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Merry Christmas!

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And happy holidays!

I snuck out solo for Sketchclub and tried to take advantage of the "real" weather in order to draw some wonderful wardrobes.

Seeing this woman braving the drizzle and 55 degree weather was comical. It looked like she was ready for some subzero Lake Michigan winds to blow in any minute. The only give away were the tiny dress shoes. Heh-heh, very Los Angeles! Since we don't get snow here, this was the closest thing.

Have a wonderful holiday my friends. I'll see you all in the coming year.

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Luke 2:14

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Journey to Bethlehem

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Yep, that's my daughter and I at last year's event.

Hello everyone. It's that time of the year, and my church has built Bethlehem in our church parking lot, and yours truly and one of his intrepid daughters will be participating once again as shepherds as we give praise to our Lord and Savior.

So, come experience the Christmas story in an interactive town. 
It is a hands-on experience for you to walk through the city of Bethlehem during the time of Christ's Birth. 
This town has a cast of over 150, live animals, music, dancing, wares, trades to try, a petting farm, and a visit from the angels.

I would like to invite your entire family and friends to come and tour Bethlehem.
Admission is FREEE, in fact- they give you a handful of shekels to spend in town. 
Reservations are not needed and groups are welcome. 
Please dress warmly since this is an outdoor event.

3 Nights in MB and 2 in Bellflower (5 nights total):
Manhattan Beach - Dec. 5-7 (6-9pm)
1243 Artesia Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Bellflower - Dec. 13 & 14 (6-8:00pm)
17456 Downey Ave., Bellflower, CA 90706

Its Amazing, You don't want to miss it!!!

For more info visit: www.journeytobethlehem.org

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I have posted on Sketchclub!

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Hello friends. I've got a couple new images on Sketchclub, so if you would like to see the rest of this image, go to Sketchclub!

Also, a very talented young recruit named Glenn Harmon has joined Sketchclub! He has paid his membership fee and his dues in advance, gone through the rigorous/brutal initiation ritual, and will return to Sketchclub once the swelling goes down.

We also have a new sketch by Paul Shardlow posted there.

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Water Color Figure

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First I'd like to apologize for the intrusive watermark/copyright. As you can see, I'm concerned that our artworks may be detached from our copyright, and become "orphaned." So, I'm adding my signature in a manner that can be removed by the "dedicated," but not by someone trying to quickly do it.

Moving on, this is a watercolor I did a while back. I was drawing these drawings in my sketchbook using charcoal, and then hastily adding some watercolor. For the most part, this was probably a five minute sketch, so I would draw out a gesture drawing as quick as I could, and use the remainder of the time to add the color.

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The Prodigal Pumpkin Boy Returns

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Several years ago we purchased this pumpkin scarecrow decoration for our home. It was a huge hit with my youngest daughter, she dubbed him "Pumpkin Boy."

Sadly, we lost "Pumpkin Boy" when the sewage in the home we were renting backed up and flooded our home. (Apparently a tree root had managed to get inside the pipe, and when a toilet was left running, it eventually backed up and flooded our bedroom.) Poor "Pumpkin Boy" was hiding in the closet, and absorbed all the water like a sponge. We had to toss out a lot of things, shoes, clothing and anything else that was contaminated. It was a mess -- I even lost a sketchbook I kept under my bed that I would use to draw my dreams, or other moments of inspiration.

The next year, "Pumpkin Boy" didn't return, and my daughter was distraught that "Pumpkin Boy" had forgotten her. She made the declaration, "He was probably busy, but I know he'll come back next year." What was I to do? I tried in vain to look for this decoration, but alas it was not to be.

Fellow blogger and friend Shuku had offered to help me make one, and she sent me some patterns to make the pumpkin shape. I bought a different scarecrow decoration of about the approximate size and removed the head -- then, stitch by stitch I hand sewed Pumpkin Boy's head -- trying my best to match the original, thus bringing him back from the abyss.

The day before Halloween last year, my daughter discovered "Pumpkin Boy" hiding in the bushes at night.

