Friday, October 5, 2012

Birthday Card

I just returned from a trip to Phoenix last week and during that trip I was asked to do an image for a neighbor's birthday card.

I know that lens flares are a big no-no in the grand scheme of things, but they suited their purpose for this shot.


2012...Which brings this blog to this year.

I finished my work on the Master's and while I didn't get the final result I was working toward, the time in school gave me a good body of work to continue to build on and more importantly set a precedent for finishing work out.

Are we as artist's ever really done searching for the truth in a piece though? I don't think so. Revisions, sequels and sketchbooks are all part of the process for working through an idea, even if that idea is completed.

 With these flour sacks done in Dr. Martin's Hydrus Watercolors , this work shows the many possibilities that could be used to give more character to a flour sack. A search of the web will show what other artists have done.
 A 3D model test with realistic lighting and textures really doesn't set off what should be a cartoon character. Another batch of test (and a new model) will be required.
Demon Girl and Pet
As for the Demon Girl, she went on to be finished in digital paint at a size of 22x29. In the future, though, I'll make sure that a final work fits into an off the shelf frame.

Tatyana and Zink
Done in Painter this time, the characters here were a long time in getting to color. Sometimes an idea needs years to grow....that's just the nature of the job. Just make sure it's you're own idea you're allowing to simmer and not a clients...they wouldn't like that...:)

Not everything is going to work out that well. This was an experiment in a 3D/2D mix. The stage was 3D, lit with a mixture of 3D light and 2D effect...the trim was vector and the driver of course 2D painted.

More practice with watercolor and color pencil. I prefer this method for graphic/comic book work.

Softened wax-based color pencil with Grumtine I believe.

Other blue pencil sketchwork for painting ideas that haven't seen the light of day yet.

The first thing I tackled out of school was a animation rig for 3DS Max. It ran about 170 hours in work and is currently under a vast revision for the Beta release. The character was provided by The 11 Second Club, an online community of professional an amatuer animators.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


2011 continued with some turmoil, but kept things in check when I was in the studio working. School was the place to be....

 And Snoggle got a revamp

Working a different set of proportions, I thought Snoggle would work better from an animating standpoint, if his legs were longer. This meant lengthening the rest of his body as well. His shield was shrunk to the size of a buckler and his mismatched armor carried into this version as well. That's an example of what I was saying before with making a revision, and having the characteristics  keep the toon's continuity. 


 I also researched cosmonauts and astronauts uniforms. I then fitted Snoggle into a blending of the two in the pose that he had been known for. Of course in this case, he would be holding a flag, not a spear.

 And further refined in Adobe Illustrator with vector weighted lines..which is a great toolset by-the-way.

The school was also using a program called Animation Master. It uses spline/patch modeling to create the objects. Not my first choice for animation work, but it was an interesting trial, working out the rabbit's head.

 The Demon girl with Pet started out as my usual blue pencil wash and was refined with the previously described technique. Then a layer of tracing paper was put down to work through the folds of the dress. It was all based on goth clothing from reference. We'll see the finish in the 2012 update.
The Flyer

 The Flyer combined color pencil wash with color pencil dry and some Photoshop cleanup. While not entirely successful, it's a good example of finding the form within the mass, such as the mechanical bits in the center of the vehicle.

                                 Took a little break from characters and worked on some vehicles. This one, based on the lead character's car in the film  Mad Max Roadwarrior, has been 'toonized'. It's kind of like ordering a supersized meal at the local fast food joint. Certain elements are enlarged (in this case the tires and rims) and the rest is squashed/stretched, or enlarged/shrunken depending on the look you are going for.

 Sketched with a Marvy Calligraphy Pen . These pens are excellent for sketching because they offer a broad and chiseled tip which allows for quick transition between thick and thin lines as well as fills. It also works well with the angled line/smooth corner style of drawing that I am showing here and went on to work with...such as in these pieces....

^ Just a showing of stylistic approach here, nothing more than that.

The next piece is a 3D work named Greeble. The tris count (or number of triangles allowed to build the model) was quite low. The idea was to create a Knight who wore a mechanical backpack. Attached to the sides of the pack were two arms, one holding a sword, the other a shield.

Unfortunately the count was too low to pull this off without sacrificing important shapes, so I was forced to refine it to this final version.

I was quite happy with the end result and worked in a rig for a walking test. You can read the description on the presentation sheet for more detail.

Some of the exercises I do is to sketch animated flour sacks....this is really an old Disney trick as the saying goes "If you can animate a flour sack, you can animate anything.". I've probably done a few hundred of these guys in various approaches, but felt they need more personality, hence the props. There's also an orthographic for a 3D model I was working on. The color ones in this case are color pencil.

     My development work is continuous and  never-ending. An artist needs to carry a sketchbook whereever they go and draw everyday if they can. Even 15-20 minutes a day (not unlike physical exercise...which is also vital) will keep things sharp and lessen the amount of time required for 'warming up' before getting into the work at hand.

   The difference in the life of an artist as opposed to non artists, is that we are driven not from the point of money, but from an innate desire to create. Yes we all have bills to pay and certainly want our art to take care of that, but at the end of the day, you'll know that the worlds you are building or have built, can be enjoyed by everyone....I don't think any other field offers that outcome.

Keep tooning!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012


2010 was a period of reflection and in the fall of that year I started the work on my Master's...

I had been working with the 3 head high figure, I find stylized characters are greatly enhanced when you get away from the classic 7-8 high figure. It forces the artist to exaggerate the elements through out the toon in order to make everything work in proportion.

Silhouette work, such as this axe, starts out as a black solid mass in the general shape that you want and then gets colored within the boundaries of the shape until complete.Some refinement on the shape is fine as long as you don't get bogged down on how it's supposed to look vs. working with what you have.
Here's another example, (provided by the DAC on deviant art). The blue outline represents the given shape. The final result should emulate the shape. Adding some mass is OK as long as we can see where it started.
Asajj Ventress done in a Chris Sanders style for a friendly comp on DevinatArt. and the process of how I arrived at the figure. Some anatomy issues, even in this stylized figure and I generally don't use tracing paper in my process, but I wanted to build it as you would a paper doll. The lightsaber effect is done in Photoshop.

                                                                      Docking Station

A concept of a docking station I did for Blackheart Games "Universe Alliance". This was an indie online group attempting the daunting task of putting together a FPS in space. The docking station was going to be a refuel and rearming point.

 An interior rough from the comic book cover shown in 2009. It's a little too Highlander. Need to revisit the idea.

 Here's the SWAT Team mentioned earlier as well. It could use more love, but the basic idea is down.

These ar marker roughs (about 2.5x4 inches each) showing an opening shot to a story. There were 8 all together (though I can't locate the one I used). Marker requires one to work larger, but at the same time gives a nice sense of value in the forms.

Close up and clean up of one of the rabbits in the following pose sheet. Pentel Brushpen and ProWhite, the images are about 4-6 inches tall.

A very fun set to do which I spent about two days on. The paper used was a cheap drawing paper since it was a largely experimental method for me. Were I to do this again, I would use quality illustration board.

Some hand transferred images out of my sketchboook. Often I will revisit an idea in blue pencil (these are given a black outline to make them 'pop' a bit more. (Enhanced in Photoshop for posting to the web)

Ballpoint pen 'thumbnails'. An inch or two square, these 'scribbles' represent ideas for much larger pieces. It's an exercise on putting ideas on paper as fast as possible...even this small, you can make out what the pic should eventually look like.