Thursday, December 30, 2010


Kelpies are vicious creatures from Celtic mythology who lure children to lakes, drown them, and eat them. They can take the form of horses or beautiful women. Either way, when you try to ride them, their skin becomes adhesive, bonding you to them, and they drag you to your watery demise. You know, that old chestnut.

Little Kimberly discovers why you should never tear the tag off your pillow.

If you have any kelpie designs of your own, let me know and I'll post them below, along with these fantastic artists. Or you can join us January 14th for...


Storyman extraordinaire Vi-Dieu Nguyen and I usually come up with a random adjective and noun to form these challenges, and it's odd how fitting they are sometimes. For this one, we also added a random location, for which I (being a huge fantasy nerd) chose Westeros. Those of your familiar with George R. R. Martin's fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, will notice how fitting "winter" and "wolfmen" are with the location "Westeros."

My previous countdown was for Gallery Nucleus's Breath of Embers show, which has unfortunately been moved to October 2011. There was only one event as countdown worthy as a gallery of dragon artwork:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Draw Rex
Sketch for Japanese fan magazine during Toy Story 3 release

I did a little drawing tutorial for my old friend Vic Jimenez a while back. He said I could choose any Pixar character to draw, so I naturally went with the only dinosaur on the roster. You can catch more of Vic's interviews, tutorials, and short films at One Dream Studios.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Breath of Embers
I've been invited to contribute to Gallery Nucleus's next show: "Breath of Embers." The theme is dragons and as you've probably gathered from my other blog, I'm a bit of a gaming nerd, so this is right up my alley.

Justin Gerard's take on Smaug from The Hobbit

The Super Big Micro Show will be up at Nucleus till January 4th, so you've got a few days before Micro Rex and his pals go completely extinct. If you're up in the Bay Area, and can't get to the Micro Show, you have till February 11th to see Micro Rex in his full animated glory at the Oakland Airport "Pencil to Pixel" Pixar exhibit. My friend Kristen sent me this pic she snapped flying back in for Christmas.

So did you guys have a good Christmas? Any uniquely awesome presents? Thanks for everyone who voted on the Christmas polls. The official winners are:

Best popular Christmas carol:
"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

Best traditional Christmas carol:
"O Holy Night"

True Meaning of Christmas:
The Birth of Christ

Best "12 Days of Christmas" gift:
Five Gooooooold Riiiiiiiiiiiings!

19 days...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas Eve, technically, but for obvious reasons, I won't be blogging tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't have everyone's addresses, so I'll have to post your Christmas card here.

You can even choose a painting for the inside of your card. If you're a Star Wars nerd, let's say I painted this scene on the inside of your card...

If you're a Calvin and Hobbes fan, and want your own personalized snowman gag, how about this for the inside of your unique, personal card?

Then again, if you're a man after my own reptilian heart, I'd have probably sent you your very own Micro Rex painting. And if you went on a Hawaiian vacation (like my dad, who the actual card is for), all the better!

Finally, for those gamers out there (whether you're chaotic naughty or lawful nice), here's one I did for our gaming group, The Dandies. The incomparable Emma did the original sketch a long time ago, I just plopped the santa hats on.

Twas the fight before Christmas,
And all through the dungeon,
Not a creature was stirring,
Cuz they'd been savagely bludgeoned.

Or, if you just don't like cards, how about a festive ornament? This one's for my cousin Tracy's new baby Blake (not to be confused with her sister Kelli's new baby Jack Jack). The Madison clan's getting bigger all the time!

"Ooh...the CLAUS!"

1 day...but I'm not blogging tomorrow, so I'll say it now:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Captain's Log
Part II: Stormy Seas

That should probably read "story seas." My new animated short, Nail'd, is in the uncertain waters of the story process. Some ideas are sharpie scribbled feverishly onto napkins to capture an idea while it's fresh in my mind, others (like this fantastic layout by fellow Sacramentan and CalArtian Tyler Decker) are beautifully painted explorational work.

