Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CTNX 2011 Wrap Up

Not only was the convention a success, but the entire trip to Burbank was awesome!
One of the happiest most exhausting trips ever.

Quick highlights:
Getting drunk at the Oakland airport at 9 in the morning. Trevor and I sampled California Kings at the vino volo kiosk.
Taking a tour of Disney Animation for the first time ever and not turning into a puddle.(Thanks Bobby!)
Hitting up the Princess Brunch at Disneyland with some of the best people I know!
I'm torn between Enchanted Tiki Room and Toy Story Midway Mania for my favorite attraction of ALL TIME.
Wearing shorts! (It's been cold Seattle.)
Chickening out of saying hi to James Gurney.
Hanging out by the fire pits at the pool after midnight.
Meeting tons of new people and making new best friends.
Watching my rental car's keys fly to Seattle without me.

CTN this year was even better than CTN last year, and I loved last year. The main difference is I had a table this time around, shared with my friend Trevor. While that meant a lot of chaos pre show, and the inability to go to all the awesome talks during most of it, it also meant just hanging out and talking to all kinds of neat people and loads of doodling all day for three days.

I'm not sure I can express the concentration of art at CTN correctly. It overwhelms me. I'm a big dork for animation, and everybody is there! Showing off the latest and greatest, often work you'll never see anywhere else. I saw so many personal sketchbooks and portfolios, wonderful work all around. I only saw one demo and one talk, but they were perfect and exciting and energetic. Florian Satzinger was out in the Atrium drawing, and after the floor closed I saw Michael Defeo talk about sculpting with traditional and computerized processes, staying on model etc, the good stuff. Hopefully some of the other talks will go online, because I would love to see them.

On the conventioneer side, I really packed my half of the table with stuff. While I only brought down the two sketchbooks I've made, I also talked a couple of friends into giving me some of their work to sell. One of the things I enjoyed most was selling their works. I get gleeful when I see people getting excited about art. One of my favorites was selling a sketchbook of Matt's to Jake Parker. I'm so familiar with Matt's stuff, that when I saw Jake's I had this moment of familiarity that was hard to put into words. His stuff is way different, but way similar if that makes any sense.

There were a number of people I ended up being too shy to talk to. Mostly I wasn't shy, but it gets the best of me still! I was really happy Trevor was my table buddy, it made being chatty easier. Strength in numbers? A few of the people I chickened out on were James Gurney, Terryl Whitlatch, Andreas Deja, and Pascal Campion(Pascal is possibly the most wonderful person on earth).

After the show each day there would be the chaos of herding friends and new acquaintances into finding food and hangout time. Which always managed to sort itself out. Inevitably turning into a late night indeed. I loved walking through the hotel at any time, day or night, and seeing all the people mingling and having a great time. The animation students in the lounge working away constantly were awesome. I love their drive!

I think the thing that surprises me is how many people from games are at CTN considering there is almost zero games presence. Almost everything is film, tv, and commercial animation industry. Which I think is fine, but I'm still surprised. I mean, games are about 1/3 animation, more in some. I wonder if there would ever be a similar game arts convention? :) I'd go!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


It can be hard to invent new things. Sometimes you just find yourself stuck. I have a lot of exercises that can help break out of this. One of my favorites is shape games. Any shapes will do. Below I've drawn a page of simple line shapes. These could be anything though. Someone suggested placing tracing paper over magazines and using all those shapes and values to draw on. I think that is a fantastic idea!

Begin filling the page with an idea in mind. Horses, houses, rockets, samurai, rocket samurai... I went with the concept of a horse in my mind, because they are challenging and I like them. You'll notice yourself placing details in the shapes you put down, but try breaking out of that and also using the space between shapes and also merging shapes together. Hopefully you just ended up with a silly mess and only spent a minute or two drawing down ideas. Don't worry about appearances. The feeling and idea is most important right now. Don't be overly concerned with rendering or accuracy.

Check out that messy page. Anything stick out? Are there any drawings you find yourself responding to? Anything making you smile inside? I really like the little guy on the bottom left. He's got a good feeling coming off of him. Since I'm responding fairly strongly I decided to isolate him from the herd.

I just squished him up in the corner of the page as reference. Now I'm going to use that drawing as a jumping off point to refine the idea a bit. I feel like this guy looks super happy, maybe slightly proud. I begin a new drawing and push the shape into a proudly held head on a swooping body, trying to exaggerate more. I think the high rear end is funny and keep that, also making it heavier so I feel it more visually. I'm starting to really like this guy, but think I can push it further. I take that second drawing and squish him up in the top right.

I start over again. Now I'm trying to exaggerate that second drawing a lot more if possible. It's better to go too far than too short. You can always go back, but if you can't reach further then you're kinda stuck where you are.

Keep things loose and quick, don't hesitate. Stop worrying about line quality and just run with your ideas.

I think I'm really starting to like this guy. He seems like a very proud animal, maybe he thinks he is beautiful. I begin pushing away from broad feelings and more towards snippits of story and defined personality traits.

I put my sketches on a layer and turn down the opacity. I throw a layer on top and begin drawing in specific details around my sketch. I think about texture and temperature and sounds and smells and movements. Even if I'm not really drawing down all of those things, if I feel them as I draw a little more energy is retained in the drawing. Like I'm drawing the moment before all of that happens.
I colored a little bit during the demo, but was very unhappy with what I ended up with. I think I will color this horsey monster later and talk through that too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

quick horse head in Zbrush

About 45 min.
And yes more music!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Neato Hopalong Dragon sculpt!

Jose Linares made a really fun sculpt of one of my drawings. Check it out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

breaking yourself

I'll be doing a demo at CTN next Saturday, Nov. 19th beginning at 2pm at the Atrium station.

I'm thinking of going over some of the things I do to break out and stay fresh when designing critters. I play lots of shape games with myself and friends. Quick reflex, random train of thought doodling. Usually leads to some really fun results and also helps loosen up the shoulders for some legit drawing.

The basics are, draw random shapes and intersecting shapes. The best is if other people can draw the shapes for you! (I left this image at scale in case anyone wants to draw into it.)

Then take a basic idea, in this case "horse" and do your best to put the details and symbols of that word into the shapes. The thing is you can not hesitate! It's about brainstorming and allowing the shapes and lines to influence you immediately. If you end up with a page of nonsense that is great.

Then pick out from the chaos the ideas which seem the most appealing. Those will be your base influence as you go into a more thought out design. For this horse I used the bottom right idea above. I delete everything else so it isn't distracting me from the one idea and begin refining it into a new drawing.
Ideally I'd draw at least three drawings from the single idea exploring different ways it could have been pushed further. Usually the first one out, like this guy, is a bit conservative and has too many of the shapes that I've trained myself to draw. I want to break my own training and make something new happen. That's the exciting stuff!

Along those lines, I'm very excited about next week. I'm really hoping anyone who comes by to watch will ask some questions too!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I like the critter, but am a little disappointed in the coloration. Keep on practicing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sea Toitles

Quick sketches and some less quick color practice.

Oh dread... I'm becoming a hipster...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Flipped the head around a bit to turn it into a "nose". The idea of tentacles is so long and curly I have a hard time tearing away from that notion to simplify. I'd love to make those squiggly lines just fill a page.