Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mr. PEABODY and SHERMAN (part 03)

The Peabody and Sherman panel at Gallery Nucleus was really fun. A lot of people turned out. Thanks for coming everyone, and thank you Gallery Nucleus for the invitation.
Now, to continue the Peabody discussion (read parts 01 and 02 to catch up)…. Back in 2006, as we started exploring the possibilities of Time Travel, and how to approach the function and look of the WABAC machine, we actually met with an expert on the theory of time travel. It was incredibly fun nerding out about the possibilities. There was MUCH discussed, but one of the most interesting concepts was the “Moving Sidewalk” theory. The idea being that time is like a “moving sidewalk” which we are all attached to and moving along with. Now, if we could lift off of this “moving sidewalk” we would no longer be bound to time as it continued to move below us. And in fact, since we are no longer bound to it, we could theoretically move around above it in either direction. Now in order to be able to lift off of this “moving sidewalk” we would need to lose all friction, or resistance. How to do this? One theory would be to “flatten” yourself, minimizing your physical mass like a piece of paper, or blade, cutting through the atmosphere (or whatever you would cut through concerning time). How might this be done? Well, by entering another dimension of course.
Again, this was just one of the amazing theories presented to us, but this “Moving Sidewalk” idea inspired me to think of a rough visual concept that might suggest how the WABAC could function (Just one of several).

Note: Rob Minkoff asked us to explore the WABAC as a vehicle, or craft that could physically take our heroes through time (Think the Delorean in Back to the Future, or HG Wells Time machine…etc). This was just one of my very early designs. This one was an attempt to retain the iconic door and technological symbols from the original show. Basically, it’s a door with a cockpit. Now moving on…
Phase 01: The WABAC lifts off of the Earth’s surface in preparation…

Phase 02: The bottom half of the craft pivots up and behind the cockpit and begins to spin faster and faster, like a generator building up energy…

Phase 03: What would it look like if a craft was attempting to create enough energy to enter another dimension? I created these thumbnail images to explore some visual possibilities…

Phase 04: How do you enter another dimension? I don’t know…lets just explode into it! And hey, maybe it would hurt when you did so. Lets make time travel feel unpredictable and dangerous...

Phase 05: After the WABAC explodes into multiple, thin plates, the pieces re-assemble into an aerodynamic grouping. From the front you would see that all of the pieces of the WABAC are thin sheets ready to cut through the dimensional atmosphere like a blade…

Phase 06: Maybe those thin WABAC pieces could move around and manipulate the cockpit; protecting it, or pushing it out of harms way. Reacting to unexpected elements…Like say a T-REX in prehistoric times...

Phase 07: What would it look like when the WABAC re-assembled, and re-entered? These were a few thumbnail images I created to explore some visual thoughts for re-entry…

So after I presented this rough series of WABAC images, we actually realized it as a fully animated sequence to eventually present to the studio (More on that in a moment).
Over the next several years of development, naturally the design of the WABAC changed, But the idea of the WABAC being made up of modular “plates” stuck, and though it is never explained in the final film, the rough concepts I presented so many years ago were the sparking point.
Now around the time we were creating that WABAC test (Early 2007 now), several more artists joined our “Look Lab” team in preparation for the big presentation to the studio. Emil Mitev created some amazing environmental designs. Scott Santoro boarded a great sequence and also created some beautiful presentation pieces. JJ Villard came up with some great concepts for the WABAC, and some very entertaining time travel vignettes as well. A couple very talented modelers and model builders helped us realize our 2D exploration in three dimensions (and animation). Then, in early 2007 it was time to present our thinking to Jeffrey Katsenberg and the Dreamworks development team.
In a nutshell, our presentation was a success. With Jeffery Katsenberg exclaiming:
“This stuff is Great! Now why isn’t any of this in the script?”

The script went back into re-writes, But because Jeffery saw the potential in our visual exploration, he decided to move forward with the further development of a Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie. So while the script was being re-worked Shannon Tindle and myself were asked to apply our efforts to other films in early development at the time. The first being a prehistoric comedy titled “Crood Awakening” (which became“the Croods”), as well as a concept that William Joyce brought to Dreamworks about the mythical figures of Childhood ("Rise of the Guardians")….and several more. Over the next 5 years I ended up touching nearly every film that Dreamworks had in production, as a development artist, Story Board artist, Character designer, and more. It was a lot of fun to explore so many varied projects while performing multiple roles. During the next 5 years, Peabody and Sherman was still being explored in script form, and eventually received the green-light for production. By that time both myself and Shannon were very busy on other projects. The film went through many more talented hands over the years, but much of the “Look Lab” team’s early work influenced the continued development and eventual production of the film.
Below is the very first image I ever created for the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie. On the first day of work, we were asked to create a symbolic logo to represent the first ever “Look Lab”, and its first subject, Mr. Peabody and Sherman. It was the start of a long adventure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mr. PEABODY and SHERMAN (part 02)

A quick reminder that the Peabody and Sherman panel at GALLERY NUCLEUS takes place on March 22nd. Now,In my previous post I started to share some of the first storytelling images created in the early days of the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie (back in 2006). Those particular images presented a potential scenario where Mr. Peabody might travel back in time to meet Sherman BEFORE he adopted him…in order to save their father son relationship in the future. Now, here are just a few more examples of the concepts created and presented during that early development time.

