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.


Holiday Pink

To celebrate the holidays and provide some family merriment since everyone was coming over to my place for Christmas dinner, I enjoyed telling my hair dresser (beautician?), Tracy, to go ahead and color my hair all pink just before Christmas. :) It was something I have wanted to try at least once. Like getting a tattoo. Anyways, my hair looked like sweet pink spun taffy when she was drying it. Lovely! I'm sad that it's fading so fast and my blonde hair is peeping through so quickly. I particularly enjoyed how unnatural the color looked, heh. Left my bangs blonde, too, for a nice contrast.

Next time, tho, I think I want to try more of a pink bundt cake with white frosting instead of the cotton candy look. ha!

Last few days to finish planning my goals and strategies for next year, both personal and for work. Lots of stuff I want to do, including setting a regular exercise routine (again...darn those shrinking jeans!), painting (can't live without it), managing the interns at work (always an intriguing challenge), developing new strategies to improve how the creative team delivers product concepts and how we can all build our creative skills (blah, blah, blah), traveling to Austria and Germany this summer (so exciting!!), getting that more relevant creative role (i.e. better role/job in the industry I want to be a part of), reading my new books...and yes, finally getting my own lot to the publishers for editing/fine-tuning. Some excellent books I got for Christmas - lovely stack for sure! About a mix of 25 fiction and 5 non-fiction books that I will get to read and study at leisure. Mmmm...yummy. Probably will have them all read by March if not sooner.



Almost Christmas!

I finally finished putting up the last Christmas decorations today and expect my mom to be here sometime tomorrow afternoon. The tree was put up first a couple of weeks ago on the weekend I finally started really getting over that horrible cold. Of course, it's not a real tree in my wee apartment, although I do prefer real over artifical - something special and so Christmas-y about the smell of a lovely decorated Douglas or Frasier Fir. Another something I'd like to do once I finally have my own house....and without four flights up to get to my place. The cats, however, are very happy with their new blanket, er, the tree skirt. Usually there's a cat each left and right resting under the tree - like two little gifts on the red material. I'm sure I'll have pictures of that to post later. Unfortunately, my cat Mina likes to eat the ribbon and bows that make Christmas presents so it will only be the cats resting under the tree - the presents will have to stay in the closet till Christmas morning. :)


Wounded Beggar

A quick sketch for one of those weekly challenges that forces me to come up with some character(s) and scenes that aren't for some holiday or other - so, definitely a nice change of pace from the daily grind. :) Spent about 45 minutes drawing while I was watching the evening news before bedtime yesterday (the deadline was midnight Tuesday evening).

Yup, as usual with my "rapid" sketches, I already see some rather obvious things that need to be fixed - like the right arm - eek! I was exploring positioning for a somewhat forced perspective layout. That's what I say, and I'll stand by that. For now. We'll see what else I come up with over the weekend...once I finally get my Christmas cards sent out - d'oh!


Got Cold...

Had a rather bad cold that I'm still slowly recovering from this past week. Don't want it to turn into that horrible "walking pneumonia" or worse. I still think it's pretty darn close to what those Antarctic Scientists call "The Crud" that I read about yesterday. ha! Oddly enough, I probably caught it at some point during my trip over to sunny California to visit with Disney Consumer Products.

Lots of randomness going on in the past few weeks which I'll post about later...maybe. :)


Fall Fairy

I've been working on various product concepts that deal with fairies and other it wasn't that hard to come up with a quick concept of a Fall Fairy for tonight's "at home in-progress" sketch. Particularly after the lovely cool weather we had the last few days and the nice soaking rain last night. Mmmm...Fall is definitely in the air. Think I might color her tomorrow. Might not. I can do that when it's my stuff. :)

And....nope, looks nothing like what I've actually been working on at the job. Sorry. Or maybe that's a good thing. ha!

Today was the last day at work for one of our China artists. He's going home tomorrow. A really nice guy. He made the most of his temporary visit with us in Texas by traveling as much as he could (time and money-wise) and got to visit some great places - San Francisco, New York, Chicago.... I think the absolute highlight, though, was this past weekend when he went to the
Frank Frazetta Art Museum and got to meet the artist himself. So lucky! Even has the pictures to prove it. What a great memory to take back home!


A Joke I Can Finally Appreciate

I'm not usually appreciative of the fart jokes that seem to be such a part of today's American culture...particularly in recent animated films (why do they ALL have to have one of those added in); but in any case this one from an SNL skit last week had me laughing out loud - although mostly because I'd only finally just seen an episode of Most Haunted over at SJ's. Nope, I don't have cable or satellite - just basic tv for me. My budget could either fit in buying books each month or a cable/satellite subscription...and I chose books for my library instead. :)


Happy Halloween!

I think I want to color my hair blue next year instead of pink - it's just so awesome. :) The pink in my hair is so faded at this point in any case, you can't really see the streaks at all in this photo. Blue would really stand out, I think. I do wonder though what the blue with my blonde looks like when it's fading. Does it turn purple?

