Monday, December 14, 2009

Old Design/New Presentation

Here's an old design I kind of liked so I did a repackaging on it.

Click on images to enlarge

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Brer Rabbit

Click image to enlarge

A new character design for a film I'm planning based on Uncle Remus. I just want to do the animal stories without the problems Disney faced with "The Song of the South".

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thinking Christmas

I just finished this years card for the Hippo-lot-ofus, a club for hippo lovers. They bought my bathing beauty hippo sculpture so I always try and remember them.

Click image to enlarge

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fleet Foxes

These little foxes won't steal your grapes. I'm playing with different constructions.

Click image to enlarge

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Day After Halloween Re-post, "The Mad Doctor"

This had been removed from YouTube but it's back up again for our enjoyment.

A Mickey from 1933 when he was at the heights of stardom, this cartoon does what animation is supposed to. Beautifully done in every way, it’s just as entertaining today as it was back then. A perfect cartoon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pencil Test Depot

Wow, I found a new favorite blog called "Pencil Test Depot" with some crazy good, guess what?... Yes, pencil tests, from all over the place. It's very inspirational and shows that magic quality not found in other styles of animation. For me the moving drawing is still amazingly effective and much more satisfying than stop-motion or computer animation. The draftsmanship and acting are sometimes more worthy than the script but you can see how dedicated these animators are to capture something entertaining.

Here's just a taste of the wonders to be found! Click the title above to go here.

Thief from bj crawford on Vimeo.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ruby Rocket Again...

I found some old files while cleaning my computer. Here are some scenes from Sam Niemanns' "Ruby Rocket" adventures.

The slates at the beginning show I did the inbetweening and clean-up on a scene animated by Sam and one by B. Larsen. We were using Flash and drawing everything, animating on fours. Later we did tonal passes for highlights and shadows.

The finished look was quite impressive and nothing like what you would expect from Flash as you can see from the still image of Ruby.

Hopefully Aniboom will show all the episodes someday. Click on the title to go to Sam's blog all about the making of Ruby.


Here are some expression studies I did for Hive FX pitch material for their tv series proposal called, "Mounties".

Although I didn't design the characters, I was asked to do facial studies and turn-arounds for all the cast. It was pretty fun and the style is kind of like what I do anyway.

I also built and animated the lead characters in Flash for a trailer that you can watch by clicking on the title or going here and clicking on the trailer:

All art work is property of Hive FX

Click on images to enlarge

Friday, September 11, 2009

Character Designs

Thought I would post some of my design work for a few personal projects. More to come.

Click on images to enlarge

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Maria Gurevich

Animator/Puppeteer Zack Buchman and Producer/Doll-maker Maria Gurevich have teamed up to create Furry Puppet Studio and you can learn more about them here:

I've posted some of Maria's delightful dolls to show how charming they are. A little Marc Chagall, kind of Heinz Edelmann, these designs would be beautiful animated.

See more of Maria's work by clicking her name in the title of this post.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

3D Shower

A continuation on my free view style stereoscopic paintings. Click on the image to enlarge then cross your eyes and focus on the image formed in the middle to view in 3D.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

First Animated Christmas Special Book

I just got my copy of animation director Darrell Van Citters' book, "Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special", and it's terrific.

I knew Darrell from working on the first season of Cartoon Networks "The Mr. Men Show", and when I heard he shared a love for and was writing a book on the Magoo Christmas special, I was thrilled because now I might find out more about one of my favorite cartoons.

Magoo's Christmas Carol was something I tried never to miss. Not only is it a faithful retelling of the Dickens' story, it's also true to the character of Mr. Magoo. There are beautiful songs and moments of comedy and heart touching poignancy.

Let me tell you this is a great book full of beautiful production art and well researched information on who and how this classic show was made. After just reading the introduction I learned Walt Disney was so deeply moved by the show after its first airing that he made a personal call to the producer to congratulate him. It's chuck full of stuff like that!

Click the title above and go to Darrell's website where you can learn more about this wonderful Christmas Special and order a copy of this well written and glorious book.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bath Time in Pepperland

Click image to enlarge

Heinz Edelmann, who developed the psychedelic look of the Beatles’ animated 1960s film Yellow Submarine, died on Tuesday, aged 75.