We’ve got to go to Ancient Egypt, so how might they affect that time? I played with the idea of them inspiring the creation of the Sphinx. The Sphinx did make an appearance in the final film, but in a much different manor. What if they traveled to ancient China to get advice from Confucius, but ended up damaging the Great Wall?

They’ve got to visit Ben Franklin during his Kite/electricity experiment.

It could be pretty exciting if they got caught up in the most famous shoot out of the Old West.

How might they leave un-wanted time-travel “footprints” and affect history in ways that they would need to correct?

From King John and the signing of the Magna Carta, to the Dawn of man, and much, much more, we had a blast exploring the possibilities.

At the same time, we were researching everything we could about the theory of time travel.We even had one of the world’s for-most authorities on the subject come in and sit with our little group to discuss the latest thinking on the subject. It was very, very cool, and it influenced us heavily when approaching the design of the WABAC machine. More on that in my next post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mr. PEABODY and SHERMAN (part 01)

Ive been a little busy lately, so I will go out of order with the posts and start with Mr. Peabody and Sherman (I’ll post on the LEGO movie soon).

Mr. Peabody and Sherman was the very first film I touched as a development artist at Dreamworks, but it happens to be the last one to be released. “Way back” in 2006, when I was still designing on “Coraline”, Director Rob Minkoff asked Shannon Tindle and myself if we would help develop a pet project of his…”Mr. Peabody and Sherman”. Dreamworks had just acquired the property and Rob wanted us to be the first artists to touch it. There was no script yet, so Rob wanted us to explore the storytelling possibilities as well.

We were told that we would be left alone to play and explore for several months. Just a small team searching for the potential of a concept with no outside influence, or check-ins every other day. It was the first time anything like this had ever been proposed at Dreamworks, and they dubbed it “the Look Lab”. So after our duties on Coraline (in late 2006), we headed to Dreamworks to tackle the challenge of this Peabody and Sherman "Look Lab". Just before we started, Rob Minkoff headed off to China to direct a live action film, so legendary Art Director Alex McDowell acted as our “Look Lab” manager (and protector). We would stay in regular contact with Rob, but now we were officially off and running.

We all knew Jay Ward’s work, and the original Peabody and Sherman shorts very well, So design wise our first instinct was to say, “Well, lets just model Jay Wards original designs as closely as we can in CG.” Rob had the same instinct, but still asked us to show him how far we felt the designs could go in a more “naturalistic”, “organic”, three dimensional direction before they would break. Just to see.

The drawings of Mr. Peabody and Sherman you see in this post were my take on that request. These are not what I felt should be the final designs, but just how far I thought they could go before starting to look TOO far off base.

I was also exploring their features, figuring out how we might treat their mouths and eyes and limbs to gain as much expression and clarity as we might need for the emotional journey we hoped these two might embark on.

But all the while we were working to capture the personality and vibe that Jay Ward had already established for these guys. Again, these were all VERY early, first pass takes on everything. These characters and concepts would go through several other artists and modeler's hands over many years before they became the characters you see in the final film.

Rob was encouraged by our first attempts, and soon after we started exploring the characters more through story development. We asked ourselves, “What would we want to see in a Peabody and Sherman time travel movie?
What periods in time would we want to visit? What kind of conflicts could arise, or need to be resolved along the way? What historical figures would be fun to see and help propel a story? How would a boy and a dog deal with being a family? What are the possibilities?” So we started creating as many fun storytelling images, and designs as we could, just blue skying and sharing thoughts.
Putting everything up, looking at each other’s ideas, which sparked new ones. Here are just the first couple of those images I created, but I will share much more of that development work in my upcoming posts!

If you want to see and hear more about the making of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I will be just one of the guest speakers on a special panel taking place at GALLERY NUCLEUS in Alhambra California on March 22nd. They will even have a print of one of my original pieces from the development of the film (shown above in fact) available for purchase. I hope to see some of you there, and stay posted for the continuation of my Peabody and Sherman blog entries.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

the LEGO Movie, Peabody & Planet Kindergarten

Its turning out to be an eventful 2014. Now as little as I update my blog, many must assume that: A) I am the laziest human being on earth, B) I hate all forms of social media, or C) I am insanely busy. While “B” would be a very good guess, “C” is actually the primary reason that my blog has been neglected. I have been extremely busy working on a slue of feature film projects (animated and live action), television shows, books, and even some incredible Theme Park projects. I have been able to contribute in numerous ways to each, and have collaborated with some absolutely amazing people along the way. Many of these projects I can not share yet, and some things I may never be able to share, but in the upcoming months there are several projects I had the pleasure of being involved with, that are being released to the world: The LEGO MOVIE, Mr. PEABODY & SHERMAN, and a children’s picture book titled “PLANET KINDERGARTEN”.
I’ll be sharing a bit about my involvement with each over the next several months, so it will be nice to feed my emaciated blog once again. Stay posted.

