Thursday, December 17, 2009

As you can see, I'm still on a Batman kick. But what sort of characters are you supposed to draw with a challenge like "smoking avengers"? Feel free to contribute your own designs! Just post your tobacco-toking titans any time before next Friday (Christmas Day!) and I'll post a link to your designage. Sketch greatly!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!
Xorg here is thankful for his cat, Zed. Unfortunately for Zed, Xorg hails from the same planet as Alf and, well...let's just say they won't be serving turkey for Thanksgiving at Xorg's house.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Staff Meeting
I just completed a quarter staff class at Pixar.

Now I can finally track down and duel Star Wars kid.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hog Warts
I recently discovered a breed of prehistoric pig-wolves called entelodonts. Well, I didn't discover them, I learned about their existence. Below is the aptly named Daeodon, or "terrible hog". Why they chose to use a frightened bikini girl for size reference, I have no idea. Maybe daeodons were also chauvinist pigs.

Below is Andrewsarchus, my new favorite non-dinosaur animal.

These guys reminded me of the wargs from Lord of the Rings, so I thought it'd be fun to sketch my version of a warg-rider. He had to be someone real nasty who looked like he'd be right at home riding a Daeodon into battle or wrestling an Andrewsarchus into submission. Here's what I came up with.

If this guy existed during primeval times, he'd certainly give cro-magnon man a run for his money. For the colors, I googled "mottled" and found this cool texture. It has all the earthy greens and browns you'd associate with an orc. Thanks to Photoshop's eyedropping color-sampler, I was able to use this as a direct palette, and it worked pretty well!

Friday, November 13, 2009


We're in "the white-hot center of crunch time" as our director, Lee, puts it. That means loooong dailies. Which, in turn, means lots of time for sketching! Here are my two favorite subjects: dinos and orcs!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I'm a huge fan of Halloween and Christmas, so after October 31st I'm always tempted to skip Thanksgiving and bust out the holly and Christmas albums. This year, however, I'm taking the time to give the often-overlooked turkey day its due and really reflect on all the things I should be thankful for.

These are just the top five.

1. The lessons of Jesus Christ, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Yoda
2. Flavored coffee creamers
3. Control-Z
4. Audio Commentaries
5. Somewhere, somehow John Williams is still making music

And thank you for stopping by!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aloha! Sorry for the grievous lack of posting, I just got back from vacation in Hawaii. I went with family, including my Grandpa Bill, who used to surf with the legendary Duke Kahanamoku.

I was inspired by my grandpa's stories of hot-dogging and hangin' ten with the Duke, and couldn't help but fire-up my imagination while surrounded by the tropical hillsides and rainforests of Jurassic Park. I'm definitely ready to plunge back into work, reinvigorated with my cup filled to the brim with creative juices.

There's a lot to be said about hard work, and that's certainly the only way to get better at animating. But as I heard Brad Bird himself once say, "You've got to have a life to create the illusion of life."

I've got some serious post-creating to do, but while you wait for the next Chades Challenge (I'm, what? Two behind?), here's some creative nourishment for you to chew on!

Symphony of Science

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sorry for slacking on the Choose Your Own Drawing Adventure challenge last Friday, I'll post at the end of this week. Last week was dedicated to preparing for a weekend filmshoot. I work with my church's film/video ministry, and we just wrapped principle photography on our second project, Wanted. Here are some stills from the shoot. Unfortunately, we neglected to inform the local law enforcement that we had a fake weapon on set, so the fuzz showed up just to make sure we weren't actually causing havok.

You see, I was co-directing the day's shoot, and I find that packing iron helps to keep the actors "motivated"...

My co-director (and founder of our video ministry), Kerwin Kuniyoshi takes a much more laid-back approach to film-making.

Nathan Cooper played our irascible villain, Snake.

Theresa Donahoe as our snarky "good" samaritan, April.

And here I am with our star, Ellie Wheeler, who is portraying Sarah Rive, our version of the prodigal son. Here we are endorsing dental hygiene.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Griffin Story
My friend Josh has been working on little stories with his three-year old son, Griffin. Griffin writes the story and his dad illustrates. Josh posted one of their stories on his blog and welcomed anyone to illustrate a Griffin tale, so I thought I'd take a shot at it. I had one condition: the story had to be about dinosaurs. Fortunately, Griffin was willing to oblige and here's what he came up with!

"Griffin's Dinosaur Story"

"The Apatosaurus is named Potoesaurus and the Triceratops is named Bobby."

