Updated PDF Portfolios Available For Download

I’ve gone through the PDF versions of all my portfolios, weeded out some old work and put in some fresh. I’ve also updated the “About me” page. You can download them at my website or with these links:

Character Design Portfolio 2011
Toy Design Portfolio 2011
Illustration Portfolio 2011
Comp Art Portfolio 2011

Enjoy!

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Sketchbook Update: Sheriff

I’ve been trying to beef up my character design portfolio to get ready for the CTN Animation Expo next month. The other night I was up late noodling around on my Cintiq and this sheriff popped out. I liked how it was going so I thought I’d throw in some color.

Incidentally, if you are planning to go to the Expo I’ll be giving a talk on Freelancing called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks“. My presentation will be Saturday, Nov. 19. at 4:30pm in the Exec Boardroom. More info here.

Comp Art For Best Buy Pitch

Last month I was hired by Minneapolis ad agency Olson-Denali to work up some color comps for a pitch to Best Buy. They wanted to suggest some possible photography ideas built around a specific theme. The left third of each image was left open for insertion of text.

The deadline was tight—actual working turnaround was about 24 hours.

Eventually Best Buy decided to go another direction, but in this business that’s pretty common. It was still a lot of fun and I’m grateful to Olson-Denali for the opportunity.

Sketchbook Update: Creating A Character

Copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt 2011. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt 2011. All rights reserved.

Recently I’ve been trying to brush up on my character design skills. I’m planning to attend the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank this November and I’d like to walk through the doors with a beefed-up portfolio under my arm.

To get ready I’ve recently taken a character design workshop from Nate Wragg at the new CGMW online school, I’ve attended a lecture by character designer Chris Ayers, and I’ve been reviewing past critiques of my work from industry professionals. Over and over I keep hearing that in the animation industry it’s not enough to create a well-designed character if all you do is sketch him standing around in stiff and boring poses. Everything about your drawings – the pose, the costumes, the props and situations – needs to say clear things about who the character is and, ideally, tell a mini-story. As my friend Tom Bancroft says in his excellent book on character design, every pose should have a clear reason behind it. Animation studios don’t want someone who can just design a person or animal, they want someone who can create a character.

Chris Ayers has a really great trick that he uses to help him practice his character design skills. At his drawing table he has a ziploc bag full of little slips of paper. Written on each piece is a character type, a prop, an animal, or an attitude/expression. After he cracks open his sketchbook he reaches in and pulls out a few slips of paper and then challenges himself to create a character using that combination. For example, combining “rhino”, “lederhosen”, and “ready to fight” would probably result in a burly German rhino looking like he’ll knock your block off if you dare to snicker at his silly green outfit. If you purchase My Daily Zoo, Chris’s excellent drawing/activity book for children, he even has a batch of tear-off tabs in the back to get you started on your own ziploc bag of character ideas.

I loved that idea so much that I brainstormed my own list and now keep a similar bag near my desk. The other day I reached in and pulled out slips of paper reading “shark”, “charming”, and “southern gentleman”. I put those together to create the above sketch.

If all goes as planned I’ll be posting more sketches like this as the CTN Animation Expo gets closer.

I’m Now An Award-Winning Toy Designer

Play Illustration, a portfolio website for artists in the toy and game industries, recently held their 2011 International Art Competition which I entered. I’m pleased to announce that they’ve given me a Silver Award (second place) in the category of Concept Art for Toy or Children’s Product.

I found out on my birthday, which makes it extra-nice news. It’s definitely more exciting than the time my high school voted me “Most Likely To Attend Comic-Book Conventions Well Into His Thirties”.

The piece I entered (shown above) was some concepts and the final design for a plush teddy bear created for DecoPac, Inc. You can see how the final toy turned out on the DecoPac website or on my earlier blog post about the project.

I want to congratulate the first place winner, Timothy Banks, as well as all the other winners in the other categories. I also want to thank the nice folks at Play Illustration for the award. You’ve given me the excuse I needed to start doubling my rates. (I kid, I kid!)

Preschool Puzzles for Patch Products (Say That Five Times Fast)

A few months ago I created a large batch of illustrations for Patch Products, a leading toy and game company. They had a series of puzzles for very young children that needed a refresh, complete with new artwork.

Today a package arrived containing all thirty of the updated puzzles, bundled in packs of three. I’m told that they’ll be popping up on the shelves at Walmart very soon if they haven’t already. You can also order them online directly from Patch.

I did almost 100 illustrations for the project. Here’s a few of them:

Chili Cook-Off

I’m still busy working on some projects that I can’t say much about. I’m doing another round of sketches of some licensed merchandise for an upcoming animated feature film, I’m developing some ideas for a birthday cake topper, and I’m cranking out some digital marker comps for a rush advertising project.

In the mean time to keep the blog from growing stale, here’s a piece I banged out the other night to promote a chili cook-off at my church.