Thursday, December 29, 2011

Main Character Designs—Version 1

FINALLY got some working character designs completed for Honey and Luthor:

Next post: Honey and Luthor's head anatomy!

Monday, December 5, 2011


I just sent a copy of my film "Calls of the Wild" to the NW Animation Festival in Portland, OR.

This seems to be one of the few festivals that has no restrictions on the films that are submitted (any length, completed any year, online availability, etc.) It feels like a pure film festival, one unconcerned with premiering and being "the first." Hopefully, their only interest is to shown great animation.

Here's hoping I get selected!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Final Animatic—DONE!

My holiday weekend push helped complete this phase of the film. I decided to not make more of the planned changes. I'm at a point where I feel that completing the project is more important than trying to make it great. Instead, it will as good as I can make it at this time and the next one will be better and the one after that better than its predecessor.

Here's the final animatic:


Next steps: design (characters, environments and props) and voice recording.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Final Animatic—Replacement Scene 2

Keeping it moving with more of the replacement scene of Luthor reacting to being smacked in the face by an unidentified object:


Final animatic is now 53% complete!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Final Animatic—Revised Scene

This scene not only differs from its predecessor in content but also in emotion.

In the original version's scenes, Luthor is frightened by the unknown objects from the drawer:


In this new version, Luthor's reacting to being smacked in the eye by an unknown object. He tumbles across the bed in pain, a reaction that I think is more natural…and funnier!


Is the new version funnier? Tell me what you think!

This completes 35% of the final animatic. Progress continues!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Final Animatic—Replacement Scene

This scene replaces the previous of Honey brushing her teeth. I decided the combination of the noise of the shower and the song logically drown out Luthor's shouts.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Artists Should Love This "New" Economy

A Bamun artisan at work in Foumban, West Province, Cameroon. 2004.

Even before the economic downturn, I was beginning to feel that—especially with the existence of the internet—the days of working in a factory or a cubicle were either decreasing or coming to an end. I couldn't articulate it but this post by James Shelley sums it up.

Ultimately, we all need to change our thinking, our attitude and our actions. We're no longer in the '50's nor the '80's; it's a new time with new rules that benefit those of us who aren't afraid to go out there and make our own way.

Also read these comments from columnist Thomas Friedman. Words to live by.

What is the "extra" that you bring to your work?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Final Animatic—New Opening Scene II

Below is the new opening of the animatic that follows the storyboard thumbnails from this post:


I am REALLY liking this new opening! There's an economy of storytelling of which I'm proud (although I am second-guessing that all of this takes place in a mere 52 seconds. Am I rushing it?) Do you think these new scenes work or that they are better than the first version? Leave your comments! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great

I just saw this and HAD to share it! I'm even borrowing the perfect photo from the post. It was written by Tommy Walker—online marketing strategist and principal at—as a guest post on the blog of Chris Brogan, a consultant on the future of business communications and social software technologies. A mere glance at this list took me back to the bad old days of 1991 (when I graduated from college) through to 2007 (when I began to learn that I had the power to live the life I've always wanted.) That's about 16 years of excuses, self-sabotage, a lack of self-confidence and a lack of guiding principles. Don't make the mistakes I did by falling victim to the excuses listed in this post! You can achieve anything you want to achieve by picturing it, believing that you currently possess it and working hard to acquire it.

Read this list carefully and consider, "When have I used these excuses?"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Opening Scene Thumbnails II

I'm convinced that my recent meditating and studying of the conscious and subconscious is helping both my day job AND this project!

Example: last night I was still struggling with this new opening scene. I decided that the thumbnails I posted yesterday were not going to work in silhouette. I needed a new solution.

I paced around the apartment consciously thinking about the problem. Soon after, I meditated for 10 minutes then went to bed.

Within 10 minutes of getting into bed, a solution popped into my head! It was the result (I firmly believe) of my subconscious mulling over the problem. The beauty of this new solution is that it satisfies all of my criteria…plus solves some other problems: it reads clearly, it allows for me to keep the credits on the t.v. (which I really like), it clearly sets up Luthor on the edge of the bed, it provides a reason for the lights being on in the room which means I don't have to figure out how to make the room look dark.

The hopefully LAST thumbnails for the new opening:

Would you like to see these thumbnails in animatic form?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Opening Scene Thumbnails

Honey and Luthor are kissing in extreme closeup. Honey moves out of frame, leaving Luthor behind. In the next scene, she enters the bathroom then we pan to Luthor sitting on the edge of a bed. The visual/storytelling problem: is it clear to the audience that Honey and Luthor originated on the edge of the bed in the prior kissing scene OR is it necessary, for clarity, to show the audience the environment of the characters and their physical relationship to each other?