"Potoesaurus drinks a full bag of dinosaur orange juice, like a big, big, grasshopper and a big, big, cockroach."

"Bobby bonks stuff."

"Potoesaurus is in my room playing trains."

"Bobby is bonking a watermelon."


Friday, September 11, 2009

Choose Your Own (Drawing) Adventure II

"Once there was a pink kitten who made a deal with the devil so he could avenge the death of his parents."

For this image, I actually prefer the caption, "How cats really get their nine lives." The Choose Your Own (Drawing) Adventure is based on my blog polls; vote on what you'd like to see illustrated, and if you like, feel free to create some artwork yourself. If you participated in this week's challenge, let me know and I'll post your works of devilry below.

Daniel Miller:

Last month, I posted an interview of my buddy, Vi, with the drawing challenge. It was cool hearing his insights into the creative process, so I thought I'd supply a new interview with this week's challenge. Today's conversation was with Daniel Miller, a friend of mine from school and co-director of CalArts' 2005 Producer's Show Intro. Enjoy!

Interview with a Genius II: Daniel Miller

Me: What is your favorite thing to draw?

Daniel: My favorite thing to draw? I want to say comic strip characters. 5 years ago, I would've said bears. Human form is fun to draw, no doubt about that... Wow. I guess the truth is I like to draw superheroes. Sad, I know.

Me: Who are your creative influences?

Daniel: My creative influences. Ah. Number 1, a man named George Perez. Then Norman Rockwell. Charles M. Schulz. Who was the guy who designed Jonny Quest? Doug Wiley. Winsor McCay. Emile Cohl. Alex Ross. Max Fleischer. Peter Chung (eek!)Many others, but these are the ones that spring directly to mind.

Me: How would you describe your style?

Daniel: My style. Mm. I remember once saying, "I have no style, I'm a blank slate," but honestly, it is what I like to call "Jack of all trades." While I was at Calarts, I tried my hand at many styles, never settling on any one. I could've learned a lot more squash and stretch, but eh, I guess it wasn't for me.

Me: What field of art that you have not yet studied would you most like to pursue?

Daniel: Cuneiforms. Granite sculpting. Gold and other metal molding. ...Anything else? I suppose building and car design. Just for fun. And to build my dream house.

Me: Who is your favorite character that you have created and why? None of this "they're all my children" business either!

Daniel: My favorite character that I have created. I'm trying not to say Cody or Paula from Polar Opposites, because thy're not continuous characters. --Claude the Hare! HE is my favorite, because he is me. Sid the Scorpion was pretty funny.

Me: Finally, if you could take a trip anywhere in the world to do artistic research for a project, where would you go and why?

Daniel: A trip anywhere. For ARTISTIC purposes. Not historic. Wow. So many places I WANT to go in the U.S. and worldwide. Africa, Egypt, Rome, Italy. I've never been much of a traveler. OO! Of all the places I've ever wanted to visit or live... Oregon. A few of my favorite cartoonists; Matt Groening, Gary Larson, and Bill Plympton all hail from there. I may not see much art there, I just want to drink the water, breathe the air... Get a sense of what made them who and how they were.

Thanks for the interview, Daniel. I love Alex Ross and Gary Larson, too. And let me tell you: Oregon is beautiful! Tune in again in a couple weeks for the another round of art and conversation!

Next week's challenge, to be posted Friday, Sep 25th:
"Once there was a tyrant lizard king who consumed sunshine so he could make his mama proud."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chito and Pocho
Fellow paleo-blogger Darren Naish posted a fascinating story about a Costa Rican fella named Chito and his best friend, Pocho, who happens to be a 17 ft croc.
Not only are Chito and Pocho on friendly terms, they also enjoy wrestling together and sometimes Pocho even lets Chito win!

Darren also posted the story on his Facebook and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "Awesome! This is proof that we should bring dinosaurs back, and that they'd be completely cuddly."

Darren: "Damn right. Start with tyrannosaurs."

Mike: "Austin, for the EPB to support that would require that birds be cuddly, instead of shrieking little jerky annoyances that chew up books. (Or have I just had bad experiences?)"

Darren: "Mike, the character states you describe are autapomorphies of some neornithine clades. Everyone knows that paleognaths and anseriformes are cuddly and friendly."

I hadn't heard any of these terms before, but the comments just cracked me up, so I had to share. If you're suspicious of the stills above, here's video to prove than man and reptile can peacefully coincide.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"That's the stuff!"
Some Tuesday gestures in honor of Mike Mitchell. Yes, I realize the drawing below features two very unfortunately placed drawings.
The pose below was great, there was a real sense that the model was dancing even though both feet were firmly planted.