I was lame and didn't do any make-up effects for the office dress-up, just did another variation on that fun costume standby of mine, the witch. Maybe I will do something different (hmm...the cowardly lioness?) for next year's party, wherever that is.


Haunted Pet Parade WIP

Pet Cemetery was one of the creepiest, chilling, horrific, freaky...well, I can go on and on with the adjectives; but if you've read it, you may understand what I mean. Particularly if you had any family pets that you've lost in the past and then read the book all in one sitting on Christmas night. At least, that's the main reason why that story disturbed me and later gave me a few nightmares.

Could only read it once, silly me.

In any case, what with it being just about Halloween now, and then me dreaming lately about some former beloved pets of mine...I decided to paint a little personal project I'm calling my "Haunted Pet Parade". Yup, these were my little pet friends from way not too long ago. A few of them had fairly long and happy lives before they died peacefully. Others were only around for far too short a time before they died tragically - lingering illness, euthanized, eaten, hit by car, shot by dad, or beaten to death by their next owner. :(

I miss them all.

So. This is the beginning of a rough sketch to help me figure out the composition, layout and so on. It was time to post some more of "my work in progress". Nope, not all of the characters have as of yet been included. Scary, isn't it.



Tonight's quick sketch and color considerations (just starting) with one of the characters I've been playing around with in various scenes. Figure I'll do some more doodling around before moving on from this character. I'll post if I like 'em. :)

Got to see Lemony Snicket on Friday up at the Barnes and Noble in Frisco, but missed out on getting an autographed book, darn it. Fun hearing him as the musician from the Gothic Archies, too. I'm seriously curious to see what he comes up with next after his Series of Unfortunate Events now that it's over with Book Thirteen.

Went to a fun Halloween party on Saturday, in my witch's costume of course! Besides, it was the best match for my pink hair. ha! Helped drink a few of the Pumpkin Ale brews that we brought for the hosts. Mmmmm, tasty. Got to see some more people I hadn't seen in a long while from DNA and met some new folks, too. Creative people doing all sorts of things in all kinds of places.


Hear Me, Meow?

Until Sarah posted that comment about a Dorothy costume, I hadn't actually considered any of the other characters from Oz as a costume possibility. I've just always fallen back on the Wicked Witch cause I've had to play that part for so many random Halloweens. Which means I have at least a nice broom to start with. ha.

In any case, I could always go as the Cowardly Lioness. :) I'll have to ask Leslie at work (our plush/sewing department head) how difficult it would be to make the plush legs and tail based on my above concept sketch. For next year. Meow.


What to Wear...

Trying to figure out a quick costume to wear to both a weekend party and then to work on Halloween a few days later.... Thinking about recycling a bit of what I already have and make it something new with some different accessories. Hmm....maybe add a nice large crooked nose. Would match the hat.



Some head sketches for a couple of new characters I'm thinking about. Still dabbling with my Dahlia, but I'm not ready to post progress. Have some other stuff going on, too; might post a bit of that this week sometime.

Ordered the new
Ryan Church DVD from Gnomon on Concept Art Workflow (with Painter) this morning. It's just been released. This particular tutorial seems most applicable to the kind of Painter techniques I'm interested in learning, although the subject matter...maybe not. :)

In the mail today I finally got the
Don Hertzfeldt Animation Shorts dvd that I pre-ordered about, oh..hmm, a year ago seems like. It's definitely been awhile. It's nice to finally have it for my animation dvd library. I will admit Billy's Balloon is still my favorite.

I'm simply wicked that way I guess.


Fooling Around...with Color

I have a general idea of where I want to go with the coloring of my Dahlia sketch, so I'm just throwing that down with my mouse at the moment to block in the areas. Planning on doing two color/style interpretations of this one: one "painterly" with PS and Painter (need the practice) and using my wacom; the other via Illustrator and vector shapes. I'll finish this up over the weekend. Have plans for Friday - gotta try some of those Octoberfest beers. ;)

Now that I've started checking out the various Halloween displays set up at different retailers, I have to admit it's kind of cool to see and recognize product that I've worked on or developed initial concepts for (a couple of years ago, imagine that) in stores at last.


Those Pretty Blue Eyes

I went to see
The Black Dahlia the other night with a friend. Loved the movie poster - got my attention the first time I saw that in the trailer, too; lovely slow red drip on white. Pretty good movie - I especially appreciated the dialogue style and how de Palma really kept a film noir feel with his film direction. If you're a fan of those old black and white films then you'll notice it, too. A bit odd at the end though. It felt like every loose bit in the story had to suddenly get tied up neatly which made it all slightly confusing. This would be the part if you were watching the DVD version where you'd go, "What just happened?", and then rewind for a second watch and listen. :)

My take on the Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short character as played by
Mia Kirshner.
Time tonight: sketching about 45 minutes....Alright, yes, I was watching tv, too.