I made an executive decision! I decided that, indeed, the audience needs to see—before Honey moves to the bathroom—that she and Luthor are kissing in a dimly lit bedroom, on the edge of the bed.

Below are some thumbnails/gesture drawings I used to develop this new scene:

Next post: this new scene in the animatic!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Final Animatic—New Opening Scene

I have officially started the final animatic. This will be the last "rough draft" of the film before I start the really good part…animating!

Below is the new opening scene. As I said yesterday, it's shorter than the first version which gets the story started sooner & grabs and holds the audience's attention faster. 

Should I change the opening to this new version or keep the original?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

FINAL Animatic Has Begun!

Thanks for your patience as I took a break from this project. It was helpful to not think about it purposely; by doing so, I ended up thinking about it unintentionally and coming up with some great improvements!

The first change will be the opening. I—and others—really liked the original opening. It was, however, a bit too long; I was showing too much unnecessary information before getting to the important part, the characters.

My next post will be a video of the much-simplified opening. I think it's better because it immediately puts the audience into the story. Here's a screenshot from the new opening:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Version 1 Animatic Feedback

This two-week hiatus from the film has been beneficial in a lot of ways. First, I'm back to exercising. Independent animator M dot Strange posted on is blog the importance of not letting your fitness go while working on your film. I see his point and am working towards balancing the project and exercising.

Second, I've allowed my brain to randomly think of improvements for the film. I already have several pages of notes of changes in addition to the feedback I've gotten from friends & strangers. Here's some of the feedback:

1. The film moves well but could be a little overlong at 5:13 minutes.

2. Some of the camera moves are overdone and draw attention to themselves.

3. Honey shaving in the bathroom is too unlikely. It would be better to have her in the shower shaving.

All of this is helpful feedback so thanks to all who took time out to get back to me!

I'm currently working on the character designs and will post those once they're completed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Animatic Version One—Completed!

I set the deadline for Monday, Sept. 5, 2011 for this animatic…and I made it! The sense of accomplishment is HUGE. I didn't realize how heavy the self-created pressure was until I completed this animatic. With a combination of realistic goals and taking massive action, I was able to complete this stage.

Below is the animatic. NOTE: it's (mildly) NSFW.


PLEASE post your suggestions, comments and feedback. Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks and enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Latest Animatic Segment—Angry Toys!

This may well be my favorite moment in the film:


I'm 78% done with the animatic! We're gettin' reallll close!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Latest Animatic Segment—Luthor's Realization

Sorry, I promised some more scenes over a week ago!

Here it is:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Clean Animatic 69% Done!

With a new-found intensity, I'm now 69% done with the clean animatic. By the end of day on Sat. 8/13, I intend to be ONE WEEK ahead of schedule to complete this by Aug. 31.

It's too late tonight for me to make a video of some of the new scenes but I'll get that to you soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Latest Animatic Segment—Luthor Laughs at His Joint

Making progress! Completing these scenes means "Adult Toy Story's" clean animatic is now 60% done! Per my schedule of work quotas, I'm one day behind for my schedule to complete this animatic by August 31. I don't care WHAT it takes, this animatic WILL be done by that day!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Artistic Anatomy Part 3: Brow & Forehead Planes

We learned the bones of the front of the skull. We learned the muscles of the brow and forehead. The final aspect to learn is the planes.

First, some information about the image below. This model is known as the "Asaro head," conceived by the painter, teacher and writer John Asaro.

Full Asaro original model head.

Booklet that comes with purchase of Asaro original model.
Comparing this model side-by-side with the skull model FINALLY made me begin to understand the planes of the head. That's why, in addition to recommending that you buy a skeleton, I also recommend that you buy (or make your own) model of the planes of the head. Having these three-dimensional objects available to touch, light and closely examine will make learning to draw infinitely easier. I bought my Asaro head—original model—from Planes of the Head for $98 (free shipping!) which comes with a booklet presumably illustrated by Asaro. There's a variety of other models offered, too.

Onward to the planes. Here's a closeup of the model's brow & forehead planes:
Closeup of Asaro head's brow & forehead planes.

Brow & forehead planes colorized for emphasis.

Notice how they conform to the curves and landmarks we studied on the skull. If you project the angular planes onto the curved skull, it would look something like this:

Corresponding area of planes on skull.

