Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Process

A couple of days ago, I posted this picture of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD cover that I had designed and illustrated last year. Thanks again to everyone who took time to like and comment on the post. It got me to thinking that maybe I should explain a little of what's involved in a project like this.
After getting assigned the job from the client (in this case Disney Home Video) and agreeing on a budget (very important) I'll start off with some concept drawings. Disney usually request three different ideas based upon the theme that they desire. For this DVD the theme was an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where the gang travels to different destinations. Disney provided me with clips from the show and reference material of what the destinations, places of interest and the general design style of the program was. After noodling around for a couple of days I send them the following ideas.

They concepts were well received and they particularly gravitated to the first one.  After a little back and forth with some suggestions and edits, Disney approved this image as the final concept and gave me the go-ahead to illustrate it.
As I am illustrating, I'm specifically paying attention to the reference that they gave me regarding show style and color of the background elements like the Eiffel Tower and the gondola and tweaking things on the fly so that they will visually pop when the package is on the shelf. They also asked that I reduce the size of Mickey's cheeks as they felt that they were a little too big. In the end this next image became the final illustration.

One thing Disney requests when assigning a job like this is that the artwork needs to be usable for posters as well as the DVD cover. So what you don't see here is that there is additional background that is cropped out by the Mickey Ear frame and the edges of the border. They need to have this to fit printing at the poster size. Another feature that the artwork has to have is that every character and background element has to be fully complete and on it's own separate layer so that Disney can easily isolate and extract parts of this illustration to use on other materials such as standees, flyers, other packaging, what have you. So what you have here, essentially, is a giant jig-saw puzzle with pieces that can work on their own but still need to function together seamlessly in the full image.
A wrinkle that got added to this job towards the tail end; someone at Disney really liked the idea of the vintage travel posters that I had used in one of the other concepts. They wondered if I could create postcards of the characters that mimicked the look of vintage travel posters. Those would be included as an "extra" with the purchase of the DVD.
The following is what I came up with:

All in all it was a fun job to work on with a few twists along the way, but these things always seem to take on a life of there own. Most of the time, you're just along for the ride!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rescue Bots book samples are here!

  So earlier this year I did a job for Reader's Digest Children's Publishing. It was a Transformer's Rescue Bots Lift-the-Flap book. The Rescue Bots are the "kiddified" version of the Transformers of whose existence I was, up until that point, completely unaware of. Once I got up to speed on who and what exactly they were, I jumped into the project with both feet. I had finished illustrating the book back in early June and I just got my artist samples in the mail yesterday. It was one of those jobs that took a bit longer than the publisher, or I, anticipated but it was fairly involved and I wanted to make sure I did the best job I could on it. Books are always involved affairs where the artwork is subject to a bunch of parameters that have to be followed for proper press printing. With this book the location of the lifting flaps were spelled out at the get go. The art had to be drawn to work with that in mind which made for some interesting compositional challenges. When I look at the artwork now I, of course, see things I would adjust or tweak but overall I'm pretty pleased with the work. I tried to keep the colors fun and the compositions dynamic and snappy. The cover image on the book isn't mine, it's a collage of existing artwork. But the interior is all my work.
  As an illustrator you don't take on a job like this expecting a big payday. Margins on these kinds of books are small and the budgets are consequently slim and to be fair I don't think the publisher expected me to expend the amount of effort that I did. I just found myself  having a good deal of fun on this one.
When it comes to compensation, most publishers notoriously take ages to pay artists. It's not meant to be a slam (much), it's just been my experience both with a book agent and without. Typically I don't expect payment until 2-3 months after my work is done. The record for me has been 9 months of wait. Reader's Digest, a company that was in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings while I was working on this book, paid my invoices within 1 month. To say I was shocked was an understatement! Their staff was also a pleasure to work with and a model of patience. I hope they recover financially and that things continue to improve for them.
If you are so inclined, the book can be per-ordered on Amazon US: Rescue Bots Roll to the Rescue,
or Amazon Canada: Rescue Bots Roll to the Rescue CA

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fun Product Ideas.

Pulling a giant Hot Dog mat out of a "teeny-tiny" kettle grill has just an unexpected surprise factor.

Anyone who was a fan of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends might get a kick out of this little "wise ass" running around their screen.
I've been in the process of updating my website with some more current work and I've come across several old product ideas that I comped up for various companies to pitch at their brainstorming sessions. Now depending on the job or the deadline or various other factors, my involvement runs the gambit from detailed color renderings with every action explained (with text) to quick "chicken scratch on a napkin" style drawings just to get the idea across. I'm posting a couple of product ideas that I personally found fun. Not so much because they show some advanced level of artistry, but because the ideas are personally appealing to me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a Merry and joyful Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My contribution to "Hats Off!"

My wife, the lovely and gracious Janice, works at a local museum; "The Works, Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology." It's essentially a children's museum that has much in the way of interactive science activities, a fully functioning glass studio, art classes and celebrates local Ohio history as well. They also have a small galley where the works of local artists are featured. Several of our friends take advantage of the facilities and the many year round events to educate and entertain their kids. As a non-profit organization they rely on fundraising for their operations and this year they are having their black tie event "Hats Off! 2012" on September 22nd. Please check out their website: The Works for more information about them and the event. There are several items and packages donated to the event by local business and artisans for auction. This one is mine. It was inspired by the vintage illustrations of artist Vernon Grant (the guy who created the characters of Snap, Crackle and Pop for Kellogg's back in 1933) but with my own twist. The Museum building itself used to house a factory that built steam engines in 1861. The Works logo features gears and Newark Ohio has a storied manufacturing history so the idea of a kid with overalls, work gloves and a giant sledge hammer just sort of competed the picture for me! I confess my mind works in strange ways but I'm really happy with the result and I hope the event guests will like it too. The illustration was drawn by hand and painted digitally with a combination of Photoshop CS6, Painter 12 and Art Rage Pro. It measures 16 x 20 and will be printed on canvas with archival inks.

Reverend Janice

Done on my iPad at a church meeting of the unsuspecting pastor. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jeff K.

Jeff K had a red day!
iPad sketch done with Sketchbook Pro.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Old stuff.

These are some sketches that I did for Hasbro a couple of years back for a project that I don't even remember what it was! I ran across these things when I was going through some drawing piles and I always liked the way they felt probably because I got to play a lot with the design aspects.
I seem to do a bunch of stuff that never sees the light of day!
Well, as long as the checks don't bounce......