Nov 262016
 

This is some visual development for WALL-E drawn back in early 2005 while I worked under the great production designer RALPH EGGLESTON in the Pixar ART department, before working in the story department on the same project.

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In its very earliest incarnation, WALL-E started as an idea developed by PETE DOCTER, but when it went into production the director was ANDREW STANTON. By the time I worked on it, the basic configuration of WALL-E had been already been decided- a little robot that could fold in on itself like a turtle and walked on caterpillar treads.

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The story artists worked with this description while the art department tried variations. Before the great JAY SHUSTER nailed the final appealing design, I explored a few WALL-E ideas myself.

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In the early days that I worked with Pixar, I often freelanced in the STORY department AND freelanced for the ART department. It was while working in the ART department that I drew these ideas for both the interior and exterior of WALL-E's home, the dilapidated truck full of junk.

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Over the years of freelancing for Pixar, I've spent more time in STORY, but the very first time I ever worked for them was doing ART department chores on FINDING NEMO (see here and here), and some very early visdev on RATATOUILLE (see here) and finally WALL-E. As the studio got to the size they are now, my inter-departmental mobility stopped and I worked solely in STORY from UP onward.

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Most professional animation artists have more than one string to their bow; many story artists are fantastic designers, many animators can storyboard, many people in the art department are wonderful storytellers too, but modern big studio pipeline production forces most of us to stay in our designated boxes.

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One of the main reasons I always opted to stay freelance is that it allowed me to move freely among the different job responsibilities I love, doing as much of each of them as I can. Even when certain studios have a rigid pipeline, being a freelance artist gives me the option of doing design at one studio and story at another.

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I finally got to go on a Pixar art department field trip on WALL-E. I'd often heard about these wonderful trips to research PARIS, or to drive along ROUTE 66, but my chance to be part of such an exotic mission was when we went to research a world covered in trash by visiting the OAKLAND CITY DUMP. We in the ART department also visited a Northern California seal colony, to research, well.. BLUBBER.

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In an early version of WALL-E, it was not immediately obvious that the inhabitants of the spaceship that EVE comes from were human. They appeared to be jelly-like aliens (during production they were simply called GELs).

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It was only at the very end of the story that the audience learns that these blobs of jelly are what the human race has eventually become. They were very fun to design, but this revelation of human devolution was a conceptual bummer at the very end of a cartoon, so there was a major story rethink.

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After a month or two in the ART department I did a few sequences in the STORY department under JIM REARDON. Storyboarding WALL-E was very challenging in its own way, simply because it required so many drawings to describe each idea and emotion.

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Without dialog, the only way to convey the meaning of each character's intentions was a ton of drawings to elaborately pantomime each bit of business, so that it was perhaps the most 'animated' story reel I've ever worked on.

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However, all the work I did was in the earlier version of the story mentioned above, and my contributions were ALL subsequently redone in the story rethink of the movie.

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Learning to be philosophical about having much (possibly ALL) of one's work end up on the editing room floor is a big part of working in the early stages of animation production.

The Year Of The Rabbit

 Posted by on October 18, 2016  Comics, Lefties, Projects
Oct 182016
 
The Year Of The Rabbit

Since 2001 or so, I’ve occasionally published silly comics about ROCKET & PROFESSOR, but I’ve doodled the characters even longer than that. The few comics I’ve actually completed belie the fact that I’m always drawing the characters, and thumbnailing & planning stories. Real life sometimes got in the way of following through, but lately I’ve been trying to [..READ MORE..]







Aug 052016
 
Pear Cider & Cigarettes

I've worked in many studios, but will always have a special fondness for MAVERIX STUDIOS, the place where I first created my own ideas, rather than merely being a cog in someone else's machine. All other members of the Maverix collective explored their own creative visions too and it was constantly chaotic, nutty & fun, as such stimulating places often are. Studio founder Robert Valley [..READ MORE..]







Animation Teaching

 Posted by on May 19, 2016  Pencil-Jockey, Updates
May 192016
 
Animation Teaching

For the past few months I've been teaching 3 seperate classes in 2D hand drawn animation at Academy of Art in San Francisco, filling in for faculty teacher Daisy Church while she was out on maternity leave. Here is a photo of my final class, which was held just this morning; Traditional Animation 3 . (Sadly I did [..READ MORE..]







SEPHILINA the Nauti Girl

 Posted by on February 20, 2016  Comics, Projects
Feb 202016
 
SEPHILINA the Nauti Girl

It's not easy being a member of the ugliest species in the known universe! Thankfully, SEPHILINA, like all other SQUOIDS, can shape-shift and appears as a cute-ish blue girl in green tentacle dreadlocks.







Seattle 2015

 Posted by on January 25, 2016  Lefties, Location Sketching, Travel
Jan 252016
 
Seattle 2015

In the final days of 2015, we flew to Washington State to celebrate Julia's birthday (which is also known as New Year's Eve in the rest of the world). Although it was quite chilly in Washington (by Californian standards anyway) we were blessed with some beautiful sunny weather, and Julia and I both did a little sketching near [..READ MORE..]







CHICAGO 2015

 Posted by on January 3, 2016  Lefties, Location Sketching, Travel
Jan 032016
 
CHICAGO 2015

In summer of 2015, Julia and I went to Chicago to visit her family and enjoy that great city. We both did a lot of sketching on that trip, but I only just scanned mine recently and here they are. Julia's Sister and Brother in Law were attending an out of town wedding and we volunteered to hang with [..READ MORE..]







the inbetweener

 Posted by on November 5, 2015  Family, Lefties, Pencil-Jockey, Thoughts
Nov 052015
 
the inbetweener

I first started working at the Hanna-Barbera animation studio in Sydney when I was 17 years old, joyfully working on some of the crappiest cartoons ever made. I remember that time as one of great personal triumph, but also profound and enduring heartbreak. I'd wanted to work in animation since I was 8 years old but thought such [..READ MORE..]







Wasteland Ronin

 Posted by on October 5, 2015  Film/TV, Lefties, Reviews
Oct 052015
 
Wasteland Ronin

Restricted media is everywhere in the 21st century and parents worry that their children will see something raunchy or violent on a computer but it was difficult for we pre-internet kids to see such material. In 1979 I was 15 years old, unable to get into an 18+ movie and envied schoolmates with older siblings who’d sneak them into [..READ MORE..]