Playing with perspective. Fun, if not always successful.
Sometimes the negative space can be just as informative as the forms themselves, as with the space between the model's arm, leg, and torso. I always look for pockets like that to help clarify silhouette.
Our instructor, Louis, was pushing us to redraw each pose as many times as possible. The key is to try a different approach each time, varying angles, conveying the weight and energy in new ways. I played a mental game with myself that any time the model gave us the 10- or 20-second warning, I had to quit my current drawing and start a fresh one. As Mark Kistler would say, I was suffering from an Art-Attack, "Draw! Draw! Draw!"

In completely unrelated news, ROUS's are real! This "little" guy, held here by mammal expert Martua Sinaga, was found in the rainforests of western New Guinea (quite a ways from the ROUS's natural habitat, the Fire Swamp). Weighing in at about five times the size of a typical city rat, this species is entirely new to science, and has no apparent fear of humans.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell passed away today, leaving a big eye-patch-shaped hole in the hearts of a lot of CalArtians out there. All CalArts students start their animation career with Mike's figure drawing class. It wasn't called Figure Drawing I, or Beginner's Figure Drawing, because that wasn't Mike's style. Even the name of his class had to break the mold and set the stage for some serious out-of-the-box thinking. Plus, Mike didn't think of anyone as beginner artists, he held our work with as much esteem as a peer, so he called it From Real to Reel. Cheesy? Yes. Pretentious? Maaaaybe. Heck, there may have even been a subtitle, but it eludes me now. But that truly was the intention of the class: to inspire our filmwork and to use our observations from life to fuel our animation so that our films didn't become imitations of other "cartoons."

Mike had the true artist's spirit of creativity and rebellion, and encouraged students to look at the life models in new ways, even if it meant dragging in the skeletal remains of a motorcycle or a creepy wooden gazelle for the model to pose with. His room was called the Palace, and while it was used for department meetings, guest lectures, and special events, everyone referred to it as Mike Mitchell's room. Every week of my first year at CalArts, I looked forward to Fridays in Mike's class and the silent competition to win the old master's affection and earn a spot for one of my drawings on his wall. I'm eternally grateful to have known and learned from the man. I know the eye-patch-shaped hole will never be filled, but I hope that we all strive to achieve what Mike always encouraged us to do: forge our own us-shaped niches in an industry that all too often would have us shaped like cogs instead.

Scott Bromley, Ken Perkins, and Ron Yavnieli's 2003 Producer's Show intro featured muppet versions of Mike and fellow life-drawing legend, Corny Cole. This is just a small glimpse into the respect and affection CalArts had for the man who had started them off on their road to animation greatness.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Cruising through an azure field
Visage grim with scars half-healed
Huntress of the darkened deeps
Silently she stalks and reaps

Faintly now, she feels a tickle
On her nose, the slightest prickle
Blood and sweat like caramel
Splashes ring like dinner bells

Far above, the huntress spies
A silhouette against the sky
Furious is her ascent
Tail churning as gills vent

Teeth roll forth, all set to bite
Eyes roll back, a milky white
The sea erupts 'neath swimming prey
Huntress flies through crimson spray

Jaws lock, flesh rends, the screams begin
Sea swells, blood wells, the screaming ends
Down she pulls her fresh attack
Shark and man, into the black.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tim Burton Sits Down with Ray Harryhausen
Over the weekend, I ran into this cool interview of Tim Burton with Ray Harryhausen. Burton's a real hero of mine, so it's funny to watch him geek-out over basically anything Harryhausen says. If you're interested in listening to the wisdom of one of the masters of the animated craft, follow the links below:

Part I: Inventing an Artform
Part II: The Pitiable Leviathon
Part III: Monster Music

Ray Harryhausen mentions that a major artistic influence on him was the work of Gustave Dore. This was a new name to me, so I thought I'd look him up. His work is fantastic! As a kid who grew up on flat-toned comics, dramatic lighting doesn't come very naturally to me. So to see this level of mastery is pretty inspiring!

Dore's imagery is truly cinematic. It's unfortunate that he died in 1883, a mere five years after Eadweard Muybridge's experiments in real-time photo-capture, and just before the development of the first motion picture camera. Like Harryhausen says, if Dore had been alive during the age of film, I'm sure he would have been one of it's most successful auteurs.