Sunday, December 19, 2010

New "The 300" Sketchbook

I've started a new 100-page sketchbook that I'm filling with just portraits. Specifically, 3 portraits per page, totaling 300 when I'm completely finished. It's mainly for keeping sharp with my draftsmanship skills, so I'm trying to keep each head to around 20 minutes. The early ones used a lot of shading, but I'm now standardizing the style to be more line-based, with a head-on perspective.
28 pages into my "300 Heads" portrait sketchbook.
11/12/12 Update: I've started using #300Heads as the hashtag for my Twitter updates regarding the new portraits.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Complete List of Awards for Red Dead Redemption

This weekend Spike TV held its annual Video Game Awards. Red Dead Redemption was nominated in the following categories:

Game of the Year
Best Song in a Game ("Far Away")
Best Original Score
DLC of the Year
Studio of the Year (Rockstar San Diego)
Character of the Year (John Marston)
Best PS3 Game
Best Action Adventure Game
Best Graphics
Best Performance by a Human Male (Rob Wiethoff)

When all the dust had cleared, Red Dead won the coveted 2010 Game of the Year award, along with Best Song, Best Original Score, and DLC of the Year. In what has been the most incredible year of all my time working on video games, I can't think of a better way to wrap up 2010. All three games I made at Rockstar San Diego went on to be nominated in their respective categories at the VGAs, but Red Dead Redemption was the first one to take the grand prize. I want to take this space to congratulate the massive team that made it such a great work of quality, and thank the fans who have supported the game since its release. It's been a very special thing to be a part of, and I'm happy to be able to look back on RDR2 and see that it got its due.

Update: There are many more awards rolling in. Here is an ongoing update for the other awards Red Dead Redemption has won for 2010:

X-Play's Best of 2010 Awards:
Best Action/Adventure Game
Best DLC

Game of the Year
Best Narrative
Most Compelling Character
Best Original Score
Best Sound Design

Best Game of 2010

The Times of London
Game of the Year

Game of the Year
Reader's Choice Award
Runner Up: Most Graphics
Runner Up: Cutscenes You Actually Want to Watch

Funniest Game (Undead Nightmare)

GameSpot (nearly a clean sweep, taking awards in the following categories)
Game of the Year
Best DLC
Best Story
Best New Character
Best Atmosphere
Best Original Music
Best Voice Acting
Most Improved Sequel
Best Writing/Dialogue
Best Ending
Best Action/Adventure Game
Best PS3 Game
Best Xbox 360 Game

Game Developer's Choice Awards
Game of the Year
Best Technology
Best Game Design
Best Audio

Monday, November 22, 2010

CTN Animation Expo!

This Saturday I went to the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank and had an absolute blast. I love ComiCon and I love Siggraph, but there was something special about this event--it felt intimate, but it attracted a lot of talented animation and art professionals. It felt very satisfying to meet artists I've admired for years like Eric Canete, Robh Ruppel (who turned out to be a big Red Dead fan!), and if that weren't enough, J. Scott Campbell, who I happened to catch at a moment when there wasn't a line to see him! (impossible to imagine were it at ComiCon).
Me and legendary comic book artist J. Scott Campbell after he signed two of his books for me. He and Jim Lee were the artists who  most influenced the way I drew comics when I started in the early 90s.
This week I'll be looking at the websites from all the business cards I collected, as well as working on a new sketchbook which will be 100% focused on heads. I got the idea after speaking with artist Michael Buffington, Jr., who was selling his sketchbook filled with a whopping 1,000 head sketches. He did it in just over a month, so I think I can do it in less than three for sure.  I also saw the presentation that my company, The Third Floor, gave about previsualization at one of the convention rooms, and it felt exciting to be a part of such a forward-thinking company in an industry as new as previs. Needless to say, I'll be attending next year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 "Proof-of-Concept" Pumpkin

Argh. I always look forward to carving a Halloween pumpkin each year, but this time I couldn't pull one off due to time constraints. However, I was able to mock something up in Photoshop in honor of the new "The Walking Dead" TV series:
Click here for some sketches I did of the Walking Dead TV series panel at the 2010 ComiCon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Now Available

New day, new Red Dead post. You can now purchase the Halloween-themed "Undead Nightmare Pack" through the Xbox or Playstation online stores. I hope you enjoy it!