A few weeks ago, we had our first meeting with a possible composer. Because music will be so prevalent in Nail'd, we wanted to get our composer involved as early as possible. No more cannibalized film scores for my animated films! The goal in the upcoming months is to assemble a story reel for our composer to write the first demo tracks. Things are shaping up, and we're getting a glimpse of what lies beyond the squall...

3 days...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas from Windsor

While gathering Shakespeare reference for this Christmas card to a friend (who hopefully doesn't read this blog too regularly), I found some excellent seasonal poetry. Here they are, for any of you Shakes fans out there.

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.
-Love's Labour Lost

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly;
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly:
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
-Heigh Ho, The Holly

5 days...

Friday, December 17, 2010


Santa learns about NASA's latest discovery the hard way when he mistakes a beaker of Arsenic-laden bacteria for a glass of milk.

10,000x magnification of arsenic-eating microbe, designated ArStNick.

Let me know if you have any contributions and I'll post them below. The next design (due December 31) is...


I promise not to illustrate another Santa pun, even though the topic is begging for it. If you're unsure what a Kelpie is, check the wikipedia article here.

8 days...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Micro Rex Thumbnails
My friend Cat and I were discussing the importance of showing failures, especially the kind that pave the way to final "finished" artwork. Here are some explorational sketches for the Micro Rex paintings, most of which were altered to make the story point clearer.

The Micro Micro Rex: I wanted to see what the series would look like lined up in sequence, so I did these teeny-tiny thumbnails.

The original concept for A Visit from Mr. Odonata was Rex meeting a caterpillar on a mushroom, a little homage to one of my favorite Disney films. Ultimately, a dragonfly was an easier idea to run with (literally).

Unused story ideas include Micro Rex exploring behind a waterfall and an alternate death: swimming with a hungry Elasmosaur.

The second piece, Shoo Fly!, was pretty much the same from concept to execution. The composition was slightly altered to allow for more space.

Dino Soars was originally intended as an up-shot of Micro Rex leaping over us. I changed the perspective when I decided to have Micro leaping over a tarpit wth a Dalorean in it. Ultimately, I ditched the Dalorean (mostly because it distracted from the main story, but also because it was too hard to draw).

I toyed around momentarily with doing Micro Raptor instead (seen upper-left).

First Kill was surprisingly hard to stage. I kept getting notes from my friend that it was difficult to read the dragonfly under Micro's foot, and nobody could tell that it was a leg in his mouth, or what he was looking at in the background.

Ultimately, I had to give the dragonfly a clear silhouette on the ground and use color to pop Micro on the cliff away from the distant pterosaurs on the beach in the background.

This damn piece was the most difficult and the most fun. I really wanted that feeling of a puppy chasing birds on a beach, and that sudden spontaneous commotion of a flock taking flight. I'm not sure if it worked in the final piece, Rex on the Beach, but it was a blast sketching tons of pterosaurs.

The final painting, The Ill-Fated King, was planned pretty much from the beginning, and had the simplest staging of all. The challenge was to make the final painting as clear as the original thumbnail.

Other story ideas involved Micro Rex rough-housing with a bullfrog, and exploring a Triceratops herd.

If anyone's wondering what happens to our little pal after he gets dropped into the Anhanguera nest, don't worry. That's the beach where Voldemort hides all his horcruxes, and the He Who Must Not Be Named came to Micro's rescue. Anhanguera kedavra!

10 days...

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Very Pixar Christmas
The Super Big Micro Show

Hello readers, it's been quite a weekend! Events kicked off Friday evening with Pixar's improv group, the Improvibles and our "A Very Pixar Christmas" show.

Poster by esteemed storyman Chris Roman (the youngest one in curls).

The show included everything from a Rankin Bass animated skit (a moving people game where Don and I were "animated" by an audience member) to an original carol about the Christmas tree catching fire and the warm glow of "Christmas cheer" (flames) spreading to the neighbors' houses.

