Anyone who is in the field of animation, specially those inclined towards visual development and production design is familiar with the name Hans Bacher. Hans has been working as a production designer since about 40 years of which he worked mostly on Disney feature films and some films by Amblimation. His credits includes films like 'Mulan', 'The Lion King', 'Aladdin' and 'Beauty and the Beast' just to name a few. You can see most of his artworks on his regularly updated blog. His art has been a huge influence on my work. In this post I will try to talk about his style of art, his blog and a little about his book.
From what I gathered from his posts about his experiences and by personally interacting with him last year, Hans is a very no-nonsense kind of artist. He is very dedicated and disciplined toward his art form and that shows in his work. Armed with great draftsmanship and impressive design sense, each of his artwork screams of his finesse and total clarity of his art. Unlike other artists, Hans has a variety of styles. He has the ability to adapt or create different styles of art depending upon the kind of project which just shows how much of a great artist he really is. One can see from his blog that he mostly used traditional mediums for his works but he also embraced the digital medium as it developed over the years. He has a profound knowledge about the history of art and he uses it extensively on the kinds of projects he works on. Lately all of his artworks have been created digitally and he uses the medium quite effectively by creating custom brushes and using simple shapes and ideas. His art is slightly inclined towards abstract style than photorealistic. He uses a lot of interesting self created patterns and textures which give an edge to his work. For example:
Hans's blog is one of the most extensive repository of design styles I have ever seen. Apart from his artworks he also posts works of other famous artists and reference materials, be it doors, design styles, color palettes, etc. For example,
He shares with us his artworks that he created for projects he has worked on till date. He also posts photographs and shares experiences of working on certain projects, like this and this when he was working on the earlier version of Beauty and the Beast. Having associated with company like Disney for so many years, one might think that he would speak good about it. But Hans is the kind of artist who is not afraid to speak his mind. He has criticized on a lot of occasions about the Disney management and the executives when their decisions led to scrapping of projects or modifying them so that the final product is safe. For example, this post tells us his thoughts on the abandoned 'Fraidy Cat' project by Disney.
Another interesting aspect of his blog are the images he posts. They are not just random images attached to the posts, instead they are designed and arranged aesthetically. All his posts are tagged with labels which makes it easier for us to surf through his blog. Also he has an extensive list of websites and blogs of artists he likes thus providing us more avenues to look for good art.
Hans also had written a book called 'Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation' which goes into detail about his experiences and artworks created for various projects. The book discusses basic compositional rules, use of colors and values and a lot of ideas which would make this a highly recommended book for artists around the world. He is currently writing a follow up to this book. I along with colleagues had also got the opportunity last year to meet him and show him our work and listen to him speak about his various experiences first hand.
After experiencing his art and his energy (he is about 60 years old and I've heard that he works for 18 hrs. a day) its no doubt that he is one of my favorite artist and I have immense respect for him. I would suggest anyone associated with the animation industry and even designers from live-action field to see his work. Hans is an artist who dislikes being monotonous and also hates how nowadays all animated films look the same. Maybe seeing his landscape of work would inspire us to try something new.
*This is an assignment for one of my critical study classes. But in no way does it mean that I don't feel passionately about Hans's work.