Earlier posts on the Undead Nightmare Pack: 1  2

Comedians I Like: Fall Sketchbook Dump

So I'm mostly moved into the new place in L.A. and have been able to make some time to colorize some of the sketches I've done over the last month. Apologies for the lack of polish with some of these and varying degrees of commitment to a caricature-y style. 

First up is Greg Fitzsimmons. I haven't seen him live yet, but I've been listening to his podcast lately. He's been behind the scenes of many TV shows over the years and has a very sharp act.

Earlier this year my wife and I saw Bill Burr destroy at the Brea Improv.  He is one of my all-time favorites, and I have been meaning to do a drawing of him for some time now.

Dave Attell is a standup legend, and I had the pleasure of seeing him on a weeknight at the New York Comedy Cellar a few years ago. I was right up front and he did some back and forth with me, which felt surreal. His recent appearance on the "Blue episode" of Marc Maron's WTF podcast had me nearly crying with laughter.

I never miss Marc Maron's WTF Podcast, which features long interviews with the best comedians working today. He's a true original, and digs much deeper into his personal life than most comics, providing material which is very raw and fearless. I did an assortment of drawings for him, one of which came out looking a bit like Steven Spielberg:

Update 12/31/10: Me with Marc Maron after his set last night at The Comedy Store:

Now onto two looser sketches. The two on the left are Joe Rogan, from when I saw him perform at the House of Blues this summer in San Diego. The show started late, and at least four people got kicked out for disorderly conduct, but he handled it like a pro. Joe hosts his own podcast and first gained fame from the underrated TV show "Newsradio" before he watched people do things like eat maggot-ridden cheese and punch each other in the face.
To the right is Kevin Pollak, is an actor-comedian you'd recognize from The Usual Suspects. Like many other comedians in this post, he hosts an excellent online video podcast/chat show. His recent hour special is titled "The Littlest Suspect."

Marc Maron recently interviewed comedienne Kristen Schaal on the WTF Podcast, which inspired me to sketch her and her co-author Rich Blomquist (a Daily Show writer). They have a book out now.

And lastly, Mike Dawson and Donny Misraje, who both work on the Adam Carolla Show, which I did another illustration for here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New "Daily Geology" Page by John Peña

John Peña is a longtime friend of mine and a terrific artist. He's currently a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Over the years he has worked on a wide range of projects, including commissioned murals, a "Conflict Kitchen" that cooked popular dishes from foreign countries the United States has troubled relations with, and "Unnatural Translations," a series of natural events (rainfall, tides, etc.) as acted out by human bodies.

Over the last year, John made a series of playful line drawings where he would draw a significant memory that happened to him on that day. They are now all scanned and posted online to view at Like the rest of his portfolio, I recommend checking it out.

More on the Conflict Kitchen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Red Dead Redemption » Undead Nightmare - Launch Trailer

The latest spookiest trailer for Red Dead's "Undead Nightmare" downloadable content.
I've been working on comedian caricatures again, so keep checking back for new ones. I saw Paul F. Tompkins and Janeane Garofalo at Largo last week and I'll definitely do renditions of them eventually.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Official Trailer for the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Downloadable Content

For those who are looking for a new spin on the Red Dead Redemption universe, here's Rockstar's take on ZOMBIES:

It was the last project I worked on at Rockstar San Diego, so I know it's fun as hell. I hope you gamers that read this blog end up picking it up and enjoying it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shades of Death wins "Best Visual Effects" at Project Twenty1 Film Festival

