Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oliver Twist Line-Up

My depictions of three assigned characters from Oliver Twist:


Artful Dodger

And lil Oliver himself. Started by basing my design after the actor Freddie Highmore.
And now in color!

We were given handouts with descriptions of each character and of course Google was a dear friend while I drew these up. Overall, while Oliver and Fagin's designs were well-received(things to tone-down like Oliver's ginormous ears and Fagin's over the top insanity--like he could just errupt into incoherent ramblings at any given moment, which isn't his character at all)...Dodger definitely was stronger(just needed to watch how I handled his coat---too bath-robeish---and draw his hat more in the style of that era. Too 70's on his rim). Absolutely a very fun project...the amount of work that was pinned up on the walls was staggering---the critique lasted until 11:15 at night and we started at 7!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I needed some motivation, so I started watching one of my favorite movies---every time I watch it, my appreciation grows. Just these first 10 minutes were enough to get me out of a weird rut---particularly once Salieri is talking to the Priest and playing the tunes for him, such brilliant acting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And I'm off...

Today marks the first day of animation! From 10-5:30 I was fully animating 1 of 42 scenes for my film! Really exciting to see one of two characters finally moving! So Scene 13 is done, time for the others and 84 very quickly dwindling days until the film is turned in. I'm both thrilled and panic-stricken about this....but can't think about that impending deadline....just gotta keep this ball rolling(or in this particular scene--boundin').

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Character Design Workshop

Last night was the first part of a two week workshop with the extremely talented duo of character designers: Shane Prigmore and Shannon Tindle! Both of them are CalArts' alum(1999 I believe) and have worked on a diverse number of projects. All mediums too. Overall, the key emphasis was designing for performance--whether 2D, 3D, or stop-motion. Being able to capture the essence of a character--getting the whole story---within one drawing of that character. How a character's design will drive his/her movements. At the beginning of the night, this quote by Don Graham helps define what a character designer needs to do, "All we are doing in film, art, animation, etc. is trying to tell the viewer why the characters, sets, etc. are different than anything they've seen before." By answering the following questions you're on the right track towards a film that does set it apart from the rest of the pack--What's specific about this character? What kind of nuances fit his/her personality? What statements(both subtle and not) are you making? Basically not defaulting on a cliche idea. If you're stuck on how to answer these kinds of questions--research! Research keeps a design from becoming stale. Research helps you define what's inspiring you to bring this character to life. Also, embrace your limitations--the best outcomes usually come from constrictions! Simply stated, "limitations created the original three Star Wars, while a lack of limitations created Phantom Menace." Along with talking...the duo shared piles of artwork with us from various films that they've worked on, in particular Coraline. Absolutely beautiful work! They also shared some very entertaining stories about gag ideas that are in the actual film. Very excited to see this film--just about 2 weeks and it's out! Along with artwork, they brought along video clips to explain the concept of designing for performance:

First up was Daft Punk's Around the World:

Here they created the characters based on the instruments. Letting the sound drive the design. For example, the higher-pitch water sound inspired the 20's swimsuit girls..while the beating drum-line created the bandaged people(beatings=injuries=bandages).

Another design principle that came up was shape. Song of the South was one of the first examples. Brer Fox, Rabbit, and Bear are all based on their own unique shape(Triangle, circle, square). And how the characters were designed by animators so the characters' performance was always in mind. Keep an eye on the particular scene after Brer Fox grabs Brer Rabbit--absolutely brilliant work:

One of the Kings of character design for performance is Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Not only are the main 3 characters(Ichabod, Katrina, and Brom) again based on key shapes(triangles, circles, and rounded squares), but each of them move in their own unique way!

Here's Katrina. I couldn't track down the English translation, but the animation/character itself doesn't need the vocals. Just see how unique she moves.

And then all 3 characters together as Brom and Ichabod fight for Katrina's affections---great little short. I recommend watching the entire thing(it's all over YouTube):

The lecture started to focus on CG and how design is still vital even in this medium. To start off, Bert's Physical was shared:

Now, while they're obviously not CG they are completely believable and entertaining without relying on 3D features like hundreds of facial controls, realistic hair/cloth, crazy cameras, etc. They are just going from profiles to front views! Just from relying on the timing, tilts of the heads, character driven moments, and vocals--these guys come to life!

