Friday, March 28, 2008

Mommy's Little Monkster

Trying to keep the gears moving has become priority. Ace provided a nice way to restart the machine that is my brain, now it's time to start moving around the other pokers in the fire too. Potential work is afoot, and I need to get sharpened back up asap. I pulled out a few exploratory Monkster sketches from the later part of last year. At a certain point I hit a great stride with this character. Drawings were constantly on model, and he was starting to come to life. In a lot of ways he's my Mickey Mouse or Kermet the Frog. Just like Walt and Jim thought of their creations, I think of Monkster as a living being. I find myself singing in the car with his voice quite frequently. It just kind of happens. When I struggle with his facial features, I look in the mirror and make faces of my own. Monkster is the personification of my mischievous side, and the troublemaker that I was always afraid to be. He's everything I'm not, just as I am everything he's not.

It's been interesting doing research on this design. Coming across interviews of former Disney animators like Fred Moore and Frank Thomas, who are 2 of the draftsmen responsible for the sleek lined and well proportioned Mickey Mouse we know today. Both men were responsible for redesigning Mickey at key points in his career. I found resonance in Fred Moore's redesign of Mickey in 1939 in particular. Fred was in part responsible for Mickey during the production of "Fantasia" and the first person to give Mickey pupils in his eyes.

Can anyone tell why this redesign was necessary?

Expression. Pie eyed Mickey was not able to emote enough emotion for Uncle Walt's liking and for Mickey's movie star debut, acting was key.

Now compare 1930's Mickey to the Monkster sketch above. Pie eyes.
I ran into a lot of the same problems they had to have run into at Disney's in the late 30's. Trying to get Monkster to emote more has been quite the task. Why not just redesign Monkster? Well, I'm stubborn and I like Monkster the way he is. He came out of my head with pie eyes, and pie eyed is the way he's gonna stay. The design flaw doesn't mean the character is to be given up on, no. I just view it as a challenge.

In trying to find contemporary characters to mimic, "The Animaniacs" were a huge help in my studies. I know the mere mention of those characters makes any animation historian cringe, but say what you will. Their design flaw was a huge help in trying to overcome Monkster's. It's so far so good I think. Take for example the 2 quick sketches below (Forgiving the flipper hands on the one on the right):

I see thought, organic thought. You can see wheels turning as if he's a living, breathing thing. Particularly on the left. Look at the stretch, and gesture that is going on there. I can hear him talking already. Any moment he's gonna try and trick me out of the pudding snack from my lunch, I can feel it.

More of these sketches to come. I'm trying to dig out some of my sketch pads from last year on Monkster and The Canopy as we speak.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning to Logo

Every time I sit down to work on a logo for a new show I can't help but remember the hundreds, if not thousands of tips and tricks my friend Cliff Galbraith taught me over oh so many summers spent sweltering in a North Hollywood garage. Balance, focal points, original font design, etc. The keys to an eye catching and original logo. It is also every time I sit down to do a logo, that I miss his guidance more and more. He's living on the other coast now, and it may as well be Mars.

Anyways, enough of my old man ramblings and on with tonight's artwork!

The official logo for Ace Fernando: Space Commando!

It's gonna make one hell of a shirt if I do say so myself. Line up to the left and have your $12.95 in hand and ready. No checks please.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What I'm Listening To

Diverse listening habits this week for me, as is usually the norm.

I learned long ago to make soundtracks for what ever project I'm working on. I put the mix on in the background while I work and it seems to really help me exude the desired vibe I want for the show. Example, with "The Monkster" I like to listen to Ska and modern Punk. With "Really Bad Movie!" it was all classic lounge and swing tunes.

Latin lounge music helps in all the "Ace Fernando" work I've been doing. Guess it gets me in the mood to work on this character. Ace is suave, but quite cheesy. Just like the musical selections I've made on his behalf.

I downloaded this pretty cool Xavier Cugat album from iTunes the other night. Not having been too familiar with his music, but having heard plenty about the man from my grandmother Delores while I was growing up; I figured I'd finally dive into his catalog for Ace's sake.

About half the tracks made it onto my Ace playlist. Each song on the album is named after a drink. At some point I plan on drinking those drinks while listening to their corresponding songs. Not really because I have to, but I feel like I should. After all, if you plan to listen to music from this period, one must learn to drink like your grandparents did. With some class, sophistication and with the knowledge of what kind of glass goes with what kind of drink. Do your homework, listen to this album, and get back to me for a quiz.