I didn't intend this as a tribute to him but this 3D free view painting of mine clearly shows his influence.

To free view this image you must cross your eyes and focus on the image formed in the middle.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fourteen Indians

Occasionally I've mentioned my mother and her influence on my paintings. Recently she had me scan some of her Indian paintings. The originals had been sold and all she had were pretty bad photos. Even so the handling of her brush strokes and the expression in the faces re impressed me as to how good she was in her prime.

Mom has rheumatoid arthritis and is battling the slow loss of her hands. I'm grateful to have a few of her many paintings saved digitally and glad the originals are hanging in someones homes.

The Indians were only a favorite subject for my mother and her paintings ranged from portraiture to landscapes, fantasy to still-life. She worked not only in oils but did water-colors, pastels, charcoals, and sculptures too.

It would be fantastic to get a collection of her work together but I have no idea who owns what. Maybe mom has an address book of past clients.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

3D Rumpus

It wasn't used because apparently you need to be invited but here's my free view stereoscopic offering to Terrible Yellow Eyes, Cory Godbey's blog that celebrates Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" Click the title to check out more artwork by various artists.

Clicking the picture will take you to my Flickr page where the double image lives. There you will be able to free view in 3D.

If you are unfamiliar with 3D free viewing, you must cross your eyes and focus on the image that forms in the middle. It's a great headache inducer!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walt's Vision...

Click image to enlarge

This is one page of an eight page letter from Walt Disney to Don Graham about Disney's idea of night classes for his animators.

Clicking the title or pasting the link above will take you to Michael Sporn's posting of the entire letter and a little history on how these classes later evolved into Cal Arts.

What leaps out to me is Walt's understanding of the needs to be communicated in animation and how best to teach these ideas. He shows an understanding of how motion is influenced not only by physicality but also motivated by emotion.

Walt doesn't shoot out some ambiguous letter full of generalities on improving the product and building moral. This letter is a well thought out strategy suggesting the needs and how to meet the needs to push his studio beyond what everyone else thought animation could be.

The success of Disney animation clearly came from Walt's willingness to equip his artists with a full training in draftsmanship and motion analysis and his practical suggestions on how to go about achieving that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Enchanted Dolls

Doll maker Marina Bychkova has a site displaying her beautiful articulated porcelain dolls. They are intricately fashioned with graceful hands and expressive faces and are anatomically correct.

Bychkova has a real design sense and some of the figures wear elegant tattoos and exotic head ware.

These beauties are extremely pose-able and a section of the site has demos of their versatility and ability to hold a pose. The figures immediately suggested stop motion puppets to me and would probably lend themselves very well to it.

I believe these lithe ladies would be great aids for artists and more useful than those ugly wooden manikins.

Click on the title or paste this link to see more:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Style vs Style

I ran across the cool promotional video for Kevin Dart's art book,“Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7,” on Cartoon Brew.

Although the design is lovely I feel it suffers from the curse digital animation seems to promote and that is a tendency toward robotic hinged movement. It's understandable because the method is to literally cut the artwork up into pieces and assemble it like paper cut-outs. The limbs rotate from fixed pivot points and everything is flat flat flat.

The argument is an aesthetic one where the artist has deliberately chosen that look. This may be true, it certainly is becoming wide spread.

I love high styled designs in animation but I think I would have done some hand drawn animation on top for hair and clothing to ease some of the stiffness.

Stylistically the design could have been the same and treated in a more graceful way emulating traditional drawn animation. Take a look at one example of high styled limited animation from the opening of "I Dream of Jeanie" and try and imagine the World of Yuki trailer retaining the graphic style but moving like that.

Now before you get all upset let me clarify that I understand this trailer was done on a very short schedule and I think they did a brilliant job but I would love to see the same graphic style in a more lush manner.

"A Kiss From Tokyo" Theatrical trailer from Stephane coedel on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oxberry Camera

Clicking the title or pasting the link above will take you to an article posted by Michael Sporn about John Oxberry, the maker of animation cameras.