I'll color it in tomorrow night.


Met the art director (at last) on Saturday along with the other concept artists on the team for the CG feature pitch. Nice group. Mostly students, but not all. The art director, Johan, has some excellent animation experiences...based on the resume I found posted online after I did a wee bit of research. :) He did talk a little bit about some of his prior projects and employers (Disney, Pixar, etc.). Turns out he'll be teaching for a while at AI, along with working on some other outside projects. Funny, I'd just talked earlier with one of my artist friends about how I wouldn't mind taking an evening class now and then...and this guy while we're working on the project wants to teach us, critique our work, and help us gain some practical experience to finally get our foot in the animation industry as visual development artists.

That works for me.


Ahnold says, "Aw wee aw wee Ahhhhhh!"

Thursday must have been a long day at work - at the end of the day we went from sharing opinions (and emailing audio) on Conan and his father's sword ($1500) to Arnold impersonations (so easy for all of us to do). This video from Mad TV was the grand finale:


The Thang

This Wednesday's horror movie for the evening was John Carpenter's The Thing. Or "Thang" as one of the more southern of the group was heard to say. ha! One of my favorite horror movies of all time. Not a movie that's good to watch alone, that's for sure. Even comparing it with today's CG effects capabilities this old movie still creeps me out. The story, the music, the scientific possibilities....EEEEK!! A co-worker hadn't seen the movie before, so we made sure she was there to catch all the good stuff, BWA HAHA ha HA!!!

This could be on wikipedia that as of September 2006 (from an article in Fangoria) that there is a real possibility of a sequel or actually a prequel to The Thing:

"In September of 2006, it was announced that Strike Entertainment, the production company behind "Slither" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, is combing Hollywood for a writer (or writers) to tackle a theatrical prequel to "The Thing" reports Fangoria."


And for a bit of fun that has nothing to do with The Thing (or does it....hmmmm?), how bout sending one of these "thangs" to your friends? I give you a spring-loaded "Ass in the Box". Enjoy!



Just having some fun with a bit of doodling. And a dash of Photoshop painting, of course. :)
Time: About 45 minutes sketching (while watching tv, shame on me) and 20 minutes coloring in Photoshop 7.


I somehow also got myself involved in developing a feature treatment and brief synopsis for a horror movie pitch. Curious to see how that develops in the end and how much my involvement will actually be. It's been awhile since I've done that kind of creative writing.


What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

I've been on a Dusty Springfield music kick this past week. A commercial that's been airing recently used an old song of hers, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", that brought back some old memories of me and my family in the early well as some of my little girl dreams of what I was going to do when I finally grew up.

That's me up on the horse from the one summer we spent in Sweden at my aunt's house. If I remember correctly, the girl was a neighbor and had stopped by because everyone knew I was crazy about horses. I still remember how very high up it was, sitting on the horse's back. There was a horse drawing contest, too, sponsored by the local newspaper that summer which I entered, silly me. My drawing of a horse got published with an honorable mention, but that was mostly because I lived in Hawaii and was visiting all the way over in Sweden. Still, that was pretty cool. My first published artwork - I think I was 8 years old. :)


Enough Already!

OK...out with the sad and angry comments. They are forthwith banished! Must think positive about the future (health AND career) and do fun and interesting artwork and activities. And, on that note...

Four out of Five stars from me for
The Illusionist! Sweet story about an illusionist/magician and his long search for something to give his life meaning. Or at least, that's my interpretation. Lovely score, too, by composer Philip Glass. No worries - I did NOT fall in love with the police captain as played by Paul Giamatti. His eyes just were not the same as Cleveland Heeps. I know, that doesn't really make any sense unless 1) you've read my earlier comments about that other role of his, and 2) another personal reason which I'm not going into any more detail about. :)

Interestingly enough, I also just happened to catch this BBC series about a magician's assistant,
Jonathan Creek, helping to solve a murder mystery late Friday night just before I went to sleep...kept me awake watching the whole two hours. Looking forward to catching more episodes of this series!

Also, seeing both of these shows now has me all curious about magic tricks and
sleight of hand...could do some fun research on that. Plus, another upcoming magician's movie that my friend told me about reminded me about a favorite magic story, Shadowlands, by Peter Straub. I'm thinking it's time for a revisit.


Barely Scraping By - Article from Gamasutra

Applying for Your First Game Industry Job

Read this article yesterday from a link in the "Gamasutra Daily" newsletter I get from Gamasutra (The Art and Business of Making Games) website. While I'm not currently working in the game industry as a concept artist, it does provide some very useful nuggets of information for any creative person considering opportunities in the game development industry. You could also certainly apply some of the information to other jobs you interview for as well.

Of course I especially liked this bit of information since it appears that I'm barely scraping by:

"As an entry level artist, you can expect to be paid at a range of $30-$45k a year. That may seem like a lot compared to what you’re making now. But when you factor in all the costs, you’ll find that you’re barely scraping by."