Over the last two months my I helped create a humorous samurai short film called Shades of Death for the Project Twenty1 film festival in Philadelphia. The other members of our team "Creative Meat" were in Toronto, but from San Diego I was able to assist with writing the script as well as making the DVD jacket and promotional posters. The theme we had to incorporate was "reading between the lines." My friend Mark Driver headed up the team by directing the short film, which screened in Philadelphia over the weekend and ended up bringing home the award for "Best Visual Effects," as well as nominations for "Best Editing" and "Best Sound Design." It was a lot of fun to make and I'd like to congratulate the other members of the "Creative Meat" team on the win. I can't wait for the next contest!
You can watch the film and a B-roll clip on the Creative Meat Vimeo channel.

Shades of Death | Project Twenty1 | 2010 from Mark Driver on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Debut Trailer

The last thing I worked on at Rockstar San Diego is almost here...
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare DLC!
New characters, a new story, and more gore and twistedness than you can aim a Blunderbuss at. Comes out this month.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New job!

After more than five years and three games at Rockstar San Diego, I'm moving on to join the previs team at The Third Floor in Los Angeles to work on feature films and game cinematics. I'll miss the excellent teammates I came to know at Rockstar over the years, but I'm excited to be moving on to work in the film industry.
For those curious about how the previs process works at The Third Floor, here's a video they made for Autodesk:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'Thick Kids' Blog Mention & Latest 'RDR' News

The new comedy art blog "Thick Kids and Their Thick Parents" has my Brian Posehn and Louis C.K. caricatures reposted on it. More of my stuff might appear there as I create more comedian caricatures, so give it a look every once and a while.
In Red Dead Redemption news, here are some of the latest web articles to be posted this week:

Brad Pitt to star in Red Dead Redemption movie?  (a complete rumor, but that hasn't stopped people from pitching their own casting ideas)
Take-Two Trumps Estimates, Rides Red Dead Redemption to Q3 Profits
Red Dead Redemption Hits 7 Million Sales
And finally, here's G4's verdict on the recently-released "Legends and Killers" DLC for Red Dead Redemption. Pick it up now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Life Drawing: Rockstar

I've been helping out on a short film in my spare time this week, but I promised myself I'd post a couple times a week, so here's a stitched-together scan of a drawing I did at one of the life drawing sessions held at work a while back. I wasn't able to finish the rendering, but I liked the pose and how it started out:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Animation Reels

I uploaded three new demo reels to YouTube. Each contains a different slice of my body of work. They are broken down into the Main Demo Reel, a Keyframe Only Demo Reel, and a Mocap Only Demo Reel. For shot breakdowns, visit my portfolio site. YouTube videos always exceed the width of my Blogger column, so the best way to view them is off the link to the YouTube site itself.l There's lots of little details in them, so make sure your resolution is set to 720p.

Main Animation Reel (best of keyframe & mocap) YouTube Link

Keyframe Only YouTube Link

Mocap Only YouTube Link

Monday, August 9, 2010

Animation Exercise: "Excuse Me"

A little keyframing piece I've been doing to mix it up from all the mocap at work. The final version with a higher-quality image is available to view on my portfolio website on either the Main Reel or Keyframe Reel videos. I animated it on the free "Norman Rig," and the sound clip is from Blazing Saddles.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Comics I Like: Sarah Silverman

Although I haven't seen her live, I've known Sarah Silverman's work since the early 90s when I first started loving stand-up comedy. She's huge now, and has carved out a very memorable niche for herself. This caricature still falls short for me in terms of finding a good harmony between exaggerated and realistic, but it was good practice nonetheless. In some ways I think the original drawing flows better than the final Photoshopped piece, though:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Comics I Like: Doug Stanhope

