Sunday, November 02, 2008


  I did these character designs for a friend a little while back. Had a lot of fun doing it! I miss doing character design these days-- I find when I am bored animating I whip out a clean sheet of paper and start doodling a design or a thumbnail for a future design to keep my mind active. But to be fair, when I was doing character design I missed animating. I know as an animator studying design is imperative to doing good animation. For some reason people seem to segregate design and drawing as separate things.  They are not, drawing IS design-- whether it's well designed or not, it IS a design. Maybe this segregation of thinking is why hand drawn animation tends to look so, well, bland. Too many people buy off on the lie that audiences to not relate to graphic character designs. They relate to who they are, not what they look like. Hopefully we'll get an opportunity to blow that old idea out of the water one of these days!  

Saturday, November 01, 2008

what the?

  Am I posting this because it's beautiful? Am I posting this because I'd like to inspire the world? I believe if you look at this painting long enough you could answer these questions yourself... the real reason I am posting this is because it's random and I have nothing else to post while the man cub and wifey are down for a nap. If you are wondering this took about 5 minutes, took 0% thought, and was my first attempt at painting on a Cintiq. It's par for the course for me :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frog photo shoot

                                     Guess what we were drawing at work the other week? 

               Here we have nature lover and powerful animator extrodinaire, Minkyu Lee, playing                    with a frog named PacMan. The frogs kept jumping out of their enclosures. I was too                    much of a wuss to pick'em up.   

                                           Hey! There's Mark Henn checking out a tree frog!

            Randy Cartwright ladies and gentleman with the frog. Forgot that frog's name though--               and the gentleman in the red i the amazing Sandro Cleuzo. I've learned so much from                   that guy indirectly. Amazing talent! 

                    Mark looked at the tree frog for a very long time-- believe it or not there is 2 hours                       between this photo and the last one :) We also have Adam Dykstra, Jen Hager, Dale                     Baer, and Randy haycock in this photo. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

  Some more Curious George randomness! The fun thing about designing characters that are only seen once is that they don't always fit into a context. Like these characters are basically cutaways. So, I could basically do whatever I wanted as long as they looked like a dog and a moose.
  Went to Siggraph today-- Disney set us animators up there. Was fun accept they wouldn't let me into the Frank and Ollie talk, dangit! Was talking to a few people about traditional animation while I was at the Disney booth. One dude swore to me that Lilo and Stitch was CG. I politely tried to inform him that it was a hand drawn movie. I could see the confusion on his face and it was later confirmed with his comment "but then that would mean you'd have to draw every frame!!". Yup-- just like in 1939. Other favorite qoutes that I either heard or heard of:
  "Why don't you guys just use tracing paper?"
   (a man walks up with a suit on and a briefcase and says) "I need to talk to John Lasseter".
  "Are you sure you want to be drawing in red?"
  "how many "animations" do you do in a day?"

  Ahhhh man, too funny. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Walk Cycle

walk cycle from handdrawn on Vimeo.

  Man, it would seem this blog has become a plug for Curious George 2! Well, that or I just don't have a ton to show that isn't really old or that I'd get my butt fired for showing!
  I didn't design this guy, but I did get the opportunity to do the walk cycle for the over seas group. These had to be done FAAAAAST... like, one every two days. They said a walk on 2's would be fine, but come on, ya gotta go the whole way right! So on 1's it was!! My mantra is "no one remembers how fast it was done, only how well it was done". 

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Commercial Animation from handdrawn on Vimeo.

  I did this about a year and a half ago... I think. It was done in such a whirlwind of freelance that I am not quite sure-- commercials are an interesting world. It fun in a way because you get to do lotsa styles. On the other hand it's usually a breakneck pace and hard to really finesse your work to a quality of polish you'd like. I think most of us prefer features though!     

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Walt Disney Animation Studios

  It has been a LOOOONG haul. It has been a lot of years, a lot of wondering, waiting, and perseverance but the day has finally come that I can announce that I will finally be starting at Disney Animation as a hand drawn animator. 
  It's a looooong story as well, which perhaps in time I will tell on this blog, but for now, I celebrate! See you at the Producers Show!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Last year when I was working on "Coraline" in Portland I took one Saturday to make a little day trip. It was fairly lonely for me up there (6 weeks is such a short time to make friends), so this seemed like a good way to spend my day. Anyone in their 20's probably at least remembers the movie "The Goonies", if not fondly remembers it. I am one of those who's kinda a nerd for the film. So, I plotted a course to go an visit Astoria, Oregon. The drive there alone was a amazing enough. I didn't have any directions to get to the landmarks in the town, so I just bummed around and looked for the most likely spots where they would have filmed. The first thing I found was the museum where the "dad" worked.

Ok, here's the real thing!

I didn't have to look too far for the next movie location! Right across the street was the jail! Completely old, blue for some reason, and obviously hadn't been in use for a long time. I wonder why they keep it? For nerds like me?

