Sunday, June 23, 2013


While on any given project it is important for me to draw things that aren't necessarily part of my assignments or for that matter even related to the film I'm casted on. Drawing unrelated or impromptu illustrations keeps me from become bored or stagnate during the long haul of production. You can be casted to a film for  anywhere between two to four years, drawing the same subject matter over and over. If you're on a film you like (for me "BRAVE"), it's not that hard. Sometimes you're taken off of a film before you even get comfortable with drawing the characters.

 I saw a photo that inspired this digital painting, I thought maybe it would come in handy. The original story of "BRAVE" had snow in it after mom turns into a bear.

 Before we had model sheets we drew dad how ever we wanted, this was an early drawing I did before we even had a locked script to draw from.

This is an actual production piece (beat board) for lords arrival. An early pass of the script had the Lords all arriving from different directions over land (the final has them coming by water). As they drew closer to the ceremonial pyre they begin to race each other to be the first clan announced at the ceremony. We use beat boards as place holders until they decide to fully board the sequence that it applies to, there can be numerous beat boards for a sequence.
A Mom and Merida sketch drawn for no particular reason.

This sketch also has no real significance to the film, I may have done this while I was working on an argument sequence between Mom and Merida.

Merida asleep, I drew this on paper. It created a crap storm (who's gonna scan this stuff, where do we store it and track the original art work, etc...) needless to say I didn't draw on paper anymore. For me sometimes it is easier for me to in-vision the world I'm creating if I'm drawing on paper, I don't no why. I still drew out some of my tough scenes on paper and scanned them and then drew over them.

Early on the triplets were very rambunctious, always messing with the royal swans and such. When they changed they originally turned into swans not bears.

Another take on Merida sleeping.

Clock designs and compositional setups for Lilo's kitchen. I wanted the clock to look retro.

An illustration of Merida on Angus, this was a drawing done very early in production. We didn't have model sheets yet. I never showed this to Brenda, she did not want Merida in green and Angus is way to small for a Shire.

An illustration for one of the poems in my dad's circus poem book.

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Lost On The Trail" Part II

So where did I leave off, oh yeah, I have left my family behind to go to work for DreamWorks (great company, hidden secret). God's blessing for sure, he even gave Jodi and us a sign that that was the right direction (another story for another time). I am on the right path, clearly marked, so I don't get lost.

Before I go any further I have to get this off my chest. You should know that I am not the only one who's life was complete turned upside down in this studio fiasco; around 360 other people were screwed in this ordeal (to different degrees) as well.  All this because that rich a__hole CEO doesn't have a modicum of a conscience. By the way he also told me that he was a religious man as well, even talk about his church. Wow, really! I guess he felt like he had to lie to us (my wife and I) because who in their right mind would ever work for a person who builds a business on house of cards (ready to collapse at any moment). Whatever, I'm still working on forgiveness with this - obviously.

Back to my original intent. I moved into my friends empty and I mean empty house for a few months and began working on my new film. Rolling onto a new film is always difficult, compound that with coming into a new studio, new system of working and changing over from a Mac to a PC made things interesting. It had also been years since I had an office mate so adjustments had to be made. Again, I go into survival mode and start working my butt off.

Dreamworks has been so great about my situation and has allowed me to work from home (Florida) during the holiday's and they have let me go home and work periodically since then. It's not an ideal situation because of the time lost and the cost of traveling back and forth but at least I get to see my family a little. 

Like I said earlier I've lived in three locations in seven months since moving to LA. The first being my friends house (thanks Will), then I was offered a free room at another friends apartment (thanks Angelo). God's timing and God's hand, no doubt. As time has been ticking away and we are not seeing any movement on our house I needed to move again and was offered a room at yet another friends house (thank you Karen and Steve). I do not like change, but my life is nothing but change now. Mean while we can't seem to even get a showing on our house. Our house is well with in the value, not over priced by any means. It is in a private horse community (bigger lot's) we have 3.9 acres that sits on a private lake. Three blocks away is a community park that has a soft ball field, a football field, a basket ball court, two jungle gyms and a covered picnic and cookout area. Our house is well maintained and beautiful with it's own pool. But, still no-one comes and we wait on the Lord. Your will God, your timing God, we wait for the people you will send to buy our house. We sit thousands of miles apart, a family divided and we wait. But, we hear nothing, we see nothing, we feel nothing. We pray, and pray, but still nothing. We are not used to the lack of communication from God. He has always kept us in the loop even if it was the slightest indicator. My wife and I are baffled, what direction do we go at this point. I can only compare it to an experience I have had over and over during my hiking days. 

