Thursday, March 29, 2007

Arrivederci tutto! (That's "¡Adiós cada uno!" in Italian)

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been very busy working. I'll make sure to post more after I return from my trip...

That's right, you heard me, I'm leavin'. Where am I going, you ask? Well, if you were too stupid to read the post title, I'm going away to Italy for spring break for 10 days (Actually, I'll be in Italy for the first 5 days & Greece for the other 5). I'll make sure to post plenty of pictures when I get back.

So to send you off, I want to wish you all a very Happy Easter (Or Passover for you Hebrews & "Shebrews" out there). Enjoy the break & remember to stay away from those toxic marshmallow peeps. You'll regret eating them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rockman, Shmockman Part Three: "Head Trauma"

Before I begin to talk about how we made the head, let me first comment on how we decided on which Rockman to make:

Even though The Thing himself is technically a human in form, we were able to take a few liberties on how tall, wide & large he is because of how many styles/versions/incarnations the character has gone through over the years. You can see how many different kinds of Things there are below:

As you can see, each Thing is completely different from another. In some, the hands are enormous & the head is tiny, others have jaws & brows protruding out more & some of the Thing's muscles are so large he looks like a sumo wrestler. & these are only a few of them! When deciding on which version of the character to use for the sculpture, we decided to go with the classic 60's Thing like in the picture below.

Once we got the design downpat, we were able to start construction.

Along with the hands, the head was probably the biggest pain in the ass. Like in all paintings, photos, & in this case sculptures, the face is the first (if not the only) part that the observer focuses on with the most concentration. If the head is even slightly "off-model", it will throw off the rest of the piece, especially if it's supposed to be a human one.

Now it's time for the juicy stuff:

We decided to start off with a metal ring since that is what the head is shaped like (duh). Using various lengths of metal rod, we estimated where the eyes, jaw & brow would be on the head, as well as how wide & how deep it is.

In this picture, I am heating & bending the mouth into shape. Here, the mouth is nearly as wide as the head itself. My father & I both believed later on that he looked too much like a fish, so we chopped the mouth in thirds, threw out the middle piece & reattached the ends to make a smaller, better looking mouth like this:
At first, we added the nuts just for reference on where the eyes would be positioned. Eventually we kept them in. Why?... 'cause it looks good.

After we reinforced the wireframe...
...& shaped the eye sockets, mouth & cheeks...
...we began to plate the head:
Like the hands, the face/head was extremely difficult to work around. Even though there aren't as many nooks & crannies as the hands, it still filled us both with frustration.
It took us about 3-4 hours to get to this point:
& another 2-3 to plate the rest. We then added a temp. nose made out of an old pipe connector & VOILA! The head was done!
-Now that the hands, feet & head were complete, it was now time to start making a body to put them on. More on that next time! Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Celebrate by wearing green, eating a whole box of Lucky Charms, drinking a jug full of whiskey, schnapps, & hard liquor, punching everyone in range of your fists & puking yourself to sleep.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Friday, March 16, 2007

No more Rockman 'til Monday...

Since I'm out of town for the weekend (working on the Rockman), I can't make any new Rockman posts until Sunday night or Monday afternoon. To make up for it, I'll post some drawings to even things out throughout the weekend. Ciao!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rockman, Shmockman: Part 2

Continuing where I left off, the Rockman project was on hold for about 3 & 1/2 years.

I realized around the end of my junior year that the deadline was coming up fast, in a little less than a year. I finally got off my ass & dragged the half-finished wireframe out of cargo container hell & back on the workbench. But after some observation, my father & I noticed that the wireframe was way off than we originally thought, so we basically started from scratch. Before we began on the construction of the legs, arms & torso, we felt that it would be easier to get the harder stuff out of the way first, so we started with the hands, the feet & the head.

In 2002, I got those foam toy Hulk hands as a birthday gift from my mom. Later I thought that they would make great templates for the Rockman's fists. With some careful measurement & close comparison, we made nearly identical metal fists. They were probably the hardest pieces to make out of the whole project because the fists had so many wrinkles, bends, ridges, gaps, nooks & crannies to plate over.

*Notice - although the date on the pictures say October 17th, 2006, the hands were actually fabricated in early July. These pictures were taken the day we finished the feet.

We actually made each hand a different way. For the left fist (right in the pictures) we used metal pipes cut to certain lengths & angles that were the same width as the fingers of the foam hands. This ended up being very difficult, so we decided to make the other hand a wireframe using thin rods. This was was not only a lot easier to make, but also a lot easier to plate over.

Unknowingly at the time, we stumbled across a huge problem. Before we began to plate the second hand, we noticed that the pipe hand was slightly but obviously bigger than the wireframe hand. But using our creative ingenuity, we fixed the problem by bending a few rods & bulging the plates out. With the plates, they ended up weighing around 25 pounds each.

Next up were the feet. Since the feet had to hold up all the weight of the sculpture, we built the feet around thick support rods & worked our way out. Compared to the hands, the feet were a cake walk. We got through the feet in a fraction of the time the hands took us. Plating was a cinch & everything seemingly worked out for the best. But confidence got the better of us, & we faced another problem:

One ankle was wider than the other.