This year, "Pumpkin Boy" returned once more during our full moon, so I thought I would post a picture of the original "Pumpkin Boy", and the new "Pumpkin Boy." This picture was taken last year, right after she discovered "Pumpkin Boy" hiding in the bushes and we brought him inside.

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Orphan Works Dead On Arrival

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Thanks to all of you that wrote letters and contacted your congress persons. I believe it made the difference.

Shame on Senators Leahy and Hatch for trying to sneak this by. Write them a letter and let them know how you feel.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/09/orphan-works-co.html

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Orphan Works Update (Important!)

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I thought perhaps our politicians might just be busy with the collapse of our banking and mortgage system – but I was wrong. When ever you hear them talking about how busy they’re working, it’s a sham because they always find the time to take advantage of situations like this to give themselves cover -- and we lose either more of our hard earned money or more of our rights.

While everyone is busy watching them reach into our pockets to pay for their mismanagement of our banks, they’re busy trying to pick our pockets with their other hand! (For those of you that didn’t believe this would happen, go back to sleep.)

Here’s a letter from the Illustrator’s Partnership of America. Read it, and make the appropriate calls and write the appropriate letters. Remember; be respectful.

Marcelo Vignali

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ILLUSTRATORS ' PARTNERSHIP OF AMERICA
Orphan Works: The Devil's Own Day
Never Too Busy to Pass Special
Interest Legislation
9.28.08

As lawmakers struggled Friday to clean up the mess on Wall Street, sponsors of the Orphan Works Act passed more special interest legislation. Their bill would force copyright holders to subsidize giant copyright databases run by giant internet firms.
Like the companies now needing billion dollar bailouts, these copyright registries - which would theoretically contain the entire copyright wealth of the US - would presumably be "too big to fail." Yet it's our wealth, not theirs, the scheme would risk.
Small business owners didn't ask for this legislation. We don't want it and we don't need it. Our opposition numbers have been growing daily. So Friday, the bill's sponsors reached for the hotline.
What is Hotlining?
Critics of hotlining say "that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read."
"In order for a bill to be hotlined, the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote. The two leaders then inform Members of this agreement using special hotlines installed in each office and give Members a specified amount of time to object - in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed."
- Roll Call, Sept 17, 2007
In other words, a Senate bill can pass by "unanimous consent" even if some Senators don't know about it.
The Devil's Own Day
Senators Leahy and Hatch hotlined the Orphan Works Act twice last summer. Each time came at the end of a day, at the end of a week, near the end of a legislative session. Each time lawmakers were distracted by other issues and other plans. Each time artists rallied quickly and each time a Senator put a hold on the bill.

Friday the Senators found a new opportunity.

With lawmakers struggling to package a 700 billion dollar bailout to avert a worldwide economic meltdown, with the rest of the country focused on Presidential debates, with Washington in chaos and Congressional phone lines jammed, they hotlined an amended bill. On short notice, even the legislative aides we could reach by phone said they didn't have time to read it. And so, while we were rushing to get out a second email blast to artists, the bill passed by "unanimous consent" - in other words, by default.

What better way to pass a bill that was drafted in secret than to pass it while nobody's looking?

Since Friday, artists have been conducting bitter post mortems on their blogs. That's understandable, but it's not time yet.

The Senate passed their bill Friday, but the House hasn't. There's still time to write, phone and fax your congressional representatives. Tell them not to let the House Judiciary Committee fold their bill and adopt the Senate's.
- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership

TAKE ACTION: EMAIL CONGRESS TONIGHT
Tell the House Judiciary Committee not to adopt the Senate version.
We've supplied a special letter for this purpose: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11980321
Please post or forward this message immediately to any interested party.
________________________________________________________________________________________
For ongoing developments visit the Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works Blog:
http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/

Over 70 creator organizations are united in opposing this bill in its current form. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses. Read the list: http://www.illustratorspartnership.org/01_topics/article.php?searchterm=00273
The Capwiz site is open to professional creators and any member of the image-making public. Sample letters have been provided. International artists will find a special link, with a sample letter and instructions as to whom to write.
If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at: illustratorspartnership@cnymail.com Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area.