We used to love to drive to the Smokey Mnts. National Park in Tenn. and take advantage of there 400 different hiking trail in the mountains. You always start off with a clearly marked trail, confident, ready to go but as you walk and walk inevitably at some point along the trail, the path, it gets real obscure, your not really sure if you are still on the path. Well, you're on some kind of path but, is it the right path? Maybe you missed a marker or inadvertently picked up a false trail made from animals or off trail hikers and soon the doubt starts to set in. So you start to think "Am I on my path, the path that was chosen when I started?' All you want is a little sign to set you mind at ease. You slow down a little, you start second guessing every step, "should I go back", why did I go on this trail anyway. Did I miss something in the beginning of the trail that would have warned me that this trail is no longer viable? Why didn't I pick some other path, something not so difficult. I call this part of the hike being "lost on the trail". It's a little scary, you're running out of steam and time, if you've made a mistake it may be to late on course to correct. So, you just keep walking, walking in faith and searching and checking your map and looking for a open air spot to get your bearings and eventually you find a marker that let's you know you are okay. 

I could really, really use a little marker about now. The path is obscure, I'm worried, I'm out of steam, I miss my family, and it's getting very late. Where are you Abba? Your son needs you, now.

This is a sketch of Ketchaa I did in a during a very boring meeting. It's on a cover sheet that's why it has the title on it.

Random elephants. What ever film I'm working on, I become obsessed with drawing the subject matter.

These were ideas I presented to the directors. They were looking for everyday life that made baby Tembo unique. He's cute as the dickens isn't he?

Most of these had several if not more drawings to accompany theme when I present them.

His big brother was throwing him in the air and catching him.

A sequence, called "The Capture" Warriors, Fire, Smoke, Elephant herd. It would have been really cool when it was finished.

Early sketches for idea pitch.

Not my Idea, but I liked it so much I did my version with Ketchaa on his head and added it to my pitch.

This is a drawing from a sequence I boarded called "The Barracks"

This is also from the pitch. Thanks to my wife Jodi we can watch a little animation. She's the best.

"Lost On The Trail" Part I

This is awkward, it's been so long since my last post I feel weird just jumping back in and acting as though I just wrote a blog post last week. I admit it's been awhile, actually, it's been a long while, sorry (awkward shoulder shrug). I'm not going to make a bunch of excuses, I'll just inform you of what I've been up to and you might be more inclined to forgive me after you hear why I haven't posted. So, here we go.

Last time I posted I was starting a new chapter in my life, leaving a really good position at Pixar to join a bunch of very courageous people who were going to launch a new animation studio down in my home state of Florida. With great reluctance and scrutiny, particularly from my wife (her intuition was telling something didn't smell right with the whole thing). We agreed to entertain this golden opportunity. The CEO of the company flew out to San Francisco to speak to me and my wife (talk my wife into the venture). She questioned him up and down over dinner. He assured us that this was a sound opportunity for our family. I new it was risky and so did my wife but the job opportunities and the job advancements were to good to pass up. Now, you should know that we were reassured (lied to) that night by the CEO. He told us that the studio and film were in a great financial place, and he told us if all else fails that the he could and would finance the film himself. I felt most of the risk was on me doing my part as in getting the film done and me performing my new duties. You can ask anyone who knows me, I am a man of conviction and I follow through on my commitments to the very end. I knew I would not fail or fall short of finishing my task no matter what kind of obstacles got in my way. So, no risk I could over come.

Here are some of the things we had to do just to get to Florida and start working in this new studio. We had to short sale our house in California (huge lose for us). Cash in all of our savings. Find and buy a new house (most difficult in todays economy). I lived apart from my family for months on end. We pulled our children out of school and away from their friends and the only life they knew. Left a phenomenal church, with many loving brothers and sisters. I think you get the picture. 

