Sunday, July 31, 2011

A chance to relax...

...sort of.

I survived the Con and met a lot of good people and hooked up with some old friends, sold a few books and posters and also drew a few sketches.
What can I say about the Con? It was the Con. It's always good as long as you know what to expect and don't think it's going to be something it's not.

For those of you who didn't get a chance to say "hi" you can swing by CTNX in November - I'll have a table there and be selling my books and drawing sketches.

This weekend I've actually had a chance to catch up on some other stuff I'd been putting off due to a crazy work schedule. I finally had a chance to scan in a lot of the Fire & Ice drawings so the blog about that production and Mr. Frazetta shouldn't be too far off - in theory. Kind of timely considering Robert Rodriguez just announced he intends on remaking the film and has showed off some of his concept art for the production (just click on the link to see it).

In the meanwhile I'm continuing on with my Supervising Director duties on Voltron Force - which I understand is doing GREAT in the ratings and I highly recommend for all you action/adventure cartoon fans - whether you're an old Voltron fan or not. I also just wrapped a freelance board for Young Justice and I'm continuing on with the illustrations for another HarperCollins book featuring Batman and Killer Croc. And in my free-time I'm working on a Graphic Novel for a great new line of GNs that should be announced pretty soon. 

These are some rough exploratory character sketches as well as roughs and inks for the promo piece. I'm having a lot of fun with this and I'm wondering why I never ventured into this type of thing before now. Since these drawings have already been shown on Facebook I assume it's okay if I share them here as well.

Now to answer a few questions...

A follow up question from Anonymous (feel free to come up with some sort of screen name so I can tell who's who - sort of):
I'm not sure why I didn't mention Cauldron. I imagine it is because I've only seen the movie about once and it was forever ago. But since you mentioned it, how was your time at the Disney Studio during that period? I ask because I've seen "Waking Sleeping Beauty" and from what I understand that period was rough on the studio and its staff.

I'll only briefly touch on my period at Disney for this answer since I intend on writing a more in-depth blog about my experiences there and especially about working on the Black Cauldron.
Let me just say working at Disney was something I'd never experienced prior to that and very few times after. Before working at Disney I'd worked only for Bakshi Productions and a brief stint at Filmation so the chance to only rough animation (without having to do your own Clean-Up) and to take the time to work on a scene until it was as close to perfect as you could get it was pretty foreign to me. Due to mostly these reasons I felt very liberated and tried to take very little notice of the politics that were going on below the surface. Unfortunately by the time the Black Cauldron was finished I, like everyone else there at the time, were heavily involved in some political craziness due to the 'takeover' at Disney (though in retrospect it seems like less of a takeover and more of 'saving'). The time period that is shown in "Waking Sleeping Beauty" I only had first hand experience with the very beginning since I left before Oliver & Co got into full swing. I had heard quite a few of the stories  that were going on at the time, since I was till friends with many of those involved, and all I can say is that Don Hahn and Peter Schneider seemed very fair about what went on during those years and could have easily made a MUCH longer film without boring anyone. Though I suspect if the film had gone on much longer a lot more fingers would've been pointed and the film wouldn't have been quite so even-handed.

ThePast asks:
Do you actually pay attention to the many MANY fans of your work out there and their attempts to recreate your genius? And if so, what is your reaction? I am sure there has been times you have seen people butcher your ideals of specific characters (sadly, the saying is true, death of the author/artist).

First I'm not sure there are that many that are trying to recreate my "genius" and if they do I don't have a real problem with it. I find it flattering and as long as they don't try to pass my actual art off as theirs I won't bother them. Though a mention and a link to my web-site are always appreciated. There's another saying I'd rather live by and that's "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"....I hope...

and ThePast also asks:
And one last, in a way to do with the con... is there any chance we could steal you down to New Zealand one year (or more than one :D) for one of our main cons? Preferably the Auckland Armageddon :) for us poor cartoon fans trapped 12 hours away from ComicCon.
I would love to go to New Zealand one of these days and if I were invited (and my traveling expenses covered) I'd probably go. So start a campaign to get me down there ;)

and another Anonymous (at least, I think it's different one) asks:
I've seen your drawns in your blog, and most of them are teenagers and adult people. How do feel about drawing kids? It is harder, it is easier, it is the same?
Is there any kind of people who is harder to draw to you?
[Sorry, my bad english, lol]

I've drawn lots of kids, but I guess I haven't posted many of them. I'll have to do that soon. As to who is harder to draw...? A lot of different factors are involved including what day it is and whether my drawing and is co-operating. Some days every drawing (regardless of age, gender or style) comes out easily and other days nothing comes easy.  In general I don't find children anymore difficult to draw than adults or teenagers.

