With the huge buzz around E3 right now, I'll share another bit for gamers.
Here at Moonbot Studios, we recently finished up a project that was a partnership with Exient (in Europe) and Sony (London) called Diggs Nightcrawler, for Sony Wonderbook.
Diggs is a film noir private detective who is forced to solve the case of who bumped Humpty off the wall. Diggs is framed, so he must find out who was after his friend and is now after him.
The story comes from a collaboration of Sony and Moonbot, but a lot of the inspirado of course comes from the team here and William Joyce. I wasn't on production for this year-long project, however like many things at the studio, we all have our hands on it a little.
Along with some early story development and such, I was leaned in on for some of the hero character designs. Itsy Bitsy (spider) was primarily Vanesa Del Rey, Humpty was Adam Volker & Tyler Schatz, and I designed the Three Blind Mice.
I was also lucky enough to have a major hand in designing our hero, DIGGS. He is a Humphry Bogart type, with a bit more worm to him. This was fun, and the project and game turned out great. I'm surprised how it entertains ALL ages, even if it is for a younger market. There are some jokes that adults will appreciate, nice film references, and layers and layers of details to enjoy. Check it out if you get the chance.
Working towards animated shorts (or other forms of art-driven story telling) takes many facets of discipline, craft, and focus. I find it immensely satisfying being involved in the process, and even more satisfying when DRIVING the process.
One common misconception is that the process/steps/expectations are already laid out for you. Sure, there are common practices that have been proven over time, as well as principles and needs which have been established. But that does not mean that conventional steps are the ONLY way, or even more importantly, the MOST EFFICIENT way to go.
We have seen many big-budget big-studio films come out in the field of Animation, and the ticket sales for the opening weekend have to hit such an incredibly high mark, that it muddles if something is "good" or worth doing again and learning from. This is sad, because a movie can have a large audience and be relatively successful, and then be called a 'flop'.
Thankfully I'm not involved in that realm (yet...), but I think that there are ways to streamline and it's unfortunate that studios have not spearheaded this yet.
I'm not sure I have much of a point on this topic, but I really want to encourage everyone working in illustration, animation, television, film, etc... to do what you feel is RIGHT and EFFECTIVE. Following the steps laid out for you by the 'art of' books can be great, but it doesn't necessarily mean that's everything it takes, or that all of them are even necessary. Often they are slick and sexy and self-indulgent.
Here's a sample of a step in the process of a project which never saw the light of day. But it was really helpful defining a 2D CG driven character by doing a quick digital "sculpt" to help the modelers see the design choices, when they are all 2D feeling up to this point:
This isn't anything incredibly special, but I think it exhibits a step of the process that takes thought more than 'artfulness'. One of the biggest things I keep telling my team is that they are hired to problem solve, not to just paint or draw pretty. Our brains are what fuels collaborative environments to success, and working on a team is a different dynamic than working alone. It's incredibly important to understand that and think in a direction that will get a PROJECT done, not get a cool painting in a book or on your blog.
But I get it - sometimes designs and concepts are just done WELL. That makes them nice to look at. Just make sure you aren't doing your functional production art for the once-to-come ART OF book you may be in. But still enjoy it.
Between character design and storyboarding on our latest projects, I often have paper, markers, and a thought in front of me. It's fun to just spurt it out and have a little goof-off doodle every now and then. This is just one of those pages that I found laying around the story room here at Moonbot. I think it started as character design suggestions and ended with giggles.
Here's a little roundup of a couple friends' work.
Jamil Lahham - Laundry Day
My buddy Jamil is an amazing animator. We had the luck of finding each other at Moonbot, working on "...Morris Lessmore" and winning an Oscar together. Jamil has since moved to New York and is working on a personal short film that he has been conceiving for a while. He is sharing his process on a production blog, with images, tests, making-of videos, and more. Keep an eye out for this guy, and check out the blog. First video is here:
Stacy Pierce - Freddie Mercury sculpt
Stacy is another great talent I met years ago at a caricature convention, as well as while training artists in theme parks. Among other things, she is a great sculptor and asked to sculpt my (ancient) painting of Freddie Mercury. Seeing only the flaws in it and lack of structure, I figured she had her work cut out for her, but she really pulled it off!
Certain cartoons stick with you, especially if you grow up and continue to be an artist (yes, I mean that, as opposed to saying "become" an artist -- I believe children, when they create, are artists and if they can choose to continue or not).
One of the classics that I loved (and still love), is the old Woody Woodpecker shorts.
I am not a fan of the cheesy 90s version, mostly because the humor was softer and the design was watered down and 'Disnified'. The 40s (and some of the 50s) however, was gorgeous, awkward, rank, and silly fun. The design was off-beat and bold. The humor was also so ridiculous that it was almost a spectacle, in that Tom and Jerry, Itchy and Scratchy way.
Here are a few samples of the cartoon. If you go HERE you can watch over an hour of strung together shorts, some of which are REAL gems, some of which are just okay. One of my favorites for humor and outlandish visual gags, is this:
And one of my favorites for Design (and humor, I guess) is this:
I thought it would be fun last year to doodle some new versions of Woody in my sketchbook. That turned to an itch that I needed to keep scratching, so I turned it into an homage to the 1940s version, with a light update that suited my taste. Here are some of my ramblings. These are all Prismacolor pencil, Zebra brush pen, and COPIC marker on paper (click images to enlarge):
Here is an alternate cover for the TOOTHIANA Series, used cropped in on the partial novels included as promo last year, for Simon & Schuster. This is the one that I found to be most successful, as far as what I was going for. It is painted entirely in Photoshop.
Hope you dig, and go get your copies of William Joyce's GUARDIANS series!
For William Joyce's Simon & Schuster "Guardians" series, from the same stories that spun the Dreamworks film, Rise of the Guardians, we painted alternate covers for the Tooth Fairy book to put in cereal boxes!
It was fun and I got to pose my girlfriend for them, so that never hurts. Here is one of the alternate covers, at some point in the Work-In-Progress state. This was not final, but I liked some areas more in this version, so it's what I'm sharing.
If you haven't seen Rise of the Guardians check it out - it's out on iTunes and DVD. There is some incredible animation and visuals, so don't miss it.
I also have a new VINE acct. That is a fun idea, and I'm having fun WITH it. Follow me if you find it amusing.