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As Per Request...

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Here's another one from my sketchbook.

The medium is ink, and magic marker.

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Sketch

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Years ago, when the Surf's Up crew went to do some research at a surfing contest near San Diego, I brought along my sketchbook. I did several sketches, one of which was this one.

The medium is ball point pen, a brush pen, and a white pen.

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Figure Drawing in Pen

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I'm back, sorry for the delay in posting.

This has been a sad summer. My father-in-law lost his battle with cancer a couple weeks back. Most of this summer had been dedicated to him, as my wife made frequent visits with him (as well as the whole family). We knew his cancer was terminal, and so we tried to soak up as much as we could before it was his time to be with our Lord.

He was a loving family man, a Christian, and a playful grandfather. He will be greatly missed.

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Astro Boy in 2003

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In 2003, when I had first arrived at Sony Pictures Animation, I was given the assignment of doing some visual development work for Astro Boy. It's hard to believe it's been five years.

Being fans of the original series, it was a dream project for Richie Chavez and I. We created some designs together, and I put together a poster for an inter-corporate mid range planning report. I used one of Richie's small robot designs, and I tried to create a look for Astro Boy himself that was new and different.

Richie and I had also written a treatment for the story that was never seen because the fragile deal with the Tezuka family and Sony corporate unraveled during this same time. The deal with Sony fell apart; for us it was too-little-too-late, and we missed out on a tremendous project.

The project has since moved onto Imagi Animation Studios. Good luck guys! I can't wait to see the film next year.

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Atlantis Escape...

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Greetings everyone!

Sorry I've taken so long in posting anything. I got swamped with life stuff. Unfortunately my posting may continue to be a little sporadic for a little while, but I'll try and keep posting when I get a chance.

OK, here we're going back ten years ago when I was doing some work for Disney as a freelancer. The project was Atlantis, and I did several pencil drawings for them as I tried to explore what this world looked like.

There is a great book on the project called Atlantis, The Lost Empire, The Illustrated Script.

--M

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Open Season Pencil Drawing

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This drawing was done during a testing phase for the Open Season Project.

We were in the process of creating a prototype version of our film in CG, in order to test out the style of the film. We did a crane shot of the camera moving over the landscape, trucking through the trees, and then camera moves over a hill, and finally we reveal this shot. So, the entire drawing was done in various levels like a 2D film, with trees in front on an overlay, meadow and hillside with bushes and rocks, and then the finale with the waterfall and and old saw mill.

We put it all together using Maya like a multiplane camera with my drawings placed on cards. We completed this exercise, but we never completed a CG version of this shot as we had originally planned.

The drawings were done with graphite on animation paper.

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Orphan Works Act Update

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I've gotten a few comments that seem to suggest this isn't happening, or that it isn't even being talked about at the federal level. I provided links in my previous post to make it easier to follow this story. Please, just follow the links my friends.

Go to GovTrack.us and you'll see the Bill S.2913 has been introduced to the Senate on April 24, 2008.

As the Full Report link in the previous post will show, this has been presented to the both the house and senate. This is the first step in the legislative process, which means it is being deliberated, investigated and revised before it enters into the general debate.

If artists don't get motivated about this, or believe this is a hoax or an internet rumor, then be prepared to lose the copyright protection you currently have. Make your voices heard so as to add balance to those who want to create the Orphan Works Act. Now is the time you should be giving your testimonies. Politicians have no idea what it is to be an artist, educate them. Or else we may lose the copyright protection to spread our pixie dust across the bloggosphere.

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Orphan Works Act

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If this law passes, this may be one of the only ways to protect our artwork when we post online. Essentially, I would be rendering my artwork useless with a watermark to would-be users seeking to use my artwork without just compensation. But this watermark protection isn't a guarantee, because anything printed or reproduced without your copyright will now be subject to theft! (That's not to say your copyright wouldn't be purposefully stripped for the purpose of theft.)

