What happened to Sketchbook Month?

Animator's Journal, march sketchbook month, welcome to oceanside

You may have noticed that I have not posted anymore drawings for March is Sketchbook Month for the past two weeks. Reason being that although I adored the contest and seeing everyone else’s drawings, with the exception of the Sym-Bionic Titan Fan Art, I did not feel that my drawings were up to par. I recently watched How to Train Your Dragon for the third time and while listening to the commentary, was quite impressed by the years of work that went into the story, and by the boards and character animation. The acting in that film is superb, and that, along with several animation books I have been reading, inspired me to spend less time on the blog and the internet and more time at the drawing desk. So instead of posting something at the last minute everyday, I have been spending a few hours each day working on characters for my upcoming comic, Welcome to Oceanside. And when I say work, I mean working on poses and expressions that I have never done, and trying to achieve the same level of quality that I admire in the works of some of my favorite artists, like Glen Keane and Mike Mignola.

The one thing that Sketchbook Month taught me is that it is indeed an excellent idea to draw everyday in order to hone one’s skills. Rather than just hash something out, I’ve been spending a lot of time on fluidity of motion with my characters, construction lines, and making sure that the characters maintain a consistent look from drawing to drawing. I feel great about my progress and look forward to sharing what I have done in the next few months.

I expect to launch my webcomic, pending class schedules and work, by June and to update two days a week. That will be quite an undertaking but I am certain that my storytelling skills and art will vastly improve the more I push myself to be more creative with my style.

Farewell Sym-Bionic Titan

Animator's Journal, firefly, spectacular spider-man, sym-bionic titan

Sadly my newest favorite animated show is being cancelled. That’s right, according to the good folks at Cartoon Brew, Sym-Bionic Titan has bit the dust after one season. They say that although the show received excellent ratings, it failed to deliver enough money in the toy sales department. That is absurd. It’s a show about a GIANT ROBOT fighting GIANT MONSTERS. With WEAPONS. It has Awesome-Toy-With-Karate-Chop-Action written all over it. I’ve never even seen any merchandise in the stores for this show. Did they market it? Did they even have prototypes? Who knows. There goes my dream of interning for the show while I am in school.


On the other hand, I am certain there is more to this story than not enough toys. Avatar: The Last Airbender did not have a ton of merchandise and they ended up making a movie out of it. Not a very good movie, but they got a movie deal. Teen Titans didn’t start getting tons of merchandise until much later in it’s run. Heck, even Generator Rex (which I like very much) is just now getting action figures at Super Target. Who knows what goes on in the minds of TV executives. Hopefully though, they will have the good sense to at least put the episodes in a nice DVD set.

So Titan now joins the pantheon of shows I love that ended before they truly hit their stride:

Rest in peace, Firefly.
I bid thee well, Spectacular Spider-Man.
(Update – April 5th – found out that Spectacular Spider-Man actually had 2 seasons. Fantastic! Hopefully Season 2 will be released sometime this year.)
So long and thanks for all the fish, Pirates of Dark Water.

You will be, and still are, dearly missed.

Sym-Bionic Fan Art

Animator's Journal, Fan Art, march sketchbook month, sym-bionic titan

Continuing with my theme of “Fan Art Week,” here are some sketches of Lance and Ilana from “Sym-Bionic Titan.” These are sketches from the episode “Under the Three Moons.”

I want to improve my draftsman skills and I like the expressions and energy of the characters from this series, so I decided to use them as practice. With a few simple facial lines and curves of the eyebrows Ilana and Lance have a surprisingly wide variety of emotions. This is great to see how much can be done with television animation, which is often constrained by limited budgets and a short production schedule.

I particularly like Ilana’s expression – she can be quite forceful when she wants to be.

Sym-Bionic Titan

Animator's Journal, Fan Art, sym-bionic titan

Today’s post pays homage to one of my favorite shows – Sym-Bionic Titan. It tells the story of Princess Ilana, her bodyguard, Lance, and their robot protector Octus, as they navigate the tumultous landscape of high school in Sherman, Illinois. Ilana is the heart of the show, a “Lady Di” character as co-creator Genndy Tartakovsky describes her, beloved by her people and always trying to do the right thing. Lance is the handsome, brooding loner who understands his mission is to protect the princess yet finds himself thrust into the unwanted role of most popular guy in school. Yet in the midst of all the hoopla, he is still dealing with his own personal demons over the disappearance of his father. And Octus is the powerful robot, disguised as nerdy genius Newton, who wrestles with the idea that while he is not a man, he is not fully machine either.

And they are refugees from another planet currently held in the throes of an evil dictator who sends monsters to planet Earth to destroy them. And the three heroes can form a giant, Voltron-like robot called Titan. And they throw in great 80s pop music.

Good stuff.

What I like best about the show is the depth that creators Genndy Tartakovksy (of Samurai Jack fame), Paul Rudish and Bryan Andrews bring to our alien refugees. This could easily be a simple smash and bash, monster of the week caper. Instead, the creators and writers choose to show the more human side of the characters, how homesick they feel, how they yearn for acceptance, how they deal with romantic entanglements and how they learn to gradually get along with each other.

So in honor of this fine show, here are some sketches of Ilana. She is a great character to draw, for several reasons. First, her head is shaped like a turnip – easy to draw! More than that though, she has a nice range of expressions. And she is my favorite character on the show.

If you would like to read more about Sym-bionic Titan, check out the blogs of Mike Collins and Kevin Dart, two of the finely talented artists who work on the show. And watch it on Cartoon Network. Support great animation!