Sunday, March 17, 2013

Evolution-Health: Sunburn

Ending the week of show-and-tell, here's the final set of designs from the Evolution-Health animations we made at FableVision for the New York Hall of Science. The last one is on Sunburn—why some of us ended up with pale skin to begin with, and what light-skinned populations can do to protect themselves from the sun. It's not often that bikinis and bathing suits pair up with educational science, but here goes.

In all of animations I had an interesting time playing with a cartoon style lighter on line construction. It's difficult for me to work completely in flat shapes, so I reserved line to help separate out those shapes as needed. You can see that her legs warranted more definition because they have overlapping forms.

This is what happens if you don't wear sun screen!

When you live closer to the equator, darker skin helps protect you from the sun's damaging UV rays. When our species migrated north from the African continent into Europe around 40,000 years ago, people evolved pale skin as a means to better absorb the noticeably weaker sunlight needed to create Vitamin D. So, it's an issue of where your recent ancestors lived on the planet.

But it doesn't make as much sense to go sunbathing in the cold north.

Still, that doesn't stop lighter-skinned folks from hitting the beach.

Eventually our protagonist learns her lesson, and shares this info with her other tanning friends. A squirt of sunscreen can do you a lot of good.

Thanks for following along this week. I'll let you know when the animations go up on the FableVision website, which should happen soon. You can see the designs from all four animations by clicking on the filter for NYSCI.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Evolution-Health: Lactose Intolerance

The third in the series of Evolution-Health animations (created at FableVision for the New York Hall of Science) is on Lactose Intolerance, and probably the trickiest to explain. While a lot of us can digest milk well into adulthood, some of us cannot. Basically, we're all born with the enzyme to digest the lactose in our mother's milk when we are infants, but until tens of thousands of years ago, there was no reason to retain that ability once our mothers weened us. It wasn't until some cultures began raising livestock that animal milk became a valuable source of nutrition—people who could drink the milk were at a new advantage (thus, more apt to survive and reproduce). Those who couldn't, well—didn't do so hot with cow's milk.

I actually named these kids in the Flash file as I was drawing them. From left to right: Sam, Amelia, Danielle, Jason, Nikki, and Lily.

Nikki is not pleased.

Parts of Europe, Africa, and East Asia didn't partake in the whole animal milk thing and are now more likely to have difficulty with lactose.


But, it ends on a happy note. The kids who can't drink the milk help themselves to some orange juice. (Yes, that's an orange juice mustache.) I can't take full credit for this gag—Margie Prager from Jeff Kennedy Associates wrote in the orange juice bit. I did add the pulp flecks.

Next up: Sunburn.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Evolution-Health: Obesity

If you missed my first post on Back Pain, this week I'm sharing some of the designs and layouts I did from the Evolution-Health animation project we created at FableVision for the New York Hall of Science. The second of the 4 animations we developed is about Obesity... specifically, the idea that we evolved the ability to store fat when food was scarce, and how that's become a problem in the modern world (at least here in America), where easy access to an abundance of high-calorie fatty and sweet food combines with an inactive lifestyle.

Obesity was the first animation I started design on. Initially there was a thought to have the contemporary characters have match with prehistoric counterparts (a fun idea). It ended up clashing with the some of the story set-ups, and was probably too cute. Including in this case, where we open on a couch potato but follow a smaller runt-type when we move to the past.

Below, an early storyboard sequence of the runt, running to catch up with the food.

This one has a great 'snarly-gorging' eating sequence (above). It ends on a family, happily chomping away on various unhealthy snacks. Note the baby with the soda.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Evolution-Health: Back Pain

Starting back in October of 2012, I began work on an assignment at FableVision that would quickly become my favorite project of the year. I've written before about the animation-science connection that happens often at my company—we often use film and gaming to teach educational concepts in a fun and entertaining way. I'm a big science nerd, and and even bigger animation nerd, so it's a dream when the two overlap. This was a collaboration between our studio and Jeff Kennedy Associates, who we'd previously worked with on a series of animations for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (here and here). The exhibit, scheduled to first appear at the New York Hall of Science, discusses the relationships between evolution and modern-day health issues, such as back pain, lactose intolerance, and obesity.

Over the course of the week, I'll be posting some of my designs and layouts from the series, starting tonight with Back Pain. I went in wanting explore a cartooning style that was lighter on linework than I normally work. Another restraint: no texture. Keep it simple using flat colors. The project was drawn and animated completely in Flash (CS3, if you're curious). This short, and another one, feature ancestors like Homo erectus—so you can see why I had a lot of fun.

(I split this one up so you can see a few of the key poses.)

