Go Kids – Beyond The Illustrations

In 2013, Plain Joe Studios subcontracted my services to produce some character designs and illustrations for the Go Kids children’s ministry of River Valley Church. Since then, I’ve been doing illustrations and children’s books for the Go Kids program using these characters. gokids_group-pose

Recently, Justyn Smith, co-author of the Go Kids series of children’s books, shared images on Instagram of costumed characters and products based on my character designs and illustrations. I asked his permission to share those images and he graciously gave his consent.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on my illustration.

The image of Tom E. Squirrel on the left is a large poster I created for Go Kids. The watch and pins on the right are products based on the illustration.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image I created on the left.

The cookies on the right also utilized my illustrations, like the image on the left.

gokids_mug-tshirt

Go Kids t-shirt and mug.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

Justyn Smith with Robbie the parrot.

gokids_tom-costume

Tom E. Squirrel in the flesh… or, in the fur.

gokids_carlos-costume

Justyn Smith with Carlos.

When I showed my wife these pics, she immediately asked if we could get some of the items, so I wrote to Justyn and he generously offered to send me some stuff gratis. What a guy!

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

Food Chain

Something I doodled yesterday just for fun.

crocodile-frog

Completed Live Drawing

So I spend 25 minutes doing a live drawing video with an app that a friend recommended called OBS. Having never used it before, I had something set incorrectly and found out that I recorded a black screen the entire time, which is like driving with the parking brake on. Naturally I was wasn’t a happy camper after discovering my error.

In any case, here’s a two minute video wrapping up the illustration. It’s pretty boring because most everything was already done, but I’m disinclined to repeat the entire dog and pony show.

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

Off With Their Heads

More head doodles…

heads

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

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).

loomis-style_heads

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

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.

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

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.

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

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.

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram

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.

Cat-Animation-Rigs

Be sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram!

Doodlin’ Some Heads

I always enjoy scribbling out some heads just to pass the time.
head-doodlesBe sure to follow us on , Twitter, and Instagram!