Right now, anyone can download my artwork, but no one can legally profit off my artwork without just compensation to me. This is all about to change with this new bill being proposed. S.2913 and H.R. 5889.

Seeing a great big watermark is not a great way to blog or to show samples of our artwork on our websites, but this may be one of the only real protections left to us should this become law.

The Orphan Works act works like this. Is someone finds your artwork on the web, or printed elsewhere, without proper copyright and registration (or with the copyright stripped off), they can register it -- after a “reasonable and diligent search.”

What is a “reasonable and diligent search?” Our artwork would be posted somewhere within the dozens of privately owned registration houses, and it would up to us to find our artwork and claim it.

There will be dozens and dozens of privately owned registries, and billions of images throughout 100 years to sort through. Rendering the process of claiming our own images as nearly impossible. If, on the off chance, you find that you have been ripped off, your infringement claim is only limited to, “reasonable compensation.” (As per their actual literature on page 115 in the Orphan Works Full Report.) What is reasonable compensation? Well, it would NOT be the current compensation of $150,000. worth of protection the current law affords us. Fair compensation means there will be NO penalties for copyright infringement. But, if you catch them, they'll pay you what a court deems is a reasonable usage fee.

Now, if you want to protect your images from being ripped off, you would need to register your images with all these privately owned registries. How much will cost? Who knows? How many images to do you draw per year? I just registered one script idea with SAG, and it cost me $20.00.

As a commercial artist the Orphan Works Act puts the burden of copyright protection and enforcement on the artists, while at the same time giving a pass to the users. We have to register with all the registry houses, and they only have to register with one. This is a bad bill that seeks to undermine the government's long-standing legal protection for artists.

Who are these registration data bases that are going to profit from this? Microsoft, Google, Corbis ... to mention a few.

Whenever I see both Democrats and Republicans come together, get ready to grab your wallet! Such is the case with the Orphan Works Act Senate Bill S.2913 and House Bill H.R. 5889. Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA),Howard Coble (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), (Chairman and Ranking Members of House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property and Full Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member respectively) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Please get active and protect your copyrights, or be prepared to lose them!

Read the act, testimony or full report
Go to the Illustrator's Partnership Resource Page !
See the Brad Holland video about this act
Government contacts and sample letter!

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BROTHER BEAR character sketches

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When I was working on Brother Bear for Walt Disney Feature Animation, part of my job as a freelancer for Disney was to design a world of characters. So, I sharpened my pencils, and drew up a bunch of different North American mammals, in this case the musk ox.

The drawings were, again, old-school. I drew these out and colored them with marker.

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Surf's Up Props

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Here's another prop from Surf's Up.

There was a scene during our film when our characters were going to be at a luau and banquet. The scene was storyboarded, a prop list was made, and we designed the props (and in some cases the props were painted and modeled in 3D), but the scene was later cut from the film. Even still, I thought it was a fun idea and a drawing worth sharing.

This little guy is playing a bamboo drum, similar to the PVC drums. Since the penguins already have flippers, the instrument would be easy to play. Watch this video to see how it would have sounded. Just click here to listen!

He also had bamboo chimes and coconut cymbals to accompany his drums.

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Whallup!

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Here's one from a few years ago...OK, a dozen years ago.

I was poking around my files and ran across a folder of old artwork. This image was drawn back in 1996, when Disney animation was still 2D and had just released Hunchback in the theaters, and Pixar's Toy Story was released on VHS.

This was drawn with graphite on ledger paper.

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I Have Posted at Sketchclub!

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If you would like to see the rest of this image, go to Sketchclub!

Also, the very talented Paul Shardlow has joined Sketchclub! This means he has paid his membership fees, learned the secret handshake and swallowed the the goldfish!

Come take a look and compare our take on the same "chap."

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Marker on Newsprint

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I know that several of you have asked that I post some of my figure drawings. Here's a different approach than you are probably NOT used to seeing. I've tossed aside the anatomy, and am playing around with shape and design.