See how clear this is when you put all of the elements together!

A quick review:




Hopefully I'm making this information clearer for you and not confusing! Keep in mind that I'm NOT an expert in this area, but simply learning as you are while hopefully providing some insights I've picked up along the way.

Next: the eye & nose muscles.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Artistic Anatomy Part 2: Brow & Forehead Muscles

Now that we know the bones of the front of the skull, let's learn some muscles!

First, a quote from Andrew Loomis's Drawing the Head and Hands, p. 45 (a book I highly recommend. Downloadable pdf's of all of Loomis's books can be found here.)—"I do not see any material advantage to the artist in knowing the names of all the muscles and bones of the head, but it is of great importance to him to know where they are, where they attach and what they do."

I couldn't disagree more! If it's important to know where they are, where they attach and what they do, then you need to know what to call them. Muscle names often reveal information about where they are, where they attach and what they do so knowing their names is hugely beneficial.

Second, an awesome online resource for facial anatomy and expressions is Victoria Contreras Flores's ARTNATOMY/ARTNATOMIA (Spain, 2005) at This site is hugely helpful; it allows you to see the results of the contracting of each muscle. You MUST check it out!

The two muscles for this lesson, with accompanying images, are:

L. rugare—to wrinkle
origin: inner part of superciliary arch
insertion: medial skin of the brow
action: pulls skin of the eyebrows together causing vertical wrinkles on the forehead

Frontalis (Epicranius, frontal belly)
G. —epi, upon + kranion, skull
origin: cranial aponeurosis [a flat sheet or ribbon of tendonlike material that anchors a muscle or connects it with the part that the muscle moves]
insertion: skin of the brow
action: pulls skin of the eyebrows up, skin of the forehead down creating horizontal wrinkles across the forehead

Here's a page from Scott McCloud's "Making Comics" (highly recommended) that describes the corrugator, the frontalis and all of the other important expression-making muscles. I've colorized the two muscles on this page as I did on the skulls:

Page from Scott McCloud's "Making Comics."

Once you've learned these two muscles you'll be ready for the next lesson: planes of the forehead.

Is this information making sense? Do you find it helpful? Would you like to add to it or ask a question? Please post your comments!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Artistic Anatomy Part 1: Frontal Skull Bones

Hopefully convinced you that in order to understand the planes of the head we need to first understand the skull then the muscles.

Here's a front view of the skull with the bones labelled:

Note: the best way to distinguish yourself from other artists is to have a solid command of artistic anatomy (a goal I'm still working towards!) To that end, investing in a replica skeleton (the skull of mine is in the photo above) would greatly contribute to your learning. You can't touch nor examine closely a photo or illustration especially since most from the internet are low resolution. This is the skeleton I bought in 1997 for $349 from Evolution in New York City (notice that it's now $269; I paid $80 more and had to physically drag it home on the commuter train!) Despite not using the skeleton as consistently as I should have all these years, I guarantee that studying anatomy is infinitely easier by having a model to look and touch. See the bones in 3D makes them easier to understand and communicate on a 2D surface.

Back to the skull: as you do daily drawings of the front of the skull, memorize the names and locations of the individual bones. We'll start to build on that knowledge in the next post: muscles of the brow and forehead.

Would this post have been better in some way? Do you feel you're learning anything? Post a comment!

Until next time, happy drawing/studying!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The BIG SECRET Revealed!

So here's the big secret: you canNOT understand the planes of the head until you throughly understand the skull and facial muscles.

Not a big revelation?

Then why are so many amateur artists online venting their frustrations and confusion about not understanding the planes of the head? They, like me, approached this topic incorrectly: we separated the planes from the skull and muscles. This separation abstracted the knowledge; the planes ended up having no relationship to a real human head and became impossible to remember. On the other hand, when studying the planes while keeping the skull and muscles in mind, they suddenly made complete sense!

I searched numerous sources for this skull–muscle–planes connection—Reilly, Fixler, Loomis, Vilppu, Bridgman and the Famous Artists Course—but found nothing that clearly explained to me how all of the elements worked together.

Finally, I stumbled upon Jeff Jackson's blog, the first clear explanation I could find. Here he diagrams the skull, muscles and planes; his step-by-step instructional PDF on drawing the planes is also helpful and I recommend that you download both.

Following Jackson's example, I decided to break down every step of this topic into even smaller, more manageable steps. This method is helping me and I'm confident it will help you.

Next post: learning the bones of the front of skull.

