Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blaisedell Layout Pencil

This, for those who are not aware of it's legendary nature, is the Blaisedell Layout Pencil. Made famous by both John Lounsbury and Glen Keane. I can remember seeing pictures of Glen draw with this when I was a kid and searching high and low for these pencils. Unfortunately, there weren't many great art stores in the sub-burbs of Chicago growing up and these were nowhere to be found. Plus, I think they stopped producing them in 1990 due to the fact that the pencil contains actual lead and not graphite. Ya know, the cancer causing type!

But recently a colleague and friend of mine, the awesome Rick Farmiloe, super generously and graciously gave this pencil to me because he knew how much it meant to me. I know, it's just a stupid pencil but it kinda encapsulates so much of why I wanted to get into animation that it is priceless to be able to have one in my possession. Thanks Rick!!


Trent Correy said...

Hey Matt. Very inspiring stuff man, it, your blog always makes me pick up a pencil. I just heard they're putting these pencils back into production, better look into that!

Matt Williames said...

What?? Wait... where did you hear this?

Omar said...

No no, I'm pretty sure you're thinking of the blackwing. That's been reportedly put back in production.

Matt Williames said...

Yeah, I heard about the blackwing going back into production. Do you think that's what you heard Trent or are you positive it was the Blaisedell?

Ricardo de los Angeles said...

The question now is....are you going to use it!!!??? :)

Matt Williames said...

Yeah dude, I'm using it as we speak!

Ninjai Production Insider said...

Good to see you blogging again after "the fiasco". I subscribe to your feed and have waited a while for your next post.

Bill Breneisen said...

Cool! I'm just curious though, how do you manage real tight in-betweens and clean-up when your line is so darn thick? Do you use it for the initial roughs and then switch over to something smaller as the scene gets closer to completion? I'm looking forward to trying the re-release.

Matt Williames said...

Bill: Yeah, ya know I would never ever use this pencil if I were working on something commercially that was going to require someone to clean-up my work in the traditional sense. When I am animating in that system I always tie things down SUPER tight so there is no guess work.

I am using this pencil for a short film I am animating on with a few friends were the final look is taking advantage of the spontaneous look of loose drawings. The pencil is perfect for the look. I am mainly using it for under drawing and then I switch over to something I can get more control with for the final graphite line on top (like a 3B). It's too difficult for me to get the subtlety in my spacing that I like to have with a line that is so broad (as you asked about). Something that I think makes 2D special that it also never takes advantage of (commercially at least) is that fact that line carries so much character. While I respect those who can really do clean-up well, they are very few and far between and unfortunately I feel like most of the time ruff animation looses something going from ruff to clean-up. Hopefully we can take advantage of what makes drawings special with the short!

Oriel Berkovits said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oriel Berkovits said...

Hey matt.Glad to see you're back posting.Does this mean your great tutorials are coming back too? Still waiting for 'How to turn stuff'..

Matt Williames said...

Oriel: I'll be honest and say I don't foresee me posting much in the future let alone trying to do tutorials at this point. When I started this blog I was just a married guy with no job. Now, we are super blessed with 3 kids and lots of work, however, it makes blogging fairly unimportant in the large scheme of things.

I will say that when i have something interesting to post I certainly will but for right now think just need to be on hold for a while. Thanks for dropping by anyway, I know it's not what anyone wants to hear but I feel like it's the truth so it needs to be said.

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Patrick Semple said...

As a fellow stationary nerd its always nice to hear about these things. are they sort of like a china marker or are they a different beast all together.

you should try the Sanford Design Ebony pencils they are really cool as well for the energetic first drawings plus they still have a lot of control so drawings don't end up off the page.

cheers for the cool post

Matt Williames said...


yeah, it's much different than a china marker. Obviously the same casing, but filled with poured lead.

Yeah, of course Ebonys! I used to use them a lot way back before and in college. Back when i thought I was Glen Keane :) it just doesn't work for the way I animate. I like to start light and build up the drawing and the lead is too thick and dark for me to use it that way.

Thanks for stopping by!

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