Friday, August 29, 2008

Fake Tex

A while back I had a shot at doing a interstital (Interstishull?)
in the style of the great Tex Avery. These are some layouts I did.
I'm sad to say, I didn't get the gig.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don Johnson Ghost

I worked on The Real Ghost busters as a character designer. I worked alongside Bruce Timm and we got to sit and draw ghosts and monsters all day. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much watching Bruce draw.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


There was a scene in the movie where Arnold goes into a 7/11 to buy a t-shirt. I was designing the shirt. Here are several marker roughs I did. The last one is the one used in the film.
Not my fave it's what they wanted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I did some design work for Michael Gross and Ivan Reitman on the film Twins.
They were going to make watches to give the cast and crew and they wanted me to do caricatures of Arnold and Danny to be the hands. It was a real bitch to design because it had to be really stylized and be able to be read after being shrunk down to the size of watch hands. I did dozens of revisions.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The "ON MODEL" rut

A couple of people have commented about my differing styles. Here are some ideas about style as it relates to comedy. These days animated shows are usually created and the characters are designed with a clear stylistic choice in mind. Usually they are derived from some previous show or combination of shows like Dexter's and Powerpuff. Fosters home is an example of taking this style in a new direction and refining it. The BGs are beautiful and the over all art direction and animation are amazing.
Now I'm seeing more shows that are taking stylistic chances like Chowder and Flapjack. I applaud these artists for taking chances and breaking out of the post Dexters/powerpuff style. Don't get me wrong, these are great shows but I like lots of variety.I recently directed a series that had that style embedded in it in spades.

Once a show is created, and the model sheets are done the style is written in stone and there is little room for an individual artist to put his stylistic influence into the show. This can impede the shows natural tendency to change and grow.
Look at the old Warners cartoons. An informed eye can tell easily which director or animator did the work and estimate when it was done. But with iron clad model sheets and over seas animators it is virtually impossible to push a pose or character in new and "Funnier" ways. Os R&ST we ignored the model sheets and stuck as closely as possible the style in the storyboard. That's why a cartoon storyboarded by Peter Avanzino still looked like he drew it when it was finished.

The point that I'm working toward is that I never do a drawing with a specific style in mind from the outset. Sometimes I will be working on a show with a set style and I try to be on model but I always find it to be a creative straitjacket.
Look at Kurtzman. His characters are nearly generic in terms of style or model. Harvey was ALWAYS about the pose/expression (same goddamn thing!).

As I've said many times I don't think I actually have a style although some people have told me that they can always spot my hand in the work. I'v had problems my entire career staying "ON MODEL"

Here's my design approach:
I have an idea of a character and the overall form of the show, comic or whatever. Then I start experimenting, scribbling mostly like in the horse and pig drawings I posted the other day. VERY loose. I try to get to know the character first. Draw them as many times as it takes to start to feel like you are getting some where. NEVER start carving out thick black lines in an attempt to get a style. Lots of people perfect a style but do not perfect the underlying character construction, line of action etc. I catch myself doing this too. All icing and no cake. It's a dead end trap. You spend so much time working on a beautiful rendering over a badly constructed or boring drawing.
Once you start getting to know your character, try to create a shorthand version. I find in storyboarding that after I've drawn a character a few dozen times I have developed a shortcut way to draw them that is always more alive, simple and yes funnier. Now that you know who you are drawing you can start to refine the individual moods and emotional states that you will put him through. You know when Ren gets really angry he suddenly develops harder angles and much more realistic anatomy?

Here's the main point of this whole diatribe:
The style you choose for a drawing should be about who your character is, what he/she is feeling. It's about how to use style as another layer to tell the story in a funnier way and not as a way to design the life out of it!

Do not grip your pencil tightly! Hold it loosely and use gesture. Use your whole arm. Do not draw slowly. make quick confident gestures/strokes. These gestures will bring you character to life and you always want to push the pose and expression because you know that once the drawings are translated into animation, much of the life will be corrected out of it.

Being a good cartoonist is like being a jazz musician. You need have great chops and not be afraid to..


Friday, August 15, 2008

Art tips

Chris Allison wrote:
'teach us more, bob! talk about the FUNNY drawing. there's almost no academic discussion on this stuff. big contrasts in design seems to be funny. emphasizing the grotesque. i dunno, sounds stupid to try to technically break it down but there must be general concepts or ideas.'

You know, Chris, It's hard to pin down into really simple terms. Part of drawing funny is being funny and knowing what makes a drawing funny. Study Clampett and Kurtzman, Dr Seuss, Old Mad magazine, National Lampoon. Mostly it's about experience and practice. Try new things and work with other funny people. Ask yourself why a drawing is funny. Look at Tex Avery cartoons. Freeze frame the funniest poses and copy the construction and expressions. I think
the reason I can draw funny and in so many styles is because of my many different
art related jobs over the years and the talented funny people i worked with..

I started out as a portrait and caricature artist at Six Flags over Texas. After that, Vincent Waller, Ben Vincent and I traveled all over the country living out of our suitcases doing caricatures at State fairs and rodeos. Most caricature artists like this have a formula for doing it. Little running bodies etc. We would experiment and try a new funny gag each time, experimenting with no rules. This was a great way to learn cartooning. I had to draw people on the spot all day long for years. This was a great training ground because doing caricatures of real people forced me to be and draw funny.
Then, cartoonist Gary Hallgren convinced me to move to NYC where I got a job doing movie parodies for Crazy magazine. Now I was doing caricatures and telling a story for print! I was lucky enough to be working for Larry Hama who was editing Crazy and all the Conan books as well as GI Joe, Bizzare Adventures and the Nam. He is a tough coach and really helped me under sequential storytelling and good solid staging and drawing.

