I’m sure more than a few of my blog readers have browsed or even participated in DrawingBoard.org.
The link in the previous sentence may not work because the site is down, which is why I’m writing this post. DrawingBoard.org is in trouble.
For those who don’t know, for years DrawingBoard.org has been a fun hangout spot for hundreds (maybe thousands) of animation and comic book artists of all skill levels. Before art blogs burst on the scene it was one of the few places where artists could post their sketches and and illustrations online and immediately get feedback and encouragement from other artists. Folks also chatted about hot topics in the industry, shared fun and helpful links, and joked/complained about the latest in movies and pop culture. There were also contests and themed drawing sessions (i.e. “Everyone post a sketch of a Batman villain”). It was a fun place for artists to just hang out with other artist who shared a love for sketching, animation, and comics. Artists got to know each other through DrawingBoard.org and for those who participated regularly the site became the closest thing you could find online to a true community.
In recent years social networking sites like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have taken over some of the territory previously dominated by message boards like Drawingboard.org. I know I haven’t visited the site nearly as frequently as I used to. But when I do visit it seems like discussions are still very active, and I’m glad.
Which is why it’s a shame to hear that the site is in danger of shutting down permanently. As I understand it the sites founder has been personally paying the lions share of the costs to keep the board running all these years. My guess is he has invested hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars over the years to keep everything humming. I don’t know the specifics but it appears he is no longer able to foot hte bill.
The site will soon be back up with a Paypal button prominently displayed, and will now be run by donations. If you’ve participated in the site and have enjoyed the experience, I encourage you to make a donation as soon as you can. With so many members, my guess is that if everyone just chipped in $5 the site could stay active for a long time. (If the link isn’t live when you read this, please check back. It’s supposed to be up and running again very soon.)
Here’s another round of interesting links that you might find interesting if they are things you are interested in:
Google’s New “Profile” Feature — John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, blogs about a new Google feature that allows a short profile of you to show up on Page 1 when other people google your name. A great, free way to flesh out your marketing a bit. Highly recommended.
Tweetie for Mac — Folks who Twitter have been singing the praises of this new Mac software. It doesn’t allow you to organize people you follow into groups, but otherwise I like it.
Pencil Test from Milt Kahl and Frank Thomas — Short video of some raw animation (well, cleaned up pencils anyway) from two of Disney’s great masters.
20 Best Websites To Download Free eBooks — I haven’t browsed the sites or read any of the books, but thought this list would be worth sharing anyway. Hey, it’s free.
70 Corporate Mascot Designs — Since I specialize in designing corporate mascots and other characters, I found this collection to be inspiring. Some good, some bad, a few ugly, but a great collection overall. How many can you identify? (Note: Some may be mislabeled. For instance, “Tony the Tiger” is mistakenly identified as the Exxon Mobil tiger).
Inking Tips from Michael Cho — Some great tips on improving your inking skills.
(Artwork by Bob Ostrom. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.)
Long-time illustrator Bob Ostrom has recently posted an excellent tutorial describing how he does his work. While you’re at it, don’t forget to browse his portfolio and blog as well. Great stuff!
Here’s one more project I did for DecoPac. It’s part of a series of jungle animal cake toys that were ultimately never produced.
The lion’s tail was meant to act like a lever which, when pushed, would cause his mouth to open and emit a “roar” noise from a tiny speaker.
I was asked to make the elephant sit on the cake as if he were giving himself a bath in some water, so we only needed to see the upper half of his body.
Ultimately the client went another route but it was still great fun to work on!
Here’s yet another toy design I worked on for novelty cake supplier DecoPac. It’s a cake tie-in for the DreamWorks movie Monsters vs. Aliens. It’s a little hard to tell from the photo but it’s a figurine of the Insecto character and two plastic finger rings featuring the characters B.O.B and Missing Link. The background is a concept painting from the movie designed to stand up behind the figurine.
At the time the movie was still in production and the trailer hadn’t been released yet, so all I was given to work with was some turnarounds of the characters and a concept painting of the giant Insecto character crashing through the Golden Gate bridge. Matter of fact, I still haven’t seen the movie.
