Thursday, December 25, 2008

Very Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year to All!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and to all a good night!  
 I LOVE Christmas!  And the GREATEST GIFT OF ALL is the gift of JESUS CHRIST!  We celebrate the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  GOD gave His only son to save a dying world, and WHOEVER BELIEVES in Jesus Christ will be saved!  That's what its all about:  having a true relationship with our Heavenly Father through His son Jesus Christ!  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!    

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Observation... there is a BIG difference between just mindlessly looking at something and observing something.  Sherlock Holmes was an observer - every clue he found was because he was observing.  While others were just mindlessly looking at the clues & not realizing they were clues.  Anyway, I said all that to say, gesture drawing is all about observation!  You've got to really pay attention to the subject.  In this case, I was at the mall watching shoppers of all kinds walk by - young, old, impatient, strollers, big & small... here are a few observations I made this morning (BTW - these are about 5-10 second quick sketches):  there was an elderly man being dragged around by his grandchild shopping - meanwhile trying to resist her pulling.  I really liked how this lady was carrying 5 or 6 heavy shopping bags in one hand (struggling with the weight) and in the other hand her little purse.  And a few other things that just caught my eye... well, the best kind of drawing that supports animation is gesture drawing - I'm a bit RUSTY!  But, I'm gonna keep at it and keep moving forward.  Enjoy & Stay tuned.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

A little animation?

  Hello out there!   Back again!   Okay, so this is an animation test I did way back in February of 2007.   I was playing around with some ideas and just warming up to the idea of doing some paperless - hand drawn (digital) animation.   I used Photoshop to draw in (which is why the ball is kinda scribbly & loose)  and I imported the drawings into iMovie to put it all together; on my iMac of course!   What other computer is there besides Apple?!  Anyway, here's the end result - its kinda short, but fun.  Hope you enjoy it, please feel free to comment & let me know what you think...  I'll be posting more of my animation as I get time to animate.   Later!   (BTW - for some reason the video is not playing correctly or at all, the timing is totally off!   I'm new at this "video posting" stuff,  so I'll have to figure it out as soon as I can & post it then.   If anybody knows how to post quicktime movies so they'll play CORRECTLY - please let me know, I'd REALLY appreciate it.  Be back soon WITH the video). 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Talk with JAMES BAXTER!!!