After the dust settled life started to get back to normal, kind of.  I became deeply consumed (to a fault) in the demands of the new job. The tasks before me was to help build a working animation studio, my new duties as the head of story were to include helping to develop five viable film ideas, train a story intern, hire and run a crew of story artist, visual development for the various films, write a treatment with the writer on one of the particular film ideas. Later, after we selected "TEMBO" as the idea we wanted to pursue my tasks increased. Now I was finding myself in creative meetings with the directors and a writer beating the story out. When I wasn't in one of those grueling meetings, I was either boarding my own sequence or in an editorial session which last up to 5 or 6 hours at times. Mean while I was still helping at times with the art department and doing scratch dialog for Ketchaa, one of the main characters and several secondary characters. I also had two novice story artist that need constant attention and soon found myself also dealing with a less than cooperative story artist. Oh yeah, I also had three story artist that were out of the state and one of which was in England. Hey, I was okay with all of it. Marching forward I realized things weren't exactly what I pictured they would be but so be it. 
Then I find out I have a major health issue and would soon find myself with out a job because that lying CEO screwed up and ended up getting the studio shut down. Out of a job, just like that, no warning, no grace period. Friday is your last day, no more pay checks. No reimbursement of unused vacation days, nothing. My complete dedication was rewarded with a big fat nothing.

It is important to note that two day before they closed the studio down I spoke with that lying CEO who once again said right to my face that everything was fine, he was working it out, the studio was okay. After awhile I guess they just thought it was okay to just lie about everything. They said we would be able to come back into the studio after a few days to gather our personal things so not to worry about getting it all out in the short amount of time they had given us. They never let us back in and auctioned of our personal items (despicable don't you think).

Needless to say I was freaking out, what the F___ was I gonna do now? I got a phone call within a few days from one of the best people I have ever worked with, Brenda Chapman, the Director of "BRAVE". She helped me to land a story position at DreamWorks were I've been working for the last seven and half months. I have lived in three different location since I've been in California apart from my wife and three children who are still in Florida trying to sell our house. Mean while still dealing with my health issue which has moved to a new level of treatment. So, now you know.
This is one of the beats in the the film "BRAVE". They are illustrations that capture an important moment in the film's story. I love doing these, I get to stretch my illustration wings a bit.

These beats were drawn up for Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson who took a pass at "Brave" 

These were beats are of the Queen preparing the castle for the visiting Lords. Doing these beat
illustrations or storybeats can save story artists from doing a lot of unnecessary boarding by getting these in place and making sure they are the right direction to precede. 

These are more story beats but in no particular order or even in the same sequence

I realize that some of these drawings are repeats but they are all on one file so they accompanied the ones you haven't seen. Mordu ideas.
This was one of the first ideas I drew up. I wasn't even sure what the story was yet. This was way back when there was a funeral procession for mom and the triplets because everyone thought they were dead. The story of "BRAVE" is very different from the first draft.

A story beat of the queen as a bear being discovered by the royal dogs. They loved her and almost give her position to Dad who is trying to kill her.
Repeat from above. The Queen preparing, multitasking as her maidens follow her around.
These are all a little different. I was trying to sell the idea that the Queen, which is now a bear was trying to disguise herself as the King and gain entry to the castle. I was trying to stage it so it was somewhat believable from the guards perspective that she could be the King.

This is a repeat from above as well. I loved drawing these guys, particularly Dingwall.
This is an actual story panel that had a camera move with it. It eventual tracked the entire royal family
coming down the stairs and walking up to the guards.
This is the King returning back to the castle from the hunt. He is caught in a white out snow storm so as he is walking forward he is searching the air with his hand. It was a lot hard to draw convincingly than you would think.
A story board of Mom bear and Mordu facing off in the climax of the film.
An inspirational drawing I did for nothing, well, except to be inspired.

Next post is part II of "Lost On The Trail"
all the drawings will be from the unreleased film "TEMBO"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Being Brave

 My wife has been bugging me to post some drawings from my 5 year journey on "BRAVE". I'll post more Brave work later, these were just the ones that were convenient to locate.

 This a concept drawing done early on in "BRAVE".  I was 
experimenting with different brushes and this happened,  
I could never repeat this effect to bad because I like the look.

Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson took a pass at "Brave" as well.
This is one of the beat-boards for there take on the story. Mom 
is still angry for Merida shooting her in the butt.

The idea that Merida could ride on the back of mom was pitched
 early on the project. The idea was shot down, but it reemerged at 
some point.  I did a few of these drawings and have a drawing like
 this in the Art of Brave Book. 

I did lots and lots of bear drawings while working on "BRAVE"
not always for an assignment though. I can't remeber what I did
this one for.

This was an idea with a character name Silas the stable boy,
 he was the son of Beason the royal tailor. Both were characters 
that existed in the first couple of drafts of "BRAVE". 

In earlier drafts mom turned into a bear in a tanning shed that
was outside of the castle, it was much scarier than the way they
they had her turn into a bear in the film.

This was an illustration (a two page spread) done for a friend's