Book Sale

I’ve got a pretty large collection of art books in my studio library. Too many in fact. They’re nice to have and inspiring to look at but the reality is there’s a large chunk of them that I never, ever pull off the shelf and thumb through. So I’ve decided its time to start selling a few.

I’m starting with some of the more expensive ones but plan to add more modestly priced books the near future. You can view a live update of everything I have available on my Amazon.com storefront: http://www.amazon.com/shops/cedricstudio

I’ve tried to undercut other Amazon sellers whenever possible. If I’ve got a like-new copy I’m not going to sell it for cheaper than someone selling a raggedy book full of highlighting and coffee stains. But within reason I’m willing to be the lowest price. For the moment at least buying from me will get you the best deal (though you can check for sure by clicking on the item and looking at the various “Used and New” offers). Current titles include:

  • To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios
  • Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards
  • Rockwell On Rockwell: How I Make A Picture by Norman Rockwell
  • Don Bluth’s Art Of Storyboard
  • MAD’s Greatest Artists: The Completely Mad Don Martin (2 Volume Set)
  • Puss N Boots (illustrated by Andreas Deja, signed limited edition)
  • Peter Pan Sketchbook (Walt Disney Sketchbook Series, limited edition)
  • Little Mermaid Sketchbook (Walt Disney Sketchbook Series, limited edition)
  • Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation
  • The Art of Monster’s Inc.
  • Rough Beasts 1 (sketchbook of Bill Halliar)
  • The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age
  • Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm
  • Modern Masters Vol. 1: Alan Davis
  • Modern Masters Vol. 6: Arthur Adams
  • Leonard Maltin’s Animation Favorites from the National Film Board of Canada (DVD)
  • Out of the Picture: Art from the Outside Looking In by Chris Wedge
  • Amistad: A Celebration of the Film

I won’t be updating the above list on this blog but if you just visit my storefront you can see the most up-to-date list of what I have for sale. Most books are in very good condition but if not I’ve noted any tears, underlining, etc. in the product descriptions. If you decide to buy one, I hope you enjoy reading it. I can tell you from personal experience that just leaving it on the shelf to soak in through osmosis doesn’t work very well.

Happy shopping!

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Good Disney Documentary at a Great Price

Dream On Silly Dreamer is a low-budget but nicely done documentary made in 2006 by Disney animators chronicling the massive layoffs handed down by Disney management in 2002. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Disney studios following the massive success of The Lion King all the way down to the “official” end of 2D animation at Disney. Animators recall the wild ride from uber-celebrity status and massive paychecks all the way to pink slips. It’s a must-see for any animation fan and not nearly as depressing to watch as you might think. I own a copy on DVD and have watched it twice, enjoying it both times.

While browsing around iTunes I happened to notice the entire film is available for purchase for only $1.99. That’s less than what it costs just to rent most movies. I have no idea how long it will be available at that price so you might want to snatch it up while you can (also available on DVD at Amazon, including extra footage and some good special features but minus the bargain price).

While you are at it you might want to follow it up with Waking Sleeping Beauty, Don Hahn’s new documentary about the Disney “Renaissance” under Michael Eisner. The two films together are a great combo for studying the modern Disney 2D-animation era, one during its rise and the other during its fall. Waking Sleeping Beauty is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Toy Design: Minnie Mouse Picture Frame

Last year I was hired by one of my regular clients, DecoPac Inc., to help with a Minnie Mouse toy concept for Disney. It takes a long time for a toy to do from original concept to final product so I’m just now able to reveal it.

The client showed me some misc. graphics provided by Disney including some “Dress Shop” clip art and a black silhouette of Minne Mouse walking a poodle and carrying a purse. The idea was to combine them into a pair of toys with a “shopping” theme: a curved picture frame with removable paper insert , and a matching figurine of Minnie based on the pose in the silhouette.

Because of the practical realities of the toy business sometimes something beautifully drawn in 2D may not perfectly translate into a child-friendly 3D sculpt. That was the case with the original Minnie silhouette (not shown). In it Minnie’s purse was hanging loosely off of her wrist which was a safety concern. If we sculpted the toy that way the purse could snap off and become a choking hazard. So I tweaked it to have her gripping it firmly in her hand instead. Likewise we changed the dog leash to a shopping bag but again it couldn’t have strap handles, it had to be gripped firmly in her hand.

Even Minnie’s arms had to be brought in tight to her sides to prevent them from snapping off. However, I didn’t want to also bring her arms in on the silhouette because it would lose a lot of clarity. Her torso and arms would morph into one ambiguous black blob. As a result the final figurine doesn’t perfectly match the silhouette, but hopefully it was close enough that the two pieces still felt like part of a set.

Here’s What I came up with:

Here’s how the final toy came out:

Toy Story 3: Woody Figurine

One of my regular clients is a toy company called DecoPac. Among other things they design many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in grocery store bakeries. They also create various toys and novelties to put on top of the cakes, often tying in with licensed characters and brands.

