Sunday, October 06, 2013

October is Here!

Yes, it's time for the Pumpkin Queen to wake up soon and make her Halloween presents known.

I thought I would try to make color separations from a black and white picture, and try to recombine them into a quasi color picture. This one of my grand daughter taken by her Aunt Joanna Zarzan and tricked out with kittens that I added is one of my favorites.  I knew if you had a blue and yellow plate you would get a green and red and yellow would make orange.  It only worked so so and the end result reminds me of those early National Geographics where the color was leaning toward sepia and looked like tinted prints.

It's got an old fashioned feel which is okay with me so Happy Halloween everybody! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Poor Mans Cintiq Continued....

If you have read this blog for anytime you know of my desire for a Cintiq but the price even for a used one is too much to justify.  I had hoped they would become more affordable as time went by but not so.  Well, now the universe is conspiring to make it a feasibility to draw digitally with the quality and interface  I would like.  A relatively new, at least to me, South African company has the Bosto Kingtee which looks very attractive and inexpensive.  I've got my eye on the 22HD.  I'll let you know what I decide.

In the meantime  check out these vids and their site:

Update: I just heard from Toon Boom that they have never tested Harmony on these tablets because they use only Wacom technologly.  This could be a big problem if the driver don't work right.!

Update:  I just heard from Bosto Kingtee and the 22HD has been updated with new drivers and chipset! Oh boy!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Little People

It's been awhile since I've posted so here are some little people.  I know there are supposed to be seven but this is all I've got.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Work Stations

I've been blessed with some new hardware and software.  I'm running Maya 2013 and I've been using a demo version of 3D Studio Max 2014 which is pretty nice.

My work area allows me to use  everything from my chair.  Now I'm happily animating a fun project from the comfort of my home and getting paid for it!  Joy!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

RIP Ray Harryhausen

Well it finally happened.  Today we lost another pioneer of animation, Ray Harryhausen.  Without his contribution to stop motion we would have never grown up with the wonder and magic of his films.  He saw the media as a way of realizing classic mythology and combining supernatural creatures with live action.

His films crossed age barriers and generations appealing to both young and old.  His inspiration bred a new generation of artists in stop motion and computer animation.  We owe a tremendous debt to Mr. Harryhausen and I'm glad he saw some return of affection and appreciation by throngs of admiring fans before he passed.  Thanks for all the dreams and wonder, Ray.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Old Man Chart

Here's a mouth chart for one of my characters.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

UPA and the not so Jolly Frolics

There has been a lot of mystic built around United Pictures of America, better known as UPA, in animation history.  Books like “When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA” by Adam Abraham have shed some light on the politics and cultural environment that created the studio and touched on it’s transforming influence of what animation could be outside the Disney mold.

UPA’s bold graphic approach certainly had its impact on television commercials and theatrical shorts.  It definitely influences my work as an artist, too.  Now, just recently I’ve had a chance to watch Turner Classic Movies three-disc set of 38 theatrical cartoons “UPA Jolly Frolics DVD” from my local library.

Unfortunately I found only a handful of the 38 films to be any good.  There seemed to be more ugly garish poorly animated unfunny boring cartoons than not.  Even so the six or seven gems may be reason enough to understand the reputation and trans formative power the studio produced within the animation industry. 

Of the 38 films my favorites were:  “Gerald McBoing Boing”, “The Ragtime Bear”, “The Oompahs”, “Madeline”, and "Rooty Toot Toot".  I kind of liked “The Unicorn in the Garden” which was from a James Thurber story and mirrored his drawing style, and “Robin Hoodlum” just because it was an unexpectedly funny fox and crow cartoon. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Peter Lorre, Steve Buscemi, or Gollum?

This looks more like Steve Buscemi than I wanted.  Lorre looked very different from movie to movie and year to year. But he always has a sensitive vulnerable quality that was unnerving and kind of implied the cruelty of his characters came from hidden hurts.   I don't know what his private life was like but everyone who worked with him said he was a lovely man just like Steve Buscemi. Anyway I don't think I did Lorre justice here. 

This looks more like Gollum to me and maybe Lorre inspired some of the character design? Anybody know?

Friday, March 15, 2013

2D Reel

Here's a collection of 2D bits and pieces I've done. It shows Flash scenes from "The Mr. Men Show" and traditionally drawn scene from my short films, plus Harmony scenes from "Hoop & Yoyo" using vector art.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Walt Kelly animates Pogo

As a night cap before bed I was re-reading one of my Pogo collections by Walt Kelly and this morning I came across an article on Cartoon Brew talking about Kelly’s distain for the Chuck Jones Pogo special.  Apparently Kelly hated everything about the Jones version and wanted to do a piece that portrayed his creation accurately so he set out to animate a film himself.  

