Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Years ago, I was REALLY into the whole Pokemon thing. I had everything: the cards, the figurines, the games, the videos... you name it. There even used to be a "Pokemon store" a few towns over from where I live, and I'd beg my mom to take me there every week. It was mostly cheap Chinese knockoffs or imported cards, but I still dove headfirst into the stuff. God, it was nuts. I could barely keep up with it.

Then one morning I woke up, looked at all the Pokemon paraphernalia I had strewn around my room, and had this "Oh God, what have I done?" feeling. I felt so guilty that I dragged my parents through all this. The money they must've spent on all that garbage. So I took all of it, put it in a big box and shoved it up in the attic. I looked online recently to see if any of my cards were worth anything, but its barely worth the paper they're printed on. The only Pokemon-related things I'll ever keep are the little figurines. They're still really cool to look at.

Looking back, I don't know why I got so hooked on it, like millions of other kids did at the time. Maybe it was just because everyone else was in on it, and I was just curious enough to get in on the act too. I have to admit though, the designs of these creatures are very appealing and original when you really look at them. AND IT'S STILL GOING! When I stopped, there was, what... like 200 of them, now there's over 500 of the damn things! How do kids these days keep track?

Recently, I was conversing with a few friends, and I asked them what I should draw. They named some random Pokemon I never heard of, so I looked up reference and drew it. Then somebody named another, and another and another.... so now it's become this regular thing, where I draw like 5 or 10 random Pokemon and compile them together. Here's a few of them

I wonder if Beanie Babies still sell...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Only he could pull it off...

Ok, opinion time...

I admire Milt Kahl. I mean, what aspiring animator doesn't? But honestly, there's one thing that I have to say about Milt Kahl; he was a real hammy animator.

Don't get me wrong, his animation has a stupendous feeling of movement, weight, timing and believability. He can pull that off better than any other animator in the business, and that's something that always inspired me about him. But that's also kind of where he falters. I think that's why he could pull of characters like Peter Pan, Madame Medusa and Tigger, and not more emotionally driven characters like Frank or Ollie's. A lot of Milt's characters seem self aware, like they know they're putting on a show. They really chew the scenery sometimes.

The one thing that really stands out of Milt's work is what I like to call the "Milt Kahl head swaggle", where the character does this jaunty little head-tilting motion as they speak, usually when they're proud or giving some sort of affirming comment. It seems to be a trademark of his. Part of me loves it, and another part of me is really bothered by it, I don't know why that is. It's a very cocky gesture, which maybe (I wish I could say this without sounding too hurtful) seems to reflect Milt's own personality a bit. It's an extension of Milt's character.

Maybe I'm putting way too much thought into this, or I'm not analyzing it as much as I should. After all, nobody's perfect. But nonetheless, I still love Milt's animation. Edgar from The AristoCats, Brer Rabbit and Tigger are a few of my favorite animated characters. In fact, his introduction of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day is probably my absolute favorite piece of animation ever. Despite being usually very broad, his more underplayed characters like Shere Kahn or Alice have subtleties that even the most skilled animators aspire to. He is indeed an animation Michelangelo.

*Warning - do not attempt a "Milt Kahl head swaggle"© without proper protection or supervision. Do not perform near sharp objects or an open flame. And never swaggle your head while intoxicated or under the influence of prescription medication.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Influence Map

A recent meme template has popped up all over deviantART, and everybody seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. It's an "influence map", where you fill in the grid with things that inspire you. The larger the picture, the more inspiring it is/was to you. Since all my friends were doing it, I thought it would be fun for me to get in on it too.

(click to enlarge)

I kinda went a bit overboard, but that goes to show how many different things inspire me as an artist. There's a lot of things that I left out, like music and literary influences, but I thought I'd keep it strictly visual.

If you'd like to do one too, click here and download the .psd file. Have fun!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Thesis Storyboard

Here's the first draft of my storyboard for my thesis film. If the drawings and descriptions are too small to see, click on them to direct you to my Flickr gallery, where you can see them full size. (I would put the larger size here, but the blog layout is too small for it to fit).

