Monday, June 06, 2011

Storyboard drawing from Garfield II.  The story took place in England and we thought it would be funny to have Garfield ride Winston while wearing a suit of armor.   The gag was him riding Winnie into the kitchen and emerging with a lance full of food. 

The actual shot in the movie was sans armor (for budget reasons) and didn't dolly with Garfield long enough to get the joke.  It underscores that merely moving a character through a shot doesn't make it entertaining.  If the character doesn't emerge and shine through, a shot is just "stuff happening".

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Before shooting shots of the animated leads in ALVIN and the CHIPMUNKS, we'd rehearse with these little stuffed stand-ins before shooting the blank plate.  We called it the "stuffy pass." 

It was really fun setting up these shots with the chipmunk dolls and it was amazing how much attitude we could get into them.  We'd spend all kinds  of time and effort into setting up each shot and discussing timing of when the move the came and/or  rack focus from one character to another.  Then in dailies the next day looking at takes, it would look like one shot of dirt after another....but it was really well thought out shots of dirt!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Just a few drawings today inspired from Kevin Smith's CLERKS the Cartoon...we were just hitting our stride when it was cancelled.

The writing was funny and odd, but the animation was spotty.  It's a pretty big leap of faith when choosing an overseas animation company for TV animation.  The overseas studios do tests and one has to choose.  It's a relative crap shoot and in retrospect, we chose badly.

It's worth noting that I had much of the same artistic team back a year later on Disney's KIM POSSIBLE. This time we lucked out with a better studio and the production value of the show was considerably higher.

The shower drawing was for a proposed cover for the video release of the series.  Kev chose to a different drawing for the cover, but ran it on the inside of the DVD pamphlet.

Bob and Jay caught in Spidey's web was commissioned by a fan.  It was fun to draw the characters and get away from the strict animation look where all the lines need to connect and no rendering is allowed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Here's a recent drawing I did for a charity auction at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.  The intent was to draw in as many of the characters I've animated in my career as possible.  It turned out to be a bigger chore than I anticipated...the notable exceptions are the Golden Grahams cereal Honey Drop (CGI), Dodger, Fagen and Oliver from Disney's Oliver & Company, the 7-Up Spots, Toucan Sam, characters from It's Tough to be a Bug (Disney's 3-D theme park film) and the characters from the "It's a Small World post show in Paris Disneyland. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When I have conducted animation dailies on the various films over the years, I've often talked about pushing the lines of action on the characters and made suggestions when there are balance issues.

I nicked this pic off the net some time ago for how clearly it demonstrates weight distribution and balance.  Not only is the guy's pose a strong sil, but it's easy to see how if he leaned any more to our right... if the center of his chest and the weight on his shoulder moved beyond his left foot, that he would fall over.  99% of the guy's weight and the weight on his shoulder is borne by his left foot.

This pose has it all.  Graphic clarity, design, rhythm...and it's funny too!

Since this is my site of Major Damage, I thought it about time I posted some. Major Damage can be summed up as SUPERDUPERMAN meets BIG, or "what if Billy Batson was stuck in CAPTAIN MARVEL'S body?"

It started as a little, short CGI film done after hours with friends and colleagues in the film industry and later turned into a little cottage industry.  I adapted the storyboards into a comicbook story and published a digest featuring it and other behind the scenes art.

My day job directing animation has kept me pretty busy over the years, but I've been able to generate some Damage gear, notably a lunchbox, t-shirts and silicone placemats.

The comic cover featured here is an homage to FF #107 (a comic I remember fondly as a kid) and was coincidentally featured on the flipside of SAVAGE DRAGON #107 and contained an original 16 page story.

That was a fun project as Erik included Major Damage the my giant tiki monster HUMONGOUS in his story.  Major Damage, who was new to the superjock scene, was starstruck to be among Erik's other heroes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Original Tracy rough
The Dick Tracy connection continues with this pitch drawing for a proposed TV series.

My take was, "what if Tracy was created today?"  

I looked at a lot of Tracy reference before starting as I wanted my Tracy to look current and classic at the same time.  Updating the villains to gang members seemed right since this was to be present day.  The old school mobsters made Tracy feel like, "my dad's comic strip hero." 

In Fox's ALVIN and the CHIPMUNKS, for which I directed the animation and design of the characters, there was a similar problem with their sweaters.  I suggested ditching the turtlenecks for hoodies because relatively speaking, people simply didn't wear them anymore.  The chips wore them in the original series because they were popular.  Hoodies kept the same feeling but made them current.

Final pitch art done using Illustrator

I took pains to make Tracy easy to animate with simple streamlined shapes.  I wanted him to recognizable as Tracy, but not a "moving drawing" which can happen if the original print design is taken too literally into animation.

Illustrator is kind of a pain to use in one sense as selecting those tiny handles can be frustrating.  I love the flexibility in being carry the work around on my laptop and work on it at my convenience.


Many years ago while an animator at Disney Feature Animation, I was asked to do some drawings for the DICK TRACY movie. I did a few roughs and never heard back from the powers that be. Nothing. No comments, no "thank you" no "no, thank you," just dead air.

Months went by and then I started to see poorly cleaned up versions of my drawings on sleeping bags, lunchboxes, etc...  The three poses of Dick Tracy featured above are all mine.

A funny aside. I recall telling a Disney exec that the merchandise for Dick Tracy would fail because Tracy wasn't cool in the same way that Batman was. That Batman merch was huge because wearing the Batsignal on your chest was cool, wearing a t-shirt with a drawing of Warren Beatty on it wasn't. He laughed and months later sent me a note along with an article from the trades saying as much. "As per our previous conversation, it appears your instincts were correct."

Oh, yeah, I did get paid.

My good friend and creator of Love and Capes, Thom Zahler, asked me to do this incentive variant cover for Love and Capes #4 from IDW (May 2011 issue!). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it in comics stores yet and my local funnybook store didn't know that it was even available! Oh well...on the bright side, maybe this means I'll become collectible.

Thom's book is great and I was honored that he asked me to do a guest cover. He gave me some broad direction of what he was looking for and I did a rough for approval on my tablet PC using Sketchcbook Pro. The final image was down in Illustrator.

It would have been fun to draw the cover traditionally on boards and ink with a brush (nothing quite like holding an original!), but I was busy directing the animation on HOP for Illumination/Universal and new that it would be impossible to spend more than a few minutes a week sitting at my drawing table. At that pace, it would have taken me a year to finish. Using AI, I could work on the cover in little chunks of free time no matter where I was; on a plane, in a Starbucks or wherever. The look was in keeping with Thom's style even though the drawing is 100% mine.

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