Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

It's at this time that I like to think back at this very same time a year ago and think about what the new year would bring. In this case 2011 held:

I would reunite with an old acquaintance and mentor them in how to draw.
I would get the opportunity to teach animation at the high-school level.
I would later get the opportunity to teach animation at CalArts.
I would gather people together, conceive and animate an animated Steampunk project that would get everybody excited.
I would get a chance to develop concepts for a theme-park style project.
I would make a Temple of Doom within 2 weeks.
My youngest child would start Kindergarten.
I would help my oldest child take part in her first science fair.
I held a job the whole year and everyone was healthy and fine.

...2011 was a very good year for us. I hope it was for you and I hope 2012 holds goodwill and exciting times for all of us!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Backyard Theme Park Project

Through a friend, I was given an opportunity to design concepts for a backyard project, for a "very well to do" client, on a scale would resemble a theme park. The theme they wanted was "if Indiana Jones had discovered a Mayan civilization that was invaded by pirates...". Cool, eh?

Here are some of the concept pieces I drew up:

Monday, October 31, 2011


About 2 and a half weeks before Halloween, I "committed myself" to making an Indiana Jones Temple Of Doom in my driveway. (Once you see what I've done, you'll think I should have "myself committed"!)


Well, after working with my good friends at Rotten Apple 907 in Burbank, CA, I realized how much I missed hosting a walk-through attraction as part of my haunt. What I didn't miss was the stress of keeping the display up. I had been using PVC pipe as a frame covered with cheap plastic sheeting - this did not hold - when it rained, it all came down! While I was helping my friends, I saw that they used a tarp canopy. I saw that they make tarp canopies that could run the length of a long driveway and I have a long driveway that runs along the side of the house. It got me thinking...

I remembered for their "Nightmare at the Museum" haunt, that they used a gag which simulated the feeling of darts whizzing by via use of tiny hoses connected to an air compressor. I asked my friend that if I were to make up the temple, could he hook-up the dart gag effect. He said, "yes" and I decided then to go forward!

I did alot of searching for reference and drew up some plans for the entrance:

(My wife was out of town that weekend so it was a perfect time to have a canopy delivered along with large 4' x 8' sheets of styrofoam!)

I stayed up many late nights carving styrofoam. Scratching away, it made a pile of tiny beads that looked like I was knee-deep in snow. The beads were everywhere and clung to everything. (It was pretty easy to clean it up, though.)

I covered everything with a base coat of black (even the kids helped) and then quickly faux painted everything in gray/stone texture. Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law and few other friends, I was able to get the canopy up and decorated just in time.

My friend hooked-up the dart gag and it worked excellently. I got the idea to add some draped vines over the air outlet to give it a visual indication that something was flying out from the opening. (I took video - Check back - I'll try posting that later!)

Here is a shot of the inside during the day (it didn't get good photos of it at night) to give you an idea of the layout. It was a one-way in/one-way back.

I would greet trick-or-treaters at the entrance and have them follow me inside, cautioning them there was danger and to be very careful where they step. the dart gag was activated by an infra-red sensor. Then we'd run to the end and I'd turn around and ask if everyone made it through okay and then offer them some candy from a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (again, borrowed from my friend). The lid was slightly open and I had smoke/fog pouring out of it.

Friends of a friend who stopped by offered to let me borrow their fertility idol coin bank so I had a prop to carry. My next door neighbors offered to borrow an actual prop form the last 'Indy' movie (he worked on it).

My friend Peter did something amazing this year, at the last minute he rigged up the face on the temple entrance to talk! He recorded the voice, hooked-up the servo's and everything! Finally I had an animated piece this year! He also brought his amp and background sfx that he mixed together and it added a whole ambiance to the haunt.

THANK YOU to my family, and friends who helped make and came to enjoy this special night!

That's me on the right. I was 11 and went as Indiana Jones

Friday, October 21, 2011


I never thought I'd see the day. A big "THANK YOU" to all of you out there!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haunted Steampunk Bordello

Here's a background that I did for an animated Steampunk project I'm working on:

I found this image that someone had done of a Steampunk girl lounging and imported it into the frame (I have the intention to re-place it with my own version so I can call it all my own). It kind of reminds me of the pirate girl in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Also, for all you Mansion fans, note the wallpaper and wall sconce.

This scene is suppose to take place onboard the villain's airship which I wanted to feel like a "haunted bordello".

Monday, August 22, 2011


I did this while I was sick at home today...