The Improvibles gather for their annual Christmas Card photo

After the show, it was a straight drive down to LA for the Super Big Micro Show, organized in part by my pal and fellow Sacramentan Jeremy Spears (seen here with my favorite piece in the gallery).

Jeremy can bearly contain himself.

I also had the pleasure of meeting long-time Chades Challenger, Zane Yarbrough, who is interning two doors down from Gallery Nucleus at Bolt City Productions.

Chades Challengers unite.

I'm happy to report that all of my pieces sold, so even though Micro Rex met an untimely end, he will always be remembered. Here is the final Micro Rex series, in all of its framed glory.

A Visit from Mr. Odonata

Shoo, Fly!

Dino Soars

First Kill

Rex on the Beach

The Ill-Fated King

12 days...

Friday, December 10, 2010

You Gotta Friend in Me

Quick watercolor for a friend of a friend of a friend. Based on their kid.

While I'm on the subject of paintings for adorable kids, my cousin Kelli just sent me this picture of me with my new second-cousin JackJack.

He's the tyke for whom I did the Incredibles piece I posted a while back. Kelli's sister Tracy JUST had a baby, so it looks like I'm keeping the watercolors out a while longer.

Jack contemplates the deep meaning of his Thanksgiving card.

And just fyi, these countdowns at the bottom of my posts are links. I mention it today, because the link below is particularly groovy. Enjoy!

15 days...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Micro Rex
Part VI: The Ill-Fated King

Alas, our little tyrant lizard king becomes part of the circle of life. On the bright side, those Anhanguera hatchlings are going to grow up big and strong, with such a good mom hunting for them!

This is the sixth of six pieces for the Super Big Micro Show, which opens Saturday at the Gallery Nucleus. Thanks for following the tragic tale of Micro Rex, and for all of the positive feedback.

Speaking of Pixar (how's that for a forced transition?), my friend Chris Chua and I have an interview on latest episode of Derrick Clements' The Pixar Podcast.

Tune in to learn why Walt Disney is like the Death Star and how Pen Ward and JG Quintell instigated an animation lockdown during our CalArts days.

17 days...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Micro Rex
Part V: Rex on the Beach

Our prehistoric pal is moving up in the food chain from dragonflies to pterosaurs (Anhanguera, to be specific). But has he bitten off more than he can chew? Find out Wednesday, when I post the thrilling conclusion of the Micro Rex series for The Super Big Micro Show.

19 days...

Friday, December 03, 2010


Easily the most disgusting Chades Challenge to date. I thought a Christmas spin on the subject would up the appeal a bit. I was wrong.

My second attempt was a full embrace of the potty-humor.

If you have any colostomy designs, let me know and I'll post them below. Or you can join me December 17th for the new challenge, in honor of NASA's latest discovery, CHADES CHALLENGE XLI: ARSENIC MONSTERS.

Meanwhile, in the gaming world...

The Dandies (my gaming group, derived from "dnd" to "dandy") tried out a new game last night that we can all heartily recommend. The game is called Cosmic Encounter, and comes from the 1970's. Apparently there've been dozens of editions released throughout the ages. Every player is assigned an alien race who starts with five worlds. Here's Chris with his foppish feline race, the Traders.

The goal is to colonize five of your opponents' worlds (the more players, the more worlds in the game universe), and the first to five colonies wins. With 75+ races, each with different abilities, every game is guaranteed to be a different experience. Races can ally with an alien invader (victorious defenders get to build colonies), or ally with the native defenders (victorious defenders may regenerate previously defeated warships).

My race was the Spiff, whose ability was to crash land one invading ship in the event of a severe loss, to insure colonization. I loved the race for it's obvious homage to Calvin and Hobbes, and loved even more that I won the game without a single colonization on my home worlds. The moment called for an extra nerdy photo-op.

So for all you nerds who love strategy board games like Risk or Dominion, Cosmic Encounter would make a great addition to your Christmas List. But don't take my word for it, check out this review by fervent Scottish nerd Robert Florence.

22 days...