Pres Romanillos lost his battle with leukemia last Saturday. He was 47.
I didn't know Pres all that well but we used to sit in cubicles next to each other during the making of "Aladdin". At that time he was a rough inbetweener for Glen Keane and he enabled Glen to crank out massive amounts of footage of Aladdin. Glen would do the key poses and Pres would fill in the breakdown and "inbetween" drawings to flesh out the acting and motion and Glen could move onto the next scene. I remember Pres telling me that Glen was able to do 50 feet in a week once (an unbelievable amount for Disney - most animators dream of being able to do 5 feet a week consistently) because of Pres's help. Pres was an excellent draftsman and very good at drawing in Glen's style so he was an invaluable help to Glen.
Pres had his own style, of course, and his dream back then was to become an animator in his own right (as was mine). He had gone to the Art Center in Pasadena and, like a lot of CalArts students, I was amazed at how great an education in drawing he had received compared to the one I had gotten. I think that he worried a bit that he had missed out on the animation training that us CalArtians had received and he hoped that it wouldn't hold him back. He needn't have worried, though, shortly after that he became a full-fledged animator and went on to work on many timeless characters and films.
I parted ways with the studio during "Aladdin" and Pres went to work in Florida while I was gone from the studio so I lost touch with him. He was always a very nice person (and well-known as a snappy dresser in those days) and an extraordinary artist. I am sorry to hear of his health troubles and it's sad to think that he is gone now.
During the making of "Aladdin" he had an old animation desk that was covered in years of graphite rubbed into the wood surface. I remember being shocked one day to see that he was using an eraser to "carve out" likenesses of Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie from the black surface of his desk. How he had the time or energy I don't know but that was Pres! He was always enthusiastic and tireless.
That was my strongest memory of Pres and I wanted to write down that story. So when I checked the LA Times obituary to double-check his birth year I was amazed to see that a picture of Pres and that very desk accompanies his obituary! Click here to see the photo. Apparently he later added Pocahontas to the desk as well.