Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Elfin hairstyles

Last year I was working on a project. Early on in its development I found myself heading in this direction. It wound up going down a different path but the idea I had for the hair stayed on my mind.

Last night I picked up this theme in class and tried to work out some images that would have to do with hair styles for elves based upon what I was doing previously. After a few less than satisfactory attempts I was able to sketch out a design that had some intriguing promise.

Today I followed up on this and continued with a few more drawings. Some of my students mentioned they had seen a similar approach before in projects that have been in release. I went ahead anyway in hopes that I'd eventually find a thoroughly unique look if I kept exploring. Here's what I came up with this evening. 

Regardless as to how original these hairstyles turn out to be I had fun with the concept and of course my students were able to learn by example. That's an important aspect to my method of teaching. Show your students how it's done by virtue of demonstrations and by spending time drawing with them and emulating the assignment.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Eyes see you

Something I did earlier this year assisting a student with the way they were drawing eyes on a female character. Eyes are an important aspect of character design as they most effectively communicate to the viewer what's happening within the mind of the character. There's many ways of drawing eyes. This is one particular method that worked well for what my student was trying to achieve. I practice drawing eyes all the time. Helps with connecting to the essence of a character's personality.


Sunday, July 29, 2012


It's been two months since I got the blog going and so far haven't missed a day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jak and Daxter history - The Road to Jak - Part 3

Continuing with another entry to the Jak and Daxter saga in regards to the emergence of the central character of Jak. As the development went into another phase of "Project Y" in 2000 these drawings describe what I was exploring next. Everything at this point was intended as general suggestions since Naughty Dog still had no solid idea as to what they were looking for early on. I was thinking in terms of some sort of royalty based character like a prince or a young nobleman of some kind. Somewhat elfin in nature and appearance and adventurous in spirit.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More monstrous fun

I carried yesterday's momentum into today's class sessions and was able to come up with a couple more images that were enjoyable to work on as well as educational for my students.

The same technique was used for this happy fellow with binocular vision as with the previous entries. Col-erase blue pencil with black line and graphite to push the tonal relationships.

Next up I went in a different direction. Stylistically influenced by what a couple of my students were doing on their projects. Didn't get as far with the rendering as in the drawing above but it still came out okay. I can always go back and finish it up. 

Versatility is a key ingredient in an artist's skill set especially if you work as a character designer on a professional level. Comes in very handy when moving from project to project. 

Thank you again for taking the time to visit my blog. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Monstrous fun

Had a good time today with these drawings. They were created while in class sketching with my students. It had been awhile since I drew monsters as a subject so I thought I'd give it a go and see what I could come up with.

Started with this in blue pencil and black line pen.

Afterwards I got into these three. Blue pencil and black line pen along with graphite pencil. Blending the graphite and blue pencil together gave me some interesting tones that enhanced the images.

This was a loads of fun. 
Hope to carry the momentum into tomorrow's session. 
Thanks for checking into my blog. 
Hope you enjoy the art.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jak and Daxter history - The Road to Jak - Part 2

Earlier in this post I showcased some images from the very beginning of development in 2000 for what would become the character of Jak in "Jak and Daxter". At the time it was called "Project Y". Naughty Dog really wasn't sure what they wanted for the lead character so I was experimenting with lots of different approaches. Here's a few more samples of what I was doing at the dawn of it all. 

Blue pencil and black line concept development for the lead character.

Blue pencil black line and color markers.

Gray markers and a touch of color in the cheeks.

As the lead designer for the project I created a high volume of artwork for Jak and Daxter over the course of a year. Almost everything exhibited by Naughty Dog in terms of character development art involves work generated by their staff. Everything I was coming up with was intended to give their production team something to go on. Much of what the studio has shown was a reworking of the designs I was providing for them. None of the vast amount of development art I generated has been shown to the public by the company. The history of Jak and Daxter has never been fully disclosed. In days ahead I'll be exhibiting more of what I created for the game.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Crash Bandicoot - Origin of Aku Aku

For the Crash fans. Bet ya haven't seen this before.

The character of Aku Aku was originally considered to be a fairy or a genie. Not necessarily a voodoo mask. Even when he was conceived to go in that direction, it was initially someone who wore the mask as opposed to magically floating around on its own.