Coming to CG---Finding Nemo is the 3D equivalent of puppets. Fish are just big blobs with a few flailing fins, and big faces. Not a lot of extra features to rely on. This following clip includes a lot of great scenes, but pay attention between 5:30-6:40...esp. 6:10-6:40:

Finally, the importance of "casting" a film. Both in animation and in live-action, casting is vital. In live-action it's all about who fits the part(both physically and verbally). In animation it's very close---the character designers and animators needs to physically fit the part while an actor fits verbally. It might be easier to understand after these two examples---

Polar Express...just really the first 40 seconds when the boy reacts to a HUGE train magically stopping at his house:

versus "A Christmas Story"--there are many many scenes from this film that are very memorable(leg lamp, the dogs at the end, etc). But for my family--it really has to be this part:

Both involve kids, but which one really considered the casting? Which one really acted the part well and really embodied a particular character? I probably don't need to answer that. Anyways, that's the first week. We are also doing a character design assignment for next week so until then I'll be attempting to design a couple of characters from the given assignment based on, "Oliver Twist." Can't wait to see what everyone does!

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Thursday... pictures. I decided to document my entire day, so without further ado--my pretty busy Thursday!

7:33 am: Time to wake up!

8:30 am: Leaving the apartment.View from the stairs.

8:40 am: Hello cube!

What I'm currently working on. Eventually Mister Gideon(the cat from Pinocchio) here, will be talking in a couple o' weeks---right now I'm refining his main keys.

12:30 pm: Lunch break.

1:00 pm: In the Windows' lab for class.

6:15 pm: Dinner and Daily Show back at the apartment.

7:00 pm: James Baxter guest lecture! That giant white area is projecting the scene he was animating for us(it was a rabbit hopping up onto a tree branch---incredible work! From beginning to end).

9:45 pm: Character Animation Gallery Show opening! The rest of the images are from the rest of the night and should give you an idea of how crazy things were.

Around 11 the caricature area was setup and anyone could sit-down and draw.

Bands played.

1:00 am: Came back to the apartment. The party was still going strong when I left....

1:19 AM: Time for bed!

So that was my Thursday in a nutshell! Pretty fun day! And now I need to head back down to lifedrawing...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sam Lowry

Okay, seriously...has anybody seen this Lowry? Sergio has been asking this for over a month now!

So here's my final version...certainly an improvement from my WIP posting. I'll probably keep tweaking this guy for my end of the year demo reel--like that pause after his first Lowry. Still bugging me...still floating too much! But I'm ready to move onto the next assignment: Two person dialogue. Should be an epic battle I'm sure.

An example of the thumbnails I based my final lip sync off of. The last page that I included is what I settled on. I tried to explore just about every possibility for his acting. Even then, after all this planning his acting continued to change once I got into Maya---whether to accommodate the rigs' limitations(and there were plenty of them) or the sound clip really didn't call for that many gestures, etc.

Gallery Updates

My Saturday was spent hanging up some of my work, along with at least 40 other people. Here's what I hung up, along with some photos of what the Main Gallery at CalArts looks like. To give you a sense of scale: Some of these spaces are over 12 feet tall--just filled with very inspiring pieces produced by many extremely talented students.

They're also projecting last years' batch of films on those Character Animation side-entrance doors. I'll be taking more pictures on Thursday, some people haven't finished hanging work up, so those pillars are going to be decorated soon enough. Really exciting, I'm definitely glad I participated this year.

And here's my arrangement--followed by the artwork that I included:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inspiration for your Weekend!

We had our first guest lecture tonight---Mark Osborne came and discussed his career history and his recent directing credit on Kung Fu Panda. However, most of the lecture focused on visual elements and I didn't have too many notes. A quick summary of his history: He attended Pratt--upon graduating, he was accepted into the Experimental Animation program at CalArts, he has independently directed a student film called, "Greener" and a film called, "More," he has also helped out on shows like Spongebob Squarepants(and movie), occasionally teaching stop-motion classes at CalArts(during his "More" film), and most recently---co-directing "Kung Fu Panda." The main points of his lecture all tied back to Yoda's famous "Do or do not. There is no try" and how this statement had impacted his various decisions when it came to stepping out of school and into the big ol' film industry. And most importantly, "Failure is apart of the process. You never know what you might discover from failing." Overall, a very interesting lecture and I really enjoyed it. Enough from me---here are some of his shorts that I could track down:

Jurassic Park music video by Weird Al
Mark was in charge of all the animation. I couldn't find his first film titled, "Greener" but that student film helped him get onboard with this video.