It brought back fond memories of my first job in animation. It was at a commercial house in Ft. Wayne Indiana that used an Oxberry with aerial image projection for rotoscoping, effects and combining live-action with animation.

I recall the hum of the motors that ran the camera up and down it's double rostrums was loud enough to drown all ambient sounds from the room. This was a good thing and helped focus your attention on the mound of artwork, the correct camera settings and following the exposure sheets.

The N/S, E/W pegs were all hand cranked, (there may have been servo motors too that you could program), and the exposure sheets had all the computations for every frame marked out in the camera column.

Fortunately for me it was not my job, although I did shoot some less complex scenes on it, because it involved consulting big expensive books full of mathematical equations to figure compound moves with fairings to ease in and out.

Our brainy cameraman Chris Dusendschön later went to Robert Abel Associates and got involved with effects and early computer graphics.

My second experience with Oxberry was at Will Vinton's Claymation Studios. There was a derelict camera that sat dejected for years until another brainiac Animator/Director Hal Hickle restored it single handed. It was used for titles and Animator/Director Mike Wellins did a short film using paper cutouts on it.

Incidentally Hal also owned one the the cameras Ray Harryhausen used to shoot "Mighty Joe Young".

I am excited by the digital revolution and the autonomy it allows. But I'm also glad to have experienced the early method of cartoon making and kind of miss the big toys.

Click image to enlarge

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Disney Picture

I haven't read this book but I love the cover. It's great that Walt was photographed from the same angle and posture. I love the intensity of his early picture and the contrast of the later well groomed Walt.

Click image to enlarge

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Something Strange and Provocative...

I found a great blog about Illustrators called Today's Inspiration that you can find here:

There is an article about my favorites, the incredible husband and wife team, Alice and Martin Provensen.

I was surprised to learn they designed Tony the Tiger and the other Kellogg cereal mascots in 1953.

Click on the title or go here to read more:

Friday, June 05, 2009

It's all in the Scrawl

click image to enlarge

I’ve been enjoying the first volume of Walt Stanchfield notes from Disney drawing classes, “Drawn to Life”. It’s a wealth of information that must be taken in doses.

Like animation itself the book is intimidating in the amount of details that must be judged and juggled, but there is also a source of comfort for me. The book is filled with scrawl. I know scrawl is a term for poor penmanship but I'm using it to describe loose scribbley tangled drawings.

We are all familiar with the beautiful draftsmanship and elegance of a finished Disney still. What we haven’t been privy to are the rough developmental drawings that evolved into these beauties.

The examples I’m posting are actually more legible than most but show the loose building up of masses and how they relate to each other traveling through 3D space.

Being able to see the masters’ messy exploratory scrawl is always liberating for me and I feel less inclined on trying to make a ‘pretty’ picture and more empowered to do something with vitality and power.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Getting Goofy with Toon Boom...

I started playing with the Toon Boom Animate Preferences settings and found I could get a fair digital 'pencil' that would act more like a real one. I also decreased the opacity on the pencil color so now I can sketch lightly and build up a line without it becoming too dense.

Here's a walk I tried using a model sheet of Goofy I found online.
I had read somewhere that Goofy was kind of a circus clown so I wanted to try and make a goofy clown walk for him.

I didn't bother cleaning and finishing this because I'm lazy, (there's some stutters here and there I need to take out too), but I think I'm getting a technique worked out.

There have been some unexpected crashes too and I don't know if it's a Vista compatibility issue or what. Sometime it's pretty smooth going and I get lulled into a false sense of security.

I'm still using a Wacom tablet but if I angle it a bit it's more accurate.


Perhaps this part should be called Goofy in the Sky with Diamonds...

I took my ruff animation and just colored it to see what it might look like with solid fills. I stuck a background behind it but it wasn't long enough to pan so I stretched it.

Even though it's a little trippy I'm encouraged that I could do old school type animation with this.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adult Characters and Advertising

UPA created Mr. Magoo and Hanna Barbera made The Flintstones with an adult audience in mind. The Flintstones was the first prime-time animated series and was sponsored by Winston cigarettes.

These delightful commercials would never fly in today's PC world but they show how fun advertising was when the corporate executives, (before the agency 'creatives' took over), trusted the studios to make something for them without interference.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Something in My Eye...