The album cover of this album on iTunes is different from the one to the left, but the title of the album remains the same. From legendary arranger/composer Juan Garcia Esquivel, aka Esquivel, comes this amazing auditory oddity. This is the man who invented "Space Age Bachelor Music", for without him I fear most of our grandparents would never have gotten laid, presenting the problem of our lack of existence. One ponders the amounts of martini drank to the sound that this man provided and promptly goes cross-eyed. Esquivel provides an amazing escape to the early 1960's for me that no other composer has even come close to providing. Though I was not there in person, I believe my soul was. You will find his rendition of "Harlem Nocturne" as the theme for "Really Bad Movie" and if I get my way about it, his music will also provide the theme for our friend Ace.

Downloaded this album from iTunes as well. An Irish group called Bell X1. Though the album is a couple years old, it's one that slipped by me at it's time of release. A solid album all the way through. If you like "Franz Fernanand" and "Keane", you will probably adore this band. Their sound can be similar at times but I found Bell X1 to have a more rich and deep sound. The track "Eve, the Apple Of My Eye" will sound familiar to you, as it does to me. I just can't place what movie and/or film I remember it from. They use so many random tracks of music in promotion of forthcoming television seasons these days, it's hard to keep tabs on which sappy promo had which sappy song in it. See promos from season 2 of "Gray's Anatomy" with The Fray's "How to Save a Life" for an example. The promo prompts almost all men into believing they've had their ovaries removed, yet you still want to watch.

More great music from the UK, and a blaring reminder of how SHITTY the music scene here in the states has become. "Fractured Life" from UK's Air Traffic has been playing musical chairs on my iPod since it's purchase at the end of last month. When I'm not working, I'm listening to this album or, Bell X1.

This is by far my favorite album of the new year, and with the way things are shaping up, it may be my favorite album of the year.
At this point the only album on the horizon that could dethrone this one is the new one from The Raconteurs.

This is the album I recommend you pick up asap. You will not be disappointed.

So there you have what I'm listening to right now. More Ace related artwork to come tomorrow. I have cleared most of the evening to work on some of the sketches I recently completed. Check back soon.

Color Commando

Finishing now the components of the logo for Ace Fernando: Space Commando. All that's left for me to do is finish up the other text elements and it will be complete. For now, here is Ace himself, in full color glory.

Pretty cool huh? What a douche bag he's gonna be!

Not sure yet who's next. I got Ace's trusty young ward, Bobby Thompson and his sister Susy drawn, along with the butch-lesbian-robot Nurse Click. I'll get to them and get them up asap. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Going Commando

Working on the development of characters from square one is my favorite part of the job. While working on the currently-in-limbo-but-still-looking-promising-show "The Canopy"; My writing partner, and all around genius in the field of writing, Brandon Alexander, asked if I'd be interested in helping develop one of his properties to the ready. That property, "Ace Fernando: Space Commando" about a self absorbed latin space commando saving the world in the futuristic year of 2003.

The pilot is on the way. Writing has commenced, and it's coming along well. Along with the pilot, I've begun preliminary character design. This is a relatively tough phase in the process. Lots and lots of wasted paper, and wasted time. In the end though you when you get the result you wanted, you quickly get past the annoyances of your own limitations. Ace in particular gave me quite the struggle in designing. Of course when dealing with a character of such ethnic persuasion, and in this case, a conceded attitude to boot, you tend to ware down pencils to a nub. Finding the right mix of fun and annoyance is a hard thing to do.

For the first post in the coming slew of Ace related posts, here is Ace himself.

Not too bad for this being the 5th attempt at nailing the design, right?

More to come this week. I've got some personal deadlines to hit on this series in the coming days. Stay tooned.

Hey! Over here! Look at me!

Yeah so I finally caved and got one of these blog deals for myself. I find inspiration in the blogs of other artists out there, so it's time I gave back. I have no idea who the hell could find any spark from one of my doodles, but it's worth a shot.

Maybe I'm not getting enough attention these days. Maybe it's my recent move to the boonies, or maybe it's another Saturday night and I'm home alone, bored. What ever the case may be, I will be posting things here from time to time.

Check back soon, check back often.