Monday, July 16, 2012

A decade has now passed since I did my very first designs for the Ice Age franchise. And though the series is perhaps a little gray around the tusks, it shows no real signs of slowing down--at least according to the Almighty Box Office. Ice Age, Continental Drift is apparently breaking all kinds of records overseas and isn't exactly tanking at home either. And yes, I have my quibbles with the final result but I won't use my space here to delve into them. The little ones seem to be enjoying the film anyway, so who am I to argue?

Instead, now that the movie is finally released, I would like to share some of the drawings I did this time out. As usual, Blue Sky Studios has delivered a gorgeous movie, and I am once again honored to have worked alongside so many amazingly talented people in order to get these characters up on the screen. 

The Sirens.
Silas, a salty petrel.

Sid's Granny.

Dobson, like a few other characters I designed for this film, ended up having a non speaking part.

A hyrax learns how not to ride an eohippus (who is not in the film).

The squid didn't make the cut either.

Nope. No horses.

Squint, a nasty looking bunny pirate, was originally written as the pirate captain and leader of our villains.

It was fun to finally figure out what Sid's Uncle Fungus actually looked like. He was referred to only once in the history of the franchise. In fact, it was in Sid's very first scene.

Granny takes a bath, oblivious to the prehistoric sharks who also, by the way, did not make it into the film either.

Captain Gutt was originally written as a bear, but frankly,  I could never  nail him down in a drawing.  Somehow,  I just got the feeling that ursine was not the way to go.
It was only when I stumbled on the idea of making him an orangutan that things started to flow. What creature could be more at home swinging from the rigging? I think the animators were very relieved to have a character they could really have fun with and one who wasn't simply a biped. After all, an ape has four hands to work with.

Louis, the mole hog in love with Manny's teenage daughter,  Peaches.

A siren from the films creepiest sequence. Boy, lighting and materials did an incredible job on these guys!

And of course, there is Scrat. Always the survivor.

As requested, a few more Gutts.

These first two are early versions.

This one and the next are closer to the finished design.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion, Part 73

The New Yorker has apparently sent out a little email blast with a link to a page spotlighting my work and  providing an opportunity to purchase prints of many ( but apparently not all) of my covers. So why not post it HERE, too?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tag Sale

So, here's my latest cover, which I must confess, I have mixed feelings about. I wish I could say it was a victory, but I'm afraid the painting got away from me. I fussed with it longer than I should have and made the mistake of taking my reference too seriously. "Brownstone steps are red," I observed, "therefore I shall paint these brownstone steps red". I broke the cardinal rule, "Take what you need and throw out the rest." If I'd just placed the objects the dog is selling on a lighter, more neutral color, the result would not be the chaotic, hodge-podge you see before you. At my request, Françoise Mouly the art director at the New Yorker, did her best to finesse the color digitally, but alas, it couldn't change my feelings about the piece. I am looking forward to my next cover being my best cover.

All that said, it is still a nice way to introduce you to our newish dog, who, to my shame, has not appeared in a drawing or on this blog for the two years we have owned him. Meet, Henry Biscuit, a labrador mix who is a terrified neurotic on the streets of Brooklyn, but is a normal, happy puppy in the rolling hills of the countryside.

Aren't we all, though?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Microvisionaries (UPDATED!)

The Microvisions auction is live here!

My pals Irene Gallo, the art director who has done more to support and publish the art of fantastic illustration in the last decade than anyone else I can think of and Greg Manchess, one of the most fantastic of those illustrators of the fantastic, invited me to participate in a small group show called Microvisions. When I say small, I refer not only to the number of artists invited, (there are only a dozen) but also to the size of the pieces submitted. Subject matter was completely unrestricted but the artwork must be done at only 5X7 inches.
When Greg called me to ask whether I'd be interested, I registered some wariness. "How involved do these things get?", I asked.  He laughed cheerfully and said "Oh, don't worry, Pete, it's tiny and all you have to do is a little, iddy-biddy sketch! Do one of your funny birds or something!" "Okay, Greg, I'll do it!"I said, like a lamb to slaughter.
What then followed was a steady and relentless pounding by my fellow Microvisionaries as one after another, they modestly submitted their masterpieces. I kid you not, almost every one of these things looks like it was painted at 5X7 feet, with stunning rendering and absurd detail. And those that were not painted, are still gorgeous, completely defying the size restriction. As you can see, I ended up doing a hairy little sketch after all, but I am still very happy to be included with this amazing bunch of artists.
Go HERE if you want to see a partial preview.
The goal of the show, by the way, is to have an Ebay auction to benefit the Society of Illustrator's Student Scholarship Fund.  Irene and Greg have yet to post the details of the auction but here is a link to the show which will be on view at the Society of Illustrators from April 17th to May 12th.
As a side note, I have to add what camaraderie each and every member of this group displayed during the course of submitting our work. The encouragement, humor and mutual respect was such a delightful and unexpected pleasure and I feel like we've begun a conversation that all of us are eager to continue.
Here's the complete list of the featured artists:

Scott Bakal
Julie Bell
Scott Brundage
Brian Despain
Nathan Fowkes
Rebecca Guay
Scott Gustafson
John Picacio
Dan Dos Santos
Chris Rahn
Terry Whitlach

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Soup to Nuts

The Art of Blue Sky show that was originally exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts is moving to Manhattan later this month. On April 24th I will have the pleasure of giving a talk on character design right here on my home turf. I have never done a lecture solely on character design and look forward to showing some of my own work, along with that of other designers who inspire me. If you care to join me for the event (and drinks afterward in the Society's swell bar!) then follow this link and buy a ticket!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm off to the Spectrum Wars

I mean Spectrum Awards. 
After missing a few opportunities to sit on the jury for the Spectrum Awards I will finally get my chance this weekend. On Friday I fly off to Kansas City where my esteemed fellow jurors and I will spend the weekend looking at over 6000 entries. From among them we will choose what we feel is the very best illustration done during the past year for the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and the simply Fantastic.

Who am I kidding?
This was just an excuse to draw a dragon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pachyderm's Progress

I love to sculpt and I never sculpt.
Every time I've taken the opportunity to explore a character in clay (or sculpy as the case may be) I've found it incredibly satisfying. For me, it is such a perfect extension of drawing and in some ways a fuller experience. Drawing a figure in a pose is one thing, but it is often a cheat. It's only when committing that drawing to 3D that you see how much you faked for the sake of that one angle. That's the challenge and the pleasure of it though. In clay, you have a chance to spin your drawing around, to add and subtract. And not just lines, but real volume. Real weight. 
As with almost everything I do, this piece is an assignment. Left to my own devices, I would probably noodle this to death or only get it half done. But fortunately my pal, Michael DeFeo, formerly head of the sculpting department at Blue Sky and now a formidable gun for hire, is also something of an entrepreneur. He's come up with a scheme to sell a line of small sculptures by prominent illustrators and character designers as limited editions. This may be one of them if we like the final result. The line is called Designer Rock Stars (his title, not mine) and is in it's still in it's early stages. By the way, check out the video about his L'Ecorche app. It looks like it will be an astonishingly good tool for understanding human anatomy in a really complete way. You can find it here.

So anyway, I am putting my little maquette out here not only to prove that I am still alive, but to force me to finish the thing.

Wish me luck.

(Point taken, MacDougall!)