When I was first lent a Doug Stanhope CD, he was described to me as a comic with "good bar stories." It's no wonder: his delivery style is profane and crude, and he loves questioning societal conventions from the ground up. Many of his filthy and hilarious stories are from his time traveling out on the road. I was able to see him, inebriated and shaggy-haired, at a packed dive bar in Ocean Beach a few years back and his rants absolutely slayed. If you like blue comedy, he's one of the best out there.
For the caricature, I decided to make him a sunburnt, annoyed hitchhiker alone on an Arizona highway, complete with a cigarette and a beer, and wearing the "Libertarian" baseball jersey he wore for a special he put on in New York when he ran for president in 2008.
Here he is delivering the famous "Aristocrats" joke for Penn Jilette and Paul Provenza's movie (NSFW!):
As a guest on the excellent Charlie Brooker's "Screenwipe":

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Latest Red Dead Redemption News

Just wanted to post some RDR items, the first of which being that the new Legends and Killers downloadable content will be available online August 10th, and it includes models of characters from Red Dead Revolver, the "spiritual predecessor" to Red Dead Redemption.
-Check out screens here and the video at

-The second news item is that a team of young Dutchmen just broke the official world record for uninterrupted game playing. Which game sustained their fanatic attention for 50+ hours? Red Dead Redemption, of course.

-There's a great behind-the-scenes video of how the RDR soundtrack was created that you can check out here:

-A recent write-up of the biggest games of the year in the New York Times.

-Up next, a great webcomic about a fan's experiences in RDR over at 24 Hours Marston. (Press "Next" to start the comic sequence)

-And finally, LEGO Red Dead! 1 2

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Comics I Like: Adam Carolla

I distinctly remember the first time I encountered the comedic stylings of Adam Carolla. My friend Carlton and I were doing homework together at his house, and he had MTV's "LoveLine" on. I had never seen it before and wasn't paying much attention at first, but he kept distracting me by making me laugh from his wiseass remarks and eventually I just put my books aside and enjoyed the show. Since that show, I've seen or heard Carolla for probably hundreds of hours on television, radio, film, and now his podcast with partners-in-crime "Bald Bryan" Bishop and Teresa Strasser. For the drawing I kept the style a little less cartoony than normal and colored the scanned drawings in Photoshop. I used the smudge tool to help soften up the rough graphite lines and help smooth out the tone variations in the skin.

9/19 update: I did another pass on this picture to punch it up a bit, added a text border with all the in-jokes I could fit, then printed out some copies and gave them to the Ace Man himself when I saw him over the weekend at a live show in North Hollywood. Here's the new version:

Here's a shot of the two of us after the show (I wore my Red Dead shirt because I wanted to speak with him about the game (He's mentioned it every so often over the last few months on his podcast:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sketchbook: Caricatures

Eminem and Dr. Dre sketches, scanned and colored in Photoshop. A bit "meh" and needing of some more love, but I've been busy these days with other things and unfortunately I can't spend as much time on each face as I'd like:

And finally, animators Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, from a picture taken at Siggraph. After scanning in the drawings, I pushed the proportions with the smudge tool to the point where the hatchmarks are nearly invisible. I went for a loose, distorted look, which was a lot of fun. I think I might be onto something with this style, specifically with how nicely the colors get formed by drawing color out from the variety of values found on a drawing that has a color layer on multiply above it in Photoshop:

The photo:

Siggraph 2010

I went up to Los Angeles this week to attend this year's Siggraph expo. In addition to a show floor, demonstrations, panels, and lectures, Siggraph has an area called the Emerging Technologies show, where you get a sneak peek at a variety of engineering marvels from around the world. I took a few pictures as I walked through:

Clockwise from top left: adjusting the direction of a pair of synthetic eyes via joystick, my friend Sabine dancing with a small French robot, a set of sensors that could be positioned in any number of arrangements, tickling a holographic pixie.
Left: Two people testing a "scent sensor" that, when activated by a perfume-scented piece of paper, would bloom and attract bees and hummingbirds cast from a projector above. Right: putting my hand out in a scanning field, where it was then rendered on a computer in real time. It was like putting my hand underneath a falling stream of virtual water and seeing its shape appear on the monitor. Very cool.
On to the show floor. I stopped by the Vancouver Film School table, and saw that I'm now included in their alumni book. It brought a nice feeling of closure to see it.

