70’s / 80’s Mall Characters

Some character designs from several months ago. All that’s missing are the arcade cabinets and LPs.


Forget Me Not – Art Against Alzheimer’s 2018 Prints

Small compilation of work submitted to this year’s – and hopefully next year’s – Forget Me Not: Art Against Alzheimer’s, a charity art auction that raised over $5000 this year for Alzheimer’s care and treatment for the San Luis Obispo / 5 Cities area.

“L’Enfer du Soldat,” based on the work of Hans Larwin and Georges Leroux.

Allan Hancock College animation alumni Mr. Brandon Tokunaga has personally run this event for the past several years, and with the help of family, friends, local artists, as well as business and community goodwill he’s made something both unique and genuinely positive for the Central Coast area.

Two prints that were more movie themed; “Putting The Eye in FBI” (X-Files); “And Hope To Die” (Aliens).

Animation Hellhole and Calarts Memories, part… whichever

Figures that the one place called WordPress has the least audience interaction with anything written.

Anyhow, another recent retrospective drawing of the Allan Hancock College days. For the sake of my one reader, the characters are either influences I’d find later on while at Calarts (i.e., Ghibli or Gainax films), or characters that were film projects of mine while at Hancock. I doubt more than a few dozen folks ever saw the end result of what I worked on there (I think one short went on to win some award at a festival up in Santa Clara; I actually got some film gear from it that totaled ~$3000). Either way, I really cut my teeth on all these projects, and probably ended up learning more about animation, editing, and just straight-up drawing while working on these than I did from even some of the industry jobs I’d land later on. I don’t think would have developed any time management or consistency skills had I never had the free reign to just lock myself in that class and do my own thing from the ground up, traditionally, hand drawn, pencil to paper. No bosses, schedules or quotas other than my own. I have Ed Harvey to thank for giving me run of the facilities on my own time.

(Years later, in the industry. Probably at [studio name redacted]. The tools are more high tech than when I was locked away in a run down classroom flipping paper, but somehow I can’t help but feel that something – alot of something – was lost when corporate types decided to ditch the pencil and post-its for newer more complex toys. Funny how Miyazaki still seems to do just fine with a coffee can full of pencils and a working light table.

But don’t ever bring that up at Pixar.)

Animation Hellhole Memories – Lunch Hour

Series of WIPs revolving around the Chinese place we’d hit after animation class over at the local JC, back around 2001. The restaurant is gone now, but as with most things from the old hometown or the college years there’s next to no visual record of any of it other than a few scattered photos and memories. Which is probably why there are Nintendo characters running around in these: As with any memory, it tends to be idealized in some form or another. Maybe it’s because we see in hindsight what roads we took or could have taken, and can muse over opportunity that much clearer (“Here’s how I would have done things differently,”) while appreciating the time, place, ambiance or whatever of something that no longer exists. The best of both worlds.

Side by side comparison of day / night lighting treatment on the initial piece that started this. I tend to remember being there during golden hour sunset hours, though night time always sets up for more dynamic scenes.

The initial sketch. I wanted to do larger studies of some of the smaller characters here to get a better feel for their poses and silhouette; hence the above day/night pieces.

Animation Hellhole and CalArts Memories, Part 2

Since the last post went over so well, here’s another with even more excruciating detail over the former life as an animation student, complete with color and randomly inserted characters this time.

Above shows my walk on campus from the dirt lot where I parked my truck (which was the same color as the dirt itself, and thus nicknamed The Dustbowl. It was silver, btw). Or, going back to the early-early school days, it shows when I had to bus and walk to class. The bus didn’t have any stops by the campus at the time, so it was about a mile from the nearest drop at the Mall. I remember one time walking to class as my animation teacher drove by and waved. I got my license and truck soon after.

(Finished version of the previous panels. Alternate caption: Hard At Work.)

Some further WIP panels of the campus at Allan Hancock, at least as how I remembered it. The courtyard just outside Buildings L and M, where the Music and Art/Animation departments were located.

Liberties taken with the accuracy here. I just remember being surrounded by trees, one pine in particular set inside a bricked-in mini garden, the rest of the courtyard was given over to the ceramics program. Folks from our department would be outside half the time working on their projects, but once the fine arts classes would split it was officially the break spot for the animators, to shoot the sh*t or get snacks from the vending machines over at the M Building.

To the east behind the salamander and where the chimera girl is sitting, there was a veranda with jacaranda growing off of it, which for some reason sticks out in my mind as… I don’t know what the technical term is for a memory that defines a particular time and place, but that spot would be it. Sort of like a slow truck-in or -out of a dream sequence in a film. Especially during the afternoon and early evening when the sky behind would get that persian blue (ignore the rushed coloring) and the treetops would burn orange from the setting sun (again, ignore the Crayola treatment), the whole of that stupid little courtyard was magic.

Still is, if it hasn’t been torn down by the Hancock trusties for some unneeded multi-million dollar shiny box of a complex.

Animation Hellhole and CalArts Memories, WIPs

Unfinished beatboards of my time at Allan Hancock College’s animation program, and at CalArts’ Character Animation program, 2001 to 2005.

An excerpt from the Blogspot post:

The actual animation hellhole was literally a renovated janitor’s closet inside the Arts Department at Hancock. It still had a working sink and some leftover mops, but it was also stuffed with state of the art second hand animation gear, both digital (two pieced together PCs, security cameras, a VCR) and traditional (an animation disc with several 80W bulbs cooking overhead and underneath).

…Keep in mind that for most of us it was pre-internet, pre-Amazon, pre-smart or even cell phone. You got by with what you could find and took it all in with the company of friends.


I’ll also add that the later apartment across the street from CalArts was a single bedroom joint where several of us lived, and that despite being on a nicely up-kept bit of property would tend to have water issues with both the sink and ceiling. Adventure Time’s Pen Ward lived a few buildings over and ended up having most of his stuff ruined from water seeping in through a bedroom wall. Beautiful Woodglen Apartments of Santa Clarita, Ca.

To add to the fun, the place was completely transformed into a PC Bang / arcade by Kevin the original tenant before the rest of us had moved in. Several high end PC stations networked together (the first time I’d seen or even heard of a liquid cooled computer), practically every new console and series of titles released at the time (XBox, PS2, Gamecube, GBA).

The picture here only captures the first year of living at Apartment 131, when it was just the Cube 5 folks and the occasional Halo playthrough. The years after were a bit like living on the deck of the Nebuchadnezzar but with LAN parties practically every day, a steady rotation of character animators coming over to take a break from working at the cubicles for some Counterstrike and Halo death matches, or Ravenshield and Sturmovik co-op for the more dedicated. Is pretty amazing any of us got any schoolwork done at the time, let alone films.

Maybe I’ll follow this up with another set of panels showing what that all was like.