Ah, yes....ENTRY LEVEL ARTIST. Believe me, I think about that every time in the past year that I factor in my 15 plus years of various professional creative roles....and the job that I currently still have. After two years (ok, ok, I'm an idiot for a variety of reasons for that and I know it), I should realize that there's no interest from management in offering me incentives to stay with my current employer. I just need to stop thinking about it and simply get myself out of the place. Stop being angry and frustrated and stressed...and move on.

As mentioned previously, it's simply one of the daily whips to keep me motivated for better opportunities. I'm such a glutton for punishment. sigh.


Angelina Sphinx

Over at the DrawingBoard, the August Drawing Jam study is Angelina Jolie. Since they provided some fairly good references, I thought I'd do some studies of my own. For whatever reason, her face keeps reminding me of the Sphinx I recall seeing in some movie years ago...maybe it was in the NeverEnding Story; or maybe it was from a book I read. Must be the cheekbones. I'll have to think about it.

So, here's the thumbnail sketch I created to figure out my composition of "
The Riddle of the Sphinx". I initially had a full moon shining behind the head of the Sphinx, but decided that I wanted to add in a path for the viewer to be walking toward her; and the best way to highlight that would be to have a nice light coming in from the left. I'll be working on a tighter sketch and some quick value studies tomorrow.

In other news, I'm doing some spec concept artwork for some former co-workers of a friend for a CG feature animation pitch. The story seems fun and I really like the visual tone that they want to have. And, the best thing, they provided lots and lots of references to help explain the visual direction that they want. Excellent for rapid development for characters, props and environments. In any case, it gives me something to do that isn't necessarily cute and for Christmas. I'm feeling very humbug about my work "work" at the moment. Need some Halloween gore or at least something that isn't supposed to be all cute and fluffy. Where's the variety that they promised me? My cute little characters will start carrying knives and getting bloody soon, believe me.

Hmm....there's an idea. hands aren't yet quite back up to my usual typing dexterity. Darn that muscle inflamation, hand tingles and aggravated nervous system! But, I'm feeling a wee bit more normal every day.



What is it about Shopping Malls?

This week's Zombie Flick was "Bio Zombie". Truly an odd kind of zombie movie; but our host said it was one of his favorites, so I expected something interesting. And it was quite a fun one. Definitely one to see with friends and...have your popcorn handy for those random moments of "No way!"

Healthwise I'm not quite feeling at zombie status anymore, although the muscle relaxer I take at night is a pretty good one - and one of the reasons I can only take it before bedtime. Migraine is gone, sinus infection gone, back-pain still present. So, 2 out of 3 isn't too bad. Hopefully, the next few days will still see continued improvement. If not, they want to do more X-rays. All over.

Hmm...that could be interesting.

In sketching studies, I've been helping out another illustrator get a better understanding of horse particular, flying horse anatomy. Here are a couple of the random sketches I quickly did and then discussed with her.


It's All In My Head

So, the headache wasn't going away after seven days even though I was taking OTC pain-killers, and I was starting to feel dizzy during the day, too; so I finally went to see the doctor on Friday. It appears likely to be a combination of stress, migraine, muscle tension, minor sinus infection, too much time at the computer (and working with poor posture lately...I know that, been trying to fix that), a lack of regular exercise, etc., etc. On the plus side, there's no fever so probably nothing infectious. I got a few different meds (horsepills they look like) to take for the next few days that will hopefully kill the pain at last. If it doesn't improve, then they want to do an MRI and see what all is going on in my head and back.

One cool thing, they X-Ray'd my skull to see if there were any polyps or other random growths in my sinus cavities that was causing the pain....and it looks like I have a micro-chip in one of my upper molars.

Just kidding. Or am I? Hmmm....


Evil Mood

I have the worst migraine and sinus headache today. Almost left early from work so I could go home and pass out. But I didn't. Needed to get stuff done, particularly if I have to call in sick tomorrow. On the plus side, no involuntary crying or nausea along with the headache. Just an occasional involuntary eye twitch, dammit. Was getting bad enough this afternoon that not only was it getting difficult to think, it made me feel sore all over...not just my head. And I was starting to get rather dizzy. To make myself feel better when I finally got home, I indulged myself in a lovely vanilla almond Hagen-Daz ice cream bar (yummy!) before AND after dinner. Like I said, no nausea. Ha! Still feel a little dizzy, though. Hopefully, since I plan on going to sleep shortly, it will all finally be gone by morning. Usually that works. Usually.

And, I also ordered me my very own epic scale Balrog. It will look very nice and intimidating guarding my cube at work. Will just have to cut back on the groceries this month and certainly no going out for the next month. Starting next week. ;)


Belly Dancing

The hookah for the previous post reminded me of this farewell party I attended over in San Francisco with my project team. Yup, there were belly dancers, and I even got to do a turn on the floor with the ladies. Well, I was one of the people that was leaving, heh. But only after quaffing the many appropriate good luck and farewell toasts, of course! Even though I was wearing a dress I had none of their hip coordination, I'm sure. I'm quite happy to say that I don't have any photos of that bit of hilarity. The fond memories I have are probably much better in any case. ;) I still remember the Buddha Bar we all went to afterwards. Lots of fun!