A bit of time passed between the Weird Al video and this next video titled, "More" which was an independent project Mark Osborne created. Very amazing film:

He gave us personal stories about creating both his student film, "Greener" and his film, "More" and it was very insightful and helped drive the point home about "Doing instead of trying." How it's far better to have a finished film(whether it lived up to your ideal vision or not) rather than a project you tried to make or are always talking about, but never taking any steps towards finishing it. How both of these films taught him how to be smart and very resourceful within the constraints of a project. And most importantly, to "follow your instinct--follow what you were initially feeling. What originally inspired you to pursue this project." All of this led up to his eventual directing job at Dreamworks on Kung Fu Panda. He discussed the challenges,the learning experiences, failures that were addressed, etc. He shared concept art(most of which can be found in the beautiful Art Of book) along with rough computer animation. So I'll end with one of my favorite scenes from the film....

We got to watch a clip of the actual actors(Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman) providing the voices for this scene---very insightful. Anyways, enjoy the videos and I'm off to bed.

First week Report

I just wrapped up my first week and yet it didn't feel like just one week, but several. Hooray for a 3-day weekend though! All the classes are off and racing at break-neck speed to the point where it does not feel like winter break even happened! Most of my classes are continuations from last semester, but there's one new class that was really phenomenal and while it'll be a very challenging class, I'll still be looking forward to it every's Stephen Silver's Character Design class. The first night was primarily an introduction to both the class and of course himself(started out as a San Diego zoo caricature artist and is now a top of the line designer on a whole spectrum of projects), but he also outlined what he intends to accomplish in the next 12 weeks. The goals involved hours of drawing, both during class and outside of class(our weekly assignment is 5 pgs of observational studies---nothing from your imagination.)---it should be a really motivating and valuable class.

Aside from that, I've been dealing with minor set-backs related to my film(sorry, I'm not going to give out specifics). CalArts has a habit of doing that---if you're real lucky, then it'll happen several times in one day! Still aiming to start animating next weekend. At this point I'm adopting the phrase,"Ready or not, here I come!" So hopefully no more setbacks or second-guessing. Actually, next week is shaping up to be one giant dose of sheer animated goodness--no details will be posted here...I'd hate to jinx it, but take my word for it---it should be mind-blowing. :)

Tomorrow the Character Animation gallery show goes up! I've been busy printing/framing the pieces that'll be hanging as of tomorrow night. The actual "opening" is Thursday night(1/22), starting around 7 if anyone is in the area, come check it out---everyone is really raising the bar this year. Should be an inspiring night.

Another little piece I'm including. Thank you Kauai beach-goers!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Commencing with operation Second Semester... the happy hour of 9 am tomorrow! This entire break has gone by really fast---it was exactly what I needed though, lots of down-time and a lovely change of scenery(provided by both Kauai and Medford)! It was great visiting the Oregon crew and of course enjoying the many sorely missed comforts of home, but the past couple of days have been a good kick to my system and I'm rearin' to go.

Thursday unleashed the epic hysteria that is class sign-ups. Mass crowding as everyone battled for a teacher's signature into a prized class. It was a sight to see. Anyhow, I got into all the classes I wanted(obviously classes like animation, life-drawing, story, and sound were already registered). Here's my pretty decent schedule:

Zikry, JeffreyTh 7pm to 10pm
Jones, BillT 7pm to 10pm
INTRO TO SOUND DESIGNHuff, BenM 9am to 12 Noon
Hull, JimM 7pm to 10pm
Eckert, BillF 9am to 4pm

Can absolutely NOT wait until the Character Design class! :) And of course eager to get back on the animation wagon and get back to fixing both my 2D and 3D assignments from last semester.

