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My good friend Ian Samuels is getting underway with his CalArts senior thesis in Directing. Ian and I have collaborated on numerous projects (including our upcoming children’s book) and he has a terrific imagination. If you can spare even $5 to help support his film it would be much appreciated!

Visit and donate at his Kickstarter page.

And just as a fun tease, here are a couple of designs I did for him early on for this film (they ended up being a little too muppety, and not lobstery enough. Based on that sentence alone, you know this project will be bizarre and entertaining!):


Happy V-Day from Sugar Plum and Lil Cupcake. (An old friend asked if I wouldn’t mind drawing this for her and it sounded like fun…so I did.) My valentine is out of town, but I will be celebrating by going to see The Decemberists kick off their new tour at the Fox Theater in Oakland! Hope everyone out there has a good day, whether or not they buy into the manufactured Hallmark version of Valentine’s.

This weekend I had my last chance to work on personal stuff that I will have for a while. I was able to crank out a set of three Victorian-themed pinups that I will have for sale at APE and CTN this fall. Hope you like!

If you haven’t seen How to Train Your Dragon yet, please get your butt to the movie theater. I was lucky enough to see a 3D screening of the film last week here in San Francisco. Five minutes before the film started a couple guys walked out to introduce the film…a couple guys who were CHRIS SANDERS and DEAN DE BLOIS. (The directors of the film…and also of Lilo & Stitch.) They were off to the wrap party for the Redwood City Dreamworks crew, but they gave a nice little intro to the film.

The combination of Chris Sanders, Nico Marlet (character design), and Roger Deakins (lighting and cinematography) was a dream come true. Kathy Alteiri’s production design was also top notch. The film is one of Dreamworks’ best, if not THE best that they have produced. No annoying pop culture jokes, plenty of humor and heart, and the flying scenes are incredible (especially in 3D). Given that Sanders only had a year to rewrite the film and start animation over from scratch, I think he did a terrific job. (Disney may just be kicking itself for firing him off of Bolt and out of their studio.) There is some sense that the story has been cobbled together from previous versions, but what is there works well.

After seeing the film I immediately purchased The Art of How to Train Your Dragon on Amazon. If you are a fan of Nico Marlet, you must own this book. Incredible! (I had a chance to read the ENTIRE thing today while stuck on a 90 minute BART ride into the city.) PS, I love that Japanese poster up there…it’s very Miyazaki feeling.

This film is a must-see for Disney animation buffs. It’s a documentary assembled by Disney producer extraordinaire, Don Hahn. It focuses on the years between 1984-1994 at the Disney studio – years that culminated in a new Golden Age of animation with films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Much of the film is spent on the relationship between Roy E. Disney,  Frank Wells, Michael Eisner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Peter Schneider. (Whole lotta drama going on there, mostly between Katzenberg and Eisner.) Turns out Katzenberg had some big ideas of his own (see the film above, ahem). It was great to see the early footage from the 80’s with a young John Lassetter, Tim Burton, Randy Cartwright, Glen Keane, etc. The whole film is rather bittersweet (especially the Howard Ashman segments), and has a strong nostalgic feeling throughout. That era is looked upon as a “perfect storm” of events that took place in the studio to create some incredible blockbusters at a time when the Disney company was contemplating getting out of the film business. (Crazy, I know.)

So if Waking Sleeping Beauty covers the resurgence of 2D animation from 1984-1994, you can see the continuation of this in another film called “The Pixar Story“. That film effectively covers 1995-2008 in the world of CG animation and Pixar. (Waking Sleeping Beauty very briefly mentions Toy Story, actually.) But what about all those other Disney films that people tend to forget? You know the ones – Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range…(heh, these films were up against Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, and The Incredibles…yikes.)