So, just a quick sketch for tonight of a late night belly dancer memory. I'll need to fix it quite a bit, especially the shoulders and arms, if/when I decide to color it.


Mmm...Lovely Greek

I found a reminder of this really nice Greek restaurant that I finally went to for lunch with my co-workers this past week. A bag of tea. A great bag of tea. Not only was the food totally tasty at the Dunes, a nice little Mediterranean restaurant across the street from the Irving Mall, right next to one of my favorite places to visit, Half-Price Books, and just around the corner from Lone Star Comics. The service was quite friendly and the tea an excellent way to finish a great lunch. We all liked the tea and were so complementary about it to the owner that he brought each of us a bag to take home with us. It's the Sadaf Special Blend Pure Ceylon tea with Earl Grey. Soooo good! Especially for bag tea. I even kept the wrap so that I could find it and, hopefully, order it for home. The tea is that good. Especially for one with Earl Grey, a tea I don't usually like.

I have every intention of going back to Dunes again. And again...and again... You get the picture. :)


Fly Away Home

I fell in love...

I went to see "Lady in the Water" a couple of weeks ago. It's a nice, little, modern fairy tale with some beautiful imagery. And, I have to admit, I appreciate the color palette that is frequently a structured element in
M. Night Shayamalan's movies. I was, however, unexpectedly delighted with the stuttering character of the "Guardian" as created by Paul Giamatti. His character Cleveland made me all mushy. :) Not the kind of beautiful man I usually get a crush on, that's for sure.

Obviously, I have horrible taste in men.

The friend I went to see the movie with liked the big brown eyes of MNS instead. Bleh, she can have him. He's a "pretentious jerk", per the biography written by a journalist that MNS hired to follow him around for a year. I am annoyed by MNS's acting, but he does some interesting stories (although I've since read that there are possible elements of plagiarism in at least two of his movies), I've most definitely liked his screenwriting, and he has done some really nice directing. Overall, I must say that I've enjoyed his movies. I really appreciate the awkwardness of the ordinary characters in his films. So, after seeing the movie and getting involved with most of the story development (although I was really really hoping that M. Night's character would die a horrible, evil death...sadly that doesn't happen...why, oh why does this guy think he can act...his face is always blank and his voice so irritating to me - it always pulls me right out of the story) any case, when I got home I did some quick rough sketches of some ideas as inspired by the movie.

The above is a work in progress of one sketch inspired by the film that I'd like to create a more finished digital illustration of one day. So for now, something new for my ongoing idea box.


Change in the Air

Some very rough layout sketches and thumbnails of another one of my story ideas that has been rolling around my head for years. No, this is NOT my tween project. Drawing most of the day at work (or coloring or re-designing product) and then working on my own projects at home evenings and weekends (updating the portfolios print/web, sending out samples, working on the tween graphic novel and other proposals, learning about sculpting, studying animation and concept art development, blah, blah, blah) I actually sometimes get to feeling even more creative.


So, it felt right to take a break from the day-to-day grind (ha) and do some quick sketches of yet another one of my stories I'd like to completely pull out of my head one day and actually set all down on paper.

And, yes, I do have a routine for daily sketches after dinner. I just don't always post my little scribbles. :)


Got a lovely postcard from my mom who's in Germany again visiting with a few of her sisters over the summer. Another nice one to add to my collection on my corkboard at work. I missed her phone call this past weekend. I figure I'll try and call on Saturday for a few minutes just to let her know I'm still alive. heh. Unfortunately, she still doesn't have internet access over there (doesn't really want to, I think) or she'd be visiting my blog, too, to see what silly little things I've been up to.


At work for the past week or so, I've been banned from accessing the toy and related websites I liked to visit which were part of my initial morning research, if I didn't have an art request that was "urgently required". Yes, they denied me access to Google even. Once. I immediately complained about that. It was over a year ago, though, and I really thought that was the last of it. I mean, it makes perfect sense to deny online access of current information to one of your product designers...just keep me in a vacuum.

Yup, no else has been banned.

Isn't that the stupidest thing. I couldn't believe it when I saw that horrible red, white and blue "Surf Protect" page. I'm not accessing porn, dammit! Even weirder, these are ALL sites that were initially sent to me by other employees (designers) at the company! It's not like my employers purchase any design periodicals for us, either. Nor do either of my immediate managers provide team building workshops or design activities to expose us to different modes of production thinking and/or motivate us to build new skills that we can use to enhance our work. It seems lately that we just work. I like to learn things from my peers and my managers. Isn't that why they're senior to us "junior" artists? Yes, I've presented a couple of times during the weekly scheduled "Art Development" meetings. I don't see anyone else on the design team volunteering to do the same. Not lately. Not for the past year? A product designer (me) obviously isn't supposed to be cognizent of what is currently on the market or has the potential to be, and what prospective consumer design or product trends our competitors are potentially considering. Obviously I'm just supposed to keep my nose to the sketchpad and Photoshop. Will do. (End sarcasm/rant/...ok, maybe just a wee bit of whining....sigh).


