I finished coloring this drawing in markers last night. I had a lot of fun creating this alien guy!
So the story behind this guy: This alien is a miner turned pirate, using his digging knowledge to help excavate hidden treasures and artifacts. And of course he loves a good alien frou frou drink.
I recently created 2 character designs and a vehicle design for an educational start-up company. They wanted Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart characters, with their special time machine twin-engine plane.
I started with concept sketches of the 2 main characters of course. Abe was supposed to have a more rigid, hesitant-to-try-new-things attitude, while Amelia had more of a happy, excited-to-jump-into-things attitude. I worked on making their character designs reflect that. Not only did I draw that in posing and expressions, but also you will see that I used straighter lines and hard angles on Abe, and more inviting, bubbly curves on Amelia- to also reinforce their personas.
My client absolutely loved the sketches. I then went ahead and finalized the characters in color. While I was finalizing them, I was rechecking my reference of the 2 historical figures and decided to taper Amelia’s pants a bit more. My client wanted to be able to use these characters for a variety of prints, including some large format printing, so I recommended that I create them in vector. That way, the images can be scaled to any size without losing quality.
And lastly, I finalized the plane design and incorporated it with the characters. They wanted a black, gold, and red twin-engine plane with extra add-on’s to make it a time machine. Upon my research, I found out that the twin engine plane that Amelia flew was a Lockheed Model 10 Electra. I used that as my base, and then added on some mechanical devices to make this plane fly through the centuries.
I enjoyed working on this project and I look forward to continued work with this client. After their initial launch, they plan for me to help develop more illustrations with these characters and eventually a comic too.
Let me know if I can help you develop some great characters for your museum, educational company, or product.
An artist friend of mine came in town this week, and so we went on a hike in the San Tan mountains of Arizona. We took a break at the top of the Gold Mine Trail and sketched for a bit before hiking back down. It was very relaxing and a fun little hike. I hope to do it again soon!
A new client found some of my cute roller derby character online and asked me to sketch out some cartoon concepts for 3 junior ice hockey cute girl characters. She wanted them with a little sass, and a few band-aids and scratches.
I recently completed the full creation of a comic book for a home builder named Chesmar Homes. This client project included:
- Writing a new story for the comic
- Concept development of the main character designs
- Illustrating the comic book pages
Writing the Story:
In initial discussions with this client, I found out that they wanted a comic book illustrated, to share the “legend” behind how their company got started. They wanted a fun comic book to use as a giveaway and promotional piece, to give out to interested home buyers and new home buyers. They hired me to not only illustrate the comic, but also to re-write their story. The owner had written a very simple, whimsical story- about a village that only had straw houses and then the home builders came along to help them build stronger homes. It was a good start, but was lacking a strong plot line or character development. So I took inspiration from their fantasy story, but added a strong plot. This included creating a character to be a foil to the main 2 heroes, creating a clear antagonist, and building a rising action, climax, and conclusion. When I had completed the writing, we had a much more interesting and captivating story, with characters to love, characters to hate, and a problem to conquer. This was a great first step in developing a compelling comic book for their business.
As with any story-based project I work on, I like to design and develop the main characters- their look and feel- before I start sketching the page illustrations. For The Legend of Chesmar, I felt it was best to develop Chester, Maria, and Robert D’Builder (the 3 Owners/Founders of the company), Winston (the Foil), and Mangus (the main Antagonist). The interesting part about this project, is that Chesmar Homes had an already existing base design for 2 of the characters, Chester and Maria:
These were designed as a contest that Chesmar Homes had, to give a scholarship to a young artist. The artist did a great job. For the comic, I felt like I could take the characters to the next level, in regards to professionalism, appeal, and also clothing that worked better for the fantasy/fairy tale genre of the story. Also, the client had requested a more Polynesian/Native American look to Maria.
Here’s my sketches for Chester and Maria. You can see how I strengthened the character designs and changed the outfits to match better with the story that I had written.
And here is Winston, the lovable pig, that is the Foil to Chester and Maria. His clumsy, timid persona is a great contrast to the smart and capable heroes of our story.
Also, there’s Robert D’Builder, who is a bit of the Mentor of the story, and also serves as the Narrator. This character was probably the most challenging to design, because the client wanted him to be a wizard, but specifically look like he’s in his 40’s (so not super old), not have a long beard, and be muscular, sort of like the build of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. A tricky character design, but I really like how it turned out.
Lastly, my favorite character to develop, was of course, Mangus, the big bad wolf Villain of the story. I wanted him to look unique from other well-known wolves of Disney, Dreamworks, kids’ books, etc. It took me a few sketches to find a look that I felt represented the personality of Mangus, and at the same time was unique for this story.
Here’s the final character designs, all colored and finalized. Now with these characters’ looks and personas established, I can sketch the comic book pages without having to think about the character development at the same time.