Another real time 3D scanning booth, only this had a much larger field to step into. The render on the left was taken from my iPhone. 
This Tandent booth had some impressive technology. It was able to isolate the shadow layer of an image and remove it to show the subject as if it was evenly lit from all directions. There was one before/after shot that they had of a wrinkled receipt with the after version looking essentially like a printed-out text document, it was so clear. When applied to faces (in real time, no less) you got this result (original video feed on the left, then the isolated shadow layer in the middle, then the differential "diffuse image" on the right):
The man at the booth who was explaining the tech to me said that the main function they were developing it for was facial recognition software.
On the way out, I bumped into animators Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, co-creators of the world-famous Animation Mentor online school. Both were extremely nice and fun to talk with, and I was very pleased to hear from Shawn that Red Dead Redemption is currently very popular with his coworkers at ILM!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Sketchbook Excerpts from ComiCon

Sat through more panels today, including:

Hawaii Five-0 & The Walking Dead TV series. They're going to be taking their time on each episode for TWD, and Kirkman and Frank Darabont said that they wanted to throw surprises the viewer's way, even if they'd read the comic books before. There was a scene with Grimes hiding in a tank in downtown Atlanta that wasn't in the books, so I'm curious to see what else they'll put in.

I also attended the one for "Neighbors From Hell," which Patton Oswalt was a part of. I introduced myself to him after it ended and he was very nice, saying he liked my caricature of him, which he had seen from the Facebook post I sent him. We took a picture together, but the angle is looking straight up my nose.
Next were Jill Thompson's watercolor class and Scott McCloud/James Sturm's panel which discussed comic book theory and educating people on how to create cartoons.
Then there was the Drew Struzan panel, which I was really looking forward to. He was joined by two filmmakers that are putting together a documentary about him, 20 minutes of which they screened for the crowd. Frank Darabont, who was interviewed in the documentary, was also in attendance. Struzan seemed very surprised at the standing ovation and overall attention he received, mentioning a few times that most of his life was spent alone in his studio and he doesn't get much contact with his fans. He looks like he could be the kinder, artsy brother of Clint Eastwood:
Then came the Archer panel, which was hysterical, and not just because they showed the next full episode. The cast were all there (including Aisha Tyler, but I wasn't able to get a good angle on her, so I didn't get a drawing in): 
Struzan and Archer panel members:
After the Con my wife and I went to see Patton Oswalt's show at the House of Blues, which featured Brian Posehn, Paul Scheer/Scott Aukerman, and was hosted/opened by Kyle Kinane. After the show I bumped into Kinane and James Adomian of Last Comic Standing fame (whom I also did a little caricature of recently) and took a picture, this time far away from my nose:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sketchbook Dump

ComiCon started this week, so I've been drawing a bit each hour while I'm in panels. Here are a bunch of recent sketchbook pages:
Queens of the Stone Age.
Softball team and the Scheme Team.
Fist, hats, and people at ComiCon.
Paul Pope, ComiCon attendees, and the Marvel panel.
Panel members hosted by Chip Mosher of Boom! Studios.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sketchbook: 7/13/10

This morning I remembered to bring my sketchbook with me when I gave blood. Unfortunately the magazines in the waiting room were nearly all Good Housekeeping and didn't have much in terms of celebrity faces. The left three women on this page were in the room with me, and the rest were in the magazine:
Cont'd, with some IRL people on the right side of the bottom page:
Later on I did a pass on all the remaining Last Comic Standing contestants in the simple caricature style I've been developing. Still not stylized enough for my taste. (Ref):

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Caricature Practice

I'm still trying to find my go-to style for caricatures. I've been picking themes for subjects, and today's ended up being animators & animated filmmakers. Most of the source images for these came from the podcasts from the Speaking of Animation Blog, which I was listening to today.

Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (ref), the guys behind the story to How To Train Your Dragon. I did this first thing in the morning, so it doesn't have much flow to it.
Ted Ty, Aaron Gilman, and Richard Baneham. Kind of a spectrum of angular minimalist to straightforward portraiture, which I keep slipping into accidentally.:

And finally Steven Gordon, David Weatherly, Ben Rush & Ken Fountain (ref). I tried something different and "chunky" with these, which ended up being pretty unexpected and fun:
There's a big world of animators out there, so I'll no doubt be including more of these as time goes by and I hunt for more subjects. I'll also be posting some co-worker caricatures on here soon too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Comics I Like: Brian Posehn, Seth Rogen, and Aziz Ansari

More caricature sketches with digital coloring in Photoshop. Brian Posehn is one of the "Comedians of Comedy" and went on to appear in movies and recently had a role on the Sarah Silverman Program. He's also a big metal head. The first time I remember seeing him was on the hilarious "Titannica" sketch on "Mr. Show":

I've since seen him live in San Diego, and he had a great set.

Posehn Ref.
10/25/10 Update: Here's me with Posehn and his fellow Mr. Show alum Scott Aukerman after they presented The Blob at the Silent Movie Theater:
Seth Rogen and Aziz Ansari are probably the funniest guys of their generation. Rogen popped onto my radar back when "Freaks and Geeks" first aired, and Aziz's $#!++iest Boombox Blast first let me know he was someone to keep an eye on.
This scene from the movie Observe and Report (language NSFW) has them facing off by exchanging the same insult back and forth. Their body language and energy levels contrast nicely, and I wanted to make it seem like Rogen is saying the first part of the insult on his side of the image in an angry way while Aziz is finishing it on the right side of the image almost silently (watch the video link to see what I mean).

Ok, that's enough links and swearing for now. It's hard to turn off the caricaturing part of my brain now that I've tapped into it, so I'll be posting more in the future.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comics I Like: Patton Oswalt

I like a good number of comics, but if you were to ask me my overall favorite, I'd have to go with Patton Oswalt. I remember when his 222 album had just come out and it seemed like no one knew who he was. No matter who I shared his album with; however, they were instant fans of his crazy characters and uniquely-worded rants. Now he's a famous actor whose voice starred in the Pixar classic Ratatouille and the disturbing but fascinating Big Fan, which I watched for the first time last night.

In Big Fan, Oswalt plays a New York Giants fan from Staten Island who accidentally disqualifies his favorite player from playing. Torn between standing up for himself or his team, his character's life is turned upside-down. You never know just how far he's been pushed by the humiliating circumstances in his life, and Oswalt plays the character with a mix of enthusiastic, pathetic, and even a bit deranged. I loved the movie, and it reminded me why I'm such a "big fan" of Oswalt himself.
As for the piece, I decided to keep with the caricature style that I've been developing this week. I've been tending to over-render the original sketch, which ends up hampering the digital coloring process a bit. Here's a photo of the original drawing (the scanner on my printer is acting up yet again, so I had to use my camera to get it into the computer):
I decided the sketch was too stretched, so I squashed him down a bit to the final proportion and painted the rest in Photoshop. Caricatures are never flattering, and I wanted to push this rendition of him in a disturbing direction, to mimic the character Oswalt plays in the movie:

Founding Father Caricatures, Pt. 3

For this round I chose the two most trusted and competent commanders in the Continental Army under George Washington: Henry Knox and Nathanael Greene. Both men were instrumental in leading their divisions and preparing the untested American forces for the battles against the British and Hessian troops. They were mentioned prominently in the 1776 book I finished this week, so they seemed like natural choices for the caricature kick I've been on.