So thanks to Ward Jenkins, who decided to scan in Tom Oreb’s Golden Book, we’ve got Tom Oreb Week at CARTOON MODERN. The problem with doing a book like CARTOON MODERN, which is about dozens of amazing designers who have barely received any credit, is that it’s impossible to devote large chunks of the book to any single individual. Oreb (1913-1987) gets quite a bit of play in the book, and he deserves it, being one of the greats of 1950s animation design; he designed Tex Avery’s SYMPHONY IN SLANG (1951) and Ward Kimball’s TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM (1953), and was the character stylist on the Disney features SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) and 101 DALMATIANS (1961). But no doubt, there was a lot of his work that I was unable to fit in simply for a lack of space, and also for wanting to be fair to the other deserving designers of the era. One thing that got left out is this model sheet of character suggestions he did for the rabbits in SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959). Oreb manages to make these rabbits super-cute and super-appealing without getting too saccharine, which is a very difficult balance to achieve.
(click on image for larger version)
Below is part of the model sheet for the final rabbit design used in the film. I’m fairly certain that these are an animator’s interpretation of Oreb’s designs, and that Oreb didn’t do the final design on the character. It’s not a bad translation, but it definitely loses something in the transition from concept to final model, and it’s not just Oreb’s delightful rendering that’s gone. I’d be curious to hear your comments and to get a discussion going about what everybody thinks about the concepts and final models—Is there any way that Oreb’s designs could have been better interpreted for animation or is this as good as can be expected? What exactly is lost in the move from concept to finalized design? Is the character still cute or not?