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Fun With A Pencil

I’ve repeatedly expressed my delight in drawing characters, especially caricatured heads and faces. I normally don’t have a system I follow when creating characters, but once in a while it’s fun to follow Andrew Loomis’ formula for drawing character heads. As the title of this post (and the title of one of Loomis’ book) states, you, too, can have fun with a pencil (or pen or other instrument with which to scrawl). I’d recommend just quickly running through Loomis’ book and following his steps and copying his characters initially. You can slowly tweak things and pretty soon you’ll just start using his little formula to create your own characters. For just plain fun, running through his book can’t be beat. Here’s some heads I doodled in just minutes (adding a little color will add to the time of course).


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Starship Doodles

In 2009, TV producer/writer for children’s programming, John Semper, shared an idea with me for a series called “Starship”, which he wrote, based on a concept by Gene Roddenberry.

I designed all sorts of alien characters for a presentation pitch (with the further hope that I could work on the project if it went into production).

In Hollywood, more ideas never see the light of day than actually make it into production (or their progress moves at glacial speed), and this project has proven to be no different. It’s just the nature of the business. Then again, it’s often the nature of life in general.

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Character Design

Because I’m busy, here’s another repost for those who missed it the first time around…

Waaaay back, over a decade past, around the time I created Cozmo, I had created a bunch of other characters that might inhabit Cozmo’s universe. There were robots, animal-like creatures, aliens in costume, and so forth. These were of a whimsical nature, because I had originally intended them for the giftware market, which, at the time, was saturated with “cute” characters. I’ll share more about Cozmo’s beginnings in later posts, but for now I thought I’d share one such character design.

Like Cozmo, this character never saw production. Come to think of it, I never even got around to pitching it, because Cozmo never really ever got off the ground, and there didn’t seem to be any point in trying to pitch more of these characters.

Jump forward to the 2011 Comic Con, where I met Kevin Freeman from Animation Rigs. Animation Rigs produces rigs for animation projects and for students who haven’t the time to model their own characters. Kevin had purchased the license to create a rig of this character. When they had completed modeling the character, they sent me the test video below to show me how it turned out.

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How I Brainstorm With Doodles

For newer readers who missed this the first time around, I thought I’d repost this…

Few illustrations are done without preliminary brainstorming. Some begin as sloppy little doodles done on anything from napkins, to envelopes, to whatever scrap of paper is handy when an idea comes around.

On top is the thumbnail that served as the basis for the final drawing. below that is the final menu page illustration.

Sometimes I’ll spend time on a rough sketch, and other times I just want to come up with some very rough compositional idea, so I’ll noodle around with sloppy little thumbnails. These aren’t the kinds of things many artists want you to see, because they’re not pretty, and, in fact, are embarrassingly bad from a rendering point of view. But their purpose isn’t to look pretty, so don’t judge them too harshly.

Furthermore, when time is critical, I’m even less inclined to draw anything beyond chicken-scratches. Yes, many have been horrified to find, after selecting me to be on their Pictionary team (in hopes that having an artist on their team would ensure a landslide victory), that I draw sloppy little stick figures just like anyone else.

Around the beginning of May of 2012, because the current project at Ayars Animation was a bit ambitious and was taking far longer to finish than we had hoped, Frank Ayars and I discussed the idea of doing smaller projects. I suggested that I take a week or two off so that I might attempt to complete an entire picture book in that time. If you knew me, you’d know that’s pretty ambitious; not because I illustrate slowly, but because I tend to get bogged down in the minutiae of a picture, and I spend far too much time in details that can hardly be appreciated by anyone.

So I decided to do a book with, what would be for me, a rough illustrated style. Basically, this meant I’d do a fast color over an acceptably clean drawing. It’s actually what a lot of printed children’s books already look like, so we’re not talking about rushed or bad art. I just wouldn’t take the time to make it too polished. The irony is, I often tend to refine all the charm out of my looser drawings, so illustrating a book this way could actually render pretty good results.

Overall, I had to come up with a character, write the text, and illustrate it in a format which I could then hand over to Frank Ayars for implementation. I also put together a small pdf with storyboards and instructions on how the app-user interactions might work, how the articulated characters would move, etc. I also had to design any necessary navigation items and such. I think I spent a couple of days just thinking of what to write, bouncing ideas off my wife, and receiving creative input from my oldest daughter.

After that, I began noodling around with the design of the menu page. The thumbnails you see in this post were made while working out a composition for the menu page of the app. I designed the character of Retro loosely off of the two other characters you see here, which I had created around 2000 A.D. (I added “A.D.” so readers don’t confuse it with some other year 2000).  The one character on the left was a character called The Flooglemop, about which I had actually began writing a story way back, as well. I was writing that story all in verse, and I realized how stupid a decision I had made in attempting to write such a long story that way, so it never saw completion. The other character was just a doodle done for fun.

Though the entire book app is done in a very loose style, it actually turned out quite nice. For the record, from the decision to embark on the project to the time I handed off all the completed assets to Frank Ayars, it was about ten days. It was nonstop work, and I felt like I had given birth, only without the resulting stretch marks.

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Designing an iOS App

I buy lots of “Art of…” books because I enjoy seeing the preproduction process as much as the finished product. For those who share my interest, here are just a few rough layouts I did when hired to help design a iOS app for children developed by Whitestone Media.

These rough sketches help establish the layout of pages, where the hot spots are and other interactive items. This is just the beginning phase of production design.


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The Cat’s Pajamas

Okay, so I’ve let the kids foster a kitten for a while… only for a while. It’s not staying, that’s for sure…

Here’s a character design I did for Animation Rigs.


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Who Ya Gonna Call?

Now that the video was released a couple of days ago, I won’t be in violation of my NDA for sharing the storyboards I did for RCA’s music video of G-Eazy & Jeremiah’s “Saw it Coming” off the ‘Ghostbusters’ Motion Picture Soundtrack. Here’s the video in its released form.

So I was called at the last minute to a location meeting in L.A. a couple of weeks ago to scout out the indoor swap-meet where the video would be shot. Afterwards I sat down with the director to review the script. They needed the boards by around 6PM the next evening. Not knowing how long it would take, I decided to begin working as soon as I got home, so I had the wife put on a pot of coffee and I began drawing through the night. Well, I kept drawing nonstop until just past 6PM the next evening, so I really rushed the final boards, and it shows. Naturally, I passed out after pulling an all-nighter 18 hour drawing marathon.

While some things I’ve storyboarded in the past remained pretty true to the boards, many things in this video were different, but the director, Taylor Cohen, is a creative guy and probably had a lot of ideas for pickup shots while shooting and during post-production.

Here are the storyboards I did for comparison to the final video. Keep in mind that these are meant for production, not public presentation, so they’re rough.

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If Other Professions Were Paid Like Artists

I came across this comic on a guitar forum and thought it was worth sharing.



Life is too short to take oneself too seriously…


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