Monday, August 31, 2015

Early Infinity Pitch

An image I did during very early explorations for Disney Infinity. At this point, the hope was that we'd have all sorts of types of toy in it, much like the Toy Story 3 Toybox mode. Some semblance of this idea survived, but for the main characters, John Lasseter really wanted to have a single style and toy type to unify everything. That was the right call for sure, but this would have been fun.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Some character designs I did for Disney Infinity 3.0

I did a bunch of work early on Disney Infinity 3.0, which is coming out in a week. Here are a few of the concepts that I did that I've seen on other sites.
Worked on Boba Fett. Career achievement unlocked!

Fear was such a fun character to draw. It was tricky figuring out how to pull off the feel of skinny appendages in a way that could be molded into strong plastic, though.

A take on Yoda that didn't make it in, but might have influenced the final look. It's hard to tell sometimes.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

"How do you find time for personal art?"

I was asked this question by another professor during the interview for my job at BYU. Now that I've been at BYU for almost a year, I understand that his question wasn't a test for the job, but an honest question about how to fit one more thing into an always-full schedule. The thing about being a professor is that you never clock in or out---your teaching and prep time, personal time, and freelance time all blend together and you're left to make your own calls about how to balance it all. I think I actually stammered my answer, something like "Well, uh, I just do it." That was a useless answer and I wish I could have a do-over.

I get summers off at BYU, which sounds awesome and laid-back, but in reality I'm spending that time working on freelance character design, illustration, preparation for my classes, and various tasks around the house. I get to set my own schedule, but it's always full no matter what order I put things into. What I thought would be a great break where I could do a lot of my own work has been just as busy as the semesters when I'm teaching.

So I've been thinking a lot about an answer Marcelo Vignali gave in a great interview with Bobby Chiu a while back. Answering a question about how he finds time for figure drawing, he said he makes figure drawing non-negotiable. In other words, he schedules time for it, and when that time comes, no other task takes priority, no matter how urgent (of course this doesn't apply to the house burning down scenario. Or maybe it does: guess I don't know Marcelo well enough to say for sure).

I've taken that "non-negotiable" mindset with my personal art these last few months, and I'm so glad I did. I have a block of time scheduled for it every morning---not much, just an hour---but it's enough for me to chip away at stuff that comes out of my own head. I can't say I've gotten to the point where it's non-negotiable yet; there have been days when I've skipped it for a big deadline, but I'm getting pretty consistent. And amazingly, even slowly chipping away at it is deeply satisfying, and I find more energy for the jobs I have to do afterward. For me personally, it works best to not overthink what I use that time to paint on---sometimes an idea works out and sometimes it doesn't. That's not the part that matters.
One of the paintings I've been slowly chipping away at. Not because it's worth painting, but because it's good for me to sometimes paint stuff just for fun.
The reason for this post is that I know lots of artists personally who struggle to find time to draw or paint their own stuff. I know many skilled artists who haven't done a piece of their own for months or even years. Most are people in the industry who by all appearance have completely full schedules. And yet as I've scheduled in that time, I haven't noticed a deficit anywhere else. I'm somehow getting everything else done just fine. Maybe there was some slush time in my schedule that I didn't realize was there, or maybe that extra energy is making up for the lost time. Either way, if you're the person asking the question in the title, I recommend trying this. Doing your own art may not be urgent, but it is important, and if you treat it as if it is urgent, you'll be better off.

And while you're at it, go read this article.

Early Tinkerbell Designs for Disney Infinity

The one on the left is from early exploration when we were trying to figure out the style of Infinity. The right was a modification I did during Infinity 2.0 to see if it would work for the toy.

You can see the final turned out a bit different---I think Josh Black did the final design for the toy.