Sunday, February 02, 2014


Last night I, along with my fellow designers Carter Goodrich and Takao Noguchi, won the ANNIE AWARD for "Outstanding Achievement in Character Design for a Feature Production" for our work on Dreamworks animation's the CROODS. This is my second Annie Award (and second nomination), and I am incredibly grateful and honored to have been considered alongside all of the amazingly talented nominees once again. Below is a quick backstage snapshot(From left to right: Carter, Takao, and me).
A huge thank you for all of the kind congratulatory messages from friends, family, colleagues and strangers from around the world. I am honored to have even received a congrats in Klingon (Thanks Shawn Keller). All forms of well wishes have been much appreciated. Thank you.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

ANNIE AWARD Nomination

This week I was honored to be nominated along side my fellow designers Carter Goodrich and Takao Noguchi for an ANNIE AWARD recognizing our character design work on Dreamworks Animation's the CROODS. Yet another great opportunity to root for many other friends and colleagues in all categories. My hats off to all of the incredibly talented nominees, and thanks for the nod once again ASIFA.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SPHDZ Book Tour L.A. !

I've been very, very busy lately, but here is a quick post with just a few images of Jon Scieszka and myself from the SPHDZ book tour in Los Angeles last month (see previous post for more). It was awesome. Thanks to all the kids, families, and friends for making it so fun.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


The 4th and final book in Jon Scieszka’s SPACEHEADZ series arrives in October; “SPHDZ 4 LIFE!”. The "All-Purpose SPHDZ Boxed Set" will be released at the same time, packaging all 4 books together in paperback form.

This series has been a lot of fun to work on with Jon and the amazing team at Simon and Schuster. I have loved spending time with Jenny, Bob, Major Fluffy, Agent Umber, Agent Magenta, The Pickle Phone, Nurse Dominique, Venus, TJ, the Kindergarteners, the Animals of the world, the Chief, Mom K., Dad K., Baby K., and of course Michael K.

To launch book 4, I will be joining Mr. Scieszka on the Los Angeles leg of the SPHDZ book tour. Here are a couple book stores we'll be visiting:

Monday, September 30th at 7:00 pm
2207 Honolulu Ave, Montrose CA 91020.

Friday, October 4th at 6:30 pm
695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena Ca 91101

I will be posting images from our “SPHDZ 4 LIFE” appearances and events soon.

Friday, June 14, 2013

SUPERMAN through the ages.

Not long after I started drawing, I discovered the character of Superman. The first film was released when I was one year old, so I grew up surrounded by Superman merchandise, comic re-boots, movie sequels, television, and video rentals. To me Christopher Reeve was, and will always be Superman. As a young artist this character quickly became my muse, and I am a Superman fan to this day. After the devastating disappointment of Superman Returns in 2006, I was fearful of seeing the latest film. Well I saw it, and there is a lot that I loved about the film, and a couple things I struggled with, but I will say that watching the film as a new father had an unexpected impact on me. I am not going to blog a review of the film, but after seeing it I was inspired to share a couple drawings of the Man of Steel from my childhood.(Thanks for keeping this stuff Mom and Dad).

(Above) Age 3. Here I'm Just trying to figure out the right symbols to create an image of this guy. He's flying if you couldn't tell. Maybe backwards though.

(Above) Age 6. Starting to draw him in situations now. I would make the sounds of all the action as I drew these scenes. My spelling was just as awesome as it is now.

(Above) Age 8. One of my first attempts at a portrait.

(Above) Age 9. I remember exactly where I was when I drew this one. It was on a camping trip with my family in 1986. I had my well worn "How To Draw the DC Superheroes" book with me, sitting at an old wooden picnic table. I'm pretty sure I had a mullet at the time.

Just thought these would be fun to share. Every kid has to draw Superman at least once in their lives.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

the CROODS post 06 (the guy before Guy)

In the Croods, “Guy” was not always “Guy”, his original name was Wimmit. And he was not always a human, but was originally conceived as an awkward, yet more advanced intermediate species.Chris and kirk wanted him to have a Dobie Gillis, hippy, beatnik vibe as well. I got the ball rolling on this guy, and would end up taking him quite a ways through production. Later on Carter Goodrich joined the team, and we started working back and forth like mad. You will see me imitating his technique in several images as we worked to hone the overall look for the Croods. The pencil drawings you'll see at the end of the post were, at one point, the final Guy. But the studio decided they wanted a more conventional, human Guy for the final film. Below is just a small sample of my design and development work on who would eventually become “Guy”. (note some of the reference and inspiration included on some pages. There were many different influences along the way). Also, the very informative Croods Blog just posted an interview I did for them. Check it out.