There just happens to be another film out there that does cover this era! It is called “The Sweatbox” and is unfortunately pretty much impossible to see. It was made by Sting’s wife and focuses on his involvement in the original version of Emperor’s New Groove (called Kingdom of the Sun). Apparently it is so controversial and shows way too much of the bad side of feature animation development that Disney never released it to video. (So of course I am very eager to see it.) C’mon internet, don’t fail me now!

Check out these moody and beautiful backgrounds form Lady and the Tramp, more of them over at the Animation Backgrounds blog.Man I wish I could paint like this!

You can see a clip from this new Disney short here. I guess its about…aliens in Russia? Hey, kinda like the X-Files! I am liking the stylized CG hair…interested to see where this one goes. (Still not cartoony enough for me though.)

Like most other artists, I’m a book fiend. And a bookcase fiend. I don’t actually own any of these, but if anyone was thinking of a cool birthday present…now you know.What got me thinking about bookcases were these awesome pieces from Dust Furniture. Unfortunately they sell for over $1,000 each…

They would fit surprisingly well into the world of my two quarter RIT film:
This bookcase is not exactly real, but is pretty neat:

These IKEA-hacked bookcases have LED’s that change color to the rhythm of music. Sweet!

Boing Boing pointed out this awesome bookcase from Brazil:

I love this stair-bookcase space saving combo:

This page from weburbanist has a ton of other cool bookcases, including a bookshelf made of books:
My mind has been blown. Seriously.
Also a sofa with a built in bookcase:

Or you can put your bookcases in the rafters if you are cramped on space:

And last but not least, a bookcase that transforms into a bed:

For that person who really loves books.

These are great. You can buy them here for $165 each. Eric is extremely talented – check out his blog here. (He’s also got Indiana Jones posters in the same style! Old school indy, not refrigerator-monkey-alien-Indy.)

I’m off to the Sketchcrawl up by Crissy Field and Fort Point. Hope it’s nice and cool up there…

This is me…in music video form. This show is brilliant.

If you’ve seen the film, you were likely impressed by the incredible 2D opening for Kung Fu Panda done by James Baxter. If you’d like to watch a streaming version of the opening, click here. For all you animation nuts out there, Kevin Koch of the Synchrolux blog has been kind enough to create a quicktime file that you can frame-by-frame through.

When this animation first came up on screen it basically took my breath away. I haven’t seen something handdrawn that looked this great in quite a long time. The closest thing would probably be the animated bits in Enchanted, (also by James Baxter), but those had the classic Disney look to them and the KFP opening is something completely different. It feels a bit like anime, a bit like Sin City, and a bit like some crazy Chinese graphic novel written by a Disney animator. Absolutely beautiful design, textures, animation, and hilarious writing.

Anyone have any knowledge about the actual production process involved with this project? I’m gonna go ahead and say it looks like full hand drawn animation that was then brought into photoshop and painted frame by frame. Though there are some bits that could possibly be toon shaded 3D work. And other stuff looks like plain old Flash or After Effects cutout style.

You may also notice that in the “Art of” book there are a bunch of unused designs for Tai Lung’s army. I’m happy to see that they ended up here in the opening sequence because the designs carry over so well in this 2D style. Also, the book has the storyboards for this entire sequence – they are quite faithful to the final movie.

I have assembled 30 or so still shots from the opening, quite fun to look at. The opening goes so fast (but what a glorious 2 minutes and 28 seconds) that the still frames really let you absorb the design. Enjoy:

Edit: The end credits, produced by Shine and Baxter, are available here. They’re great as well!

(They use the flag as a wipe for the next shot – how cool is that??)

(Awesome character designs by Nico Marlet here.)

(Maybe you should chew…ON MY FIST!)

(I love this frame.)

(Look! The bodies make faces!)

(Nice clouds and color!)

Ahhh, great stuff. Rumor has it that there is a 2D Kung Fu Panda short in the works at Baxter’s studio. We’ll see when the DVD is released.

About Me

27, Bay Area, artist. I love books, drawing, and dogs. Full time gig as a Lead Artist at Kabam in San Francisco.

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