Thursday, December 29, 2011



Klikt recently brought me on to develop a series of illustrations that told the story of how their new rewards/coupon program could help small businesses. The end result would be a short, animated video featured on their website. I wanted to share some of the process put into the development of the video.

An example of the storyboards vs. the final scenes

I am not a storyboard artist by any means, but I had to do enough to get client approval before moving on to the final illustrations. The image shown above shows my process for this particular project. Luckily I worked with some great people who did very little to change my original vision.


Several drawings were done to capture the right look of the shop owner.

The sketches above were done with pencil and Photoshop. This step was needed as it helped the team decide, very quickly, on the look for the main character.
Several poses for the main character. Most scenes only showed from the waste up.

When the job calls for a lot of character drawings/poses and there's not much time, drawing in vector really helps. You can borrow a lot of common elements (note that the shoes, legs, head etc. for our main character are the same) which can speed along doing multiple poses. It's almost like creating illustrated puppets.


I'm always surprised at the various items I'll end up drawing. By the way, I'm your man when it comes to drawing bus signs/trash cans.

I read a letter Ward Kimball once wrote to an aspiring animator where he spoke about needing to be able to draw everything, and draw everything from multiple points of view. I think about that when creating scenes and props for characters. What Ward said is true! You really do have to be able to draw almost anything at any time for any project. Having a set style does help as it narrows your approach to drawing something you've never drawn before. I had no idea I'd be drawing a trash can for this project, but well... now I have.


Lots of various customers were built out of just a few parts.

Call me Dr. Frankenstein. Look carefully and you'll notice that several of these characters are built out of a few common pieces. This helps me keep projects on schedule and profitable. I sure would love to intricately design each customer the script called for, but I also have to eat, so you must decide where to spend your time and how to build assets efficiently.


The Coffee Hut is open for business!

One thing I stress is attention to detail. You'll notice this coffee shop is now called "The Coffee Hut" with a silly little logo. This is not anything the client asked for, but I felt it needed to be part of the story. It was weird to have a coffee shop not being branded in some manner. The logo itself is nothing remarkable, but it fits within the story and adds a bit more detail that wasn't there before.


The final interior scene used in the video was much lighter.

This drawing is the interior of the coffee shop. It was designed to house a lot of characters so you'll notice that as you move to the right, it gets really open and there's not much detail. Also, notice the 73 points of perspective. Put a cup of coffee down in this place and it would crash to the floor. :-)

You can see more scenes from this project over on my site, and don't forget to check out the Klikt video for yourself!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Art of Barry Bones


UPDATE: Barry Bones book now on sale! Just $10. Order yours now!

I always love creating stuff for GUTS. If you aren't familiar, GUTS is the pumpkin carving contest put on by the firm I live at, Hawse Design. This year, I had the opportunity to expand the Barry Bones character created for last years event. The result of that work ended up being produced into a 24 page activity book. More on that later.


The previous design for Barry Bones & Co. (left) was flat and too cold. I needed to update the characters with more depth and warmth (right).

Last year, I spent about a week or so on the development of Barry Bones, and I feel the art reflects that. It's over-simplified and the colors are very flat. This year, I wanted to redo that artwork into a more vibrant and "alive" set of characters. I wanted Barry Bones to have a lot more personality this year and appeal to a wider ranged audience.


An example of some of the pencil drawings done for character concepts.

I also wanted to surround Barry with a larger cast of characters. What does his neighborhood feel like? Who is his best friend? What attitudes and personalities does he come in contact with. All of these ideas would help design new characters.


Barry got a whole new crew of friends for 2011.

Since this work would need to take place in and around real client work, I still needed to keep the character designs simple. I like to think of them as vector puppets. This would help me keep this project on schedule. Overall, from sketch to final production art, this book took me about 3 months.


Of course he gets a logo.


The storyboard on the left shows my rough ideas for the layout. While they are super crappy, I'm surprised that the final art (on the right) was pretty close to my original idea.

The storyboard process took about a month. The story seems like such a simple one, and I was surprised at how long it takes to craft a simple story. I wanted the story to be entertaining and create a world around Barry Bones, but also act as a promotion for the GUTS event we host every year.


The original concept for the mummy was that he was an exercise buff. I thought that was funny since his arms would keep falling off. Didn't have time for that in this story though.

I also named several of the characters after the people I work with at Hawse. Barry is named for my environmental design director, Barry Becker. Rob the mummy is named after my boss Rob Hawse, with Brandy the witch being named for my AE Brandy Newton. Of course my friend and creative director, Matt Stevens, would appear as a bat… a nod to his obsession with the caped crusader. I enjoy working with these people in real life, and felt Barry should get to be with them too.


I had to work in a coffee shop. I even did a version of the Starbucks logo for the story.

I always enjoy having my characters appear in places that I like to visit. Every single character I've ever created loves coffee. I just think it's funny.


As Barry gets closer to finding a pumpkin, the colors begin to turn orange.

I wanted color to help tell the Barry Bones story as well as the scenes and characters. "Color Scripts" are tools I see folks like Pixar and Dreamworks utilize in their storytelling, and wanted to emulate that practice here with Barry. As Barry gets closer to his pumpkin, the colors in the background begin to turn orange. Also, it's rare to see such candy-coated colors used with a Halloween story, so I thought it would be a neat idea to see it in action.