I'm back again with the rest of the California trip!  See, I told you I'm gonna be posting more often - just keep your eyes peeled!
  Well, there's really so much that happened that I don't want to bore you to tears with all the details (then again, I'm not really sure how many people read this blog or how to find out - if anybody knows how,please let me know). There is however, another very high point of the trip that I'll share:  Every once in a while there come opportunities/experiences in your life that RECHARGE  you and INSPIRE you all over again!  Its a moment of RE-INVIGORATION!  I can honestly say this trip was one of those experiences.  In an earlier post I had mentioned meeting Eric Goldberg.  Now, what's better than meeting 1 animation master?  Meeting 2 in 1 trip!  Both of these guys are so humble that they may not consider themselves masters, but in my opinion, there up there & their work shows it!  James Baxter is easily one of the top animators out there today and if you don't know who he is (shame on you AGAIN!):  He was the supervising animator of Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  He animated such great characters as Rafiki in Lion King, Quasimodo in Hunchback of Notre Dame, Moses in Prince of Egypt, Tulio in The Road to El Dorado, and many many more.  Most recently he was the animation supervisor on Enchanted.  You can see a list of his work on IMDB - check it out!   I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet James Baxter and talk with him about animation.  WOW!  Where do I start?   Obviously, I had tons of questions and he was kind enough to answer them all!   As a novice animator, I wanted to know everything!  What's your process like?  How do you approach a scene?  All kinds of questions about timing and spacing.  Planning for 1's and 2's? 
 Charts?   I realize that everyone works differently and each animator has there own approach, but it helps to know and understand how an experienced animator would do a scene; in the end, you have to find what works for you.  In James' case (he was kind enough to demonstrate and animate a quick scene for me):  he starts out emotional/intuitive then gets more technical as he reaches the end result.  His first pass is usually very scribbly/rough because he's more focused on the acting/performance/movement, then as he nails that down, he'll add in the overlap/extras/tie downs.  I was so shocked to see how rough he worked at first -  I knew animators started out rough(Glen Keane for example, more on Glen later), but man was this rough and everyone works differently - I'm sure there are animators out there that don't start out so rough; that doesn't matter - I realized what matters ultimately is the performance!  I think so many new animators (myself included)  focus on making pretty drawings too early in the scene.   That can be SO distracting and it gets you more focused on a single drawing and NOT on the whole PERFORMANCE/MOVEMENT and your animation ends up looking choppy and watery/awkward;  not smooth and fluid.   He also will change the numbers on his key drawings (and re-draw keys) while he's working in this rough pass, if thats what's needed to improve the performance.   I had taken some of my animation flips to show James and get critiqued - I was SO NERVOUS!   I just wanted to know if I was on the right track & to have an animator like James look at your work is really helpful.  It can also be really humbling.   He flipped through my animation a few times, paused in thought & gave me the verdict... Good news:  I'm on the right track!   Not so good news:  I need to animate A LOT MORE and animate REAL LOOSE/ROUGH focusing on the performance/movement/timing and spacing/etc...  He told me not to focus on tie downs (finished drawings) YET, but to just animate REAL LOOSE and A LOT!   To animate everything (all kinds of characters and situations)  so I can get more experience.   Honestly, I wasn't surprised by what he said, I sort of expected to hear that.  And the "Not so good news", I think is actually REALLY GOOD NEWS because it means that I have that much more to grow as an animator!  There was so much more we talked about and James was so gracious with his time and animation knowledge  -  he really is a down to earth and humble guy.   It amazed me how he took a few hours out of his busy day to sit and talk, one on one with a new animator that he had never met before.   I guess that's one of the coolest things about animation.   As animators, new or experienced, we never really meet strangers when we meet another animator for the first time - because who else can truly understand the passion we have for the illusion of life?   Thanks James!                    

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meeting Eric Goldberg!!!

I'm baaaaaaack! Well, on a previous post (Quiet Satisfaction-see september 2008) I had mentioned going on vacation to California and having a blast. I said I would tell you about that later and...its later! Although this all happened back in July this year, I figured I better tell you before 2008 is over. Well, the entire trip was SO AMAZING my wife and I had a great time! What does this have to do with art and animation? Well, part of the reason we went to California was for some art/animation related stuff: the SAN DIEGO COMIC CON! It was so inspiring and encouraging to meet all kinds of artists and animators that I look up to! For me, the highest point of the con was meeting one of my animation heroes! You know, the animators who's work you admire and look up to! Eric Goldberg is one of them! If you don't know who he is (shame on you!) He was the supervising animator of the Genie in Disney's Aladdin, the supervising animator of Phil in Disney's Hercules, and whole lotta other things. Check him out in the IMDB. He's currently working as supervising animator of Louis in Disney's newest HAND DRAWN feature animated film The Princess and the Frog! That's right baby, HAND DRAWN ANIMATION IS COMING BACK!!! He recently put out an animation book called: CHARACTER ANIMATION CRASH COURSE! If you don't have a copy and your serious about learning animation or want to add to your animation knowledge GET THIS BOOK NOW!!! Its worth every penny! Plus it includes a CD full of animation clips from the book - so you can see what he's talking about. I had a chance to meet him at the Comic Con while he was doing a book signing. Eric was so down to earth and very funny! It was so encouraging & inspiring to chat with him about animation! I remember the first time I saw Aladdin in the theater, I was 11 or 12 and I was BLOWN AWAY by what I saw! The mood and atmosphere of that movie just sucked you into the story, then suddenly I saw the Genie come to life on screen (and this is the guy who brought the Genie to life)! Then the intense roller coaster magic carpet race through the cave of wonders! I was hooked on animation! Man, the animation fire in me is stoked & flaming! I can't wait to do more hand drawn animation!!! I LOVE THIS STUFF! There's more to tell about the trip, I'll be back with the rest later...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FAT Robin Hood?

