As you may have noticed, a movie called Ice Age, Dawn of the Dinosaurs came out this summer and seems to still be doing very well at the box office. It's animated by the truly incredible Blue Sky Studios and typical of them, they have raised the bar once again. They simply get better and better with every film.
This is now the third in the Ice Age series for which I designed all of the characters and I can honestly say, I never get tired of the process. The thrill of creating these characters begins at the very beginning of pre-production when I am handed a rough outline of the story. I begin thinking about how I might portray the new characters being introduced. This really is the most exciting time in the production for me. Basically, I'm given a blank page and am let loose. So little has been decided upon at this point that there is plenty of room to suggest whatever comes to mind. I spend a few weeks just spitballing. I pore over my books and go to the American Museum of Natural History here in New York and look for inspiration. In the case of the dinosaurs for instance, I simply used the fossil record as a menu and chose my favorite saurians, a la carte. For a character designer, this is pure joy. Essentially my assignment is to have fun and doodle. And that's exactly what I did. At this stage, a character might be chosen by the director (in this case, the great Carlos Saldhana) to develop further and things will begin to move more slowly. Much time will be spent trying to bring that little offhand doodle to life in three dimensions, but more about that in a later post.
Below are some exploratory sketches you may not have seen before , some of which will be included in A Sketchy Past.
I hope you like them.