Would you like to see improvements in these lessons? Tell me about it by posting a comment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Planes of the Head…PLUS!

Learning the planes of the head is hard.

I'll make it easy!

Follow my upcoming series of posts and you'll learn not only the planes of the head but about artistic anatomy, too!

I'll also tell you THE BIG SECRET to learning and understanding the planes of the head.

That will be revealed tomorrow!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Brain & Caricatures

Photo: Joshua Anderson; caricature: Court Jones

I just read a fascinating article in Wired magazine about how the human brain recognizes faces and, by extension, caricatures. There are some helpful bits about how and why caricatures appeal and why we're able to recognize the subjects. Read the article here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Progress continues!

Below are the latest, new scenes:


The progress chart has been updated, too! I'm now 56% completed with the clean animatic.

How's your project coming?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Latest Animatic—071111

Here's the latest. At this point, a couple of things towards the end need some minor tweaks but aside from that, I think it's good to go!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Clean Animatic—Scenes 1-32

Based on the feedback I received from my Muse (thanks, sweetie!) I revised the Luthor-reacts-to-sound segment. It was suggested to me that Luthor's reaction to the sound (the animatic in this previous post) was too extreme. I was thankful for that input because now, looking at it again, the reaction does seem extreme (or is it just really cartoony?) A new Luthor reaction is below:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Clean Animatic—Scenes 1-43

Here's the animatic to date:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clean Animatic Progress—47% Done!

Updated the progress chart at left to the 47% mark.

I've set a new goal of SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011 to complete this clean animatic. I'm confident the goal can be met.

Tomorrow I'll post the animatic to date!

Friday, June 3, 2011

LPPM, P.C.—Hug Your Cat Day Cartoon

This one came easily, like the Earth Day cartoon.


For the final, I decided to forego the dog paw "fingers" holding the memo. I just wasn't convinced that it would read as a dog's paws holding the paper. Better to remove it than to confuse or miscommunicate!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clean Animatic—Scene 6

It's been awhile but I HAVE been working on the film! In fact, as of this evening, I have completed 22% of the clean animatic (with some exceptions regarding the sound effects and temp music.) I always enjoy updating my progress chart. :)

Here's a scene I spent a lot of time getting right. I wanted it to be playful and fun. I'm OK if the full playfulness doesn't come through in the animatic; I'll have it there in the final animation. For now I just wanted to convey the intensity of the moment. Should it be done differently?


Monday, May 16, 2011

LPPM, P.C.—Blame Someone Else Day Cartoon

Thumbnail of entire gag

Thumbnails of the man's position.

Another page of thumbnails of the man's position.

And another page of thumbnails of the man's position.

Inking of main elements.

Final cartoon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Labrador, Portie, Poodle & Mutt, Attorneys at Law—Earth Day Cartoon

Here are the thumbnail and final for the LPPM, P.C. Earth Day cartoon. This one was very quick and easy. First, I knew exactly what I wanted—the popular image for earth day are hands holding an earth. So it wasn't hard to make the leap from that to a paw and a hand. Also, I like the image of other species participating in Earth Day. It's their planet, too!

Second, I knew I could get a stock illustration and then draw a quick paw.


Final (stock illustration combined with custom illustration.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Toon Boom Storyboard Pro Clean Animatic—Scene 6

First, I'm now calling this version of my animatic "clean" instead of "final." I changed the name simply because I realized that it's technically not the final version of the animatic. This is a cleaner version of the rough animatic I completed for my viewing only. Now I'm working on neater version that will be good enough to show other people in order to get feedback. The final version will be the one that includes any changes made based on the feedback I get.

Second, I am pleased to present scene 6! I have now completed 7% of the clean animatic (I've updated the chart at right.) I'm becoming increasingly adept at using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro 2 and the Bamboo tablet; so much so that I've stopped missing pencil and paper, at least for the animatic step. Tell me what you think of the video, thanks!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Final Animatic—Scene 5 Pan

Using Storyboard Pro 2, a Wacom Bamboo tablet and a Blue Microphones Snowflake mic, I completed scene 5 of my final animatic. This scene is a pan from the opening credits, up the wall of a building to a window which introduces us to our main characters, Honey and Luthor.