I'll simply see it as another whip to motivate me.


It Rained Today

Kind of weird to be happy for just a bit of rain, but there you are. It's been too long since we had some here, I think. It felt like we were watching one of those old movies about the end of the drought during the Great depression where everyone starts to smile and then dance in the rain which finally comes after 7 long years. It's fun getting wet and dancing in the hard, heavy, end of summer (almost) kind of rain. :)

Here's another dance that put a smile on my face at work today, from "WHERE THE HELL IS MATT?" I give you "Matt Dancing" -


The Places I've Been...

We had a nice little happy hour after work (well, we left a wee bit early...well, I left about 2 hours earlier than my usual 6:30/7pm). Anyways...for some reason or other I started naming all the different cities or countries I've managed to live and/or work (from a few weeks to several years), or visit for a bit of vacation. Evidently, I'm a bit well-travelled. Funny. Most of those places I've been to on my list are because of work. Likely that's why I don't feel a real need to travel on the job these days, although I'm ready to move out of Texas at last. I think I've been here too long.

So, just for fun, here's the list in no particular order:

- Germany (mainly central and up by the North Sea area)
- Italy (northern areas)
- Switzerland (primarily around Zurich)
- Austria
- Sweden
- Lichtenstein
- Paris, France
- London, England

United States:
- North Carolina
- California (San Fran, L.A., San Diego, Santa Monica, etc., etc.)
- New York, NY
- Tennessee
- Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Shreveport, West Monroe/Monroe, etc., etc.)
- Pennsylvania (Pittsburg, Philidelphia)
- Arkansas
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Detroit, Michigan
- Bismark, North Dakota
- Arizona (Phoenix, Tempe)
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Chicago, Illinois
- Washington, DC
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
- Orlando, Florida
- Vienna, Virginia
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Colorado (Denver, Colorado Springs)
- Danbury, Connecticut
- Texas (San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso, Galveston, Padre Island, etc., etc.)
- Oahu, Hawaii

- Sint Maarten/St Martin (Antilles Isles)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Tijuana, Mexico

I'm sure there are a few places that I've missed, but I think I've listed most of them. :)


The Ant Bully - in theaters at last!

Actually, the release date for The Ant Bully had been moved up to July 28th from the original August release, long after I'd already set my Yahoo Calendar for a reminder to go see it that weekend. So, I saw it this weekend.

I actually liked it better the second time. :) Next weekend I'm gonna go see it IMAX style.

The story was nicely adapted for the screen in some rather unexpected yet interesting ways that weren't in the original children's book by John Nickles. This time, however, I didn't get all teary-eyed during the "Here we come to save the day!" battle scene near the end. I can be such a sap for heroes. Reviews that I've read mentioning an almost communistic manifesto in this movie shouldn't be all that surprising. Several fictional books about ants have explored that same line - the fictional struggle of an ant society is something that adults can immediately relate to with their own human experiences. Do a bit of research and you'll see some of the same "communist" themes of equality and teamwork in the ever popular Star Trek, too. ;) was a major improvement over the previous DNA feature film, "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius", which I admit I didn't like. D'oh! Didn't like the look, the story or the characters. The JN tv series, for the most part, was sooo much better than the film of Neutron that I saw back then in theaters. But, then I really wasn't the target market for it, not being under 10 years old and not a parent bringing her children with her. I don't have any kids.

Anyhoo...I liked the AB movie and most of the audience, parents and kids, etc., seemed to like it, too. I give it a B+! Cool to see the scenes that I'd gotten a brief mention about here and there during production from people that I knew at DNA. I bet Ant Bully does really well on DVD...if Warner Brothers ever decides to finally do some marketing for the movie. The odd tv commercial here and there isn't helpful...and looks really bad if you compare it to the marketing efforts done for "Happy Feet", also being distributed by Warner Brothers, as well as the other animation projects this year by other studios and their distributors. Anyone recall "Hoodwinked" and how much repeat tv advertising that one had? How about all the voice talent spouting about "Open Season" in the last week, in theaters and on tv?

Only a few minor things to quibble about with The Ant Bully (and it's only because I've seen the movie twice...and was looking for the stuff):

- The ant animation wasn't consistent as far as how they got around on four legs. Occassionally they'd also float about a bit, rather like marionettes, or move like camels rather than the usual four-legged movement that seemed to be the standard. Kind of funny in its own way, but inconsistent to most of the other scenes.