The advance word on Pixars latest film “Up” is that they have done it again with a wonderfully entertaining and poignant story.

Did you catch the word ‘poignant’? Yes it’s something many animated films forgot to work into the mix. A good story in general has to connect with situations and characters we the audience care about and can relate to.

How many animated films can you remember that have sacrificed pathos and sensitivity for false bravados and ultra cool characters that laugh in the face of danger?

In an attempt to be current many animated films gave us shallow heroes with little compassion or insight who blather innate verbal banter in an attempt at wit. They crack jokes at inappropriate moments such as confronting death and dodge hazards as if they were on an amusement park attraction.

These films failed because they didn't connect emotionally with the audience. If the lead characters were unaffected by their situations why should we care?

The best animated films let us feel with the main characters. We understand them and have had similar experiences. We see a part of ourselves in them and worry when they are in trouble and cry with them when they are sad.

The best animated films always seem to have that ‘lump in the throat’ moment where you hope no one notices if you shed a tear.

I’m banking on “Up” giving us an emotional connection with these characters that will linger with us long after we leave the theater.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Squirrelly Squirrels

I had the pleasure of teaming up again with my friend and fellow animator Melik Malkasian to animate these crazy squirrels.

Melik is a fine actor and has appeared in several TV shows, stage productions, and feature films so it's always a great experience working with him.

This is the second time we've teamed up to animate these squirrels. They've been modified but we first animated them in the direct to DVD movie "Dog Gone".

We tried to divide the shots up equally by length but somehow Melik got to do the great dancing scene. I fortunately did get to do the scenes where Leroy squirrel gets hit on the head and drops all his nuts. We tag teamed on the high-five and the running around the tree shot,(only shown on the website version).

This video is without sound but you might catch a better quality version of it on TV or better yet go to this website, watch the video with sound, roll over the squirrels to make them talk, look for Bigfoot and play some games while you're there.

Paste address above or click on title to go to site.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Flipping out in Toon Boom

Because I work primarily in 3D animation the time for exploring digitally drawn traditional animation has been on and off. I am getting familiarizes with the Toon Boom interface and tools but one big obstacle I'm hoping someone has overcome is how to 'flip' or 'roll' the drawings as one would using paper.

I thought being freed from the mountainous stack of loose drawings would be a big advantage. And it is to some extent but there are times when I want just a few drawings and to be able to put them in any order I want.

Many is the time I will reverse the order of the Key drawings when I'm doing the inbetweens, rolling the drawings back and forth to see the action. I can't do that digitally. Now you can use what is called 'onion skinning' to look through your stack of drawings and you can scroll back and forth in a time-line to see the progression of the action but it's not as discrete as having those pages on pegs to roll between your fingers.

With paper I can find those tweaks a drawing needs as I'm rolling the pages back and forth and can make changes and additions on the fly. But digitally I need to be on the right image layer and have it active to access a drawing. I've drawn on the wrong image sometimes impulsively because I wanted to make that addition and forgot I had to break my concentration in order to pick the right drawing level.

There must be something I am unaware of because many big studios are using Toon Boom today and I'm sure these issues have been addressed by them.


My friend Eric told me the keys F and G toggle between drawings and that seems to work to an extent. I can do better just scrubbing through the time-line.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues on YouTube

Here is the gorgeous film "Sita Sings the Blues" by Nina Paley in it's entirety.

The movie is available for FREE download in 1080p, 720p, and 480p!
For an updated list of download or torrent links, go to:

Sita Sings the Blues, by Nina Paley

DVD version(s) will be coming soon!

Please help support this film.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Going to the Dogs

click on image to enlarge

I've been reading the Walt Stanchfield books "Drawn to Life" and feeling guilty about not drawing every day. These guys were handy so I did some fast sketches.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Disney Reuse Cont.

Following the delightful video of the Disney's reused actions in the last posting, I found the scenes I personally remember being recycled.

Now I know this was done partly for economic reasons but it can't have saved that much considering the action had to be redrawn to different character designs. But the timing was there and the action proved entertaining so I guess it did save time in concept and direction. Need a dance sequence here? Go to the vaults!