Last year they commissioned me to develop some concepts for a “Toy Story” cake to correspond with the upcoming push to promote Toy Story 3. I was asked to come up with some cake designs highlighting Woody and Buzz, and also to brainstorm a few ideas for small “Woody” toys or mini-figurines that could be placed on top of the cake for extra appeal. I don’t yet have permission from the client to show you the various concept sketches I developed for the cake itself. I can show you some of the rough ideas I came up with for the Woody toy:

Woody and Toy Story are copyright © Disney.

Woody and Toy Story are copyright © Disney.

Here’s how the final three-inch figurine turned out:

Woody and Toy Story are copyright © Disney.

And here’s a cake design DecoPac ultimately developed for the bakeries to use:

A few days ago I was in my local Wal-Mart and saw this exact toy decorating one of the cakes in the bakery display cooler. Of course I had to buy it. My little girls had an extra-special treat for desert that night:

Interview with Character Designer Dan Haskett

Dan Haskett is an animation veteran and one of the top character designers in the business. He’s contributed to classic feature films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Prince of Egypt, Mulan, and Toy Story. Dan helped translate Matt Groening’s early sketches for The Simpsons into the look we know today and was rewarded with an Emmy for his work.  He’s also worked on numerous commercials and created animated bits for Sesame Street.

I first met Dan Haskett at the Motion ’08 animation conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he gave a fascinating presentation on designing ethnic characters (read my blog post about it here). After his presentation he was kind enough to review my portfolio. The following year I was invited back to the Motion conference as a speaker where I again had the chance to visit with Dan. He’s a brilliant and versatile artist, a likable guy with strong opinions that he shares in a soft-spoken and thoughtful manner.

In January 2010 Dan was kind enough to give me a phone interview from his desk at Warner Brothers where he is currently designing characters for two Scooby Doo projects. He shared some observations on the industry, offered some advice, and gave his thoughts on The Princess and the Frog from his perspective as an African American in the animation industry.

(Full interview after the break.)

(The above artwork is copyright © Dan Haskett. All rights reserved.)

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“Help The Hodges” Update

I’m leaving today to spend the weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska where I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the North Central chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. We’ll be judging submissions for the “comic strips” category of the NCS Reuben Awards. There will also be some presentations by other artists, some good food, and lots of goofing off.

Before I leave I wanted to update you on the “Help The Hodges” art auction on ebay. If you haven’t heard, hundreds of very cool animation- and cartoon-related items are being auctioned off to raise money for animator/writer/producer Tim Hodge, who’s son Matthew is in a coma after a car he was in was struck by a train.

Over the course of about three weeks a steady stream of items was being auctioned off. Then, without warning, ebay killed the auction and yanked it offline. I don’t know the details but apparently there was a misunderstanding that resulted in an accidental violation of one of ebay’s many fine-print policies. Over 150 items were wiped out in mid-bid.

The good news is that things have been ironed out with ebay and the auction will start up again on Saturday, February 27. As soon as it does you’ll be able to view a list of all the available items at HelpTheHodges.com. There will be a ton of neat stuff up for sale.

Before the auction was interrupted I was fortunate enough to land the winning bid on an autographed Disney maquette of Kuzko from “The Emporer’s New Groove”. It arrived in the mail yesterday and is currently perched atop the computer desk in my studio until I can build a proper shelf for it:

“Help The Hodges” is a great cause and a big win-win. There’s something neat for every fan of animation or cartooning, and its all for a good cause. But if bidding isn’t your thing, you can also give a Paypal donation to the Hodge’s at HelpTheHodges.com.

Toy Design: Disney’s “Princess and the Frog” Rough Concepts

Here’s another concept I worked up for DecoPac, a local company that manufactures licensed toys for specialty birthday cakes.

They told me they were working on a cake design for Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” and asked me to work up a couple of rough concept sketches to help them sell it to the folks at Disney. They wanted one version of princess Tiana blowing a kiss in the frog’s direction, and another version with her holding the frog in her hands and looking at it skeptically. This was back in 2008 when very little information about the movie was available to the public, so there wasn’t much else for us to go on concept-wise.

Artwork copyright © Disney via DecoPac, Inc. All rights reserved.

You couldn’t see much of what was going on under the dress, so I tried to show alternating leg positions that might influence the structure of the fabric depending on if one arm was up or down.

Artwork copyright © Disney via DecoPac, Inc. All rights reserved.

At this point we were just trying to sell the idea, so I didn’t agonize too much over making sure the characters were exactly on model. Disney approved the concept and then handed it off to their in-house artists to further refine the design.

Here’s how the final cake turned out:

And here’s a close-up photo of the toy figurine:

If you’ve got a little princess in your life with a birthday coming up, there’s a good chance this cake will be available for order at your local bakery.

Incidentally, I still haven’t seen the movie. I’m hoping to finally get out to it soon before it leaves theaters.