New Client: VeggieTales

I’m excited to announce I’ve recently completed some props and costume designs for an upcoming VeggieTales animation project. I can’t show any artwork yet but I have their permission to announce them as a client.

I’ve worked with Big Idea in the past as a character designer for the “3-2-1 Penguins!” TV series and I’ve done some VeggieTales work indirectly for Scholastic, but this is the first time I’ve created concept work directly for the VeggieTales animation series. They’d approached me twice in the past but both times I was too busy to take on anything new. I’m glad it finally worked out. They’re terrific people and I hope I can work with them again in the future.

New Blog Look, More Changes Coming

You may have noticed that I’m giving my blog a long-overdue facelift. The old design was just too cluttered, stale, and outdated. I’m not 100% satisfied yet and will probably make some tweaks but I this is a good step in the right direction – cleaner, tighter, and a little easier to browse.

It’s also a temporary band-aid on a much larger problem: my entire business identity needs an overhaul.

I’m very slowly working on a complete re-brand of my studio. Although I’ve been freelancing for fourteen years I still don’t even have a real logo much less a brand. My current company name (“Cedric Hohnstadt Illustration”) is hard to remember and even harder to spell. It’s also too generic. It doesn’t say much about what makes me different from the thousands of other illustrators out there. Not to mention my current website design dates back to 2005 so it’s very rusty and outdated. I update the portfolio pages now and then but the coding and overall look are far behind the times. In short, I’m long overdue for a complete overhaul of my business identity.

In the hopefully-not-too-distant future I’ll be launching a brand new website with a new name, new logo, and new look. I’ll also be rolling this blog into the new website. For now, at least when you come here you’ll have a blog that’s decent to look at.

Sketchbook Update

I’ve been working on some really neat projects lately. Unfortunately because of strict client confidentiality agreements I can’t give specifics abut any of them. For now all I can say is I’ve done some concept work for a major toy company, I’ve sketched up some licensed products for an upcoming animated feature film, and I’ve designed some costumes and props for a new VeggieTales DVD.

So for now I’ll just post some recent work form my sketchbook. Most of these were drawn from photographs, either pictures I found online or photos I took myself.

Rough Thumbnail Storyboards Studies: “Once Upon A Time In The West”

Recently I tried something a little different in my sketchbook. I chose a clip from a classic movie (in this case the opening sequence of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West) and broke it down into little rough thumbnail studies. It’s a terrific piece of filmmaking and I wanted to carefully analyze it shot by shot to figure out what makes it work so well.

These sketches were very “quick and dirty”. I worked small and focused on the broader shapes. To keep myself from getting bogged down in the details I used real paper with real makers, which meant I couldn’t fix my mistakes or fuss around. Then I limited myself even further by using only one black marker and one grey marker.  I worked small and fast, studying the composition and lighting to figure out why each shot worked on it’s own as well as why they all worked together as a whole.

Below is the full title sequence followed by three pages of my sketches. Each page reads top-to-bottom instead of left-to right. The clip itself is actually quite long. To sketch the whole thing would have required hundreds of boards. I’m happy that I had enough free time to get the first scene down. Maybe in the future I’ll find time to do the rest.

Animation for “What’s In The Bible?” Vol. 6

A new promo has just been posted for volume 6 of What’s In The  Bible?, an ongoing project from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. It’s a terrific series that uses a combination of puppets, live action, and animation to walk through the Bible step-by-step re-telling the stories, explaining their significance, and answering tough questions. There’s a good balance of humor and depth that should appeal both to kids and adults.

At the end of this promo is a cartoon singing choir which was designed and animated by Yours Truly.

What’s In The Bible? is available on DVD or as digital downloads (full episodes and smaller bite-size segments). More info at the official website.

Who Really Created He-Man?

As a freelance toy designer this looks fascinating to me. It’s a trailer for Toy Masters, an upcoming documentary about a long-running dispute over who should get the credit for creating He-Man and the whole Masters Of The Universe juggernaut. It’s clearly a low-budget effort but judging from the trailer there will be a good mixture of conflict, nostalgia, and insights about the toy biz. More than enough to hold my interest.

I’m On USTREAM

This rough sketch actually represents two new things for me: First, I’ve joined Ustream and have my own channel which I’m calling “SketchyCam Live!”. I started this drawing during tonight’s inaugural broadcast. I’m still experimenting with Ustream so it’s nothing fancy. Just me turning on the camera whenever the mood strikes, which hopefully will be at least once a week. There are still a lot of kinks to work out (audio problems for one) and I don’t have a formal schedule. But if you follow my studio on Facebook or Twitter you’ll see me announce whenever I’m flipping the camera on. Feel free to tune in and join the chat while I sketch.

Second, I thought I’d use this sketch to try a new coloring technique. Instead of going straight to color I painted the whole thing in grayscale and then laid some light color washes over the top. It’s an old painting technique that goes back hundreds of years but one that I haven’t dabbled in since college. One advantage of this method is that its much easier to figure out your value range (lights and darks) without color getting in the way. The danger is that either the colors will get muddy if you lay them in too lightly, or if you lay them in to opaquely they’ll completely obliterate the value scheme underneath. I’m sure there’s a way to avoid both problems in Photoshop which I just haven’t figured out yet. Either way its just refreshing to do something painterly for a change.