Monday, April 23, 2007

The Walt Disney Classics Collection

A couple years ago, my parents bought me a really cool birthday present. It was this sculpture: As a Disney fan & an art fan, all I could say was "WOW". I looked over this little pamphlet that came with it & eyed some of the other Disney sculptures like this one. I studied up on the collection, started buying a couple that I liked best & eventually bought myself a membership in the collection. That was back around 2002. I now have roughly 60 sculptures in my own collection, ranging from $30 little set completers like Thumper & Scuttle here... gigantic & expensive sets like this Snow White set below. I couldn't possibly imagine how much it's worth!

Thanks to a great local retailer & the magic of eBay, I was able to buy some of the coolest Disney sculptures imaginable.

Let me just say that I am not one of those "fanatical" collector types who buys every single one that's released & collects them for the sake of "resale value". I only buy the ones that I find the most appealing & because they're cool-looking. & I not only use them as "beautiful sculptures I can see behind glass", but I also use them as maquettes.

For those of you who don't know, maquettes are three-dimensional sculptures made as references for animators. The earliest ones date back to the 1930's at the Disney Studio. I've seen a few of the old ones at the old Disney animation tour at Disney-MGM Studios down in Orlando before the "big change". In fact, WDCC sculptors like Kent Melton & Ruben Procopio are/were official maquette sculptors for animation studios like Disney.
Once in a while, I take them out of my curio cabinet, place them on a table & draw them from all angles. It's a great way to know how to draw a specific character from top to bottom.

Here's my collection below:
Behold! Two curio cases filled with WDCC's, pins, COA's, Christmas ornaments & snowglobes. My pride & joy. Let me stop from the left side & work my way down...

The top shelf in my left cabinet is my "Miscellaneous Pieces" shelf. If a sculpture doesn't fit anywhere else, it goes here. The Mickey on the left is an Anniversary piece, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the collection. If you look closely, he's sculpting himself as the Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia. On the right is Wart (King Arthur) from Sword in the Stone. I positioned him directly under the curio light for that spotlight effect like in the movie (I put too much time with these things, don't I?)

The right side of the shelf has these two sculptures. The big dragon is a replica of the Main Street Electrical Parade float. It actually lights up. I got it cheap on eBay because of a broken horn on his head. You can see the space on top of his head. The turtle & chipmunk sculpture looks a little questionable from this angle (for those with their minds in the gutter, the chipmunk is using the turtle as a washboard).

This sculpture of Lady & the Tramp was inspired from the original movie poster (below).

The shelf below contains my "Spotlight Collection" sculptures. Each character's pose was inspired from poses from the character's original model sheet (another animation reference). The sculpture of Donald, for example, was taken directly from the bottom-center pose from this model sheet replica, which came with the sculpture. In fact, each of the sculptures on this shelf came with a model sheet, which I posted on the wall behind them.

-Since I'm swamped with stuff to do tonight, I'll continue this post tomorrow.
For more information on the Walt Disney Classics Collection, check out WDCC Duckman's Inside Report & for news & updates about new sculptures & events, check out the Duckman's Blog.
More tomorrow!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Last of the Greeks (not really)

Here are the last few drawings from my trip.

Hands down, the worst day of the trip was the day we were going home. Not because we wanted to stay in Europe longer, but because we had to get up at 2 am & fly all day. While the rest of the world was busy painting & hiding eggs & eating twice their body weight in chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps & jellybeans, we had to spend half the day either in a crowded airport or a crowded plane. How fun.

Like I said before, we got up at 2 am. We checked out & left the hotel at around 3-3:30 (no breakfast) & arrived at the airport by 4-ish. There we had to go through security & wait 2 hours in a loud & smelly airport terminal until our plane arrived. Some of us were able to get a few more Z's. I, however, was one of the unlucky ones. While everyone else was snoozing, I took out my sketchbook & started to sketch.

The dreary-eyed, haggard & wrecked faces of Steve-O & Randy the Dodo you see in the above picture are actually exaggerated representations how I looked & felt at that very moment. The impatience, the yawning, the tossing & turning & itching & restlessness as time crept along at a snail's pace.

At the top, you can see a drawing of my friend Jason sleeping. He snores. Loudly. That along with the snores of about 35 other people (friends & strangers alike), the buzzing of the fluorescent lights above my head, the muffled sounds of plane engines behind the glass & asbestos-filled walls & the loud speakers blasting without warning nearly drove me insane (if I already wasn't by that time)...