I saw Robin Hood Men in Tights the other night; it had been a loooooong time since I last saw it - still pretty funny;
Young Frankenstein is better though.
Suddenly I thought, "How come you never see a fat Robin Hood?", so here you go, a fat and pompous Robin Hood.
I always thought it was cool how Robin Hood disguised himself to compete in the archery tournament.
So, here he is looking a bit like Mark Twain in a Western. I'll be back soon with some more dirty laundry.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Monkey Boy?! Weird!

Hey Everybody! Just thought I'd give you a peek at some concept sketch of a character I'm working on. I know, I know "Monkey Boy" sounds weird I think so too - don't worry. Well, I'm working on some hand drawn animation (Pencil tests mostly) and I needed a character to work with so I kinda came up with this guy - don't ask me why. The design is fun to draw, although its still in the development stage, so he may look a little different in the future - But it'll be an improvement. The red sketch is the construction sketch. Maybe I'll post the animation here if I feel its strong enough to show. We'll see.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quiet Satisfaction!

I know, I know, its been a while - I've been busy with Comic book projects, Storyboards, and Animation since I got back from my California trip and the San Diego Comic-Con! It was a BLAST & it was ENCOURAGING in so many ways! But that's NOT what I want to yack about today - I'll save that for later. It seemed most appropriate to share the following with you, HERE, on this blog. Where else would it go?
Anyway, here are some IDEAS/NOTES on Drawing and Animation in general that I've had on my mind:
((its a novel, so read at your own risk))
The first lesson Richard Williams teaches in his book THE ANIMATORS SURVIVAL KIT, is to UN-PLUG!!! That means: Get the wires out of your ears and turn the TV/DVD/music/radio/internet and any other distractions OFF!!! Because you CANNOT SERIOUSLY get your BEST work done while you're distracted or only putting in half the effort.

I've tried it before & I continue to work this way mostly, because it REALLY WORKS! You'll see your work improve IMMEDIATELY because all of the sudden you're paying FULL ATTENTION to what you're doing! Music can be inspirational, but NOT when you're getting started on whatever you're working. I find its BEST to get past the initial stages of a project and when you've come to a place that your putting in your BEST EFFORT and CONCENTRATING, then and only then, it could be inspirational or encouraging to CONTINUE what you've already started on your own without the help of music or anything else thank you very much! But only appropriate music or something that fits what you're working on. Otherwise, you're back to square 1!

Its a lonely journey and NOBODY will do it for you, but when you work hard at it, day & night (consistently) you'll see that you're growing as an artist and animator and that is SO SATISFYING! In order to do something that is unique and fresh and not just repeat the previous success - you have to TAKE RISKS! CREATIVITY = RISKS! You can't play it safe. You have to get to the place where you're pouring yourself out onto the paper. And it requires digging deep within, so how do you expect to do that with distractions? Do you think Michelangelo had a choir singing for him while he was painting or sculpting? Did Leonardo regularly have a messenger telling him about the local news while he was working? I don't think so. They were immersed in their work! I'm sure they had distractions of their own and we have ours, but the point is to stay FOCUSED in order to accomplish anything of great value! You can't just "wing it" and expect GREAT RESULTS!

The next time you sit down to draw or animate - DRINK UP THE QUIET SATISFACTION! The UNLIMITED possibilities of the blank page & the pencil scratching the paper as you begin... get passed the act of drawing or animating and immerse yourself in the world your creating! Relish it! Its YOURS! Never forget to have FUN while working because in the end, what else would you rather be doing? - SAM LOTFI

Monday, July 7, 2008

Kung Fu Panda!

