Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I know it's a week early for Christmas. In fact it's my birthday. The fun thing as a kid with a December birthday was that I hit the trifecta:
Week 1 = My Birthday = Presents and cake!
Week 2 = Christmas = Presents and turkey and pumpkin pie!
Week 3 = New Years Day = More food plus time off from school to play with my presents!

I love Christmas. I like to hear Christmas music in the stores when I'm shopping. I even like Christmas music in July!

One thing I've done for the last X-number of years is create and snail mail my own Christmas cards to family and friends. Here is this year's card to all of you. It features 4 of our cats past and present.  From back to front; Trixie, Jackson, Tiger and Ninscoo. We now have kitty #5, Jagger but this was completed before we adopted him. Next year!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wile E. Coyote

When I was working at Sun Sportswear (RIP), the largest T-shirt company on the west of the Mississippi at the time, I did a lot of licensed art. I designed scads of Looney Tunes, Garfield and other character designs.

This Wile E. Coyote design I did was on my old website. Since I first posted it I found that this has been re-used on several other websites.

Did I get credit on these sites?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mark Shapiro from Laika

Mark Shapiro from Laika in Oregon came to Big Fish today and talk about their studio. He showed us some clips and behind the scenes videos from the making of "Coralin", "Paranomarn" and "The BoxTrolls".

He even passed around a few things for us to pick up and look at up close including a puppet armature and some face parts from their films.

The face on the left is Norman and the right appears to be baby Eggs from Box Trolls. I placed these on my notebook for scale (upsell!).

I REALLY want to visit their studio. The work and talents that go into their movies is unparalleled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My First Influence

Giving credit where credit is due.
I know that my interest in cartooning started with this gentleman. Some of my earliest memories, and I mean as early as I can recall, come from watching Bugs Bunny on the J.P. Patches show in Seattle. His show began the same year I was born and I became a lifetime fan. Folks not from around here never can seem to grasp how important he was and still is for local people who watched his show. Not only did he have wonderful cartoons his humor was infectious. 

His show had it all at one time or another when it came to cartoons. He had old black and white cartoons, Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear, Roger Ramjet plus others I have surely forgotten.

In fact long ago when I drew this image of a lion tamer and I had Ketchikan the Animal Man in mind as I was drawing it.

Many, many thanks to J.P. and Gertrude! I owe you a debt I can never repay. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Personal Work

Here's another story idea I've had for awhile. 
I actually made a book dummy for this but I think the story needs work yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Personal Work

Here's a personal piece. The resolution is small so I hope it shows up ok.
It's from a children's story I've been toying with.

Friday, November 7, 2014

He's Real! McDivot is Real!

You know you've done something right when your boss decides to spend a bit of money to have a full costume made of the character you've created.
This still amazes me!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm out of things to talk about today so how about a funny picture.
Even if there is no sequential narrative I like even a single image to tell a story.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This is probably the second animation I ever did not counting things like floating clouds or falling leaves.
The story cam about as a tag team effort. John Cutter, the creator of Fairway Solitaire, wrote the first draft I think, I added my own version and it came out like this.
I'd say it's pretty good for a guys who's never animated before. I did the storyboard, I think I did an animatic (long lost), did the editing all in Flash, illustrations in Photoshop and got help with background art.

Clean Cuts/Cerebral Lounge did all the audio.

Gophers VS Golfers: A History

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tony Benedict's Blog

You need to check out Tony Benedict's blog.
Tony is a former writer for Hanna Barbera. he has some wonderful stuff!

Here is an image from his latest post. I hope he doesn't mind if I share.
Huck Board by TB

Indiana Gopher

We've done a few parodies with McDivot. Putting him underground and dressed as an archaeologist running from a golf ball made perfect sense.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I thought I'd just post this one for fun.
McDivot as Poseidon in an old theater style.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waltzing Matilda

In Fairway Solitaire we often celebrate holidays from around the world. Here is one design I did for Australia Day. This was the first sequential background I created and hopefully not the last.

My childhood dream was to have my own comic strip. This never happened but to be able to do a comic strip of sorts really made me happy.

Since "Waltzing Matilda" is the unofficial National Anthem of Australia I thought I'd try to create a cartoon of this but with a much less tragic ending.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

McDivot Character Concepts

How can you have a gopher living in a golf course without being inspired by "Caddyshack"?

You can't. But this was my directive.

When Fairway Solitaire was still in development I was asked to create a gopher character. He should be both mischievous and cute at the same time. He should have qualities that evoked something positive from the audience. 

I don't know how animation studios handle character development. In fact everything I did with McDivot from concept to animations to story development I did in complete blissful ignorance. I had no idea what I was doing but I still knew I could do it. This was something I've always wanted to do.

I felt that my career had been built up to this kind of thing. So when they asked me if I could do it I said yes. I didn't know if I could but I just wanted to. No one told me I couldn't.

I started with a bunch of rough sketches with different looks. For reference I used both photos of real gophers (pocket gophers and ground squirrels) and also cartoon gophers for some inspiration.

These are what I came up with.

 After running these by a small committee and mixing traits from 2 or 3 of these guys this is what I came up with.
I wanted to name him Verco after my late cousin. I like the name Verco and Verco Gopher had a nice ring. It was slightly alliterative without his first and last initials being the same. Eventually his name and his looks would evolve over time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gopher Style Guides

In order to keep McDivot and company on model I created character style guides. I did this mostly for myself. Even though I know these characters better than anyone there are times when I have a memory lapse.

Additionally I expect that there will be times down the road when someone else will need to refer to a guide on how to draw the little varmints. I'm still hoping there will even be McDivot plush toys one day.
For the moment though I have to admit that I rather like being the only person at work who draws the characters.

I do collaborate with other wonderful artists though. More on that later.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Welcome to my very first blog

This is my very first blog so be kind. I'm fragile.
Blogs seem to be the way to go with art portfolios so I think I had better adapt. I will need a bit of ramp up time to get used to how to be awesome.

In the weeks and months to come I hope to add more art.

Short bio:
I am an artist at Big Fish. I am the creator of Gusty McDivot, his love interest Sandy Mulligan and his best pal Burnie the worm.

#mcdivot, #gopher, #gopherwrangler, #fairwaysolitaire, #green, #jeffwillis, #jeffwillisartist, #animation, #cartoon, #sandy, #Burnie, #illustration