Eventually, the plane arrived. Our weak & tired bodies ached & strained passed through the gate. Our 2-hour flight from Athens to Rome was absolutely aggravating. The food they served us wasn't even good enough for starving raccoons. As my friends wolfed down their gruel-like meals & enjoyed the bumbling adventures of Mr. Bean on the overhead screens, I couldn't get comfortable. I barely slept 20 minutes before we landed in Rome.

Little did I know that we were in store for another unsettling surprise. We had a 6-hour layover in Rome. Perfect, just enough time to buy duty-free cigarettes, chocolates, colognes & cognac. I decided not to go that way & just sit it out. Luckily I had my sketchbook to help pass the time.

This is probably one of my top favorite drawing from the trip. This is basically what everyone (including myself) was doing during the wait. Listening to classical music on my iPod, eating Italian Pringles, washing it down with a few bottles of Italian Sprite & reading anything I could get my hands on. Besides that, I had other things to do to help time speed along.

One of those other things was a deck of cards. UNO cards to be exact. We played UNO all throughout the trip, & this was the perfect opportunity to bring it out for one last time. I one a few, lost a lot more. Losing in UNO feels like eternal damnation on your soul in the bowels of Hell, followed by an inescapable desire to play another round. This drawing sums up that feeling.

Thanks to the UNO cards & a few doses of Advil & Airborne, the time flew by, & we were about to do the same. But of course, we faced another obstacle, another 10 hour flight across the Atlantic.

Along with the rack, the breaking wheel & the taser gun, the airplane seat is one of the most painful torture devices known to mankind. A few hours in one of these babies can make you more bent over than the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Luckily, I scrapped through it with only minor injuries. Steve-O, however, looks like he had it worse than I did. These last two drawings explain why.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this series of sketches from my somewhat-pleasant trip to Europe.

Make sure to leave comments & stay tuned for what I have next in store!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Zeus' Zillions

Here are a few more drawings from my trip.

We finally made it to Athens. Little did we know that Athens was really, REALLY dirty. Our hotel was down an alleyway that was littered with what I affectionately call "Women of the Night", plus it smelled like cat piss. We were told not to leave the hotel after dark. After seeing our surroundings, we knew why.

After a scary night's sleep, we headed towards the Acropolis. Once we saw the Parthenon, we were totally awestruck, not by the structure itself, but by all the scaffolding & machinery around it. It was literally in a cage. But besides that little obstruction, it was beautiful.

Before we left, I sat down & sketched out the Parthenon (sans scaffolding). I did a really crappy job, not only because I drew it in less than 2 minutes, but I just couldn't count all the columns, plus the scaffolding was hard to draw around, & I was rushed. But at least I drew it (sort of).

After our Acropolis adventure, we were dropped off at an Ancient History Museum. There was a lot of pottery, statues & bronze things. It was kinda cool, but after a while all the pots & vases looked the same. Good thing we were only there for a short time (we skipped the gift shops).

Alright, check out this piece of work. I filled this page during our last dinner. I started on the right page, drawing Steve-O with a traditional Greek hat (I bought one before we sat down). My friend Teresa draws also (mostly Anime), but she regretted leaving her sketchpad at home. So I decided to let her draw in it. I taught her how to draw Woodstock & Garfield (they are the characters I teach the kids at Hofstra to draw first). I drew the Garfield on the right side of the left page upside down so I didn't have to turn the book after every step. Her's is in the middle. It's pretty good for a first try. I also drew Winnie the Pooh for one of the girls in the group (He is really freakin' hard to draw!).

My friend Jason wanted to try to draw Tigger, so I let him. Se that roadkill-looking thing in the top left corner?... that's his Tigger. He never drew before, so it's pretty good for a first time. I never drew Tigger before either, but I tried drawing him anyway. I don't think it really looks like him. I gotta practice more.

Out of all the cartoon characters I am asked to draw, the most requested characters are Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet & Eeyore. They're always requested by the girls. I bought a How-to-Draw book on them, but it don't help much. I think they're designs are really flawed, because there are so many details in each character that nobody can draw them correctly. Pooh is like Mickey, he is the easiest character to draw... BADLY!

This Rebop I drew right after the "Tigger" fiasco. This one's called the "Athensor Maxinclok". The "Athensor" part was easy to think up. The "Maxinclok" part was a little random.

Dr. Seuss was the master of made-up creature names. Nobody can touch him with that. Each of his creation's names feel like it belongs to that particular creature. A Sneetch feels like a Sneetch. The Grinch sounds like he's a Grinch. Same with the Lorax, the Barbaloots, the Who's & the Hunches. Dr. Seuss felt each of his characters & chose a name for them that fit perfectly with who that character was.

