Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Whoops missed a day, and all I have for today is a bad page of Wuerhosaurus with offspring. Meh. getting busy, better stuff next time.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pachycephalosaurus FOR FRANCE!! Dinovember.

After the terrible events in Paris yesterday, here's a pachycephalosaurus doing what he does best, charging forward.  Best wishes to our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


So it's November and there's a thing called Dinovember going on where you draw a dinosaur everyday through the eleventh month of the year. I didn't participate in Inktober so I thought I'd try this dino thing this year.
I started out pretty well, having done this Darth Vader on the T-Rex in the style of Frank Frazetta's Warrior on Steed as a commission. Still need to make some composition tweaks on this.

And then came these, just throwing them in the sketchbook and only giving myself a short time to do them, most are colored pencil on paper, they lack in storytelling:
 But Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro are too useful to be ignored so more of these will come.

Today's is a Pteranodon with Ptie Phighters. Last night I awoke to the sound of a Pteranodon going to the bathroom but remembered, their "P" is silent.
See you tomorrow with more dinos, thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Animation: Background Planning/Set Design

This is an area that is not my forte but here are some notes I picked over the years starting from a layout class I took with the great Scott Caple long ago and on up through time. Something Scott said was "A layout tends to feel...well, empty or awkwardly unfinished somehow until the characters are added.  Then the composition is complete."

I am going to approach this in terms of scene planning, take note that this is in no intended to be a "How To" on background ground layouts or painting but simply a "something to think about when planning your shots/scenes." Some links on this topic are here, here and here (There are so many but I don't want to get carried away).

Planning a scene is a lot like planning a a painting; you must decide what is to most important and then work your way to least important. If something has no importance it must be taken out of the shot-everything to be shown must be of some importance, even if it only adds to the composition. So a first step in planning your shots would be to ask if all of the background subject matter is necessary as well as how the elements in the BG work to achieve a solid composition.
In the image above, Rembrandt chose to position the main figure (Christ) higher to show his significance as the other figures (the sick) swarm around him.  The dark tones of the building in shadow behind the main figure out create an contrast from the foreground elements.  The shadow of the archway frames the action as light spills from right to left. The darks and lights make the visual hierarchy clear.

Below, in this drawing by Charles D Mitchell, storytelling is very clear but layout is much too flat to allow for the characters to move freely in the space due to the cluttered chairs etc.
Below is a painting I love, by Giovanni Bedini from 1924.  Here, a young woman plays a violin with such a charming expression and character that it is hard not imagine walking into this scene where she plays just for the viewer. The darkest and lightest elements lay atop each other on the right third of the painting and the painting seemed designed to allow the woman the ability to get up from her work and move around the space. It's this, seeming openness of space that is what sets layouts and BGs apart. Like real spaces, a character is able to "move" around in these imaginary environments.
But what are the first steps to scene planing?
Scene planning begins with the script/storyboarding phase. Concept art is generated while story is in development to craft the look of the themes, places and anything that will be involved in the story.  Concept development may give a snap shot of look of a moment but may not focus on setting a stage for animation as this painting from Marc Lumer for The Emperor's New Groove.
Another example of concept art from Disney's Tarzan is this drawing below. As seen, there is little room for a character to actually move around in the spaces provided here.
The next step is the planning of the actual scene beyond the concept stage. The director(s), story and layout artists decide what camera angles would be best to describe the story and action is mapped out. In this storyboard image from Batman Animated Series we see the camera has been planned to show the Penguin aiming up at an onrushing Batman. The camera tilts up and dollies into Batman, then tracks his progress right as machine gun fire explodes around him.
As scene planning is signed off, the process moves to layout, at least for 2D animation. The process changes in 3D creation. A 2D layout becomes the actual "physical" world where the characters will 'live' in each shot. Below are some examples of layouts for animation, starting with Balto followed by an example from Gulliver's Travels. In both, the spaces designated for the characters to traverse are pretty clear.
Below is a layout grid for Lady and the Tramp 2 by Patrick Raines. Where do you suppose the action of the characters will take place here? A fine example of using grids for perspective layout.
Another from 101 Dalmatians, from Animation Treasures (an awesome blog). Clearly the dogs would mount the hill.
In this layout, Cruella speaks to Horace and Jasper from her phone on the bed in long shot.  This shot followed by a close up for better staging of character action. This is a great drawing though, so I had to post it.
Two other layouts, one from Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings...
...and the other from Chuck Jones' Riki Tiki Tavi. This is down shot which pans to follow the action of the characters as they move through the garden.