I think figure drawing is vital to any good designer. However, I think I need to preface that with this caveat. If you learn to draw what you see, you will be no different than a camera -- I think it is more important to design what you see.

I've studied the anatomy quite extensively, but knowing where the muscles are doesn't make a good drawing. Capturing character, personality and the essence of life is more important than making sure the sternocleidomastoideus has two insertions at the clavical (unless you are drawing medical diagrams).

I've seen some artists come to figure drawing classes with expensive paper, and drawing equipment -- they practically sign their drawings before the start. But, I think it is much move valuable for us to use these classes to learn, practice and experiment. I try to draw on the worst crap, so that I don't fool myself into believing I have to do a good job in order to not waste the materials.

Figure drawing classes should be where we allow ourselves to take chances.

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Really Cool Link

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Women in Art, by Philip Scott Johnson.

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Surf's Up Props

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OK, as requested, I'll post a few more, then I'll move on.Here are some prop designs I did for Surf's Up.

I play the ukulele, and so I took a specific interest in designing Big Zs uke to look as authentic as possible. Since penguins are smaller than people, I thought it would make sense to use a smaller object, such as a coconut shell as the body. Again, in keeping with our world, all the items for the uke were found items that you'd find on the seashore.

I tried to be as economical as posible with my props, so I was always trying to find ways to reuse a prop. In this case, the shells, bamboo and coconut were used over again quite a bit. Heheheh, this coconut was used so much, I kept getting teased about it.

I had also heard from our directors that Jeff Bridges (who also plays the uke) wanted to make a real one based on this design. I don't know if he ever did that, but it sure would be fun to see.

And here I've got the drawing for some of the wooden Tikis you see throughout our movie. These couldn't be regular Tikis, but instead they are based on bird designs. Look closely as you'll notice they are in keeping with Polynesian design, but they are made to look like birds.

The modelers also had a bit of fun with these too. They divided the assignments as per the Tikis that looked most like them.

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Annie Award Results

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This weekend the Annie Awards were held. Surf's Up had ten nominations, but it was Pixar's Ratatouille that ran off with the big cheese. Out of our ten Annie Award Nominations, we only received two Annie Awards under the Individual Achievement Categories.
Animated Effects
Winner: Deborah Carlson - "Surf's Up" - Sony Pictures Animation
Animation Production Artist
Winner: John Clark - "Surf's Up" - Sony Pictures Animation

Congratulations to both Deb and John, and to all the Annie Award recipients.

Here's a few more images from the project. I'll stop posting these and start posting something else.

This is a design I did for the fish piles in Shiverpool. I designed the igloos as being flat and squared, so as to compliment the cone-like shapes of the fish piles. I wanted it to look like a pile of fish, instead of a pile of lumber, so I designed the fish with a curve, so we could get the sense of the fish having weight.





And here is a portion of the ice walls I designed for the Antarctica scenes. There was a lot of effort in getting the canyon-like walls to look ideal, but yet still believable. If you look at the base, you can see the tiny Shiverpool island. I also made an effort to design the ice under the water as well too, as you can see from this image. There was another drawing that wrapped around this canyon, and started another canyon behind this one. That way we could use that as a backdrop to our canyon in order to create the silhouette against the sky.

This drawing, when combined with the other drawing, is pretty large. I would estimate it about three feet by four feet.

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Annie Awards this Friday

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The ASIFA-Hollywood Annie Awards are going to take place this Friday, so wish me luck. I'm up against some very talented individuals.

Now the award is by no means going to be as big and elaborate as this trophy (Lia) in Surfs' Up, but it is much more prestigious. (The character design was drawn by Annie Award Nominee, Sylvain Deboissy.) It's like the Oscars for animation.

The whole point of Surf's Up was that awards shouldn't overide the reason why you do something -- in their case, surfing. That is a good lesson to learn and know. When I worked on this movie, the Annie Awards were the farthest thing from my mind. Heck, I was too busy trying to stay on top of the schedule. However, now in hindsight, it's flattering to be recognized for my efforts by my peers within the industry.