OK, back to rebops. The "Athensor" is a great creation. It looks organic...

This one on the other hand... doesn't. The "Souvlakinops" (I had souvlaki for dinner that night) looks too much like a Frankenstein monstrosity. None of the pieces fit together. It's too much of a hodge-podge.

That's it for today's installment. I'll post the last installment sometime over the weekend, hopefully before Sunday. Check back soon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Glorious Graphite Greatness from Greece

Here are more drawings from my trip:

These two pages were drawn while I was on the overnight ferry from Bari, Italy to Patras, Greece. Besides the cramped cabins, cruddy food, expensive drinks, crappy weather & the constant swaying & rocking of the boat back & forth, it was not so bad. As we were waiting to get into port, one of the other kids from my group asked "Can you draw a seal?". Little did she know that I never drew a seal before in my life, but I said "sure" anyway. I think it looks like a retarded ferret, but at least she didn't notice.

Soon after, a flurry of requests started coming towards my direction, & I drew them out as quick as I could. Most of them are pretty bad, especially the weird-looking lion in the middle & the rabid badger thing directly above it. The only drawing of these two pages I actually like is the bear in the top right corner. Mmm... honey.

At one point, someone asked if the duck I usually draw was Daffy (I get that a lot). Instead of just saying "no", I began to give a little lesson on who's who, just to straighten things out. In the bottom left corner, you can see three ducks: Daffy, Donald & Steve-O. I said that Donald has a round head, Daffy has a triangular head & a flat bill & that Steve-O has a square head & a thicker bill. Of course, they couldn't care less on what shape a duck's head is, but at least I got a little something off my chest, & answered a perfectly good question for someone. Perfectly good boy scout material.

Before we left for our trip, we were promised that when we got to Patras that we would spend a nice, full day at the beach. A perfect opportunity to get some color, swim a little, get some well-deserved R&R... it sounded like paradise. Unfortunately for us, the bad weather from the ferry followed us to the hotel.

As the two days in Patras passed on, we were utterly disgusted over our situation. Instead of feeling refreshed & full of energy, the dark, dreary & damp conditions outside our windows made us feel drab & downright depressed. As I watched the rain, I drew this picture. At least I could imagine sun, sand, surf & slurping ice cold strawberry smoothies. At least the hotel had a pool table. A wet & slippery pool table.

Although I was in Greece for only less than 24 hours, it already had an impact on me. I drew this one thinking about ancient Athenian ruins, statues & a certain Disney movie.

The one problem I had in this drawing was with the faun on the right. The rest of his body was easy to plan & draw out, but the real nuisance was those damn, @#$%& legs of his! Any animal with those legs, especially horses, cows, deer, moose, goats & pigs, drives me off the wall! I can never get them right, no matter how much I study the animal in question. I think God made a big boo-boo when he designed four-legged animals this way. I guess practice makes perfect.
Not much to say on this one. Just a humorous take on somebody being left behind & a crappy pun to go along with it. Notice the iPod & the banana coming out of Steve-O's backpack.

Many looked at this one with confusion. It is kinda hard to read, especially for someone who didn't grow up with a love for animation cliches & techniques.

I drew this at lunch after we saw an ancient Acropolis (not the famous one in Athens, that one's coming up later). This picture looks kinda like a layout for a real crappy postcard or something.

That's it for today's installment. I'll continue posting either tomorrow or Thursday, depending on how the days go. Remember to leave comments!

Also, I apologize for the size of the pictures. On some posts, you can click on them & they get bigger, & sometimes it don't. If anyone can help me out with this problem, it would be really appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Vacation Sketches...

Here are a few more drawings for you to ogle at.

I drew this after I ate dinner at a mediocre restaurant in Rome. It was the worst ravioli I ever ate, but my friends woofed it down like it was the best thing that ever passed their lips. But they don't know what good pasta is... they're not Italian. The sad part is, we ate at the same restaurant the next night. Yeecch!

The drawing of the duck with the glass is incomplete because we decided to leave the restaurant sooner than we expected. First thought that crossed my mind: Thank God.

The next night, not only did I have to eat crappy pasta again, but I had to hear some stupid schmutz screwing with an accordion while I ate. The worst part of it was that he only knew one song, & he played it over & over. It's still stuck in my head. Talk about indigestion. I wanted to stuff the rock-hard rolls they gave us to eat down his throat & shove that accordion up his ass. I'll probably never be able to watch the spaghetti scene in Lady & the Tramp the same way ever again...

