Outside of sitting down to watch the ludicrous He-Man/She-Ra Christmas Special a few weeks ago, I'll admit that I'm not all that familiar with the world of Masters of the Universe, but after seeing Robert Lamb's collection of production art from the series, I want to be:

The image above comes from a collection of background layouts that Lamb, a writer and storyboard artists who worked for Filmation during He-Man's original run -- literally pulled out of a dumpster after Filmation had thrown them away. And it's a good thing he did, too, because the pieces he's rescued, combined with his own work, make a truly amazing example of the art of animation.

Check out our favorite pieces from Lamb's site after the jump!

Background Layouts: The detail in the artists' blue-line layouts for backgroudns of He-Man are absolutely stunning in their quality and detail, and wouldn't look out of place in any modern big-budget fantasy epic or video game. According to Lamb, "Filmation had a black line style to their backgrounds that facilitated production. A black pencil cleanup of the blue pencil layout would be xeroxed onto a cel that would lay over the painted BG. This eliminated the need for the painters to noodle a lot of detail into the paintings. Annie [Guenther, background artist of Disney's Sleeping Beauty and others] and other BG artists didn't like the ink line but production costs won out." Click each image for a full-sized larger version:

Eternia University

Ancient Ruins

Skeletor's Vault

Concept Art: In addition to rescuing the background layouts from the trash can, Lamb also has concept designs for the environments of the show by design team leader Lorenzo Martinez, though unfortunately, as Lamb says, "I lost the Snake Mountain cutaway which annoys me no end. "

Personally, I love the automatic loophole he's given for continuity errors, in that "actual sizes vary due to the magical nature of Greyskull."

Storyboards: Lamb's site isn't just full of other people's work, though. He also has storyboards he created for the show, shown side-by-side with frames from the actual finished episodes, so viewers can see exactly how things evolved and changed (often due to budgetary restrictions) for the final product. Plus, you get the awesome hand-drawn headers for each storyboard:

They're all pretty great, but my favorite is this one, in which Cringer and Prince Adam end up in a pose that was changed for the final version for what Lamb refers to as "obvious reasons."

Lamb has much, much more at his website, including commentary on all the art and memories that are well worth reading for anyone interested in animation, even if you're not a big MOTU fan.