Frederator: You’re the character and prop designer on Fanboy. What’s the process of creating new designs?
Steve: Typically Eric and I go over the upcoming scripts and discuss what new characters are coming down the pipeline. I’m a little spoiled since Eric is a character designer himself. He’s always got a ton of ideas for characters, so it makes my job much easier to come up with something he enjoys.
With this being a 3d production, the amount of new characters is limited, so every new design is precious. In order to come up with the best character design possible, I try and do lots of character exploration and present Eric with multiple ideas and variations. From there, we look over the designs and boil it down to the best looking character we can.
Once the design is approved by network, it’s time to me to flesh the character out with turnaround, mouth charts, and expressions. All of which is sent to the cg dept for modeling and rigging. Just before texturing, we take another look at the cg model and do any additional tweaks that stick out, like adjustment of proportions, checking the character’s size relations against previous cg characters, lengthening of limbs, etc.
After that, it’s off to magic time with the animators!
Frederator: Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
Steve: Lots of places, actually. I’m a huge fan of the creative giants of the past… particularly, the 1950-1960s. Artists like Mary Blair, J.P. Miller, Ronald Searle, Mel Crawford, Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss, the Provensens, etc. Seems like this is the time when illustration was at its creative peak. If you want to see some of this jaw dropping art, then drop by Shane Glines’s site, Cartoon Retro. Tons of high quality scans of those artists listed above and more.
I’m also a huge fan of old Golden Books. So much so, that it’s leaked very much into my own personal work. There’s something so whimsical and appealing about children’s books. I try and capture some of that in my own work when I can.
Outside of that, I think I pull most of my creative inspiration from the internet. More specially, artist blogs. There’s an overwhelming amount of talented artists out there today from all corners of the world. Whenever I feel like I’m in a creative lull, all I have to do take a quick blog run, and I’m ready to draw again.
Frederator: Any advice for those just entering the animation field?
Steve: Don’t always look at drawing as just a job. It’s just as important to be creative in your own personal work, as it is to be creative in the day job. It’s a cycle, one feeds into the other. Find ways to stay creative and above all, have fun.
Frederator: If you could meet any artist, living or not, who would you choose?
Steve: To turn water into Red Bull. It could come in handy during deadlines.
(And thanks to Angie Polk for the interview work.)
– Eric (Homan)