Kelly was a Disney animator who had worked on Fantasia and Dumbo and it’s that beautiful quality of draftsmanship and the inventive writing that distinguished the comic strip “Pogo” from anyone else’s work.  Bad health prevented Walt from doing full animation but what is there and it’s rendering of the characters is charming and 100% Kelly.    

Friday, March 08, 2013

Portraiture or Caricature?

                                                        Caricature of Vincent Price

My caricatures are coming off as bad portraiture.  I think I may have to whack them out more but I'm afraid to lose the likeness.  It really felt like I was pushing things but this first end result of Vincent Price looks like a bad painting of him instead.

Update:  I tried another version of Vincent 'tooned-up' more by  treating him like a cartoon and now I think it's successful as a caricature.  It's not easy.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Many Faces of Mickey

I have a friend who was commissioned to do a sculpt of Mickey and they did a great job.  Mickey isn't easy to realize dimensionally because he has many cheated attributes like his ears and nose that defies a logical way to sculpt them in 3D.  I thought it might be fun to look at some of the various results toy makers tried to capture a recognizable Mickey.  These are from my toy collection.  

I never realized I had so many!

YouTube and QuickTime Codec Problems

The hoops I have to jump through these days are pretty frustrating because programs are changing their codecs making previous files useless.   I'm mad that older QT files won't play because QT has upgraded their codec.

Now probably for the same reasons YouTube files that used to play normally are zipping through showing only the first and last frames.  Anyone know a fix? 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Registration in Stop Motion

With three stop motion films running for this years Academy Award, the interest in stop-mo has warmed up againI thought I would share a trick I found very helpful.  Today so much is done digitally and elements are shot on green screen and combined with others to finish a scene, but this trick is still invaluable if you want to do a scene in one pass.

I had to animate a character walking through a table top full of food.  Now I'm a short guy with not much reach so it was a stretch for me to even get to the character. I had to stand on apple boxes. How was I to get to my puppet without knocking all that food around? 

First off let me mention that none of the food was real and done by a terrific artist in wax.  Even the lemonade was a solid mixture of silicone or something.  I solved my dilemma by first registering the plates of food with corner brackets.  Corner brackets are flat metal pieces you can screw or glue down to your table top.  I used a thin veneer and cut square pieces the size of each plate that I wanted to register and glued it to the plates bottom.  Then I placed the plates on my set and anchored the brackets around two sides of the veneer at the back.  This let me pull the plate forward and remove it entirely while I animated my puppet.  Using the brackets, I could drop the food back into place and not have to worry about it moving around.

I hope the diagram helps explain things a little better.  I might tell you about 'nesting' sometime.

P.S.  The music in this video clip is not from the original scene which was the little guy talking.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Seeing Things

Where do ideas come from?  I've noticed creative people say ideas just sometime come to them like a gift from a muse.  That would be nice but I seem to need a trigger.

We are hard wired to interpret information and make sense of it.  This is why we see pictures in clouds and random patterns.  I have the same experiences with things in our house.  I can make out a lovely lion head in the grain of our bathroom door and a cool dragon in one of our towels.

For years I have seen this little character flying in a winged ship on our table cloth and only recently decided to act upon developing a story for it.

I can't tell you anything about the story yet as it's going to be either a film or more probably a book idea, but I can introduce the main characters.  If you click on the artwork it should enlarge well enough to read the bios.  There is also a picture of the original table cloth design and you can see it wasn't too much of a leap.

Like all work in progress, there may be changes. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Glen Keane Animator and Book Ilustrator/Writer

We all know Glen Keane as the master animator on many Disney films and the son of cartoonist Bil Keane who did "The Family Circus", but how many of you knew he was an author and illustrator of children's books?

I recently found this copy of "Adam Raccoon and the Circus Master" by Glen Keane for Chariot Books.
You can tell the hand of an animator right away by the great staging and poses.  I love the thick and thin quality of his lines and the expressive look in the eyes.

This book happened to be published in 1987 and might explain the similarities in the Circus Masters design and Ratigan, the Vincent Price voiced character from Disneys' "The Great Mouse Detective" done in 1986.

