See You At The Expo!

Tonight I’m flying to California for the CTN Animation Expo. Can’t wait! Before I leave I wanted to post a few items of interest:

1. Update on my freelancing presentation.
I’ll be giving a talk at the Expo on Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm, called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks”. In an earlier blog post I said the talk would be 30 minutes. It will actually be an hour and fifteen minutes. Tickets to my talk are sold out but I’m told that when my presentation is over I can move everyone over to another room in the building (not sure which one yet) for an ongoing Q&A. If you weren’t able to get a seat at my talk you can still catch the Q&A. Just wait around outside the Exec Boardoom at around 5:45pm so you can join us as we file out.

2. Check out Stephen Silver’s new “Posebook” app.
Speaking of the CTN Expo, the amazing character designer Stephen Silver will have a booth there again this year. He’s got a new project that I think is pretty neat: He’s creating a new series of iPhone/iPad app for artists called Posebook. It’s a collection of professional costumed models in over 2,000 full-body poses (no nudes), hands, and close-up facial expressions for sketching. There’s also 6 instructional videos included as well as 25 sketches from some top character designers in the biz. That’s a lot of goodies for $9.99.

The first volume, “Males”, has just been released on iTunes. The second volume, “Females”, is coming soon. I recently downloaded the app and can’t wait to give it a try. Once the dust settles around here I plan to post a review along with a sketch or two. But from what I can tell so far it’s a great product.

3. I’m being interviewed on “On The Box”.
Several years ago I illustrated a cartoon Gospel tract for the ministry of Living Waters which has consistently been one of their best sellers – over 5 million copies have been printed in English and it has been translated into 20 languages. Last year, with the help of some talented animators I produced an animated version of the tract which to date has had over 300,000 hits on YouTube.

While I’m in California Living Waters has graciously invited me  to do a short video interview on their webcast, “On The Box”. It will air live on Thursday, November 17 (11:30am Pacific) and then be uploaded to their YouTube channel for future viewing.

Gotta go pack my bags. I’ll be back in the studio on Monday, November 21.

Advertisements

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!

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.

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.

Local Art Exhibit & Book Signing by Hollywood Character Designer Chris Ayers

I should have posted this earlier this week but over the last few days I was slammed with deadlines. Better late than never.

Chris Ayers is a Minnesota native currently working as a character designer and concept artist in Hollywood. He’s done work on Men in Black II, Star Trek and The Fantastic Four and is currently designing characters for an upcoming Dreamworks animation project.

Chris is probably most well-known for his Daily Zoo books. In 2005 he was diagnosed with leukemia and as part of his recovery he challenged himself to draw an animal a day. He kept it up for over two years. The sketches were compiled into two books with a third in the works, plus a fun children’s drawing/activity book called My Daily Zoo. As for the leukemia there’s good news: Chris has been in remission now for over five years.

An art show of Chris’s work recently opened at the Owatonna Arts Center. Chris will be there in person later today (Saturday, Sept. 10) from 1:00-4:00pm. At 2:00 he’ll be giving a slideshow presentation to discuss his work followed by a book signing. The exhibit runs through Sept. 25. If you live in or near the Twin Cities I’d encourage you to check it out.

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.

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.