I love drawing grocery stores. Even though it appears as a detail on one page, I wanted to make it feel just right.

I love grocery stores. I love shopping at grocery stores. I don't know why. I just do. So, the Barry Bones story would need to have a grocery store. Fresh Slurch anyone?


Did I mention I enjoy drawing grocery stores?

Not only would this book be a story book, but it would have big activities in it as well. Once of the more detailed adventures was a "seek and find". I decided it would be cool to have a seek and find where you had to help Barry find groceries in the cluttered aisles of the monster grocery store. In the image above, you can see the sketched version and how it compared to the final version shown just below it.


The final art for Bodean and Barry's house was very close to my final sketches.

As a kid, I always enjoyed seeing where characters lived (part of the concept behind Disneyland was that Walt wanted to show where the characters lived) and Barry would be no exception. I wanted to pair him with Bodean the Redneck Werewolf because I liked how opposite they are. Bodean is a circle, while Barry is a rectangle. Barry talks a lot and Bodean never says a word.


Of course I would find a way to draw some sort of truck.

I enjoy drawing vehicles and since this year the goal is to deliver 200 Barry Bones books and t-shirts to children at Levine Children's Hospital (you can read more about this over on the official GUTS site), it made sense to me that Barry should drive a GUTS delivery truck. Beep beep!


And let's not forget the Bonesmobile. Barry Bones demands sweet rides!

Of course, when he's not working, Barry needed a ride that suited his fine taste in style and his obsession with all things fancy. While I haven't quite decided if the Bonesmobile is haunted, it does get good gas mileage.


Every element has to be created. Even lawnmowers. Here are some props designed for the story.

Whenever you create a story, you have to design the world around your characters. Mailboxes, lawn mowers, trashcans… none of these things exist until you create them. The example above shows some of the elements created for the Barry Bones book.


Barry Bones even got specifically designed food packages. No detail is too small.

For the grocery store scene, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to create silly food packages. Matt helped a lot with the names, but I take credit for the REALLY funny ones. Whichever those are.


You can send a Barry Bones shirt and book to a kid at Levine Children's Hospital!

"So how can I get my hands on a Barry Bones book?" Well, currently all printed copies are being donated to Levine Children's Hospital. It's for kids that are too sick to come to GUTS. This book is specifically for them. That's not to say we won't make them available for sale in the future, but currently it's not in the works.


Don't forget to come to GUTS and bid on the pumpkins.

If you live in the Charlotte area and are looking for a Halloween event that's fun for the entire family, then please come to GUTS. You'll have the opportunity to see some really fantastic designs and even bid on your favorite ones. You can really impress all of those trick-or-treaters with an amazing pumpkin. Find out more about GUTS on the official site.


This poor guy never made it into the story. There is always 2012.

In closing, I wanted to personally thank my family at HAWSE for allowing me to create this book the way I wanted to do it. I also wanted to thank Metrographics for graciously donating their time and resources to print it FOR FREE. They rule.

Please consider pledging $25 to GUTS, so that a kid receives this Barry Bones book along with a Barry Bones t-shirt. This is a project I believe in, and have spent nights and weekends to make it good and to make it feel special. I appreciate all of your support.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mr. Blu Bird!


I have always wanted to live on Main Street USA. I love Disney parks. The excitement, the attention to detail, the smell of the water in Pirates of the Caribbean, (you guys know what I'm talking about) I love it all. I also enjoy using Twitter and other forms of social media to follow some of my favorite Disney folk and friends as we discuss all things Disney.

One of my good friends, Rustin Jessen (proper Disney folk) and I have teamed up to create a new social media site based on Disney parks called Mr. Blu Bird! While we can't go into all of the details just yet, we've started sharing some of the character work and background illustrations that will be woven into the website experience.

While we continue work on the site, I thought I would take a moment and share some of the development sketches behind the design of Mr. Blu Bird.

blu_02 After working on several, more complex designs, the final build ended up being much simpler, and easier to manipulate for future poses.

blu_01 An earlier concept had our bird based on a certain mouse.

Here's the final, approved pose. Lots of appeal (at least we think so) and easy to manipulate!


Stay tuned for loads more, and oh, don't forget to download a desktop wallpaper while you wait!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Apperson Prep


Recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with the good folks at Apperson to help develop Apperson Prep, a new interactive educational tool for teachers and students. I was brought on to develop a cast of characters for the brand, as well as for a series of animated videos. Along with character design, I was given the responsibility to build background scenes as well as develop a mascot and logo for the Apperson Prep school featured in the animated series. Go Ferrets!

You can see some of my illustrations in action over on the Apperson Prep website.

Over the next few months, I'll be talking about some of my illustration work that went into the designs of the two main characters, Max (the boy) and Marty (the ghost). But for now, you can check out some early, refined development work for these two characters.

REVISED_BOY The early Max was much younger. The final design made Max appear much taller and lankier.

REVISED_GHOST_02 Even early on, I drew the ghost with an addiction to coffee.