- Continuity. The firecracker size fluctuated from the original introduction to the fight scene with Lucas and the wasp. Lucas's "glasses" were on when he jumped over the fan - yet the next shot, the glasses were back up. Since his hands were rather occupied with holding tightly to the flower petal, how did they move back up on his head...and why? Thought he couldn't see much otherwise or why make them?

- The lighting. At random times the ant eyes glowed oddly, mouth interiors were lit up, shadows were strange, blah, blah, blah. I did like the atmosphere that was created when Lucas was with the ants in the ant hill. And the night scenes were really nice. For some reason, just didn't get that same feeling of appreciation during the day scenes.

- The wasps. Why didn't they keep with the original dark, almost black coloration that I saw in the character designs? It would have been nice to see a more subtle patterning and could have made the characters more believable...and threatening. Just my opinion. :D

- Lucas and the Wizard. I totally didn't believe in the friendship that occurred at the end between Lucas and the Wizard (Cage). And this is where, particularly the first time I saw the movie, the end third of the movie just didn't connect for me like the first half of the movie. The characters weren't true to themselves even if the point of the story was to become more than what they were. But, hey, it's not my story or character development.

- The end design of the Exterminator. It just didn't look funny when he was unevenly shrunk, but was rather disturbing. One of the little kids sitting next to me got scared even, although everyone was laughing when he got stung. Twice. Well, bitten then stung.

I'd previously gotten to see The Ant Bully at the DNA Crew Premiere Party a few weeks ago because of an invitation from a friend who was both a texture and IMAX artist on the film. She also happened to be a classmate and my former VP for the school's student animation group that we'd both helped get started. In fact, several of my AID classmates had gotten the opportunity to work at DNA Productions on The Ant Bully in various departments - animation, lighting, texturing, etc. They all received some awesome animation industry experiences, both good and the "could have been better" (well, that's crunch time for ya), and seriously learned alot - I was really happy to see all their hard work in theaters at last.

I was both very sad and disappointed not to have had the same opportunity, of course. Who wouldn't have been? Didn't even get in as janitor. sigh. Now that the studio has pretty much disbanded, it's cool to hear that so many of them are finding excellent opportunities to grow even more at other studios. Good luck to them all!


Can't Remember

I don't remember when I started sketching this one. Just found it in one of the random sketchbooks that lay about my apartment. I must have been feeling a bit blue at the time.


Watercolor Everywhere...

It's been awhile since I've done an illustration that wasn't most if not all digital. This one is pencils, inks and watercolor - a pirate caricature for a birthday present. A fairly quick project that was a gift for a friend. That was alot of fun. :)



Thinking about adding a caption like this once I've got it all colored up:

"Jump the shark? Hey, man - I shot the bastard. Just like that. Ain’t no way I’m gonna let some damn shark get in my way. Know what I mean?”


Simply Waiting

One of my various projects that is still "in progress". I'm pretty satisified with the character, but haven't created the proper background just yet - that's still on the drawing board.


The Monster Under My Bed

Few people have actually seen my cat, Theo, although there have been occasional sightings. It's rather amazing that there haven't been many Theo encounters with my friends and family when they visit my apartment considering how big he is. I affectionately will call him "Orca" on occasion, because of the big tummy and the random white splotches on his black coat. I promise, he doesn't get any treats because I am definitely concerned about his weight and the potential for kitty diabetes. However, regardless of his size (call him fat or call him big-boned, he doesn't care) and the fact that he's easily three times the size of his brother and sister, he's very frightened of strangers - basically, anyone that isn't me.

His refuge is always the dark cave under my bed.

Running Away: in Progress

Decided to color this sketch to have another color concept for my portfolio. Not that I don't have plenty of stuff, but it's always good to have something fresh and new. :)

This one is just where I've added most of the flat color pass to all of the image, and now I get to play with the details. I'm working with my Wacom tablet and Photoshop. I'll probably finish it tonight. I need to get to my sketch table now for another project. Multi-tasking...always fun!


What Does the Kitty See

Sometimes one of my cats will be looking fiercely at something, all ears and whiskers to attention, that only they can see. It's certainly caught my own attention often enough that I'll come over and investigate...and then there's nothing there to see!

Or was there?

This past weekend, Mina and Marco were all focused on their brush basket by the hall bookcase, which happens to be across from the bathroom, which happens to be where I was cleaning the mouse aquarium...can you see where my tale is going? One of the two mice (mouse one and mouse two as mentioned in a previous post) had decided to go adventuring, and somehow got herself down from the counter and behind the bookcase when I left the bathroom for a bit to let the little tank soak before scrubbing. I have to guess that at some point the mouse was checking out the brush basket because my cats were certain sure she was in it. My fear was that my cats had realized they had a fun lively toy to play with, however briefly, and had let their teeth and claws get into the mouse (blood and gore, EEK!!), but that wasn't the case. The mouse was fine, and quickly brought back into the bathroom to be reunited with her roommate, and the cats continued checking out the book shelf for the rest of the afternoon in the hopes that another mouse would happen by.

That did NOT happen.


Orange Ya Glad to See Me?