While drawing it out, I tried to make the drawings expressive and clear enough that you can pretty much tell what's going on without reading the dialogue or the action notes. It's a good thing to keep things like that in mind, since not everyone who'll eventually see my film will understand English.

I plan on making a revised, more fleshed-out version soon, but this was just to get things down on paper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Blog Banner

I never really thought my old banner was too good. I just put it up there as a temp. banner, and it ended up staying there for over a year. So I finally got around to making a new one.

I sketched this doodle of Randy kicking a pine cone...

...scanned it into the computer, cleaned it up in Sketchbook Pro...

... sent it over to Shannon to color (who did a fantastic job as always)...

Put it into a banner template, added text and VOILA! I liked the rough a lot, so I thought it would look keen to put it in the background too.

I really like how this drawing came out. I think there's some good flow in it. It feels more natural. Plus it's actually cleaned up, which I rarely have the patience to do usually.

And for those who miss the old banner, here it is, in all it's rushed, Flashy glory.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Deleted Freddie Moore Animation from Dumbo

When I have nothing else better to do, I scour the web looking for things that inspire me. If I like a certain artist, I'll make a new folder on my hard drive and collect their work onto it for future reference. If I see a painting or drawing I like, I'll study up on the artist and look for other works of theirs. At the time of this post, I have over 130 folders full of artwork, along with countless "unknowns" that don't have folders. I have just over 2GB of images just of other people's stuff. And the content ranges from famous painters to fellow classmates at SVA. If I like it, I study it.

One of the places I regularly browse through is eBay. At this point, I figure "Why would I want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single drawing that will sit in a file cabinet for years collecting dust unseen when I can just snag the image of it that's posted on the auction page and I can admire it just as much for free?" Sure, a lot of them have watermarks on them, but that won't stop me from appreciating the image behind it. But I digress...

So what does this all have to do with Timothy Mouse?

Earlier today, I was browsing through eBay yet again when I came across a pretty nice find. Somebody was individually auctioning off about 30 sequential drawings by Freddie Moore of Timothy Mouse from Dumbo... for $450 each (and that's just the starting bid). So what did I do? I snagged them.

Curiosity getting to me, I put all the drawings together in Quicktime and played it back. Magic!

Then I noticed the stamped numbers in the bottom left corner of each drawing, "2006 19.2 30.0". Recalling Hans Perk's drafts for Dumbo, I remembered what those numbers mean. 2006 is the production number ("Dumbo"), 19.2 is the sequence number ("Dumbo Learns to Fly") and 30.0 being the shot number. I went over to Hans' site and checked his drafts. There was the shot, but between when the draft was made and the film's release, the end of the sequence was changed. There originally was more lines by Timothy and a "confidentiality agreement" between him and the crows. In the final film, this scene was truncated, leaving out all of Timothy's extra dialogue.

To see all 28 drawings up close, go here to my Flickr page.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Little Background Work

Production on my thesis is revving up pretty soon, so I need to prepare myself for the oncoming onslaught of work that I'll be focusing on for the next 9 months or so. One of the things I'm working on are my background designs. Since landscapes and stuff like that aren't my forte', I need plenty of practice.

These two were roughly based on 2 scribbles I did in my storyboard. I sketched them out in about 10 minutes (each) and then sent them over to Shannon to color them for me. And she did a fantastic job of it, too! She told me that she never really colored backgrounds before, but these are marvelous for a first time. She'll definitely get plenty of practice at it, I'm sure!

While I'm definitely satisfied with the way these two came out, they're still experimental. I'm not quite sure which way I plan on going as far as execution. What I'd really like to do is make them look like something out of a Disney Winnie-the-Pooh feature. I find those to be the most charming and welcoming backgrounds Disney ever did. You just want to walk through that forest. Check out a few here at Rob Richard's fantastic blog!

Here's a few examples from Pooh's Heffalump Movie that I quickly snagged.

I don't wish to go into THAT much detail in my thesis (I'd never finish it if I even attempted to), but this is what I'm using as a reference to inspire me. Its sort of a point to bounce off of.

Over the course of the next year, I plan on posting bits and pieces from my thesis as I go. Backgrounds, storyboards, concept art, rough animation tests, etc. So consider this place a "production blog" from now until next May.