Shameless Self-Promotion

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As I’ve written before, I spent much of the summer and fall doing character designs for new episodes of 3-2-1 Penguins!, an animated series on NBC from the company behind VeggieTales. It’s a goofball comedy about four penguins and two kids who travel the universe ala “Star Trek”. Each week’s lesson is based on a verse from the book of Proverbs.

Tomorrow morning they will be airing another episode that I worked on. I designed the various aliens, and I also illustrated an oil painting that hangs on the wall in one scene. Big Idea owns all of the artwork I did for the show, but they have graciously allowed me to post samples on my blog after each episode airs. So look for some Penguins artwork on Monday.

You can watch 3-2-1 Penguins! Saturday mornings on NBC. The broadcast time varies from city to city even within the same time zone (don’t ask me why) so check your local listings. In the Minneapolis area Penguins airs at 10:30am.

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New! Portable Cintiq Is Coming…

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Thanks to the Drawn! blog, I’ve just learned that Wacom, Inc. is manufacturing a smaller, portable version of the Cintiq. To that I say “Yipee!”, “Awesome!”, and “Woo hoo!”

Earlier this year my studio went all-digital. I traded in my traditional drawing board for a Cintiq, which lets me draw and paint directly onto the computer screen. It’s greatly simplified my production process and shaved a little working time off of each project. I can make changes faster than I could on paper, and I don’t have to tinker with scanning and then cleaning up my artwork.

The only major drawback comes when I travel. I travel often and almost always have to take freelance work with me. I’m not about to travel with my Cintiq, it’s far too large, fragile, and expensive to toss into a suitcase. So I have to travel with a klunky assortment of traditional and digital tools to meet the deadlines. I usually pack paper and pencil, a small lightbox, my scanner, my laptop, and a wacom tablet for coloring (I’m not very fast at drawing with the Wacom, but I can color with it fairly quickly). That’s a lot of junk to haul around, requiring two pieces of carry-on luggage (my laptop bag, and a small suitcase padded with towels for the scanner). I then have to cross my fingers and hope that wherever I wind up staying has an empty surface large enough for me to spread everything out. It’s a major hassle.

All of it could be replaced with a tablet-PC , but I’m a Mac user and (unfortunately) Mac’s don’t make tablet PC’s. There are rumors that Apple will be unveiling a tablet computer in the near future, but similar rumors have been circulating for several years and Steve Jobs is on record as saying Apple has no plans to make such a device. The closest thing available is the Modbook, which is a MacBook that’s been converted into a tablet by a company called Axiotron. Early demo models received rave reviews, but there have been endless production delays and customers who placed orders back in January are still waiting for their Modbooks.

Now, finally, I have hope. Wacom has announced the Cintiq 12WX, which is a small, portable “sketchbook” version of the Cintiq. It appears to have all the features of a regular Cintiq, including scroll pad and programmable buttons. The pressure-sensitivity of the pen is 1,024 levels, the same as a regular Cintiq. The 12.1 inch (diagonal) screen will be a manageable size, a little bigger than a 9×6 sketchbook. There’s buttons on both sides (for lefty’s and righty’s), so my only concern would be making sure the whole thing is small enough to fit inside a standard computer bag. Although I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t.

(UPDATE: You can read the Cintiq 12wx press release, which details all the specs, here.)

There’s a low-res YouTube video that shows the Cintiq 12wx in action. I’m having problems embedding the video into my blog, but you can watch it here.

So far the Cintiq 12wx is only available in Europe, and apparently won’t ship before Christmas. But hopefully we can look for a US version early next year. The UK Amazon.com website lists a selling price of £829.98, which is roughly $1,700.00 $999.00 American (and much cheaper than a Modbook). Looks like I’ll be asking for cash gifts this Christmas!

(UPDATE: You can order the Cintiq12wx for only $999.00 American here.)

“Disney Adventures” Magazine Shutting Down

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the magazine industry has seen better days. Overall readership is on a slow decline, resulting in lower subscriptions and lost advertising revenues. It looks like C. F. Payne is not the only artist being affected by it. I just learned that Disney Adventures, the snazzy comic-book magazine, is officially no more. The November issue (currently in stores) is the last one to be published by the company.

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Here’s the announcement from Ad Age, as quoted by Heidi MacDonald on her blog “The Beat”:

Disney Publishing attributed its decision to an effort to better focus resources and maximize long-term growth potential through new magazine and book initiatives.
The demise of Disney Adventures, which was introduced for tweens in 1990, closely follows the end of fellow child soldier Nick Jr., which MTV Networks closed with the April issue. It isn’t clear that there’s any particular exodus of children from magazines, but proliferating competition and rising costs are knocking out big magazines at a fairly regular clip these days; adults for their part have lost Premiere, Jane, Life and Child so far this year.

This is disappointing news. Disney Adventures has been a fun comic-book magazine consistently loaded with quality artwork. It’s one of the few magazines at the checkout stand I would actually pick up and thumb through. Occassionally I’ve even bought a copy just so I could drool over the artwork and keep up on the latest “trendy” art styles for kids. Recently I’ve even thought about putting together a submission package to send them in hopes of landing some work. Looks like that will never be. (Ya snooze, ya lose.)