Remember to send your questions and I'll answer them as soon as I can.

Monday, July 18, 2011

More answers...

More questions and answers: 

JRtist asks:
Alright, here's a question for you... double header question.
You've been working on so many different projects, that call for totally different styles of artwork. How hard is it, in your eyes, to differentiate from each style? Is it kind of hard for the learning curve to get the previous style/design out of your head and start on the new style? Do you do a lot of sketchbook drawing to get yourself molded into the style you're working on at that time?

If the new style has a definitive look it's much easier, but in truth, when you're story-boarding, the style that you're drawing in doesn't really matter all that much. Unless of course you're switching from Young Justice to Sponge Bob, of course.  It's more about the style of the direction, angles and editing that are more important to capture. It's usually easier to draw in a style that is comfortable to you so you can make the deadline.
Do you ever think of recording yourself drawing for youtube from time to time? Even if it's a timelapse drawing? (I enjoy those a lot, myself)

I've thought about it, but I'm not sure it would be all that interesting and I doubt I'd have much to say while I'm doing it

Anonymous (anonymous asks a LOT of questions):
...I was curious about your scenes in animated features like The King and I, The Swan Princess, and Anastasia. What scenes were particularly yours in the films and what scenes do you feel like you really got what you wanted (as an artist)from the scene? 

I'll answer for the Swan Princess first since that's kind of the easiest. Animation in the SP was mostly handed out by character. Originally I was going to only be the Key Animator for Bromley with the plan he wasn't such a big character that I wouldn't have time to do my other jobs on the film - Character Designer and Animation Director. Unfortunately  things didn't exactly go as planned and I ended up also doing the majority of scenes on the Swan, Odette and Rothbart (as well as misc scenes on several other characters). So if you look at the film and see any of those characters there's a 95% chance I animated them. When I look back on my animation I wish I had not been so swamped and had a chance to refine  and do several more passes on almost every one of my scenes. Oh, well.
On the King and I my memory is a little foggier since I thought the film to be overall a mess and have kind of blocked it from my memory. I do recall doing a few scenes of the King's son and the slave girl while they were declaring their love for one another and several scenes of the king, but I can't be more specific than that.

On Anstasia I only did a handful of scenes and I couldn't even tell you what they were specifically.

The film I was most happy with my animation in was The Black Cauldron (which you didn't even mention). It was one of the few times there was a budget and a schedule that allowed for reworking tests until not only was the director happy, but so was I. On that film I did most of the animation for the sequence where Taran and Eilonwy were escaping from the castle and the fight between Taran and the Horned King at the end of the movie (as well as many other scenes throughout the film).

Also, has the inverse ever happened where a scene got ridiculous (frustrating) and you felt the urge to break the pencil over your knee and walk out for a bit, before coming back and knocking it out of the park?

Almost every scene has a moment or two like that though it's debatable if those scenes ever got knocked out of the park. Depends on who you ask and I tend to be my harshest critic.

P.S: Any chances to see some pencil tests from the films you have worked on.

I've actually been looking around to see if I have any of those old pencil tests that I recorded on my trusty old Amiga and transferred to VHS. I haven't found them yet, but if I do I'll very likely post them

Blaze Rocket asks:

I actually find your work posted on DeviantArt A LOT, being claimed as someone else's. I do daily searches for new content for the Evo-Obsessed Club, and for a while, pictures from your website, in particular, were very popular for other people to try and claim as their own. Thankfully, the mods at DA are very good about this thing, and when I give them a link to your website and the stolen work, it's always been removed within a few days. 

Thank you. Please keep up the good work. I don't understand why anyone would do that, but I guess I should be sort of flattered...

I have a silly question, actually ^_^;;
Obviously you have a lot of fans. I know that personally, I would love to give something back to you, for all the amazing things you've created that brightened my life, and for how amazingly cool you present yourself as on line. I never know what exactly to do though... Voice actors frequently get fan-art of the characters they voice, but you obviously have drawings of your characters already. Is there anything we, as your fans, can do to repay you? Bring you a soda at a con or something? 

 ... I swear I'm not sucking up, I just really want to throw you your own parade or something.
I can't really think of a thing off hand, but I'll let you know if something comes to mind. As long as you guys (and I mean that inclusively) continue to support and follow me and my work that's all I can really ask.

And so long as I'm asking questions: Have you ever considered teaching or guest lecturing at an art school anywhere?

At one point I was supposed to guest lecture at Savannah School of Design in Atlanta, but for whatever reason that fell through. The truth is I'm not a very good public speaker (anyone that's ever seen an interview with me can attest to that) so I don't seek out those types of situations. And since I was never formally taught I'm not sure how good I would be at teaching anyone the way that I work.

