Friday, December 14, 2012

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Complimentary sign posts

In the latest class I pointed out a sketch to an artist as my favorite one they did.  The artist replied that it's taken so long to get there.  I sympathized and agreed that it does take time.  Luckily we love doing what we do so we can stick to it and continue to learn.

One thing that's incredibly important though is to realize that moment when you've achieved a sketch worthy of a mentor's praise.

The drawing that an instructor points out is the drawing that should jettison you to that next level of focus. 
You must be conscious of the fact that you did something good that is on the right track.  Pay attention to that compliment and treat it as a  "sign post" that leads you to further focused development.  Then ask which way now?   That sketch becomes your new start position and other bad ones fall away. 

Missing that complimentary sign post can leave you aimlessly drawing without focus and hoping that you'll magically get better.  Notice that drawing that's pointed out and follow its guidance.  The best part about this is you actually drew it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Devin Crane started a Blog!!

This makes me happy to see my pal Devin Crane's blog.  I've known Devin for many years and he continually inspires me with his character design, personal paintings of Hollywood socialites, and animation's own fashion mogul.  Check him out!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Highground Image 1

My friend Don Hahn has produced a documentary that's getting quite the critical aclaim. It's no surprise that Don would be connected to such a cool movie.

The documentary follows war vets with disabilities as they climb mountains to help them cope and heal from their war experiences. 

I love films like this that show the power of the human spirit and inspire all of us to perceiver!

check out the trailer!   

Monday, November 12, 2012

Centerline Box thought

Walt Stanchfield used to really get cranky when our sketches where too straight up and down.  So when I'm teaching (and drawing my own sketches) I try to tell the artist to LEAN the pose, push that hip out, move the pose more left and right etc....

If you imagine a box around the drawing from it's furthest edges you should be able to also imagine a centerline down the middle.  That centerline helps you see if the drawing is too straight up and down.  It also helps to keep the work asymmetrical and balanced.

My sketches below show the box that I'm talking about.  I didn't actually draw the box but I was thinking "no straight up and down, no straight up and down!"

Hopefully this works for you because it really helps me to get that LEAN in that Walt talked about.

Forgive the quality of the Iphone pics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Make Mistakes!

Michael Jordan: "I failed ovrer and over and over again in my life....and that is why I succeed."
When I saw this commercial many many years ago it stuck with me!  It opened my eyes to the idea that you really have to try and try and try and continue to strive for your goals.  No matter where we are in your career we will always make mistakes and we shouldn't be afraid of them.  Whether you're animating, storyboarding, gesture sketching, etc...

The major key to mistakes is having someone in a mentor like role or trusted friend noticing the problem and helping you correct them.  We need to make mistakes and make them as much as possible to eventually create art that we like or reach goals aimed for.  Younger artists can get easily discouraged when it comes to making mistakes and feeling like they aren't at the level they'd like to be.  I like to tell these artists to save their sketches so that they can reflect back and see how good they've gotten.  

The whole idea is to learn and grow and if we are too shy or scared to show mentors (or trusted friends) our work and search for constructive criticism in correcting our mistakes we will stay at the same level we're at. 

Glen Keane told a story of how when he entering Disney, he filled up 10 sketch books, 100 pages each in a week.  He showed them to Eric Larson who on the average chose 1 in 10 sketches that were good enough to present to the company.  The rest is history for Glen as we know it.

The truth of his story was that he didn't have any fear of failing, making mistakes and showing his mentor his work.  I'd say Glen is sort of the Michael Jordan of animation wouldn't you?

Here are a few recent sketches of mine,  seems the theme was back shots this day.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Abstract shapes

Recently I've been asked how to get the "whole" body into a drawing in the time it takes to get a gesture down.  Some artists fall into a piece meal kind of sketching where they draw the form sections separately from one another.  I encourage and challenge you to strive to capture the whole gesture as one piece as early as possible when sketching.

I like to think of the whole gesture as an abstract shape that encompasses the feel and attitude I'm going for.  Within the first ten to fifteen seconds of the drawing I'm blocking out shapes that allow the gesture to live within it.

Henri Matisse inspires me with his abstract silhouette paper cut outs when I think of this direction.  The deceptive simplicity is very impressive and I believe we can be inspired by his work.

Henri Matisse
When gesture drawing we don't really have time for too much detail, we need to get the whole thing down fast.  I like to call this abstract shape the trajectory of a pose.   It's a planning stage that allows you to buy the impression you are creating and sends the drawing in a direction allowing you to finish even if the subject has moved on.

In thinking about this stuff I decided to take a break from the Cintiq and slum it with the chinamarker on paper.  I sketched this stuff out of my head and wrote lil' notes to assist my thoughts above.  All sketches were done quick in under a minute each for the more detailed.

Draw! Draw! Draw!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Zoo "People"

I recently went to the zoo and it was so hot the animals were nowhere to be seen.  I decided to sketch the other animals walking around.  I always end up drawing the people at the zoo because I find them to be an interesting lot.
These sketches were done fairly quickly and I started using a large sketchbook(9x11) and Copic marker!

No Souvenir

Teddybear head

Tough kid with visor

Umbrella haad

"you mean to tell me that those monkeys can't jump over that railing and attack us?"

Taking pic of the flowers

Grandma walking kid 

Guy with camera

Hawaii five old

Holding up the fence

Friday, June 08, 2012


The new Pixar movie is upon us soon and I'm really excited to see it.  The best precursor to watching the movie has been reading the Art of Brave written by my good friend Jenny Lerew.

Ill be honest, I never read these books because i'm usually captured by the art and I'm just a slow reader in general so I skim.  This book I'm reading and the writing moves so well that I'm captivated by the story that Jenny tells.

I found myself wanting to know the next story point and the next and the next.

All of us in animation have gone through processes like this but Jenny writes it with great tension and humor painting a world that sounds exciting and primordial.

Oh yeah, and one more small little thing.  This book is chuck full of amazing paintings, character designs, Storyboards, who'd of thought Storyboards would be celebrated so much?  Jenny has really made a book that gives more and more every time I open it!  It's a definite must have book!

Hat's off to Jenny Lerew and the Pixar team of amazing artists and filmmakers for such a great Art of book!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Observational Drawing

I want to share my impression of what it means when I say observational drawing.  
Many times people can get the idea that observational drawing means to literally observe every nook and cranny of the object or model.  Wrinkles, cracks, knuckles, follicles, pours, nose hairs or whatever can be seen is put into the artwork.  
I think there can be a place for such detailed type of artwork but when I teach the idea of observational drawing I teach the study of story telling through drawing.  That’s the most important part of it all.  If the drawing conveys story and meaning it’s that much more valuable as a piece of art.  
We need to connect with the meaning of our drawings.  If there's no story or meaning to the drawing that was supposed to be from observation then theres less interest by the viewer.  it becomes lines smudges and medium on paper rather than impressions of moments captured that evoke an emotion or reaction.
That’s my goal in observational drawing.  To capture a story or a meaning that makes you think or inspires you to feel something.  One thing I definitely do not do is force anyone into a particular style by forcing details into their art that don’t tell the story.  
the key is what are we observing?  the Story or literal detail that can add up to no meaning?
Don’t let style define substance.  

These one and a half second sketches were of my wife in P90x mode.  I tried to convey the energy in the effort and I thank her for letting me show these.  Frankly I should have joined her.  I could stand to loose a few pounds haha.