Fellow fans can still enjoy some of the Adventures content. According to Wikipedia, Disney Press recently released theme-based collected volumes of various Disney Adventures comics (96 pages each):

Comic Zone Vol. 1: Lilo & Stitch
Comic Zone Vol 2: Gorilla, Gorilla
Comic Zone Vol. 3: Disney’s Tall Tails
Comic Zone Vol. 4: Kid Gravity

Magazines have traditionally been a solid and consistent place for illustrators to find work (although they don’t pay what they used to). Someday in the future I’d like to write a blog post about the effect of the decline of print media on illustrators.

Thanks to Tom Bancroft for the heads-up. Also, check out Tom’s blog which he runs with fellow artist Rob Corely. It’s nifty!

C. F. Payne Ends Reader’s Digest Run

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(Art by C.F. Payne. Copyright © Reader’s Digest.)

For the last four years every issue of Reader’s Digest has featured an illustration by award-winning illustrator C. F. Payne on the back cover. Payne is an exceptional illustrator, and his charming pieces for Reader’s Digest hearken back to the spirit of Norman Rockwell but with a modern twist. My wife and I recently started subscribing to Reader’s Digest, and I’ve always enjoyed flipping the magazine over to see Payne’s gorgeous illustrations.

I just cracked open the December issue (featuring the illustration shown above), and was surprised to read this on the bottom of page 11:

Thank You, C. F. Payne!

For over four years, C. F. Payne, our back-cover artist, has delighted readers with surprising snapshots of modern American life. “And to All a Good Night!” is his last scene for Reader’s Digest. We hope you love it. We will feature Payne’s work from time to time in this magazine, and you will still be able to view his gallery and purchase prints at rd.com/cfpayne.

I don’t know the actual reasons behind the decision, but according to this blog Reader’s Digest is struggling financially and decided not to renew Payne’s contract so that they could instead sell advertising space on their back covers. If true, it is indeed disappointing news. But the reality is that magazines in general have seen a decline in readership over the past few years. As more and more people do their reading online, the magazine industry is in a mad scramble to keep their publications profitable.

Personally, I will miss seeing Payne’s monthly illustrations. His work is delightful and stunning, and whenever I see it in print I always pause in admiration. But Payne fans can take heart. Payne is very prolific—besides Reader’s Digest he has done illustrations for TIME, Atlantic Monthly, Money, Boy’s Life, and The New Yorker, in addition to several advertising campaigns—so you can be sure his work will continue to pop up regularly in various publications.

To view a gallery of Payne’s work for Reader’s Digest, or to order prints, click here. You can view more of Payne’s work on the website of his rep, Richard Solomon.

John Nevarez Character Design DVD

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(Artwork by John Nevarez. All rights reserved.)

John Nevarez is an extraordinary talent in the animation industry. He currently works as a storyboard and visual development artist for Disney television animation. His work is energetic and appealing, and I know more than a few people who list him among their favorite modern animation artists. To drool over his artwork, visit his blog. You can also read an interview with John at the Character Design Blog.

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In 2006 Nevarez produced an instructional DVD in conjunction with the Entertainment Art Academy. “John Nevarez Design” is a live recording of a presentation given by Nevarez, with the camera pointed down at his drawing desk so that we can watch him sketch as we listen to him talk. The lengthy DVD touches on a variety of topics including character design techniques, putting appeal in your drawings, staging your characters, and some info about backgrounds. There is a lot of great, inspirational content on this DVD. Highly recommended.

You can order “John Nevarez Design” through the Entertainment Art Academy store. [UPDATE: The Entertainment Art Academy no longer sells the DVD, but I’m told you can order a copy here.]

The Wayback Machine

Since this is a holiday weekend, here’s a fun time waster:

Somebody’s been keeping a record of the entire internet. Go to the Wayback Machine, type in the URL of any webpage, and see what it used to look like. Don’t ask me how it’s done, or why. I can’t imagine how much server space this takes up. But it’s fun to poke around. (2002 was an ugly year for my website).

Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(NOTE: There will be not blog post tomorrow. I’ll be spending the holiday with family and trying to catch up on some much needed sleep.)

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This sketch was done a year or two ago when my friends at DrawerGeeks decided we should each do an emergency turkey drawing. Draw a turkey–fast! Quick sketches only, no more than a few minutes. No masterpieces allowed. This was my submission, conceived, sketched, colored and posted in less than ten minutes.

I’m not sure if it reads well. “Carl” is supposed to be doing that thing where you pull your shirt over your head and act like somebody chopped it off.

Kind of appropriate, since the holiday season means that, like many Americans, I’ll spend a lot of time these next few weeks running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

But not tomorrow. I’ll be sleeping, hanging with my relatives, and helping my Dad with a few relaxing projects. And of course, we’ll pause for a few moments and give thanks to God for all the blessings he’s given us. (That’s kinda what the holiday is supposed to be for, right?)

Actually, when I look back over my life and think about my sins…all the times I’ve ever lied, or stolen, or lusted, or hated someone, or used God’s name as a filth word—I’m amazed that God has given me so many blessings to be thankful for. I certainly don’t deserve it. Even more amazing is that God is willing to forgive me for it all, because his son Jesus took my punishment and paid my fine. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). No matter how much we’ve sinned, Jesus offers forgiveness and new life to anyone who will come to him in repentance and faith. Talk about something to be thankful for!

Sorry if that sounds “preachy”, but I think it’s an important message and Thanksgiving seems like an appropriate time to try and share it.

To all of my readers, have a *very* happy Thanksgiving.