COW (creature of the week) art challenge this past week was to create an Orange Sea Leviathan. Not an "orange sea", but an "orange creature". That doesn't mean that it couldn't be living in an orange sea; however, subsequent additional information posted by the moderator ordered that the creature itself had to be orange or your entry was forfeit.

I didn't plan on participating in the activity since I didn't actually read the info till Sunday afternoon, but then I got to thinking about the possibilities of an orange leviathan type of sea creature...and got inspired. So, even though I didn't submit an entry for the COW, you can see a quick concept of my new critter here. :)

Description: The "Orange Leviathan of the Archipelago Floating Isles" is the foundation of an oceanic civilization commonly called "The Island Folk of the Floating Isles". This civilization would not exist if it were not for the Orange leviathan. The creature's own body makes up the floating land masses. At its mature stage, its massive size, bouyancy and the natural growth of its branchlike collagen spine which forms into a kind of unique floating island, makes it the perfect traveling oasis in a world of mostly ocean. While building a new settlement on the leviathan, the island folk begin a relationship of mutual benefit. The folk have a new home, and the leviathan receives care, feeding, and protection. At its death, the Orange Leviathan structure has the potential to become interconnected with one of the various larger stationary settlements anchored to the ocean floor, many of which were also originally founded upon leviathan creatures. This death, rather than the end of a village, becomes a time of treaty and negotiation as the leviathan island folk determine the best final location for their unique needs - whether for trade, crafting, farming or some other industry. An interesting culture that is formed from a unique ocean creature, the Orange Leviathan.

Just another "work in progress". :)


Walking in My Sleep

A quick post before bedtime. Feeling sleepy at last.

I had striped pajamas like that when I was six years old. Lovely stretchy fabric. My sister and I would play Skippy kangaroo...each of us would carry a stuffed animal in our shirt pouch, hopping around. Can't remember the story, although I'm sure there was one to explain it. My mom has pictures of us wearing our striped PJ's that summer we were in Sweden, playing late into the night that never quite got there.


Feeling Blue

Actually, I usually sketch on sheets of laser computer print paper with a blue pencil at work. The paper has a better grab for the pencil than the marker sketch pads that a couple of the artists use...and I happen to like the feel and results I get with this technique rather than going right to marker or ink. At home, like in the above sketch, I'll usually do one of my evening sketches in one of my Strathmore Medium Drawing pads. Sometimes with the Prismacolor Col-erase dark blue pencil, sometimes with the 2H pencil for detailed scribbling. Ah, sketchpads - I have several in various states of being all over my apartment. :)


Feeling Ugly

Actually, I think the new haircut may work out ok. I'll make a decision after a few days. Then, next Thursday, it's back to more pink! weeeee!!!

There's a nice little article in the latest
Giant Robot about the two creators of the Ugly Dolls (winners of the 2006 Toy of the Year, don't ya know!). Makes me want to try out licensing some of my own stuff...may have to wait on that, tho, till after I have a new job. ;)

Inspirational Character Animator Demo Reel

Had to share this one...I was so inspired. ;)

From YouTube: W. Abee's Demo reel - "Character animation demo reel made by experienced Maya animator Wan Abee. Entirely self-taught, available immediately for work at any major feature film studio."


Bremen Town

One of my favorite old stories, the Bremen Town Musicians.



Wasn't entirely happy with the 10 min. sketch I did of the cow yesterday, so I figured I needed the practice. Here's another cow:


Odds and Ends

I got a Pasta Machine to give my poor hands a break from squashing Sculpey. I don't milk cows for a living, so my hands were getting a bit sore from the exercise. I've been wanting one for awhile, saw this one in the store yesterday when I was picking up some supplies, so I went ahead and got it. I was doing a quick google to find a reference of milking a cow and found this old reminds me of my mom milking the Jersey cow in the backshed at my grandma's house (my dad's mom) in Louisiana. My mom liked to give the barn cats a treat now and then just like in the below photo. :)

A friend of mine that used to work with me in toy development and is now an animator for an online children's educational site, is also a professional maquette artist and has offered to mentor me as I continue to practice my sculpting skills. Yay! Those kinds of friends are the best. :)

I've been collecting the McFarlane Dragons since they started showing up in toy stores just over a year ago. The other day while I was visiting, I discovered that one of the designers for the Series 3 dragons, Jin Han, has a website with some of the concept art he developed. Really nice to see another artist's process. The above dragon is one of the two that I like in Series 3...while I bought the others, too, to have a full set, I didn't take them out of their cartons just yet.

I just saw a new post on for a toy designer at Disney in my daily Monster email this morning. While a tempting way to get over to the L.A. area (and believe me, I'm considering it) and get involved in the L.A. animation creative community, toy design is really not the career direction I want to continue pursuing...but, DAMN, it's tempting. Especially since I seem to be making no headway at all in my current pursuit as visual development artist/concept artist/character designer at an animation studio.

I need to think about it.