I thought: "How could we miss something like this? We gotta fix it!"

Then my dad said: "Fuck it. We'll fix 'em when we get to the legs, that's all."

& we did.

The feet were finished. Due to the support rods, the feet ended up weighing about 45-50 pounds each. For size comparison, I placed one of my dad's size 11 boots in between the feet. Pretty large feet, huh?
-To finish today's post, here are some more pictures of the feet & hands:
& a post-it note drawing, too!
In the next chapter, I'll discuss the making of the Rockman's head & the problems we faced along the way. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rockman, Shmockman

Out of everything that I have done, this is probably my biggest accomplishment. Out of all the drawings, paintings & cartoons in my portfolio, this is what I to believe as the one thing that got me into SVA: Behold my masterpiece!

Well, kinda. Actually, this is what it looked like when I first started.

My father, the welding expert, taught me how to weld when I was still in elementary school. For hours he tutored me in heating, bending, curling & fusing metal together to create sculptures.

Here was one of my first ones:

I spent about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on this stupid foot thingy. I made it for my Cross-Country team. When I brought it to school the next day, guess how many people cared... none. Not my friends, not my teachers, not my teammates, not even my coach. Insensitive bastards.

But I still kept at it. I began to master it as I went on. I made a few wind vanes here & there, but besides that there was nothing else to really make. But then I had an idea.

Before I continue, let me just say that my school is pretty cheap. Dirt cheap to be precise. It so poor that on several occasions we ran out of paper. PAPER! No booklets, no worksheets & no drawing paper for days on end. Plus, we're a pretty unknown town. Our town is so small, it's not even listed on most maps.

Back to the story... I thought that out school needed something to help it stand out, but I didn't know what should be done. That's when I saw this picture in one of my "how-to-draw" books:

The Thing! Our school mascot is the Thing (technically it's Rockman to avoid copyright infringement). My tiny, young, 7th grade mind thought "If I can make wireframe feet & wind vanes, I can make this baby easy!".

But of course, it was a lot harder than I thought. Making a 6-foot tall heavily muscled man out of metal isn't easy, or a picnic for that manner. Luckily, my father warmed up to the idea & decided to help me build it.

We made a wireframe (the one at the top of the page) in about two 3-hour sessions. But because my father is a very busy guy & I had schoolwork to do & grades to pass, the project was postponed 'til further notice. From 8th grade all the way to 11th, that wireframe was crammed in a cargo container behind a pile of old junk, rusting to dust.

In the next few days, I'll continue the story of the building process. I'll include pictures & drawings along the way. Come back tomorrow for Part 2!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Some Shameless Plugs...

See that list on the right side? Right under "Check out these sites too:"? Well they're there for a reason.

These are great sites, blogs & forums that you should definitely take some time to check out (even if you have already).

First off is A. Film. L.A.:
Hans Perk's site is a great & reliable source for you animation buffs out there (especially Disney ones). From Classes & Lectures to Video clips (complete with clicktracks for timing purposes), this website is a very helpful & informative reference for those who enjoy studying animators & they're work. He along with Michael Sporn have recently posted the complete animator drafts for Pinocchio, which has been a great guide for understanding & knowing who did what on such a classic animation masterpiece. It's definitely worth checking out.

For those who are even remotely interested in cartoons, you probably have Cartoon Brew on your Favorites list. For those who haven't, go check it out ASAP. It's so great that simple complimentary words couldn't possibly give it justice.

Chippy & Loopus is probably one of the most hilarious & dynamic comics I've ever read. John Sanford is a fantastic & very talented artist, & it definitely shows in his work. He's been in the animation business for a long time now, from years working at the Mouse House to now being a story artist over at PIXAR. If you like foul-mouthed gorilla-kicking bunnies, dim-witted chain-smoking wolves & if you absolutely HATE boba, you'll love Chippy & Loopus!

WDCC Duckman's Inside Report may not be a site about animation or cartoons themselves, but it's got fantastic art relating to it. It's a fully blown-out guide to Walt Disney Classics Collection sculptures (which I happen to be an avid collector myself). This site has the lowdown on some of the most extravagant & beautifully detailed sculptures ever to idolize those classic Disney moments. Not only are they great on your shelf, but they also make great maquettes for animation reference. They just posted pictures of the 2nd Quarter Release sculptures last week, so check 'em out. I'll comment on my WDCC collecting on a future post.

Goober Sleave is a fantastic site. Run by Kevin Langley, it is a superb site for info about classic animation, especially the work of Tex Avery. He just recently posted model sheets, backgrounds & even a video of the classic Avery short "The Cuckoo Clock". It's definitely worth viewing.

Oddly named "I Don't Know", this blog belongs to my good friend, Jose Portugal, who is a fantastic artist & a fellow high school student. He & his brother Leandro are probably one of the most talented artists I've ever known in my life. They can churn out the most intricately-detailed sketches in minutes. Although he hasn't updated his site very much, it's worth seeing. (While you're at it, urge him to update more often!)