  OK, so then all I really cared about was finding the "goonies"house, and "data's" house. This part took forever, and ummmm, the houses were in less than safe looking areas. I basically was going through trial and error in finding the house. I started looking for a neighborhood that felt right. But once I found that, the streets were so stinking twisty that it was near impossible to remember my way out let alone find 1 famous house. I was about to give up, the sun was setting and I couldn't find these house for the life of me until I see a sign that says "all Goonies vistors are welcome... Please park at bottom of hill". Low and behold the house had been right above me on a private road, ahh, success!!
  So remember this incredible view in the film?
  My lighting is not anywhere near as cool, but the view was so iconic it was hard to miss!

  So, I wasn't expecting to find a house that looked even remotely like the one from the film.

Holy crap! It's practically unchanged!

And what about "data's" house?

Besides a mild paint job (or years of the sun bleaching that electric blue away), practically also untouched!! So cool!

So anyway, no art this time. Just movie nerd stuff-- hope ya'll enjoy!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

a break from your regularly scheduled blog post...


 I hate to do this but I am afraid the tutorial that I just started is going to have to take a back seat for a while. Sorry!! I thought I was going to have more time to finish it, but somethings have come up recently (good things :) ) that are going to prohibit me from finishing it just yet. I am starting about 3 weeks of design/animation work on "The Wall and the Wing" for Laika next week, and then after that will most likely be starting something very exciting! But will wait to share that with you all until it's official. So, until then I may post little pieces of animation, designs, or little thoughts on animation from time to time. Again, I apollogize for not being able to finish the tutorial as promised, but if at all possible I intend to continue when I can. Thanks for your patience everyone.

P.S This is just a little piece I did for fun-- I am still getting used to the whole painting thing :) 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


  As I have done this type of series of tutorial post's before some might be wondering why I am doing the same thing again. Well, the answers kinda several fold I suppose. First, the original intent of this blog was for hand drawn animation information. 
  We live in an animation world where chances are if your an animator 
you're doing CG and if you still draw for a living you're doing design or boarding. I know not everyone falls into these catagories, but it seems to be the overwhelming majority. I've seen such a sparse amount of hand drawn animation info out there, that I felt for those who genuinely still love this art form and don't want to see it die. 
  Secondly, and I say this with respect for the art form of computer animation (and those in it), but I was pretty tired of hearing and or reading of CG guys saying things like "CG is cheaper than 2D", or "we don't need models that squash and stretch because motion blur is the CG equivilant", or the worst one is "CG is more subtle than 2D". I could bark about these sadly misguided opinions all day, but that wouldn't be my point. My point is that those opinions are formed from people whom have either no 2D experience or who do not understand it at all. The people that do have experience with the art form ( Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony, Disney guys) probably wouldn't say such things. As the SplineDoctors have said on their
 site, I find it alarming when my students have heard more about people with famous blogs than they have about the nine old men. As convoluted as this is getting, here is the second point: I wanted to put accurate information out there that would inspire, inform and correct minds on the topic of hand drawn animation. I also feel that the legacy of the Nine Old Men is precious... nuff said.
  Thirdly, and lastly, I wanted to get back to doing tutorials because of how much I've changed and grown as an artist in the last year or so. I have been doing A LOT more than animating. As I have said before, the more you know about the whole process the more 
you can give to the specifics of it. My true life example is going from animation to design, and now back to animation. You see things differently once you've designed a few hundred characters in different styles. Certainly ones dratsmenships improves, but the way you think about things like staging, clarity, posing , all change. So as I work my way through a shot I hope to bring new light to the process as I talk (or write) out loud about it.

 That's a little refrain I've heard innumerable times in my life. For those who know me I can be, uh, a slight bit absent minded. When I was a little kid, I got into a few pickles because of it. But never from malicious intent, it was always innocent at it's core. I just wasn't thinking about things before I did them-- and thus I heard this refrain over and over in my life until I finally started to see why it was important. 
  This refrain can so easily be adapted to animation as well! I think the number one thing I don't see in a lot of student work (and sometimes pro work) is thought. If you d
on't think before you act, you're gonna end up in a world of trouble. If someone asks you WHY you chose the pose you did and you cannot answer that question you probably haven't thought out your shot well enough. As always you have to temper this kind of advice with "... and everyone works differently...", but the point isn't HOW you do this it's THAT you do this. 
  Ironically this is the most important part of the process and yet it's the part we spend the least amount of time on. Now obviously if you sat around for 4 days thinking about a shot that you only have 5 days to do that's no good, but I know from personal experience sometimes I'm just way to excited to draw! Even if you have the shot crystal clear in your head, at least think it through and make sure your instincts match up with what is being asked of the shot.