Obviously, I wasn't THAT sick, I did lose my voice which, knowing me, could be considered a good thing - it's keeps me out of trouble! ;O) Here's an added bonus...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Steampunk girl

Circus Sideshow project

One thing I take pride in is being able to work in different styles. Sometimes I'll take the same image or pose and see if I can apply a different style to it. In this case, on the left, I was going for a comic book/Will Eisner-style and on the right, I was going for an Earl Oliver Hurst style:

Sorry, but I'm particularly proud of this one, especially around the face in trying for a Hurst-like expression.

Miniature Golf Course at night

There are several romantic places in the world... camping under the stars, looking over the city lights on Mulholland Drive, Niagara Falls...and a miniature gold course at night!

Here are some visual development pieces I did for a teen-angst animated musical set in the 80's that takes place at a mini-golf amusement center.

Tinkerbell Fairy Playhouse

Here is a compilation of design sketches for a playhouse for my kids.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Freddie Moore Mermaids

"...but of course these stories have no basis in fact. They're merely tall tales that should be classed as fiction along with the myths of m-m-mermaids?!"

I love the old Submarine Voyage ride...

My friend wanted me to do some concept sketches of mermaids for a collectable figurine. I chose to do it in Freddie Moore's style:

Here are some rough sketches for other ideas:

"...uh, Mr. Baxter...check the air pressure..."


Every April 1st, at Disney, they hold an annual Caricature Show in which they invite everyone to participate by submitting caricatures of their workmates (or "victims" as they refer to them). It was started by 'Little Mermaid' and "Princess and the Frog' director, John Musker many, many yeas ago. John is a brilliant caricature artists and most of the show consists o his work but there are several others that do just as brilliant work.

I hear John works like a madman working night and day churning out caricatures the week before. A few days before the deadline, he'll send out an email to the "usual suspects" (meaning those who are known for doing caricatures - myself included) trying to get us to turn in a caricature. He's like Santa Claus: he's knows when you are sleeping and he knows when you're awake.

I've submitted a few over the years and at the time it seem like a good idea but about an hour before the show, I have my doubts. Funny thing is, you think that you might get some flack from the person you caricatured but actually, you get more of a "thank you". I've overheard people say they were disappointed that they weren't caricatured.

"Anyhoo" year I did a set of caricatures of Disney executives mocking teh Haunted Mansion stretching room portraits. Here they are:

(from left to right - first panel: Producer Alice Dewey , Directors Will Finn & John Sanford from 'Home on the Range, second panel Pam Coats, Third panel: Michael Eisner, fourth panel: Assistant Pam Watterman and WDFA President Tom Shumacher)

I actually made a reveal mat that you could pull down and reveal the portrait much like you'd experience in the attraction. Disney published a caricature SHow book and included these but they actually "squashed" the image so it would appear to fill both pages.

Another year, I did a caricature of the "Dr. Facilier" crew from 'Princess and the Frog'. Mostly it was a caricature of Supervising Animator Bruce Smith who likes Jack Davis' work so I decided to do it in Jack Davis style:

the story behind this was that everyone wanted to work on "Dr, Facilier". (clockwise from center: Bruce Smith, me, Frans Vischer, Sarah Airriess, Dean Wellins, Andreas Deja and Tracy Lee)

I also did this one which was a common scene in dailies...

(from left to right: Randy Haycock, Randy Cartwright, Ruben Aquino and Tony Derosa)

I made this one poking fun at the low-budget for PATF, the looming layoffs that would happen at the end of production and what we would all be wearing at the wrap party 6 months later...

(I'm such a brat, I know.)

[I'll include more later]

But besides Disney, I would also make caricatures for friends. This was for a friend who turned 50. I matted the caricature and had people sign the mat.

He was know for buying fixer-upper houses and remodeling and flipping them.

This one was of one of the members of the Foundation at my daughter's school. His kids moved on to middle school so as a going away present, I did a caricature/card and had people sign the mat. He was a really good "idea man" and his ideas were always full of resourcefulness (so I gave him an energy saving light bulb above his head):

I did this one of my friend Mike who is now teaching art class at my daughters school (for some reason, I wanted to do it in a Al Hirschfeld style):

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Ever since Disney bought Marvel, I thought it would be cool for the animation dept. to do a Marvel project.

After working on the 'Time Jumper' project, I took a real liking to drawing in what I call "comic book style" and gained a new appreciation for graphic novel illustration.

Despite the studio's current interest, I was looking for a female character protagonist to center a story around and pitch. One that had..."appeal". My friend Javie suggested "The Black Cat".

I did some research and put this is a collage of images together that I found from various websites to use as reference:

Here are my rough drawings:

I don't have plans to pitch this but if they end up doing something like it, I'm ready!