I was surprised to see there were quite a few titles done in this series entitled Parables for Kids.  Here is a list of titles:

Follow the King:
A First Lesson in Trust

Creating Characters With Personality

Cookie Time

Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods

Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls

Adam Raccoon and the Race to Victory Mountain

Adam Raccoon and the Mighty Giant

Adam Raccoon and the King's Big Dinner

Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine

Adam Raccoon and the Circus Master

Adam Raccoon and Bully Garumph

Monday, February 04, 2013

Campaigns I Would Pitch

Probably nothing will come of this as ideas are fair game until someone copyrights or trademarks them. Consider this a preemptive strike against copiers, or verification that it was indeed I who loosed these innate thoughts into the cosmic conscious. I’ve come to this decision after conceiving of Breathe Rights only to find them on the market before I could do anything about them. Also after three very definite elements of a cartoon series I had pitched to Cartoon Network ending up being used in someone else’s series. Okay are you ready? Here they are:

No.1 An ad campaign for wireless phones featuring ‘The Bluetooth Fairy'.

No.2 A funny creature for a fast Mexican food chain called ‘The Chalupacabra’ who wants your food.

There, I feel better. Now when you see these, you can say with certainty and have this article to verify that I’m the idiot who thought them up.

Yours truly,

Sunday, February 03, 2013


Uncle Eddie did a post about Ralph Bakshis’ Kickstarter project dealing with Coney Island here:

It got me thinking about a project I would love to see happen, but don’t know how to go about.  I love Tom Waits album “Alice” and learned it was for a play done in Germany.  I don’t know the story but the album seems to be little story vignettes  woven around something that happened to the narrator and his love, a girl named Alice. 

I had thought it was based on Lewis Carols “Alice in Wonderland”, but to me the characters are more earthbound and related to the carnival era of early Coney Island.  Some of the songs talk about Dreamland and it's clear this is the Dreamland of Coney, and some are wild hallucinations aboard ghost-trains and sideshows.  There are beautiful flights of fancy like the improbable song about a whale and a bird who fall in love, it's sad and achingly wonderful.  But all have a nostalgic Victorian sound and the last piece is a heartbreaking melody played on a musical saw!

If I could secure the music rights and the stage play, depending on the story I would love to do an animated version of “Alice”.  Perhaps even without the plays storyline an interesting series of songs done in appropriated styles might hang together kind of like a “Yellow Submarine”, or maybe something with the Alice character could bridge each song?  I want to know who is this Alice?  Is she a young girl or more mature?  Did she die falling through the ice while skating, or did the narrator die and everything is his ghostly visitation of this world and the afterlife?  

Sound intriguing to you? 

Update:  I found the stage play script for “Alice” was originally called “Woyzeck”.  The script has some of the songs from the album but many songs are missing and the storyline has no mention of the central character Alice at all.   Elsewhere I learned it was based on Alice Liddell, the young girl who was the obsession and muse of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books although as I’ve mentioned it wasn’t apparent from what I read.

I may be free to develop my own storyline and push it toward my own fanciful and romantic interpretations.  I might try and track down Tom Waits and his people and see what might develop.   

My tribute picture called Tom Waits for No One
Tom Waits "Alice"

Snow White turns 76

When Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs had its world premiere on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney claimed it was his Christmas gift to the children of the world.

For many animators my age, the two most pivotal films mentioned for starting their interest were "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", and "King Kong.  This was certainly true for myself but I still marvel at the revolutionary vision of Snow White.

I've said this more than once, (and people who have worked with me probably wish I would stop), but never in print.  So let's look at what makes this the stand-out film for me.

Considering the times cartoons had largely been limited to short films.  Despite what Disney would like you to believe, Snow White was not the first animated feature, there were two others before, and this may have caused some to prematurely label Snow White as Disneys' Folly, but the film was a water-shed success.  It garnered enough money to save the studio and finance more feature work.

Snow White was a unique and unproven mix of genres.  It is first a fairytale, then it's a romance.  It is also a musical, and a comedy.  Surprisingly it is a drama and a horror film.  And last but not least, it's an animated film.  This mix has become a bit of a formula for everything that followed at Disney but what a gutsy first move!

You can argue the films done under Walts supervision and after his death but you can't argue Walt as a visionary and the lasting appeal of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  She is still the fairest in the land to me.


The Multiplane Camera

With my exploration of using Toon Boom Harmony and Animate, or After Effects to get a workable 3D into my next film, I thought it would be good to show how intricate and involved the pioneers at Disney were when they created the Mulitplane Camera

Of course Unca Walt explained it best in this segment from The Wonderful World of Color, and concludes with the breath taking shot from "Bambi".

Today we do everything digital, but think about the challenge they faced then trying to keep lights from reflecting, and dust or finger prints off the art, and the mathematics used to plot out moving these big fragile plates of glass!