Next up: Obesity.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


I've been trying to post more over here lately, but other posting sites have been stealing me away. Blogging is better for writing and process, but Tumblr and Instagram are better (and more quick) for image posting and connecting to people. You know my tumblr, but I'm not sure I've shared that I'm in Instagram. Look me up! I post sketchbook drawings, and other photos of in-process artwork. (I'm sure I'm guilty of food-pics, cloud-pics, pet-pics, and nature-pics as well.) Hey, I'm also on Vine, which is pretty fun. But I'm not sure how to link to that (look me up: bobjinx).

More Bravest Warriors designs

So, the first season of Bravest Warriors wrapped up this week. Thanks to everyone who's been following along with the show since its launch in November. And if you're only now getting acquainted with it, that's cool too! Freelance design on the show occupied the better part of my (formerly) free time last year—it was an interesting and great experience for me. While I've been sharing some of the major characters that I designed for each episode, there's a lot more drawing that goes into the show (even more than what I'm about to show here). In addition to the recurring characters like Catbug, Impossibear, and Plum, there are tons of secondary and what I might call prop or gag characters that only show up once, or briefly in a crowd.

The Cereal Master, from Episode 9 of the same name, is a good example of a secondary character who played an important role in her episode. Her turn poses and a couple special poses, below:

I'd often get character assignments once the script was mostly worked out and storyboarding was just about to begin—working closely with the show's director, co-executive producer, and writer, Breehn Burns. I'd read the script to get a sense for a character, and Breehn would get me started with: imagine her as a big head with a face on it. (Ha, something like that.)

(click to view larger image)

I love drawing characters (this is an understatement), so I'd fill up a sheet with some ideas. Breehn and I would have some back and forth to zero in on the final design. You can see how the final version of Cereal Master formed out of these early ideas.

This episode required a group of patrons to fill the seats at the Cereal Bar, shown above with their backs facing us. This was a case where their back-views were going to be pretty important. You can see a few of them in the screen-grab at the top of the post, as well. 

Again, they function more as props in a crowd than anything else, but someone has to draw what they look like. Below is a good example of a gag character.

Beth as a Walrus—A drawing designed to get a laugh.

Here are the partying mojito aliens, and the desperate aliens from the Suffer Club.

Similar to the Cereal Bar patrons, Episode 8 "Dan Before Time", required a bunch of little alien dudes named the Low Gravity Hacker Pack (who bullied on Danny when he was 6). They played a bigger role, and actually have names—most given after I drew them. In order: Hans Christian Teet-Phanters (leader), Wireframe, Slice, Dialup, and Shelia.

I had a lot of fun drawing these guys, and they turned out great in the episode. I especially like where their colors landed. Again, with an assignment like this I draw a bunch of characters, and then we narrow them down to the final picks.

(click to view larger image)

Some of these drawings were used in another episode. A few made it into the passenger seats on the bus in Memory Donk, which I did a lot of design on.

Monday, March 04, 2013

snow walk

In between all the projects that occupy my time these days, I've been trying to find the space to doodle, to play—to explore ideas. Usually these windows are brief. Lately I've been using them to play around with color. I keep coming back to color as the part of illustrating and cartooning that intrigues me the most. I rack my brain about color. I obsess over color selections. I work hard at color, way more than I do the drawing part. It can change the mood of a image—bring added life, draw attention to things. Because I stick with flat colors as a general rule, each color plays a purpose.

I overthink it for sure, but it's always a good exercise. I'm not sure if either of these are successful, but I chalk them up as interesting. The second one is from a little while ago (posted on tumblr), but it hasn't made its way over to the blog.

// mother and child // color study

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Catbug and more!

It's been awhile since I've posted some of my designs over here from Bravest Warriors (I do that more regularly on Tumblr.) A full 10 Episodes have aired, which you can watch in their entirety on YouTube, over here. The Season 1 Finale, 'Catbug', airs this Thursday, so don't miss it. And it once again features this little guy, Catbug, who seems to be one of the more popular characters from the series.

What follows are a smattering of designs from a range of episodes. Starting with Plum:

She is sometimes thought of as the fifth Bravest Warrior.
Though there is some speculation as to whether or not she is evil.

(you decide.)

I helped design an important character known as the Emotion Lord. He's a kooky old crackpot who appears throughout the series. I created this firebelly armor costume for him in the 'Lavarinth' episode.

... and above, the Firebelly creature design.

The Emotion Lord pals around with his little companion known as The Concierge.

The most recent episode, 'Ultra Wankershim' featured an enlarged version of a cute little elf named Wankershim.

Impossibear is one of my favorite characters from the show. He's getting ready to grill up some soft tacos! Here he is in color (minus the apron).

And these are littler-sized designs of the Bravest Warriors as kids.

(click to view larger image)

I based Beth on Drew Barrymore from E.T.

That's plenty for one post. One final reminder to watch the Season 1 Finale, 'Catbug', this Thursday on Cartoon Hangover. Thanks!