Aaaaaand, as per usual: Will there ever be a 3rd sketch book? :D

Hopefully soon - I'm compiling images now. I'll let you (and everyone else) know when it gets published.

Josh Awolade asks:
I've got just one question (for now :D ) How did you do animate your walk cycles and the Sirens and Boom Boom dance scenes?

For walk cycles I animate it one step at a time (rim-shot). Sorry, I couldn't resist. Actually I usually just start animating and refining. I helps if I know and understand the character ahead of time. I very rarely use reference for walk cycles, but I will if I need it. 
For the XME dance scenes (and almost every dance scene I've ever animated - and I've animated a lot of them over the years) I usually start with some live-action and will use a process called roto-scope. Most of the time I use this as a blueprint to do my animation on. It makes the whole process a lot quicker and will naturally lead to a better animated scene then if I struggled without some sort of reference.

Okay, that's all the questions for this week -  feel free to ask more next week (or later this week) and I'll try to get to them ASAP. 

Now for some business. I'm currently running around crazy trying to get  ready for San Diego Comic-Con (or Comic-Con International). Most of the time I'll just be wandering around checking out the main floor and saying "hi" to old and new friends, but there will be two different places to locate me and I hope any of you coming will swing by and say "hi" so I don't look too pathetic.

I'll be at at the Chuck Jonesgallery in San Diego on Friday, July 22 from 7-10pm (at least sometime during that 3 hour period) for the Ralph Bakshi exhibit. It should be an interesting show with a lot of original art from many of Ralph's films. I would highly recommend swinging by the gallery sometime while you're at Comic_con even if you can't get there Friday night.
I'll also be at the Creative Talent Network's booth (#5022) from 12pm to 2pm on Saturday, July 23rd. I'll be selling copies of both my sketchbooks, Expressions and Attitudes 1 and 2 (special Con price of $15 each - which will include a sketch and signature), my Rogue Poster (as pictured below) for $5 each - signed of course and signing anything else you might have that you feel needs my signature on it.

And for those that are wondering if I've forgotten about last week's post - I still plan to do an extended blog about Fire and Ice as well as Black Cauldron once things slow down a little after Comic-Con

Monday, July 11, 2011


It tool a little bit of coaxing, but it seems that some of you do have questions. I was beginning to think the information I get each week about how many of you are following this blog were nothing but hooey. Glad to see the stats weren't wrong (I think).

Here's a question from Dani's Blog:
When you start searching for work, what did you do? where did you look first?

The story of how I got into the animation industry is probably not the typical story for most artists. I was still in High school and just starting to apply for Art school when my art teacher found an ad asking for portfolio submissions to work for Ralph Bakshi. Neither of us thought there was much chance of my actually being offered a job. In fact, I had never even considered getting into animation -  I wanted to be an illustrator. But my teacher thought this was a good way to get a professional portfolio review and was hoping it would take a little of the wind out of my sails. I was pretty cocky for a High school student.
As it turned out I was offered a job and my teacher and counselors helped arrange for me to finish my senior year through night school, but it wasn't long before I did realize I wasn't the best artist in the world. Once I saw all the other artists that were hired at the same time (not to mention the ones that were already working at the studio) I realized that i had a lot to learn.
Now, when I look for work, I rely mostly on networking. So much of getting jobs in this industry is about who you know and being in the right place at the right time - and, of course, having the skills and talent at your disposal once you do get the gig. Networking is so much easier these days with the internet. I try to the full advantage of it and I suggest that even newbies do so as well. It's been very rare that I've gotten a job by calling studios or knocking on doors. I don't want you to think that only those of us with conections can network. Even a newbie should be able to connect and get their stuff in front of people a lot easier these days with e-mail, FB and Devenat Art that is so much easier than mailinmg your portfolio around to studios or artists hoping you get a response.

Capt. Sunshine asks:
How often do you find your work "stolen" and posted on other websites, claimed as someone else's efforts?

Maybe I'm not looking around much, but I can't think of anytime I've come across any my "actual" work that someone else was claiming as their own. I do often come upon my XME models that have been re-purposed and altered with new costumes or turned into new characters. I gather there's quite a bit of that going on  with not just my models, but models from other character designers as well. And, of course, I see many of my designs being drawn as fan-art  which I find flattering. 
If any of you see someone trying to pass my actual art off as their own please let me know and I'll do what I can to stop it.

Anonymous asks 3 questions: 
What is your favorite part of production from your viewpoint? I know there are many legs in a complete production and you have amazing storyboarding, character design, and animation skills but what part really gets to you deep inside and you can't wait to work on?

