Sunday, October 7, 2012

Who the hell is interrupting my Kong Fu?!?!?!

The more I looked at the previous Black Dynamite sprite, the more I kind of hated it. So, uh, do-overs. I studied the SF Zero sprites a little more and adjusted his proportions accordingly. I'm still not sure that it looks like it fits in that world yet, but it's an improvement.

Oh, and hey look! He's moving!

Sprite created in Photoshop and animated in Pixen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SoDak Animation 2012

I'm honored to announce that The Turtle and the Monkey was selected for SoDak Animation 2012 in beautiful (?) Brookings, South Dakota.

It's scheduled to be shown during the first night of the festival, Wednesday October 17th. I've been thinking about attending, but I'd probably only make it to Nevada before I ran out of money.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Podcast Divide or Animation is Animation, Guys. WTF

So after discovering the hotness that is iOS's Podcasts app (subscribing to podcasts without having to download them? Word?) I set about on a subscription frenzy, amassing a list of podcasts in my subscription list that I'll probably never be able to clear.

Music? Stones Throw, Mad Decent, and Fool's Gold got me covered. Information? NPR and Phil Yu's Sound and Fury. Comedy? Yo, I 'f*x with' Neal Brennan's The Champs Podcast.

But as far as animation goes, there are hundreds to choose from, but I haven't found many that discuss animation in a way that interests me. I'm probably making gross generalizations, but animation podcasts seem to fall into two distinct camps. The ones discussing Eastern animation ('Eastern' almost always meaning Japanese) are usually enthusiastic anime fans sitting at a table talking about whatever the hot new film/series might be, sprinkled liberally with references to "Over 9000" or some hot internet meme. Which is cool, I guess, but because they don't have a ton of supplemental information or access to anyone on the production side, I don't find them particularly insightful. The ones focusing on Western animation ('Western' usually meaning 'American') might satisfy my thirst for critical discussion and 'insider' talk, (the Alt Animation Podcast, for instance, is excellent), but there seems to be an almost willful ignorance of anything coming from other parts of the world, particularly Asia ... particularly Japan. Judging by the descriptions in various show archives, Hayao Miyazaki is apparently the only living Japanese animator. Even then, his work is considered like some bizarre Martian artifact, impenetrable and wholly unlike anything done in the West. Meanwhile, discussion-worthy work like Kaiba, and Noitamina shows like The Tatami Galaxy and Kids on the Slope are banished to the 'otaku' podcast ghetto where discussion barely ventures beyond plot, love triangles, and kawaii factor (Again, I know I'm probably making some nasty generalizations here). Not to mention all of the innovative works coming from Europe that appear to be cockblocking my film on the film festival circuit.

Really, is it too much to ask for a podcast featuring knowledgeable, well-rounded, animation enthusiasts introducing and/or discussing cool animation, no matter where it comes from? The only thing out there that seems to fit the bill for me right now is the French TV show Catsuka. But it's not quite a podcast, and I can't understand a word of French.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hard Boiled

So last week, I tried drawing Chow Yun-Fat and kind of failed. Determined to get a passable likeness, I tried again. Then I thought, "Eh ... why don't I throw Tony Leung in there too". Then, "I might as well do a background now." And so I ended up with a tribute to one of the great Hong Kong action films.

When I first saw the Hard Boiled, what struck me was that it felt more 'Hollywood' than Woo's previous films - a little more 'cold' emotionally when compared to the thick melodrama of films like The Killer and Bullet in the Head. This is exemplified in the film's overall bluish tint. That blue-ness really stuck out to me, and so it's something that I tried to convey here.

Sketched and inked in Sketchbook Pro and colored in Photoshop.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Play on, play ooooooon ...

Voodoo by D'Angelo is my favorite album of all time. For better or worse, it almost single-handedly made me the music junkie that I am today; constantly searching for something that'll make me feel like I did when I first listened to Voodoo. With this digital painting, I tried to convey how the opening track, 'Playa Playa' makes me feel like I've been transported to some smoky jazz club. That opening still gives me chills more than a decade later.

