Monday, November 28, 2005

Saturday, November 26, 2005

New Acquisitions

It wasn't Santa yet, just the guy from UPS, coming by this morning :

I have my problems with the silicon lips of the bride, otherwise a great, wonderful movie and a great book.

Guess what I'll do over the weekend.

Another day- another character

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Present Day

Just so you know, I'm not completly living in the past, this is a quick sketch of some stuff that's on my desk
at this very moment .


In 1993 I got a copy of a chainletter from London, which had been through all of California before. It promised eternal luck if the chain wasn't broken, you know these kind of letters. The list of names included the likes of Whoopie Goldberg, the Zuckers, James Newton Howard, F.F. Coppola, Dinah Shore, Jane Fonda, Art Buchwald etc . It somehow got into the hands of cartoonists and I got it through Daan Jippes and Hans Bacher. Here's my little contribution :

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tantor and the genius of Sergio Pablos

When I started to work on Tantor, he was to be voiced by the ultimate neurotic, Woody Allen.
So I was looking for some resemblance in my first sketches. I did quite some sketches, but not as much as I did for the other characters. It just wasn't such a complicated character, I kept postponing him, other things were more important.
This was the time of the cold war between Disney and Dreamworks, and one day we were told, that Woody Allen had signed with Dreamworks for something that was to become "Antz". Apparently they had not only offered him a maincharacter, but also an opportunity to produce his comedies at DWSKG. We spoke to Wayne Knight about the role, a very good choice ultimatly.

In the original draft all elephants were neurotics. Just unable to forget anything. They were sitting around the waterhole all day long as if participating in a giant encountergroup. Above are some of the quick sketches for the minor elephants.

While I was still busy with some of the other characters, Sergio Pablos, the absolutly brilliant animator from Spain had taken over developing the character. I remember talking about Tantor to him one cherised afternoon and we spent hours praising the work of Andre Franquin and his red elephants from one of his Spirou-Comics. Sergio is running his own studio now in Spain and from what I 've seen on his website, his projects look amazing. Check out his website at

Corpse Bride

For those of you, who haven't found that site on their own, yet, I'd like to strongly recommend Neill Ross' Blog "Deadstown", showing his stuff for "Corpse Bride". It doesn't get any better than this!
Just click the link above.

Monday, November 21, 2005

No,no,no, don't stop, please, go on, or even better: start from the top, let me hear that again, pleeaaase ....
But serious, thanks a lot, man, means a lot to me, thanks, Patrick Costa at the CharacterDesignBlog, I'm flattered and honored...

Quidditch anyone ?

We interrupt this blog for breaking news:
So, I took my daughter to see Harry Potter yesterday, or she took me, rather. I was, as usual, of the best intentions and I actually had a good time, enjoyed the movie and still...
There's always something about the Potter-movies, that I'm not happy with. First of all it was much, much too long for my taste, size for size's sake, just too many scenes, that didn't drive the story or rather: you could see the point of those scenes coming for miles and miles. Less would have been more.
Still, some questions are bothering me :
If the prologue is Harry's nightmare,why is it told from the POV of the janitor ? ( My 10 year old daughter came up with that question). Is that good storytelling? Have to ask Bob McKee about this one....not!
Why spend time and money on introducing the quidditch-worldcup, a storymoment that competes with the trimagical tournement first of all, then destroy it ( offscreen ) in 3 minutes, kill thousands of people, just to never mention it again. Was it to provide Harry with knowledge, that he had from his dream, anyway? Don't we trust in dreams, anymore ? Bad wizards we are then, if only fact counts. Whatever, the storyteller inside of me just wants to get rid of it.Start with the nightmare, then go to Hogwarth- or start with the worldcup and quit the dreamthing.
God, how I hate this annoying girl spooking in the toilet.
Why are the teachers having a tournement that puts the life of their pupils in danger, after all ? Pretty sarcastic, isn't it ? Using their best friends and little sisters as live bait ? What are they ? Neurotics ? I hate Dumbledor for that, really. That's worse than Voldemor or am I totally wrong ? But nice of Dumbledor to apologize for it in the last scene, 3 hours later.
Why, for Merlin's sake, is "it" always the new teacher ?
Why introduce 4 dragons and then show only one fight. On the other hand, that fight with the dragon is one of my facvorite scenes in the movie.
And I am so, so tired of that scene in the end, when Dumbledore has to explain everything to tie up the loose ends, can't this Potter-kid come up with an original idea by himself just for once ? And since we're on the subject : Why is there always a third person that provides him with a magical something that solves his problems. Isn't he supposed to be the greatest wizard of all time ?
Finally : I don't want to see that gorey, onscreen-shapeshifting-morphing moment anymore, at least not in every movie.