These are the original concept sketches for the character that would become Aku Aku in the Crash Bandicoot series. They were created in early 1995.

As you review this original development art and other original concept development work I'll be posting I'd like you to ask yourselves this question. This is all from Crash Bandicoot in its earliest days when the project was called Willy the Wombat. Why do you think this hasn't been shown until now? Why didn't anyone involved with the production of Crash ever showcase the full extent of the original development art for the project? This art has been in existence for more than 17 years. Was this ever shown in its entirety? Why wasn't the complete collection of development art for Crash Bandicoot ever been shown before?   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I wanna fly like Superman

Sometimes I see things in movies on TV or the Web and in print and I stop and say "Hey that looks familiar!" Such is the case with a trailer for the upcoming Man of Steel to be released next year in June 2013.

I painted this composition in Photoshop in 2008 for practice and posted the image in the Gallery of the AnimationNation forums. Superman flying straight up so fast he displaces the atmosphere and breaks the sound barrier... 

Check 1:10 of the video below and you'll see what I was thinking of with this concept four years ago...

Those things happen! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Character rotations are fundamental

I really impress upon my students within the program at the Academy just how important it is for character designers to be able to rotate the characters they design if they want to be considered professional. It's a fundamental skill that is important in production at the most basic of levels and also helps to improve your draftsmanship.

Here's an assignment I gave myself for a character concept sketched earlier in the week in the Character Design 1 class. It's a standard five pose rotation that was drawn one on top of the other on a peg bar. If you scroll up and down you'll see the individual images animate through the turn.

This is how the rotation looks as a line up.

Rotating your character designs is excellent practice for anyone who wants to be a character designer at a professional level as well as an outstanding exercise for artists looking for a challenge that will help them grow creatively.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

a little comfort

This was a crazy day in America. Thought I'd offer something gentle. Painted in acrylics on watercolor board over a pencil sketch. Class demo from my school The Animation Academy in 2002.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simple color

Here's a quick class demonstration in Photoshop while teaching at California State University Northridge last year. Let's start with the end result and go backwards.

Instead of toning the composition with grays I went directly to local color.

The first step was in finding the color I wanted and then blocking it in.

This is where it began. The drawing was done digitally.

In a short period of time you can give your sketch that special touch by using it to introduce color in a direct and simple manner. Something nice for your portfolio or as a blog entry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Photoshop can be easy

That's what I discovered when I first started learning the program. Since then I've made it a point to demystify the coloring process for students who have little to no experience with it. Take this demonstration for example. It was created last year while teaching at California State University Northridge.

From the initial digitized concept sketch drawn in black line and embellished with blue pencil I punched the overlapping shadows with a transparent gray.

Next I rendered the image in layers of transparent grays to establish tonal relationships.

While working in transparent layers I tinted the composition with color.

In no time at all I made pretty good progress. I had the option to continue but decided to leave it at this state of development. I was able to communicate I simple method of digital illustration to the class resulting in something that I could share on my blog a year and half later.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jak and Daxter history - The Road to Jak - Part 1

In the early days and all through my year long involvement it was code named "Project Y". 

Why? I don't know. 

I created a massive amount of conceptual work for Naughty Dog. In the beginning they shared the images with Sony Japan for their input. Sony liked this design for the central character and wanted to go in this direction initially.

ND didn't agree and stopped showing things to Sony Japan soon after but for a while I was continuing along this path and gradually got closer to what would become the central character of Jak. Here are a few more samples of what I was experimenting with at the time.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Applying the mantra of practicing what I teach I immersed myself in squirrel designs earlier in the week for the Character Design 1 class at the Academy.

It's important for a character designer in the concept phase to be able to explore many possibilities of what a character might look like.

After trying out some head sketches the designer can move along into body concepts.

When the look of the character is locked down it's time for the rotation.

Coming up with the idea and adapting it to the needs of production are both essential skills in the world of Character Design.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Productive day

I'm creating more content than I can feed into the blog. It's starting to back. Here's what I did yesterday in Visual Development as class demonstrations.

This was a warm up.

She was a quick demo in gray scale markers.

Lessons in tonal relationships.

By Jove! I think they've got it!

It's jolly good with a little Photoshop color.

Everyone learned from these quick examples.