My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


Something Borrowed

I was inspired today by the artwork of Gris Grimly to do a quick self-portrait similar to his style of Goth character design. Lots of fun!


Something New

Here's a quote that I really like -
"I much prefer to work with people who have big enthusiasm, even if they don't have big experience" - Sylvain Chomet, director of the feature animation The Triplets of Belleville.

If only....

New Intern
Yup - we have a new intern who starts work with the toy design department on Monday. Strangely, our creative manager did not forward us any information about the intern until yesterday. Turns out that the intern was emailing the information under a different name or something like that and so my boss was deleting the email...thought it was spam. ha! Curious to see how the new intern does. I totally enjoyed working with the two girls from NYC this summer. This one though, isn't in a toy design program at all, but evidently went to the same school our creative manager did. Guess I'll find out more on Monday. :)

New Showroom
Meanwhile, the showroom buyer/vendor shows have been going on as usual. So far, so good. We all also had the opportunity (finally) to get a walk-through of the showroom with a couple of the product line managers so that we had a better understanding of what they're presenting to the vendors as well as a bit of what the buyers are thinking as they see our new products for 2006. Seems like the costume show we've been putting on every time has really been well received (although all of us performers are rather less than enthusiastic of the little skits we do and the costumes we have to wear). It is really cool to see the samples of projects that I've worked on in the various sets we have in the showroom. Also funny to recall what the original concept was...and the added tweaks or revisions that our creative manager felt necessary to "enhance" the final sample. Have to admit, I frequently don't agree with his decisions as far as that goes, but hey, that's why he's the manager. Those aren't my decisions to make. And I'm really happy for that.

My current toy design projects include a variety of pieces - from animatronic characters to detailed illustration or graphic design for high resolution printing, and then the usual concepts for license and department store specialties (plush or table decor...or something else). As usual, I'm still behind on my production art log, but I'm slowly catching up once again. Hopefully next week will be static (and little or no revisions or "emergencies") so that I can churn out my current concepts and finally start on some new ones. To help get an idea of our daily production quota...while we may work on up to five different rough concepts or drafts per day (more or less), by the end of the day we want to have produced a minimum of two final concepts (concept sketch approved by our creative manager and the product manager, clean line art and turn-arounds created, and gone to color, and provided on forms for factory production (with callouts/comments as needed) and presentation.

It keeps us busy.

Here's a sample of one of my earlier projects on a production form. It includes color callouts and preferred materials as well as comments on animation (it's a simple type of animatronic):

New Movie
I saw the new movie, Corpse Bride by Tim Burton, yesterday evening. I really enjoyed it! In fact, although most reviewers say otherwise, I liked it better than Nightmare Before Christmas. Guess I'm just weird. I had the opportunity to see some of the new toys that McFarlane is creating based on the movie when I was at the San Diego Comic Con back in July. Nice stuff! I'll be using a wee bit of my paycheck for some of the characters next month. They tend to have that interesting manneristic style with a Burtonesque twist. I like it. There's a really good interview given by the Head of the Puppet Department for the movie, Graham G. Maiden, about how they did some of the puppet making for the stop-motion animation.

New Project
And for the rest of my ongoing personal something new going on there that I'm pretty excited about. I've been asked to help out with an animation pitch of a new 3D tv series for a major animation studio (sadly not DNA). I'll help out with the continued visual development of the project as well as some of the modeling. And definitely whatever else I can do to assist. On the plus side, I'll gain some valuable experience and get the chance to be mentored by some creative professionals who have or are currently working in the animation industry in one capacity or another and I don't have to relocate (for the moment). On the negative, I'm not getting paid for any of the work I do. D'oh!

As relates to my portfolio submissions...nothing new. :(


Something Different

This sketch is more in line with the fantasy style of some of my older work. Sometimes it's good to go back and revisit those kinds of things. I've also been working a bit more on my storyboards and the characters for the animation short. While progress has been slower than I'd like, I'm happy to say I'm still moving forward and not quitting.

More stuff coming soon! Along with the occasional random post, here and there, just for something different. :)


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

My immediate family wasn't directly effected by Hurricane Katrina, however I do have friends and co-workers whose families have been. So much sadness....

Since I live here in North Texas, I have various opportunities to volunteer to help out the evacuees from New Orleans. The Texas branches of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators are also looking for ways to provide long-term help for families affected by this disaster. I received the following information today and I'd like to share it with you all in case you can help, too.



Message from Stephen Mooser, SCBWI President on the SCBWI website:

SCBWI Members Affected by Hurricane Katrina
If you are an SCBWI Member in need of help because of Hurricane Katrina, whether it be transportation, food, shelter, or other services, please call the SCBWI Hurricane Hotline at 1-877-547-2294 and let us know:
* what services you need.
* the best way to reach you (phone, email, etc.).
Our staff will return your call as soon as possible with resources or a local contact for immediate help.

SCBWI Members in the Surrounding Areas
If you are an SCBWI Member in Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Missouri,
Georgia, or another nearby state, and would like to offer transportation, food, shelter, or other services, please email with your contact information and what help you can offer.

SCBWI Members in Other Areas
The SCBWI will be establishing a fund to provide help to schools and libraries in the Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi areas. Watch this space for more information. Right now, we are more concerned with saving lives and encourage you in the meantime to donate to emergency relief efforts:

* Network for Good
offers a comprehensive list of nonprofits accepting donations

* American Red Cross
donation site hosted by Yahoo!

* Louisiana Library Association Disaster Relief
monetary donations to schools & libraries

* State Library of Louisiana Hurricane Assistance Links
links to help children, shelters, and more

From the North Texas SCBWI:
I want to encourage each of you to reach into your hearts and find a way to be involved in helping those involved, whether through the many national organizations, local ones, churches, community groups and so on.

Many of the SCBWI's are wanting to get books to the children who will be sitting in these temporary homes for weeks as their families try to put their lives together. The Haynes suggested a possible book drive at our conference to get to these kids, though I think that anything you can do more immediately would be greatly helpful.

If you have any ideas on how we can get donated books to the various areas or want to contact someone as to how this might be done, please contact me and we'll see what we can get going. With our region so large and the evacuees being in Dallas, Arlington, and Fort Worth and more, there are definitely more than one place that we can help with donations of our own books and used books we might have or purchase.

Kathryn Lay


Those Interesting Arctic Animals...

My friend Sara Jane posted a comment on IM when she was away at lunch one day....and it got my Polar Bears all riled up. Fear the Ninja Penguin Army? Ha! That's all the challenge we needed, heh; and we both started coming up with some other fun away messages during our lunch breaks. Here's a couple of my quick sketches based on that bit of fun.

And, of course, the story continues.... :)