Comic Book Page Sketching, Inking, and Coloring:
So, now that I had the story written, and the main characters designed and approved, I was able to start into the comic book page sketches. I started with thinking about the frames for each page, and laying out the frame boxes and dialog bubbles. I like to lay out the dialog bubbles first, as it helps me see how much room needs to be saved for the size of those.
Once all the pages were sketched and approved, then I began inking the pages. I find that inking all the pages first, keeps me in the same mindset and I work faster, than if I ink and color each page, one at a time.
And of course, the last step is coloring and shading the artwork. Here’s all of the final comic book pages.
Having a comic book like this is a GREAT way for a business of any kind to add value, share a bit of their background, personality, and leave a lasting impression on their customers. I am happy to talk with you about what mascot, comic book, or product illustration I could create for your business.
Here’s a cartoon dragon that I sketched recently in my small travel sketchbook. I’ve been working on exaggerating my proportions more on drawings. Plus, I just simply love drawing dragons! I’m happy with how this guy turned out and I think I may end up drawing him again, with a full pose sometime. Who knows, he may even make it into one of my stories someday.
A little over a year ago, I developed a new toy line for a client in the vending machine industry. This is the illustrated characters from that first toy line. A pharaoh mummy, mushroom creature, elf, king octopus, and robot. The concept, name, characters, logo/branding, and illustrations were all imagined and created by me.
Here’s what the 3D modeled characters looked like for the first line. You can see that I had developed a very creative, imaginative, open-ended toy line, with a wide range of character types. The goal being a vending machine toy line that allows for collectability and a little something for every child’s taste.
And here’s how the first series of Imagiminis turned out- the 1-inch molded, cast, and painted plastic toy figurines. In the vending industry, the painting has to be kept to a minimum, to keep the costs low. Plus, because of the small size, there can’t be a whole lot of detail in the painting. This first Imagiminis toy line has been a huge success for my client. They continue to sell very well for them in the 1-inch capsuled vending machines.
This brings me to the new project- a second series for the Imagiminis line. My client has such success with the first line, that they wanted me to create and design a second series.
I had a lot of fun with the first Imagiminis series, so I was very eager to work on the next 5 characters. This vending supply client always requests toy lines with 5 characters within it. To start, I sketched out these 11 character concepts. To keep in the vision of the first series, I sketched a variety of science fiction, fantasy, whimsical, and fun characters for my client to choose from. My suggestion for the top 5 to use for the line were the venus fly trap monster, snail critter, samurai, orc goblin soldier, and squid warrior. My client loved my sketches and suggestions, and just asked for the 5th squid character to be swapped out with the cute unicorn, to bring a more girly character into the mix.
Once the character concept sketches were chosen and approved, I proceeded with the 3D modeling using zBrush. In this phase, as I am modeling each character, I tweak and adjust some of the proportions, to better fit for the round vending machine capsule in the end. Proportions and volume are key for these little toys- to make each one look and feel as large as possible for a 1-inch or 2-inch round capsule.
After building all of the Imagiminis characters in 3D, I export them from zBrush as sized STL or OBJ files for 3D Printing. Before the files get sent off to a 3D printer, I open the sized files together in Meshmixer, so that I can check the sizing of all 5 characters. It is important for a vending machine toy line like this, for all the characters to have the same look and feel in regards to the size and volume/mass. You want to be sure that each child feels like they have received the same “value” with each toy purchase.
After the 3D models and sizing is approved by the client, I render out nice, final color images of all 5 characters. These can be used by the client for marketing and promotion. They can also be used by the factory in China, for painting examples. At this point, normally, I receive the 3D printed prototypes and I hand paint them. Those painted prototypes then get shipped to the factory in China for mold making and paint examples.
After completing all the work, I also created these plastic colors and paint styling sheets for my client to use with their factory in China. These examples help assure the client will receive what they want from the factory in China. When working with factories overseas, it’s important to be specific on every aspect of the project.
I enjoyed working on the second series of the Imagiminis toy line and I look forward to continued work on more toy lines for this great client of mine. I’m sure that Imagiminis II will be just as popular and successful and the first series.
If you are looking for a great toy designer and illustrator, feel free to contact me. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Developing a strong toy line is a very complex & challenging endeavor and I like to assist my clients as much as I can.
Had some fun last night sketching this cartoon llama wearing a turtleneck sweater. I sketched it in pen and then decided to get in touch with my inner child and color it with Crayola crayons. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I still love the smell of crayons and coloring with them. Stay warm this winter, everyone!
- Creature from the Black Lagoon, reading a comic book
- Headless Horseman with a flaming pumpkin head, writing some code on a tablet
- Mummy Girl combining some chemicals in test tubes
I had a lot of fun with with these! And I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!