John K. (the creative yet somewhat demented mastermind behind Ren & Stimpy, the Ripping Friends & the Goddamn George Liquor Program) has a great blog called "all kinds of stuff". Although very critical to today's animation (which he is mostly right about), he has a lot of great animation information to share with the world. While your at it, check out his new flash-animated ads for Raketu on his site as well as Youtube.

Mark Mayerson's blog, Mayerson on Animation, is definitely worth stopping by. Along with film news & marketing strategies, he posts mostly about classic animation & cartooning alike as well as great recommendations for cartoon-related books & films. He also uses Hans Perk's & Michael Sporn's animation drafts to make easy & fun to read animator identification mosaics for classic Disney shorts as well as the pre-mentioned Pinocchio drafts. Go check it out!

The Opportune Universally Forum, run by my good friend Sam, is a great message board worth viewing. You can talk about Anime & Manga, Politics, Religion, Video Games, Music, T.V., World News, & of course, Animation. You can also post your own fan art, rant about any subject imaginable & be part of your own roleplaying adventures. I am an administrator on the board (my name there is FantasiaMan), so feel free to sign up & post away!

Last, but not certainly least, is Thad K.'s Animation I.D. blog. He is great at identifying who animated what, especially on classic Looney Tunes & MGM cartoons. He uploads videos of these great cartoons with an onscreen visual guide of the animators on each film, as well as short snippets of classic animation. Like all the other blogs I've mentioned, check it out now!

Well, that's enough ass-kissing for one night. If I missed anybody, I apologize. I'm only human you know. As I add more favorite sites on my links list, I'll talk about them & how great they are on future posts. Night!

Friday, March 9, 2007


After all this time waiting for that letter to come, it finally ended up in my mailbox. As I opened the envelope, I was beginning to sweat & worry. "What's gonna happen to me? My future depends on what is written in this letter". Then, as I pulled out the note, I began to read:

"Dear Michael,

On behalf of..."

(I knew at that point that I got in. When they use the word "behalf"', you know it's good news. I continued to read as I began to jump & giggle giddily.)

...the Committee on Admissions, I am pleased to offer you admission to the School of Visual Arts for the fall 2007 semester. Upon the successful completion of your high school studies, you are invited to begin your undergraduate studies in the first year program of the Department of Animation, with the start of classes on Tuesday, September 4, 2007. Congratulations...


Adam Rogers
Director of Admissions"

I did it. I freakin' did it! My friends, family, coworkers & teachers were right. I DO have what it takes. Now I feel much more confidant about myself.

I called up everybody. My mom, my dad, my sisters, my brother, my aunt, my cousin & my sister-in-law. They all said basically the same thing; "I'm so proud...I knew you could... I'm so happy for you.... My brother, the joker that he is, said that he's gonna get me hammered tomorrow (except this time he means it).

At this point, I would like to thank my friends & family for being there for me, but I want to give an extra special thanks to my art teacher, Mr. Bishop, who without his encouragement & his teachings, I wouldn't be going anywhere.

Alright, alright cut the sappy crap! Jesus, it's only my 3rd post & I already sound like I won a goddamn Oscar. But I'm not out of the woods yet, I still have to finish the 12th grade (Damn you seemingly useless yet complicated schoolwork!).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Behold my College Portfolio, in all it's Graphite Glory!

For the past few months, college has been the top thing on my mind. For weeks I've been anxiously watching my mailbox, waiting for that certain letter to be inside. But you know what they say; "A watched pot never boils".

I sent in my portfolio around the end of January. I'm scared, I really am. I don't know what I'll end up with when it does come. My art teacher, my friends & my coworkers think that my portfolio is a guaranteed green light, but I do have my doubts. Not only do I have some cartooning & live model drawings included, but also a lot of pictures of myself welding (which is what I hear as "uniquely rare" in a college applicant), but I'm still ever so pessimistic about the whole thing.

Here's all the stuff I included in my college portfolio. My art teacher, Mr. Bishop (probably my single greatest influence) helped me organize & select things to include. Let's see what you think...

These next few pictures are of me working hard on what many believe as my best achievement, The Rockman (It's actually the Thing from Fantastic Four. Our school calls him that to avoid legal issues.) I've been working on it for a few years now, on & off, & it's about 85% complete as of this post. It'll probably be complete in the next 2 months or so, & I'll be donating it to the school at graduation in June. It's been a lot of work, but it's been worth it. I'll post more pictures as it progresses.

Here are some of my live model drawings I did at Adelphi U. I was one of two selected in my school to participate in this class. It was a big experience for me, since I never realized I could actually draw realistically or use charcoals. The first day we had the nude model come in, I was sorta freaked out, but by the 3rd class I got used to it. When your an artist, you don't look at a nude model like it was out of a porno, you look at it more as a butcher judging a piece of meat. You analyze & configure what you are drawing. But of course, my friends & family never let me live it down. "You were doing WHAT? Are you GAY!?" Bunch of freakin' perverts.

Next are a some examples of my cartoon work, including a painting I really enjoyed working on: my duck character painted in pointillism.

& here's a few miscellaneous other things I added, which also includes a piece I painted for this year's school play of WEST SIDE STORY.

Do you think it's enough? Or not enough? Or too much? What do you think?