I also used this to experiment with using a monochrome underpainting. I'm not really satisfied with the way it turned out. I think it looks OK when scaled down, but sloppy when blown up to full size. But I've already spent too much time on this and I need to move on to something new.

Sketch was done on paper, then scanned, cleaned up, and painted in Photoshop.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Big Ol' London Olympic Sketchdump

It's several weeks late, but here are some of the results of a couple of weeks of sitting in front of the TV, trying to capture the thrill of victory and agony of defeat with whatever drawing utensils I had at hand. As you'll see here, I spent most of my time doing super quick and dirty figure sketches, trying to capture athletes in motion, as well as some caricature and likeness drawing here and there.
Badminton. Why was I watching badminton?

Gymnastics. I need to remind myself that the way these people can flex their spines is not something I should apply to when I draw normal people.

Volleyball. I swear I only enjoyed women's beach volleyball because it's a competitive and intense sport

Swimming. The 'dolphin kick' was my nemesis.

Track & Field. I think that's supposed to be Usain Bolt in the center.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I bought an Ergotron LX arm last year after seeing this miraculous piece of video and thinking that it would solve my possibly-OCD need to have my Cintiq sitting at the same level as my Macbook display. Alas, the only successful examples I've seen of the Ergotron + Cintiq setup have been with the larger 21UX and now I know why. The 12WX just doesn't put enough weight on the arm to maintain a comfortable drawing position.

So I finally decided to try switch things up after the Ergotron tried to punch me in the face for the thousandth time. It's OK so far, I guess. The vertical arrangement takes some getting used to, and I'm missing the ability to rotate the Cintiq 90º. But my drawing sessions no longer involve bobbing and weaving, so ... progress?

... but I am keeping the Ergotron on the chance that I somehow find enough money to afford a 21UX. How much are kidneys worth these days?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dynomite! Dynomite!

I was inspired to try to create some pixel art after seeing this piece of fanart on the Black Dynamite Facebook feed. I originally wanted to do an idle animation, figuring that this pixel animation stuff is kinda primitive and couldn't be that hard. But after three hours of work, I realized that pixel art is no joke.

My goal was to make something that matched the Street Fighter Zero/Alpha style and had a Ryu sprite sheet from that game to use as reference. But it's really not that close. I'm not feeling the pose either, so I have a feeling that I'll be revisiting this at some point in the near future. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baby got back

Back study that turned into a painting exercise. Even after this, the human back remains an area of great wonder and mystery.

Painted in Sketchbook Pro.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bunches of Punches

Here's an exercise that I did recently to evaluate Toon Boom Animate and practice some action stuff for whenever I get around to doing something with Kinniku Fighter.

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 California International Animation Festival

I'm proud to announce that The Turtle and the Monkey was selected for the 2012 California International Animation Festival. The festival itself is actually a month-long event in which the selected films are shown on KAZV-TV in Modesto, California at various times throughout the month of June. The Turtle and the Monkey falls into the "General 1" block which includes films that the festival committee rated for ages 7+. This block of films will be shown on the following dates:

  • Friday, June 01, 2012 - 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, June 07, 2012 - 1:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 1:00 PM
  • Monday, June 18, 2012 - 1:00 PM
  • Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 1:00 PM
KAZV can be found in the Modesto, California area on Comcast Channel 195 and broadcast channel 14. Sadly, I live only 15-20 miles from Modesto and can't get this channel :-/

All films are eligible for an audience award, so please vote for The Turtle and the Monkey if you feel so inclined.  Voting is open until June 30, 2012.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

League Champion!

I won my fantasy basketball league championship a couple of weeks ago in an intense finals matchup that pitted my team, the Dragon BallerZ, against a team that had gone undefeated up to that point. My team battled valiantly and eked out a win by a mere 5 fantasy points.