The music is temporary but the sound effects are, at this point, for the final version. The hand hitting the window sound was recorded by me the microphone. I just plugged the mic into my laptop via its USB connector, held it near a window and smacked my hand against the window. Voila, a sound effect is born!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

13 Words of Wisdom from Milton Glaser—Part 2

There's so much to learn from "To Inform & Delight: The Work of Milton Glaser" that I broke it down into two posts. Here are 13 more words of wisdom from Glaser:

1. Glaser liked the idea of the title for his book to be "Drawing is Thinking."

2. The truth is , I've been looking for a definition for what art is all my life without fully understanding exactly what it encompasses. But in the course of doing a speech, I looked up several references to what art was and I found one by Horace, who was a critic and poet back in Roman times and he had this great line, "The purpose of art is to inform and delight," and I thought, wow, it can't get much better than that.

3. Ernst H. Gombrich said, "There is no art, only artists." What he meant is that what art is becomes defined generationally; everybody redefines what art is because there's no there there. It is what society determines at any moment in history and the great enemy of art is the institutionalization of belief, like style or like taste. Once that crystallization of belief happens—OK, I got it now!—that becomes a limitation.

4. What I've always hated in my life is the parochialization of art, making it a special activity unrelated to other activities. It finally ends up being an instrument for social enhancement and not what it really is which is an expression of a fundamental instinct of the species.

5. Artists basically create the commonalities, the symbolism, so people feel as though they have some relationship to one another. When people don't feel they have that relationship, they kill each other. That role of providing common ground is absolutely essential to civilization.

6. Withholding, not giving everything, is one of the secrets of design.

7. Stephen Heller, all-around graphics guru, re: Glaser's approach: it's not about design as service, it's about design as cultural value.

8. [When you teach], you teach a way of perceiving the world.

9. No matter what your work, that complete commitment is transformative; it makes you different when you completely commit to what you're doing.

10. I realized [after visiting Italy] that history wasn't the enemy, that you can use anything as raw material to make something. That was a great transformation for me.

11. Be on the side of the light.

Milton Glaser photo by Sam Haskins.

12. Glaser promotes a humanistic philosophy.

13. In NYC, you have these extraordinary strands of differences existing simultaneously and in some curious way, advantageously, towards all of the people who live here. There really is nothing like it. NYC does the job that America's supposed to do. It really takes everybody and, not only accepts them, responds to them. The city is enormously accommodating.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

13 Words of Wisdom from Milton Glaser—Part 1

 "To Inform & Delight: The Work of Milton Glaser" is a fascinating, thought-provoking and incredibly educational documentary. This first-person interview with Milton Glaser is a treat and is a must-view for any artist working in any discipline. Here are the first 13 words of wisdom from the great man and from those who learned at his feet:

1. The core value was always the act of making things and the transformation of an idea that you hold in your mind that becomes real or material. That to me still is the glory of any creative activity.

2. Ralph Caplan, design writer: impressed with Glaser's mixture of talent, play and intelligence

3. I think the idea of movement and the rhythmic response has something to do with the way you draw, the way you make things.

4. Trying to create the same emotional response in graphics that music has on people.

5. Brookie Maxwell, artist and former Glaser student: when you think of the Dylan poster, that really speaks to a generation. That wasn't his generation but he was able to understand what was happening and see what was happening and make work about in response to what was happening. That's very unusual. I see the same thing in the poster for "Angels in America." To take the raw pain of a generation of gay men who were all dying and transform it into a piece of art.

6. I explain to students in terms of understanding communication that the creation of a puzzle is one of the tools that you have to make people understand things. When they activate the mind to try to figure things out the likelihood is that they'll remember it and respond to it more than if they're told something directly.

Re: the simplicity behind the designing of the "I NY" logo: "I" is a word. The heart is a symbol for a feeling and "NY" are initials for a place.

I've made nothing on "I NY" ever. There have been no cash rewards as a consequence of doing it. On the other hand, it really make me feel very, very proud to have taken part in that shift in the city's consciousness from being indifferent to itself to realizing we love this place. 

7. Walter Bernard, New York Magazines first Art Director re: the magazine: our mantra was, "be on the reader's side."

8. Interested in work that doesn't exactly look like it was designed, looks like it just happened. Likes that people have to work to understand what you're showing them.

9. Thinking and making things mostly I do in the country; assembling things and refining things we do here [in his NYC office.] One is solitary, the other needs interaction.

10. Works that are preconceived tend to go dead, inert…the work that responds to the peculiarities of the moment tend to be more energized.

11. You realize that everything's related its opposite—if there's light, you have to have darkness; truth, there has to be lies. Everything is defined by its opposite. They both require exploration.

12. So much of my work depends on drawing. I think of drawing as my essential resource, that that's where my understanding of form comes from.

13. I am a great believer in drawing as a way to understand the world.