Anyway, otherwise a nice movie, great specialeffects etc, wouldn't say the time and the money was totally wasted.
You think I'm nagging too much and I should be happy that movies like this are done after all, well, you should hear my remarks about Corpse Bride, ( Not the Art-Work, mind you, that was brilliant, but the story, the story, as usual with Mr. Burton, always sacrificing story over visuals, otherwise known as morbus gilliam.)

A couple of years ago I was doing some designs for EA for the Quidditch-Worldcup-Playstation-Game.It all came to my mind again yesterday, 'cause I was working on the different teams from the movie, Durmstrang, Beauxbaton and the American team, whose name I've forgotten.
It was a strange assignment for me, I had a hard time getting used the fact, that it was much more costume-design, rather than character-design. No conflict between inner and outer design, more like dressing up premanufactured mannequins. That's why I'm not showing you the final designs here, they are just uninteresting and boring, no details and no character, just uniforms. ...And not very well drawn either, I'm afraid. Maybe that's why I never heard from EA again.

Beauxbaton, the team of the French girls. My original brief was "Madame Pompadour", it later changed to "The Three Musketeers".

When I came to the project, they wanted to put the German team into lederhosen, I think of the fact that we changed it to Prussian uniforms as partially my merit.

Above : The German beater, colored by guest artist Christian Schellewald, now art-director at "Over The Hedge". We went to school together, later also to art-school. I was never very good with color, I asked him to show me how to put lights on leather.

More french girls...

Above : The American Seeker, Baseball meets Halloween.

Still, yesterday's night at the movies had it's highlights, too:
The Kong-trailer: boy, does it look good on the big screen !!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I was very lucky, that my daughter was born half a year before I started on Tarzan, that was perfect reference, not only visually but also emotionally. It helped a lot finding that warmth and get it into Kala's eyes and attitude.I paid great attention to warm, friendly , round lines, can't find a better way to say it, you gotta feel it, when you draw it. At least I have to ...

Another piece from the wonderful world of merchandising : A bottle of bathing-soda.Actually pretty much on model.When I think back to the Disney toys I had , when I was a kid....They were terrible and had the wrong colors.Still, I have them somewhere...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Not many stories to tell here. Those of you who pay attention might remember, that we agreed to base Kerchak on a square, which is , why you will find many straight lines and angles in the sketches. The rest was work and patience till you find the right balance and attitude.
Since Clayton, our real villain, enters the movie pretty late, we had to sell Kerchak as the villain of the first act. But actually he is just an austere father, trying to protect his tribe.
Bottom: The marvellous maquette by Kent Melton and my favorite toy from an Italian "Wundert├╝te" (Uli, help me here, what's a wundert├╝te in english ????????)

Oh yes, I almost forgot, there is a story to tell after all. Some years ago, I met Bay Raitt, the guy who is responsible for Gollum's face animation in "Lord Of The Rings", we met in the speaker's room at the 3d-Festival in Kopenhagen, we talked a bit and he said, that he had been looking at the wrinkles on Kerchak's nose as reference for Gollum. That was quite a kick, since I admire his work very much."Yes , we do, precioussssssssssss......"

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tarzan 2 _ Porter

We wanted Porter to look like a little monkey himself. It was his first time in the jungle and he was to be completly overwhelmed by what he saw and found. Things and animals he so far had encountered only in the books he had studied and written. He would get lost in some small detail, a frog or a bug, and he would overlook the gorilla behind him. He needed Jane to take care of him. I tought a lot of Catweazle, a character fom an english TV-series from the seventies, which nobody in the states knew about. Another big influence was Jack McGowern in his role as Prof.Ambronsius in Roman Polanski's "Vampire Killers", a movie only Kevin Lima knew about.

Geoffrey Bayldon as Catweazle

Anyway, I didn't know where to go visually with this character, because I didn't want to use other cartoon-professors as reference.I wanted to get away from the cliche and was looking for some other kind of inspiration. Then it hit me. Some sketches I had done reminded me of Albert Schweitzer, a philosopher, doctor, musician and humanist, who founded a hospital in the jungle at the beginnig of the last century. Always very much a gentleman, always in a white shirt and a bowtie. Again, when I told that to the team, nobody had heard about him. There was no google at the time, so I was more than lucky to find a German book about Schweitzer in a second-hand bookstore in St.Monica. I made a board and sold the idea to the directors.

Albert Schweitzer