rooftops and side of the houses scroll upward. I don’t know if I am explaining i tright. I’m sure someone illegally put this cartoon on YouTube somewhere.

I like the composition and depth of field in this one.

The next series of grabs come from Nuts and Volts. I was struck by the walls. How did the background artist create that effect with the blue and white paint? It looks a lot better on my tv than here in a screengrab, but I was wondering if I could achieve the same effect on my own walls!

This next one comes from Pancho’s Hideaway. I love the title card! Yes it’s plain with just red and black outline but I like the strokes. I noticed that the redness came out a lot different when I made the grab and then of course even more different once I made a jpg out of it (and even worse when Blogspot made a smaller jpg).

Again, the screengrab and saving it as a jog doesn’t do the colours justice but the thick paint strokes really made me want to achieve the same result on my own walls. Imagine, living in a cartoon!

Again about the thick brush strokes but I like how well the different shades of green work together.

These come from A-Haunting We Will Go. The blues and shadows really struck me. Hm… seems to be a lot of monochromatism (is that the proper art term? Is that even a word?) in all these cartoons.

You can say that I am seeing a little too much in these things but I thought it was a great combination (for lack of a better term) of colour schemes to use between the blue outside and green inside of the Witch Hazel’s house.

Last but not least, Mexican Boarders.

You gotta love that angle.

I’m always the first to give credit where credit is due even though it’s pretty obvious that I did NOT in no way create the above drawings. Yes, Warner Bros. laywers, everyone KNOWS they are copyright Warner Bros and all patent pending etc. etc. etc. Like I said, they all came from the fantastic Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4 which you can easily buy all over the place (amazon, Chapters, Best Buy, HMV, you name it). So buy them so the lawyers will be happy.

Just realized I wrote screengrab instead of the obviously proper framegrab.

[tags]Looney Tunes, cartoons, backgrounds, illustration, animation[/tags]