Okay, first my favorite part of production is usually different from project to project and whether it's a feature or TV production. If it's a feature project the part I like most is working on the story, character arcs and hammering out all the beats (working with the directors and story crew, of course). When I was an animator on features there was nothing quite like seeing the scene move for the first time - usually as a pencil test and seeing your scribbles come to life. 
 If it's a TV  or direct to video production then I enjoy the directing process (very rarely do you get a chance to get involved with the story in these type of productions - though when I have, that was also very enjoyable. I also enjoy creating character designs and fleshing out a characters personality by way of expressions and attitudes. 

Also have you ever thought of doing more full animation in your style?
Sure, I'd love to do full animation again of characters I've designed. Some of the most fun I had on XME (a show I had a LOT of fun on) was when I actually did several scenes of full animation using my character designs - whether it was for season 1s opening credits, walk and run cycles or for some of the dance sequences in a  couple of the shows for season 1 and 2. Not sure I'll get another chance to do that, but anything is possible.

If I haven't run up my limit on questions I would also like to know your thoughts on animation in general, like what goes through your head when doing a scene or just a test like for characters like in X-Men Evolution?

That's hard to say and depends a lot on what type of scene it is I'm animating (and it's been so long since I've animated I'm trying to remember what it feels like). Action scenes bring different challenges than acting scenes
With action a lot of my thinking is about plotting out the key moments that I want to hit and make sure the scene has the right impact and how can each drawing convey what the action is so if you only saw one drawing you wouldn't have too much of a problem deciphering what is going on in the scene. 
If the scene is an acting scene I have to try and capture the dialogue (if it's a dialogue scene) without getting in the way of the dialogue - something I feel I've not always accomplished after looking at some of my old animation. Or if it's not a dialogue scene how do I convey what the character is thinking so it doesn't just look like a lifeless drawing on the screen.

And Yen asks:
Are there any type of requests that you don't do?

I assume you mean commissions...? If so, I won't do full on porn  and if I'm asked to do something 'sexy' it has to be tasteful to me and respectful of the characters - in my mind, at least.

Please feel free to send in questions and I promise to get to them as soon as I can.
Yesterday while sorting through some boxes from the garage I cam across my Fire and Ice and Black Cauldron stash. Seeing these inspoired me and I hope to have a couple of blogs coming up soon (time permitting, of course) that will discuss my experience on these films and show many of these images.
Here's a little taste (you'll have to excuse the quality of the images - these unfortunately are not originals):


Friday, July 08, 2011


Well, either no one is really reading my blog anymore (though my weekly reports seem to suggest that's not true) or no one noticed my suggestion at the bottom of the last post asking if anyone wanted to ask any questions. Or maybe no one has any questions...?

I'll give it one more try and if that doesn't produce any questions I'll just have to think up something else to post about.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

So.... you can tell (the few of you that still follow me) that I haven't posted in awhile (again). I've been unusually busy what with my duties on Voltron Force as Supervising Director, illustrating HarperCollins DC books, and freelancing storyboards for a couple of places. One storyboard job was supposed to finish and dovetail nicely into the next, but the first one had more to do and caused an overlap that made my life even busier than usual. Add all that to celebrating my 30th anniversary (I actually took off work for almost 24 hours - except for checking e-mails, of course) and trying to keep involved with family as much as I can and you can see why I might have been blog neglectful.
The other thing that had to give was the drawings for Fan Request Friday. I might return to it in the future, but right now there's just not enough hours in the day. Since I did the FRF for almost a year (maybe longer) I don't feel too guilty.

So...what I thought I'd do is post some older drawings (as well as the occasional new one) and just let you know what is new and going on in my work life and occasionally my personal life - though I'm not sure there's a real difference.

Right now, as I mentioned earlier, I'm the Supervising Director on the new TV series Voltron Force for NickToons. If you haven't seen the show I urge you to do so. I'm pretty darn proud of how it's turning out and the ratings seem to indicate that people like the show quite a bit. It has something for everyone - fans and new viewers alike. If you can't find it on your cable/satellite/whatever then I do believe the episodes are available on iTunes.

As if I'm not busy enough I might have some interesting news about future work that I might be involved with - thankfully its something with far off deadlines that shouldn't impact my current workload. I'll let you know when I know more  - assuming I'm allowed to, of course.

Now, this month at the San Diego Comic-Con I'll be signing, sketching and selling sketchbooks (of course) at the CTN booth (#5022) Sat 7/23 from 12 to 2pm - so if you're going to be there, stop on by and say "Hi" at least - don't leave me sitting there without anything to do....

So...if that isn't enough of an information download I also want to make it official and let everyone know that on Fridays I will be answering any questions that you send earlier in the week. Just ask your questions in the comment section of the most recent post and I will do my best to respond in the next post for all to see - so don't ask anything you wouldn't want others to see.