Artist Spotlight: Maurice Noble
Maurice Noble is a name that draws blank stares from most people, but he’s a legend among animators and cartoon buffs – he art-directed and laid out many classic Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons, including the legendary What’s Opera, Doc?, Duck Amuck, and Duck Dodgers In The 24½th Century; he defined the abstract-modernist style of the Road Runner series; and he mentored a number of creators who have gone on to great acclaim in animation, cartooning, and other fields.
When Maurice Noble first started in animation he went, of course, to Mecca, The Disney Studios, where he made a name for himself. He was a Bg (Background) painter there. Two of his more noted pieces included the seat for the Queen.
Concept Layouts from Snow White, 1930s:
Noble liked to pare down the Backgrounds to only their essentials. All airbrush and unnecessary highlighting and shading was removed. This made the work distinctive from UPA in that it was an attempt to control the extraneous rather than just dumping it. He was out for changing the art; not just for the sake of the change but for the sake of the art, as well.
Tod Polson, author of The Noble Approach (2013):
Layouts and final film images from “Duck! Rabbit, Duck!” (1953). Maurice made a handful of color sketches (shown on pg. 136 of “The Noble Approach”) for “Duck! Rabbit, Duck!” then drew very specific background layouts to guide painter Phil DeGuard.
More Examples of work by Maurice Nobel (finished paintings often done by Phil DeGuard or others):