  Randy Haycock was kind enough to come and do a lecture for my CalArts class. Sometimes people with more experience than you are able to put thoughts into words that you have felt before but not known how to describe verbally. He said something his kids ask him all the time is "why"... it's endless, and irritating at times but should we not be as curious about our own shots? Here's a series of questions to always ask yourself BEFORE you start your shot:
  Is this shot in the movie?
  Does the character feel this way?
  Is the context of this shot in the whole of the story?    
  Is the entertainment value of this shot?
  Is the subtext?
  Is this shot about?
  Now that's certainly not a comprehensive list but it will definately get you into the right place 
mentally before you start your shot.

  This is a topic that's a bit more on the cryptic side. Something you can't tell someone how to do, they just have to have the ability to do so. It can all be summed up into this 
thought: Are you able to feel and empathize with the character you are performing? You have to have some sort of emotional connection there. This doesn't necessarily mean you love your character in the sense that you'd be best friends if they were real. It more means you can relate to them. What makes a character relatable? Well, I think a primary one is flaw. A flawed character is one we can all identify with because we are all flawed. We see, sometimes, the same struggles in our own lives (wanting to be loved, fear of something, etc.) and can therefor put ourselves into their emotional journey. This is why the token villain that just wants to be rich or rule the world are not compelling in the least. We don't identify emotionally with those motives-- yes, we even have to identify to a degree with the "villain". What if he's the kind of villain who was just like you or me at one point and took a wrong turn? What if he's looking for love in all the wrong places, that adds sympathy which adds empathy and helps 
to make you care about them.  The animator AND the audience! 


  So now, assuming you've got the first 2 under your belt you can start planning your shot which means, yes, DRAWING! 

  Everyone knows this step-- but so few of us really take advantage of it. Planning is everything, whether you do it on paper or in your head it's essential to the clarity of your performance. This step is like everything else in that you will make it your own eventually.
 Duncan Marjoribanks and Milt Kahl basically animate their shots twice. One in small size, and then for real. I mean, litterally every little arc, blink, everything was planned before hand. Others just thumbnail out their main story-telling poses and let the shot, as they animate, tell them where it wants to go. And a few don't thumbnail much or at all and plan it all out in their heads. The point is that all the great PLAN in some fashion. I tend to favor the second option highly. The reason is that I have to have the structure of my story telling poses to guide me, but want permission for spontinaity.  So here are my thumbnails for this recent piece of animation:
  As you can plainly see my objective was not to make masterful drawings. I was completely focused on gestures and poses that could sell the main ideas for my shot. Essentially, what
 these will end up being are my foundational drawings for my shot (storytelling poses). My shot will revolve around them. That's why it is so important to experiment at this point, because the further down the road you get the harder it will be to reinvent your shot if need be.
  In the next post will start to go into roughing in a shot... there is a lot to talk about in terms
of how to think about things but also just the practicality of "how do you do that"? A lot of it involves layering you thinking. So, as always, please please please ask questions for things that are unclear! Hope everyone gets something out of this! Cheers!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What!? Actual animation!?

1st pass from handdrawn on Vimeo.

  It's been a while since any of this has been on the blog huh? I have the tutorial about half way written, so until I get it complete check out this first rough pass that the tutorial will revolve around. Enjoi!

Monday, January 21, 2008


  On the occassion of my first day off from Curious George 2 I thought I'd post a little design I did for the film. I didn't get to do any of the lead characters as they were all done before I got on the film.  This guy is one sort of a secondary type, not quite an extra or anything. 
  The film was a good experience for me. I've only ever really animated, some of what I did at Laika involved design but not to this extent. This film was kinda like designing with training wheels on. I've never been impressed with my own drawing ability, so this was a little scary but it's not like I had to invent the shape language or anything. Like  I said, I just had to follow what Shane and Shannon so eloquently set up. I guess it was really more of a matter of living up to what they did, and also somehow getting everything past our creative executive. Not an easy challenge... can someone tell me why people with business degree's insist they know how to make films? I don't get it--
  So what's next? Who knows, hopefully something involving animation for a change!

P.S If anyone care's I've finally started updating my portfolio and reel blog. Click HERE to check it out, it's still being updated but it'll give you a little taste of things!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Princess and the Frog

  Just in case you hadn't seen this yet, a little sneak peak at the "Princess and the Frog"-- I remember when I was a kid, my parents owned stock in the Disney Company and every year I'd beat my dad to the mail box for the "annual report" magazine they printed. It would typically sit in my lap, opened, during history as I pretended to look down and "read" the assignment. Ahhh memories!
  I've only seen bit's here and there from the film-- I know they are going for a very classical Disney look ala "Lady and the Tramp". I know very little about the story-- it just has to be great, no if, ands, or buts... too much is riding on this film for it to be "so so". 
  The funny thing is a lot of people outside of animation, I have observed, have been making a lot of comments like "why don't they do another "Beauty and the Beast" type film?"  or, "when is Disney going to do another fairytale?" Now, I'd be the first to say I'd LOVE to see animation, especially at Disney breaks down some content walls, but fantasy films are a major part of their heritage and I'd love to think this film will be a straight forward homage to that heritage. Time will tell I suppose... here's hopin'!