Here’s the concept art I submitted, and a photo of the final cake design. One thing you’ll notice is that the arms were grouped together on the final toy. I suppose this was a safety concern, to make it harder for little kids to bite them off and choke on them:
As I mentioned in a recent post I sometimes design novelty toys for DecoPac, a national leader in the cake industry. Often the toys involve licensed characters but sometimes they are more generic. For this project the client wanted to update the design of their “Sports Fan” cake. I’m not a sports fan myself but I would imagine this particular cake is a popular seller during the SuperBowl and other big sporting events.
Several toy ideas were suggested including a lenticular lanyard, a folding stadium seat that would hold a beer/pop can, a small keychain radio, and a big screen TV bobblehead. Ultimately the bobblehead idea was chosen. Here’s the final design I submitted, followed by a photo of the actual cake:
(Cake design © 2009 DecoPac Inc. All rights reserved.)
Today is Good Friday, the day Christians celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus. A crucifixion seems like an odd thing to celebrate, but it is in fact good news. How’s that, you ask? A couple of years ago I partnered with the ministry of Living Waters to illustrate a short cartoon gospel tract that explains what I mean. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it, I invite you to do so. It’s only 8 small pages and to read it online is completely free.
If you are so inclined you can also order printed copies to share with others. I don’t make any royalties, in fact any ministry that wants to download and publish the tract can do so for free. To date over 2.8 million copies of the tract have been printed in English and it has been translated into nine different languages with more on the way. It’s far above and beyond anything I could have imagined. My hope is that it helps many people to get a clear understanding of what Easter and Christianity are really all about.
Have a very happy Easter!
For over a year now I’ve been designing toys for a company called DecoPac. They create many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in the grocery store bakeries, the ones with little plastic licensed characters on them. They offer a wide variety of quality cake designs for all occasions, and often develop fun themes using licensed characters to tie in with movie and TV franchises. On occasion they will hire me to develop toy concepts for some of the cakes. They are a terrific client and its a ton of fun.
The toys are manufactured overseas, and because of the many factors involved (including the length of time it takes to ship them across the ocean) the concepts may have to be developed a year or more ahead of time. Today I finally received samples of the very first toys I developed for them back in April of ’08, figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse for a surfing-themed cake. The shipment also included toys from two other cake designs which I’ll be posting in the near future.
For the surfer Mickey I developed a few different rough thumbnail ideas and then the final turnarounds. From there my sketches were sent to a sculptor and then finally to the overseas manufacturer.
Here’s the final turnaround designs as well as a promo photo of the final cake design from the DecoPac catalog. At the time the client wasn’t sure which colors to use on Minnie’s bow and swimsuit so they asked me to give them a few options:
(Toy designs copyright © 2009 Disney/DecoPac. All rights reserved.)
Recently I was hired by Benchmark Education to illustrate a short children’s book called The Purple Cow. Not to be confused with the best seller by Seth Godin, this story is an epic saga about a cow that gives grape juice instead of milk.
The client gave me a great deal of editorial freedom so I decided to stretch myself and try something different. I created all the art as vectors in Illustrator (usually I use Photoshop) and tried for a very flat, cut-out look that emphasized shape over line. Also, instead of flat color in some areas I used some scanned textures I had on file. For example, I think the grass is actually a corduroy fabric that I color-shifted to green.
Because of the deadline I sketched the layouts very quickly, which oddly enough gave me wackier and more appealing shapes than I think I would have achieved had I slowed down and overthought it.
Above is a two-page spread, a one page illo, and a spot. The white areas were left blank for text, but I’ve inserted a copyright notice in an effort to protect the images online. Also, for some reason when I saved the art for the web the colors got very washed out (at least on my monitor). In the original files the colors are much richer and easier to read.
Overall I really like this flat vector look. The only problem with vector art is that you spend so much time pushing and pulling vector points that after a while you aren’t really drawing or painting, you’re just shoving things around. So I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be doing a lot more of this or not. It’s fast and effective but I would miss the fluid feel of drawing and painting.
Recently artist Sam Nielson ran a contest of sorts on his blog. He wanted to practice some digital coloring/painting but didn’t feel like drawing anything, so he asked for submissions. Two winners would then be chosen to have their sketches colored by him. Cool!
On a lark I submitted some concept sketches (above) from a “buffalo wings” project I had done a while ago for a client. As sometimes happens the project never evolved beyond the concept stage and so I never got around to finishing the illustrations. I did, however, retain all rights to the sketches.
I was honored to that Sam chose one of my flying bison to paint (see the other winner here). He did a beautiful job! Zip on over to his blog to view the final painting.