Wednesday, December 01, 2010


One of my great joys is to keep my sketchbooks alive. I used to keep up with it a lot more when I was much younger, or even before I had a family. Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed with getting your footage done for the week, or getting everything done for the day so you can spend time with the family, whatever, but I have really been relearning old lessons recently of how important it is (to me at least) to keep a sketchbook alive. It keeps me watching and observing... and not just drawing, but really SEEING. Something I want to have in my animation is observed moments. Meaning, I want things to be observed and not just made up out of my head. Observed, then caricatured. How can I do that unless I am studying and observing? I think we all tend to get comfortable at times and develop bad habits of drawing things a certain way without considering other options. Or even something as simple as looking at what happens to the shape of the back when someone sits indian style as opposed to in a chair. There is something truthful about finding that uniqueness to every moment in life. Something that makes us go, "oh yeah, I've seen that!". It breaks down the barrier with our audience and helps to convince them that these are REAL characters. Because they are...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon: The Legend of the Boneknapper

Back in April I worked at Ken Duncan's studio on the Lengend of the Boneknapper for the How to Train Your Dragon DVD. It was a very intense and fast project, but fun too! Got to work with a lot of old friends, and make some new ones as well. The short's, at least the 2D parts, were really fast paced and didn't allow for a lot of longer acting shots so most of what you'll see here are pretty quick shots (plus it's not every single shot I did). Ken and Sandro (our awesome animation supervisor) were really cool to give me what is probably the longest shot in the short (the shot directly below). I have to say too I was very impressed with the clean-up crew on this project! I have worked on films where, for whatever reason, you have no contact with clean-up folk and sometimes the results are less than desireable. On this project they sought the animators out to run stuff by us which I was found amazing, and I truly feel like my work actually ended up on screen. It's the way it should be but hardly ever is anymore.

We are all about to go back to start animating a 21 minute short film (ALL 2D) for the Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD. I am really looking forward to this one!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blaisedell Layout Pencil

This, for those who are not aware of it's legendary nature, is the Blaisedell Layout Pencil. Made famous by both John Lounsbury and Glen Keane. I can remember seeing pictures of Glen draw with this when I was a kid and searching high and low for these pencils. Unfortunately, there weren't many great art stores in the sub-burbs of Chicago growing up and these were nowhere to be found. Plus, I think they stopped producing them in 1990 due to the fact that the pencil contains actual lead and not graphite. Ya know, the cancer causing type!

But recently a colleague and friend of mine, the awesome Rick Farmiloe, super generously and graciously gave this pencil to me because he knew how much it meant to me. I know, it's just a stupid pencil but it kinda encapsulates so much of why I wanted to get into animation that it is priceless to be able to have one in my possession. Thanks Rick!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting on with life

So let's get on with the fun! Something about blogs that has always bothered (and that I have admittedly fallen into) is this sort of egocentrism of posting stuff for the entirely wrong reasons. Mainly, to get compliments and praise.

Praise is a natural desire, but I don't feel it should be the focal point of any artist. Now switch gears real quick with me... how many of you are afraid of your sketchbook like me? I often put such unnecessary pressure on myself to make every page "perfect". Well, the more I do this stuff the more I realize that art is not about perfection, but about honesty. Honesty can seem like such a vague word, but in short it's about communicating your raw unadulterated feeling on whatever you are seeing, reading, absorbing from life around you and reinterpreting it in the way you feel/see it. Could I draw these better if I put another sheet on top and reworked them? Will there be folks who sees these and aren't impressed? Of course, but that's not the point! The point is motive, and the motive is honesty and sincerity.

I certainly won't argue that basic drawing isn't important to the communication of your feelings, but sometimes we get too concerned with the mastery of the visual presentation. Sometimes there is a raw feeling communicated in the most crude of drawings that I hardly if ever see in extremely refined drawings. So don't be afraid to make mistakes and show'em to people. Remember, they ain't perfect either... what matters is you communicating your feelings, even if that left arm is a little too long.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Untitled Film

About 2 years ago I did some design work for an untitled feature for Laika. I don't think it's getting made so I thought I'd post'em here...