However, this does give me a good reason to post some of my prop design!

The assignment was that we needed a trophy for the competition, so in order to minimize production costs for modeling and rendering, I tried to use as many existing items to construct the award. You'll note that the top of the trophy has a little Big Z figure carved out of wood. This is the same trinket being sold in the bazaar, and the same teaching tool that Big Z uses on the sand when coaching Cody. My good friend Armand Serrano created all the other versions of the trophy from this version by taking this one apart and putting it together in a different way each time. The trophy scene is perhaps one of the funniest moments in the film.

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BANYAN TREE DIAGRAM

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This was one of the designs for Geek's tree, it was based on a banyan tree. Our character Geek lived insided the roots -- his home was sort of like a burrow under a tree.

But, that alone isn't enough information to design the tree, so I created a series of documents to help explain the tree exterior. Here's another document from that design package that was created to describe the construction of the banyan tree to the modeling department. (My good friend Armand Serrano did an excellent cut-away view of the interior, I hope he posts that on his blog.)

Part of the trick is drawing and desgining any element, but in this business the other part is understanding it well enough that it can be communicated to the next department. In the end the tree turned out extremely well; we had some of the best modelers in the business working on our show.

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Surf's Up Academy Award Nomination!

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Today I just found out that Surf's Up was nominated for Best Animated Feature. Woo-hoo, now that was a pleasant surprise.

Chances of getting this award are slim because last year another animated penguin movie won, and it would be hard pressed for the Academy to vote two penguin movies back to back. Nonetheless, it was great to have the nomination, and there's always a chance.

Here's a drawing I did for Surf's Up in order to work out what we expected from the water effects. In this drawing I tried to draw every aspect of what we needed from our CG bretheren, Rob Bredow and the rest of the guys at Imageworks. I called out each of the individual components we needed to see, from the swell, plunging wave, rolling foam, soup and shoreline foam. There were about 25 different variables I had called out.

Still, this makes a pretty drawing, so I thought I'd post it. It also has a Vignali penguin standing on the shore. You can also find this drawing in the Making-Of book. (This image is nice and big! Enjoy.)

--M

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Pengu Map

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The reality about working on animated pictures is that it is not all pretty pictures and fun conceptualizing. Once the project moves into "production" the job entails that we solve location problems, come up with cost effective design solutions, control sightline placement, or provide for the overall structure or mechanics of ANY given object.

A virtual world is still a world, and so it must be thought of in terms of 3D -- THE ENTIRE WORLD must be thought of as a real physical place.

In this case I had to design Pengu Island, I took it upon myself to work this out. Granted, we never see a top down vantage point in the film, but still the design had to be made to have the 3D modelers create the island.

With every new location, I tried to imagine the most effective way of communicating my designs or art direction to everyone on the project. We had already done several drawings of the beaches, the whale landing station, Reggie’s trinket bazaar, the stage and the Big Z Memorial. Now we had to tie it all together, I thought perhaps an elevation map would be the best way in this case.

The foreground areas marked in color are those areas we modeled, for the rest we used lower res models and matt paintings.

This drawing shows the topography, with added layers of elements for placement -- such as rocks and other various locations. Each new element had its own layer. Ultimately, there were other layers with bush placement, tree placement and prop placement. The drawings were then put into a design package and delivered to the modeling department in a presentation.

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Surf's Up Rough Character Design

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When we started the Surf's Up project, there was no script, directors or character designers. Regardless, we knew this was going to be our next project and so began the task of fleshing out this world.

One of the inherent problems that penguins have is that they all look a like. So, I thought it would be interesting to play with the patterning of the penguins to make them more distinctive and interesting. I began exploring patterning that would reflect the tattoo patterns that surfers today wear. Here's one of my rough concept sketches for my idea.

When the directors came on board, they liked this idea of tattoo patterning and so it stuck. Later on, Sylvain Deboissy became our character designer and did a fantastic job creating the various patterning you see in the final character designs.

This drawing is pen and magic marker. No...heh-heh...magic marker is not a computer program.

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