At least I was with my friends. While we were chatting away (& secretly yearning to strangle the accordion player), I drew these doodles. That's supposed to be me on the top left. I'm really bad at self portraits & caricatures. That's why I draw ducks all the time. Also, that bee-looking thing on the bottom right is a replica of what my first Rebop looked like. I drew the original one as a lab assignment back in 2004.

Luckily, I had good pasta earlier that day. This was drawn at lunch right after I saw the Pope in St. Peter's. On the way to the restaurant, I actually saw a McDonalds. There's a Mickey D's in the Vatican! I couldn't believe it, yet in a way I wasn't that surprised. I probably wouldn't be all that surprised if there was one on the moon. "That's one small fries for man, one super-sized fatass for mankind".

In Capri, I drew this rebop as I was having lunch with a few friends in my group. Rebops are a lot of fun to make, especially when you're out of things to draw. I call it "outside inspiration", everyone else knows it's laziness. Since we were on the sunny island of Capri, I dubbed it the "Caprinicus Rex". Very original.

More to come Monday! See you then!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back with a Vengence! (& a full sketchbook,too!)

I have returned from my Italian/Greek adventure & boy am I tired. My body still aches from all the driving, walking & ferry-riding I've been doing. My sleep track is still off. I've been waking up at 4:30 every morning since. I'll talk more about the trip in a future post.

Anyway, while I was overseas I brought a little sketchbook along for the ride. It's a small, black-covered Moleskine sketchbook like the one in this picture:

It's probably the best sketchbook I've ever had. Not only does it contain high-quality paper to draw on, an expandable pocket on the back cover & a elastic strap for protection (it also makes a handy pencil holster), but it's small enough to fit in my shirt pocket.

Out of the 50 pages the book holds, I filled up around 40-45 pages of it with doodles, scenes & caricatures, mostly straight out of my head. Nearly each page is littered with my little duck character that you may have seen in some of my earlier posts (he's basically me, but he's a lot easier to draw). Sadly, I don't draw from life very much. I gotta stray away from the ducks & start drawing what's around me.

If you ever want to become an artist, a sketchbook is a MUST HAVE! I bring one everywhere. Whether I'm at a diner, a party, the doctor's office, in the car, on a plane, at work, at school or just walkin' around town, I always have some paper & a pencil in tow. When my sketchbook is full, I bring a clipboard. When that's used up, I use index cards. When those are filled, I use Post-it's. I use whatever I can get my hands on.

Mark Kennedy recently made a few excellent posts on carrying sketchbooks over at his blog. It's definitely worth the read. I'll leave the "teachy" stuff to him, he's a better speaker than I am (besides, he has a lot more to say about it than I do).

Over the next few days, I'll post a few gems from my "passport" along with some unneeded commentary on what each drawing is about & what was going through my mind at the time. I'll make sure to weed out the crappy ones. Here are the first few. Enjoy!
This was the first drawing I drew in the book. It was about 2:30 in the morning & I couldn't sleep a wink. If only I could sleep like these guys are here, even if I was hanging out the overhead compartment. I wish I had the legroom they have here, too.

This one I fondly call "Red Tape". It basically summarizes all the shit I had to go through at the airport. These sketches represent how much I hate the airport & why I'll probably never fly anytime soon.

"The American Tourist"- this is probably why no Europeans take the US seriously. At least half the people I saw at the airport & on the plane looked like this (or at least partly so). Every American who goes on vacation (whether man, woman or child) has at least two things in common with the guy in this picture.

I got to Italy in one piece (at least I think so). Later on that day, my group & I walked into a currency exchange kiosk & right into an argument with the exchange clerk. For some reason, our tour guide was screaming bloody murder about changing dollars to Euros at a group discount or something like that. As this was going on, I sat down & drew this in my book. Because of the bickering, I never got to exchange money that day. (An added note, the clerk wore the same exact earrings, only they were about 5 times bigger).

I drew this sketch as I was waiting in line to get into the Vatican. We waited for about 2 hours, gave up, left the line & got Gelato instead of seeing his Holiness' domicile. Gelato: so fattening, so messy, so unhealthy... yet so delicious.

Eventually, we got to see the Pope two days later on Palm Sunday. As he drove by giving his blessings to the people, instead of thinking about Christianity & how this small feeble man is sacrificing himself for our faith, our hope & our religion, I thought about what kind of mileage the Popemobile got. Americans & their gas.

More to come tomorrow!

P.S. - I'll get back to the Rockman as soon as this is out of the way. I promise (I hope).