So time for a briefing on this here gallery work I've been mentioning. Every year there's an exhibit specifically spotlighting the student work within the character animation department at CalArts. Anyone within the department can voluntarily sign-up and have the opportunity to show any of their work to the school/industry. I was way too intimidated last year to participate and ended up regretting it big-time. This year however, while still extremely intimidated---I'm biting the bullet and participating. While I was home over break, I got a little too caught up with "down-time" and managed to forget about preparing some pieces for the show. No harm though, I actually figured out a perfect theme that I was already working on: observational sketches! So I've been cleaning up my people studies from both Kauai and the local Oregon Mall, along with doing a smaller theme that involves that quirky squirrel I posted earlier. The animators are taking over the gallery walls this coming Saturday--look out world!

This little Oregonian will be present next week. She was like a triangle with a giant styrofoam ball squished on top--and a Target customer to boot! The hair to face ratio was brilliantly skewed. Oh Oregon Food Court, you never fail me.:)

Psst---CalArtians! The countdown begins: 98 days! AH!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Big Birthday Wishes

Since flying back to CalArts on Wednesday, I've pretty much hit the ground running. I've been hacking away on my "Things to do before I start animating on my Film" list. Class sign-ups also came up fast resulting in a stressful Thursday morning, and I also have been putting the finishing touches on some artwork for the upcoming Character Animation gallery show! I'll post about all this stuff a little later today, or tomorrow....for now though, here's a corgi I drew for my brother's birthday, which is today:

I decided to just include the dog and not my canine-related text humor that my brother gets to enjoy. Dog-gone good times! Anyways, I'm off to buy some black illustration board....

Oh! In blog-related news---this blog has surpassed 10,000 views! So a big thank you to everyone stopping by from all corners of the globe! I always really appreciate it. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Under way...

Winter break is quickly coming to an end...I fly back on Wednesday and face the upcoming job of animating my film! This also means I need to get back into drawing mode fast...

One huge task is getting a handle on Otis' design. I've noticed a lot of Daffy's design elements leaking into my drawings of Otis(some good, some really bad). One disadvantage to studying one character for awhile---traits bleed into other characters. So I need to get back onto Otis' non-Daffy influenced design stat.

Also spending time on understanding crocodiles in general. On this study, I was focusing on how their front legs work and how the arms relate to body/head movement.

Here's a squirrelly character. A couple pages of my sketchbook have been claimed by some pretty psychotic squirrels--like this one! It should make sense by the end of the month though.

And, after studying crocodiles and drawing demented critters, I spent some time sketching my cat Annie as she obsessively played with her tail last night. It was adorable and time well spent.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Kid Drawings!

Inspired by my friend, Kristen. I decided to dig up some old sketchbooks from my closest. It was quite the eyeopener and highly entertaining on my part. I don't have any drawings from my very early drawing days. Before the age of 10, I didn't draw in a sketchbook--printer paper, or any scrap of paper was good enough for me...even the carpet was thought to be fair game. Though, in my defense, I was REALLY tiny and I stopped using that particular surface after drawing number one. So without further ado, and for entertainment purposes only---drawings I did between the ages of 11-13:

1999--I was 11 years old and big on conquering realism:

I remember being extremely proud of this leopard. I worked for DAYS on this and thought it was the greatest thing I had ever done. I wasn't too fond of the foxes though.

While I worked on my realism, I would loyally return to my cartooney-side. Age range is between 11 up to 13:

Look Kristen! Horses!

And of course I would literally draw inspiration from my own pets---like, Kiwi!

You get that worm, Kiwi!
Well, this was a scary surprise:

A 12 year olds' attempt at Pinocchio! And to compare, here's Pinocchio again. Only these were drawn this past October(roughly 8 years later--omg, only 8???):

And here's a fun one! So, my film character this year is a crocodile by the name of Otis. Well, here's Otis' purely accidental ancestry:

How I drew crocodiles 8-9 years ago!

Also a fun find--my very first storyboards! FYI: This is the exact order that they appear in my sketchbook. Read on, it's life-changing:

I apparently decided to shift gears and go back to horses. Or my thinking was, "And then a BIG unicorn appears!" Or it's a commercial break, just as things get interesting...

The End.
Phew! Apparently my tendency to watch nature documentaries paid off.

Anyways, I encourage anyone to voluntarily take up the torch and post some of their own drawings from a galaxy far far away! It's a fantastic way to ring in the New Year!