Hello out there! Well, its been a while, but between work and putting together a portfolio - things have been REALLY busy, but in a good productive way. I'll post a link to my portfolio as soon as I get it done and upload it... in the meantime, if you have not yet seen KUNG FU PANDA - STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING & GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW! THIS is what an animated movie can be if you just put some effort into it and NOT just try to repeat the last success! I had a great experience watching THIS movie; I laughed, I cheered, I cried, and I felt warm and fuzzy on the inside! That's what a great movie should do and this movie delivered the "AWESOMENESS!" Seriously, the art and animation was so believable (NOT REALISTIC) BELIEVABLE! I can't say enough good things about it, "JUST GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW! - ITS AWESOME!"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Finale

I know this not the usual post (nothing to do with my artwork) BUT I just HAD to share such an awesome and fun experience with everyone! Finally, here we are (my wife and I) with the MST3K crew at the end of the night - they were the most patient and fun group of people to meet and talk to! All in all, IT WAS GREAT! I HOPE THEY DO THIS AGAIN SOON!

Myster Science Theater 3000 some more...

Special Guest Appearance : TOM SERVO! Kevin Murphy (the voice of Tom Servo) was supposed to be at the event, however was too sick to travel - we missed him. Some fan actually brought this particular Tom Servo robot that he built to be signed by the crew.
After the LIVE performance, we got a chance to meet the crew and thank them for mst3k - also got some stuff signed.
I gotta say they were all the sweetest people and really down to earth! Especially Joel Hodgson!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Continued...

We had the BEST seats in the house! Front and Center! Joel Hodgson talked about some of his inpirations and how he got started and later answered some questions from fans. The whole crew seemed so laid back and down to earth. They later went to talk about the Cinematic Titanic future and how there'll be more movies coming soon; they'll be filming 3 episodes in May!
Can you read the script? I can't we were just out of range. You're looking at the riff script for Roger Corman's "The Wasp Woman!" After the panel, the crew turned around and did a LIVE performance! Riffed on "THE WASP WOMAN." I cannot stop talking about how much fun it was to actually be in the theater with over 400 mst3k fans LAUGHING OUR HEADS OFF as the crew just riffed one after the other! It was an experience like nothing else, AND personally, I really think they should do LIVE PERFORMANCES on a regular basis and go tour or something! I think that if more people out there who don't know what mst3k is went to an actual live performance, they would just LOVE IT! and want to see everything else mst3k has done.

Myster Science Theater 3000 ! 20th Anniversary!

We had an GREAT time in Dallas, TX this past weekend! The Dallas Film Festival took place last week and most of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was there! In celebration of the 20th anniversary! They had a panel in which they went over the history of mst3k and later took some audience questions. One guy had the audacity to accuse them of ripping off a skit that he and some friends mailed into them. The mst3k crew pretty much ridiculed him and laughed it off! Later, they returned to the same joke claiming they get all their ideas from fan mail - HA HA HA!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Freedom Quest #2 Web Comic Recap

There it is! Freedom Quest # 2 Web Comic! See previous posts to check out all 10 pages AND Freedom Quest issue #1 Web Comic!
Hope you enjoyed it and look forward to the continuation of the "Hitchhiker" Web Comic coming soon...

FQ #2 Page 10

FQ #2 Pages 8 & 9

FQ #2 Pages 6 & 7

FQ #2 Pages 4 & 5

FQ #2 Pages 2 & 3

FQ #2 Page 1

Freedom Quest #2 Page 1. We start off with a dramatic flashback! OOOOOOOOOO. AAAAAAAAAAA.

Freedom Quest #2 Web Comic!!

We interrupt our regular program to bring you this news flash:
Freedom Quest issue # 2 is now available!!! Published by Christian Family Church Intl. I enjoyed working on this issue and gave it a little refinement; as far as the overall look of the book goes. I streamlined some of the character designs and really pushed the cover to stand out more! I co-plotted the story and did all the artwork. The final script was written by Jason Gunn. Hope you enjoy it. And soon we'll return to our regular scheduled program: "The Hitchhiker". (By the way, for those of you eagerly waiting for the rest of the Hitchhiker story - It will be finished soon, hang in there.)