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.

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.

Christmas Gift Ideas For The Artist In Your Life

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If you’re looking for any last-minute Christmas ideas you might want to browse through my Amazon.com store, Cedric Hohnstadt Recommends. It’s a collection of books, DVDs, and other resources related to art, animation, and freelancing. Each item is something I have personally owned, used, and found to be especially helpful and/or inspirational.

Full disclosure: If you order any of the items from Amazon after clicking through my store I’ll receive a tiny percentage of the sale as a kickback (you won’t pay any extra). So you’ll not only be filling someone’s stocking but you’ll be helping me support my iPhone app addiciton.

Character Design: Rhino

Last year I did some concept development work for an animated motion picture currently being developed in Hollywood. I was brought on board to help design some animal characters. The catch was that I had to try to match the style of another artist who had already done quite a bit of their visual development.

I did some sketches of an ostrich and a near-sighted rhino. Ultimately it was decided that I wasn’t quite capturing the look they were after and so we shook hands and parted ways. Oh well, you can’t win them all. But they were great people to work with, they paid me for my work, and we parted on good terms.

I can’t say too much about the project because as far as I know it is still in development. But I did retain the rights to my unused sketches and can show them to you. I posted some ostrich samples a while back. Today I came across some of the rhino drawings in my files and thought I would post them as well:

Copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt. All rights reserved.