During this time I was living in mid town manhattan in the back of Gary's cartoon studio where I learned many more aspects of professional cartooning working as Gary's assistant doing inking and painting color seperations for comics like his Mustang Sally strip he did for Swank magazine. Gary taught me everything I know about coloring comics for print.
At this same time I was working at Marvel as the art corrections team. This was a really good training ground because I had to fix ALL the art on ALL the Marvel titles. Now that I think back it's a little hard to imagine that I actually did that. I had to be able to replace a panel or a page quickly and seemlessly while trying to ape the styles of the particular artist of the issue. At this point the original bullpin team of Stan Lee was still there and these are the people I was working side by side all day every day. Many of the early Marvel artists were still working there and I got to stand over their shoulders and watch them, sponging up everything I could about comic art! By now I was working on real comic titles as an inker. I was lucky enough to get to be the inker for John Buscema on Conan. I can't tell you what that was like. People always go on about Jack Kirby but Buscema was one of the best comic artists that ever lived and I actually got to ink his work! I learned so much about not only inking but staging and anatomy!

Now I was doing pinups, covers and and pencilling comics too. One of the best titles I worked on was The Nam which was pencilled by the great Michael Golden. If you don't know Michael's work, get to know it! I still look at his work and wonder, "How the fuck does a human being draw that well?!" I inked his pages and did covers as well. You can learn so much by looking at his work.

I worked with many comic greats doing inking and assitsing artists such as Mike Kaluta who's work is in my opinion on a par with Moebius. I got to work with the great Marie Severin sister of John Severin and one of the original artists for Mad magazine in the 50's and 60's.

I owe this all to Gary Hallgren who introduced me to Larry and Larry who taught me the difference between drawing and drawing well.

During this same time I started doing illustrations for Family Weekly Magazine working for the brilliant art directors Rick Stark and Robert Altimus. Now I was doing editorial illustrations for a national weekly magazine. Each week I was given a new job in a new style which broadened my stylist abilities on a huge scale.

I also was lucky enough to get to draw comics for National Lampoon.

By this point I was living in a loft in Tribecca with Vincent Waller and a bunch of other really talented comic artists. It was an around the clock art studio where we had some of the most amazing parties. I was living, working, around massivle talented and creative people 24/7. Meanwhile one of the many people that lived in the loft was Jim Meskimen who is an actor and cartoonist too. He was doing character designs at Rankin Bass, the animation studio that did all those puppet animated specials in the 60, on Thundercats. I got a job as designer there and did design on BGs props and characters on 6 different series.

After getting burned out on comics and sick of living in the city, Vincent and I packed up and moved to LA and I've been working in animation in one form of another since. There I worked at Dic, Warners and Nick where we did Ren and Stimpy. That was a whole new school of thought working with such talents as John K., Lynne Naylor, Chris Reccardi, Jim Smith, Bill Wray and Vincent Waller.. the list is too long to even try to write down. After that I worked on many other series and lots of feature films too. Each job being completely different and requiring different skills which I drew apon my past experience to do.

So you see the secret is working with so many talented people, being a sponge and absorbing everything you see, and trying as many different kinds of art disciplines as possible. It's about experience.
I will try to come up with some specific theories about what I think is funny for a future post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I warned you!

I said I'd post my ass off didn't I?


I love to draw with a ball point!

How to draw goofy style characters

(Note easy to follow instructions provided)

Rankin Bass Design

Here is a really bad Xerox of one of my fave designs I did for Tigersharks.
He was the main Pirate bad guy. His name was Captian Bizarro
until I informed they who must be informed that there was a comic
book character by that name so they changed it to Captian Bizzarly.
LJN Toys did an action figure of him!

More Johnny and Lil' Adenoid

Me and Gilbert


Sunday, August 10, 2008

FBI guy

Just farting around the other day with pen and ink.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Johnny Sinusseed and his magical corn can hat

Here's a lil' guy I drew that Jim Gomez and I came up with.
His girlfriend was Lil' Adenoid

Benny & Dibbs

Here is an old one I did for a film concept I had while I was working at Marvel Comics.  They are a couple of stupid Indiana Jones types but are just petty thieves and always getting into trouble.  
Here they steal a priceless Bugatti but only as a means to get away with the fat chicken they have stolen.

Non Intimate Man

This is a cover piece I did for Family Weekly Magazine.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Euro Disney conceptual storyboards

A few years back I did these boards for my friend Jerry Rees for the Cine'Magique show he directed for Euro Disney.  The idea is that park guests sit in a large theater and watch a documentary about filmmaking through the years.  
While they are watching the show a loud jerk enters the theater and so disrupts the show that Valentino and the girl on screen react to the hubbub on stage as the ushers try to throw the jerk out.  Eventually the jerk enters the screen and becomes part of the show.  

Jerry also directed the Alien Encounter ride for Disney world Florida.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Incredible Mr. Limpet with Jim Carrey

The idea was to create a 3D animated version of Jim Carrey as a fish.  I started out doing lots of caricatures based on screen grabs.  These were from Dumb and Dumber.  Then I did lots of sketches of Jim as a fish

 This film was to be a remake of the 60s live action/animated picture starring Don Knotts.
 Lots of tests were done with Jim wearing a motion capture rig with several hundred mocap dots on his face to capture the expressiveness of his rubbery face.
This last piece was for presentation based on the above sketches.  
Sadly, the film was never made.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


You know, I'm just going to post my ass off.  

More doodlin'