An illustration I made for my team at the start of the season. From left: Danny Granger, Eric Gordon, Joakim Noah, Russell Westbrook, and Al Horford. Strangely enough, like Tenshinhan, Horford was the first to "die". And like Kulilin, Eric Gordon went down and was revived multiple times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Backgrounds for 'The Turtle and the Monkey'

My student film, 'The Turtle and the Monkey' is 'finished' and in the process of being entered into film festivals. There are still a few things that can use improvement, or that make me cringe while watching it with company. But at some point, you've just got to let your baby go, let it fly off into the sky and proudly see it soar or watch in horror as it crashes to the ground and gets eaten by a cat.

The production process was interesting in that it was backwards when compared to how an animated production would typically be handled. I went into animation without much of an idea about how the environments were going to look, because I couldn't paint or draw environments. I worked on the animation with a general idea of where the character would fit into a shot, but I had to take several basic painting classes to be able to actually do the backgrounds themselves. I feel that I still have a long way to go as a painter, but I don't think these turned out too badly.


Scene 2

Scrolling background for a long right-to-left walking shot.

Not as long right-to-left walking shot

Scene 3

Scene 4
In the film, there is a cross-dissolve from the shot shown in the top pic to the one at the bottom
Scene 5

Distorted BG to accommodate for a pan from right-to-left.


Corel Painter X was used for both layout and background painting. Because I learned to paint with actual paint, Painter's mixer felt way more natural to me than picking colors out of a swatch in Photoshop.

I started off by exporting a snapshot from Toon Boom Studio that I felt best represented the shot.

I then brought the image into Painter, reduced the characters' layer opacity, and drew the environment, as well as notes and framing information.

Then I painted the backgrounds, giving attention to layer hierarchy for when the artwork was imported into Toon Boom Studio. This was especially important for the shots that involved camera movement. Toon Boom Studio was used for all of the compositing because (1) I didn't know how to use After Effects at this point and (2) the ability to position and move elements in 3D space within Toon Boom is awesome.

Not that I recommend going about a project this way, but if you can't draw/paint environments worth a lick and you're willing to learn, at least you aren't completely dead in the water.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Didn't the first person to run a marathon die afterwards?

Here's a short cycle that I made to test a potential workflow using Flash for an upcoming project. All of the animation was done (slowly) on paper, then scanned and imported into Flash. Cleanup, ink & paint were all handled in Flash.

It's been a while since I last animated with the old paper and lightbox method, and the going was pretty rough. I kept looking around for some magic 'cmd+z' keys to whisk my mistakes away. And you never have to deal with greasy erasers on a wacom. I guess I'm just not old-school in this regard.

Based on the way that the video breaks up when exporting from Flash, I don't think it's the way to go. I've exported this video a number of times and the glitches always appear at some point.

*Update - the blank background of the original video bothered me enough to make me revisit this video and give it some groovy speedlines.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Here are a couple of characters I designed for an animation exercise that I'm planning. Let's call them 'Ray' and 'Warren'.

I found an incredible compilation of fighting animation by Norio Matsumoto on YouTube and felt compelled to attempt a Japanese style animated fight scene. Ray and Warren are based on a couple of my best friends from high school and a little comic I did back then called 'Kinnick Fighter' - 'Kinnick' being the name of our high school. It was the era when Street Fighter mania was sweeping the world and Dragon Ball Z was the must-see cartoon on Japanese TV (yes, I'm quite old) and I thought it would be fun to draw a comic featuring my group of friends engaging in fisticuffs.

No, I will not post samples from it.

Over the years, I've thought about ways to develop it into a series of some sort, with the slightly altered title Kinniku High School (kinniku is Japanese for 'muscle'). But ultimately, I don't think the world needs yet another teenage fighting series.

I've had to shove the exercise to the back burner for a bit while I deal with other things, but I hope to get it going at some point in the near future. For now, Here are some exploratory sketches that eventually led to the designs you see above.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I was thinking recently about how I haven't done much animation containing dialogue. So I set out to remedy that situation. But I couldn't just do any old vanilla 11 Second Club sound byte. Ohhhh no. I needed to stir in some of that Pilipino play-bor.

The bit is from the latest Rex Navarrete comedy album , Live at Cobb's. I actually haven't had bulalo before, but I probably need to get the bulalovin' going on one of these days.