Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Storyboard Test

Almost three years ago, trying to find work at an American studio,  I did a story test for Dreamworks Animation. I was out of work at the time so I was able to devote myself to the task and threw myself into it.  I ultimately didn't get the gig but I had fun drawing those characters!

First of all I familiarized myself with the location of the sequence- Central Park Zoo.  I went through the first 'Madagascar' on dvd, freeze-framing the key locations and making layout studies & geographical notes.

Then reading through the script I start to jot down any thoughts, ideas for business and key images that strike me.

Then I thumb-nailed out the entire sequence-fleshing out the character business and camera angles

Lastly I worked it up on the 4x3 story board pads provided-I didn't get all the way through but had the end of the sequence covered in the thumbnails above.

The sequence as it exists here is not in the finished film although there is a climactic scene involving the animals being tranquilized.  (All characters are property of Dreamworks Animation.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I've travelled far and wide the past month. First stop was several days in Berlin for a speaking engagement at a 'Culture Meets Science' conference.  The brutal East German winter hadn't hit yet so it was still possible to sketch outside comfortably.

 The city has an eclectic mix of modern and classical architecture and threaded throughout is a network of blue and pink piping!
 On my last day I made a beeline for the Brandenburg Gate-I couldn't leave without seeing it first hand.
This last picture is more impressionistic-my memories of Berlin.

While in town I looked up Deutsch-uber-wunderkinder Jakob Shuh and Uwe Heidschötter-they showed me around Studio Soi and drew in my book-danke!

Back in SanFrancisco I showed new resident Mr Cruickshank around-we mingled with the un-dead at Dios de Los Muertos in the Mission and hit Ocean Beach to draw the (wrong) windmill.

 Seal rocks are impressive but not as impressive as the Farallons!  In the spirit of high seas adventure we took a day trip out to the islands where humpback whales spout & breach, rare birds nest and great white sharks bite the heads off elephant seals! Not much drawing that day . . .

 Then down to Los Angeles for CTN-X 2012. We stayed around Venice Beach, soaking up the culture and avoiding the nutters.
Highlight of the trip was catching the spectacular Stanley Kubrick exhibition at LACMA
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gesture Drawing book at CTN-X 2012

It's an 11th hour decision but I'll have a booth at CTN-X this year with my book on Gesture Drawing.  I'll be sharing a table with the Happy Beaver himself Mr Jeff Pidgeon-come see us next week!

I've received really great feedback for my first modest publication, many thanks to everyone who bought it and wrote back;

"I've just received your book today! Love it! Thanks again!"
"Wonderful gesture book, Matt. Strong drawing, lively gestures, and all wrapped in a great presentation. Looking at your book is also making me look forward to my next life drawing class this week!"

"I just received the book. Awesome man! It's real nice to see what you are doing, how you're pushing the poses, etc. Thanks so much, I'm looking forward to your next book! -no pressure;)"

"This book is amazing. I read the Drawn to Life books… which was VERY repetitive… and well I wish I saw bigger drawings and less repetition of text. You answered that completely. Love these gestures… and most importantly you have cartoonish gestures, where most books cover more life drawing style gestures. Good stuff! Make more books!"

"I received your book last week and it rocks. It's really inspirational, as you said and I want to study every pose because I think I can learn a lot."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween!

These are a couple of yokai inspired spooky swamp dwellers for Halloween.  I had been impressed by the designs of Japanese netsuke in the V&A museum London then later saw an incredible exhibition in Paris on the supernatural yokai of Japanese culture.  The designs are based on traditional Japanese deities & goblins.

 The rough sketches above developed into these more abstract painted sketches I did for fun as I was painting the larger one
This amphibious swamp creature was a leaving present for Story Commando James 'Zero Dark Thirty' Baker

Friday, September 28, 2012


I was in New York for a long weekend last week, both upstate for a wedding and the city afterwards. What a town-incredible energy.
Rush hour in NYC is crazier than London or Paris-and Grand Central seems to be the hub of the frenzy. I huddled in a corner off the sidewalk and tried to capture the melee but my sketch doesn't come close!  I was intrigued by the elevated overpass with the stream of yellow cabs feeding the commuter swarm.

Skyscrapers on 5th ave. the older one on the left looked like it had been sliced in half at some point with arches visible in the cross-section.
I couldn't not draw The Statue of Liberty! I thought I'd sketch a view rarely seen -her behind! (Plus it allowed me to skip the face and draw her faster).  Just as I was waiting for some interesting tourists to stray into view these monks showed up-they were thoroughly modern monks; posing for pictures on their smart-phones, smoking even-surely not Buddhists!

This poor soul was ranting in the middle of the sidewalk and plainly had a beef with someone but he was raging at nobody that I could see.  Earlier in the day I saw him amiably chatting to someone-don't piss off New Yorkers!

Here's an impression of Times Sq. with all the characters I encountered over the weekend.  Spot the pickle!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer sketchbook 2012

After completing the 30 day Sketchbook Challenge I slowed down a bit but keep the next book at hand  always.  Over the last month I've seen a bit of the United States, including Bodie and Columbus, Ohio and visited a couple of interesting museum shows.
The Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at the De Young was as exciting as everyone told me.  Thanks to my regular sketch buddy Jamie Baker we got in on the last day and I snuck a quick sketch in despite the museums' shitty 'no drawing' policy.

If we hit the De Young we usually squeeze in the Oceanic Art galleries and the Japanese Tea Garden next door also. . . 
See Jamie's sketches over on his blog here

On a quick stay in Columbus, Ohio I sketched the facade of the cavernous Book loft on 3rd St in German Village.

Airport drawings are usually so staid and boring I tried to have a bit of fun with them on this trip.

  Over Labor Day weekend we had a day in the sun at the SF Yacht Club (which is actually across the Bay at Tiburon)

Quick sketch of my neighbourhood on the way home from work

'Our Man in the Cabana' Jamie Baker at Trader Vic's Tiki Lounge, Emeryville Marina.

There's a self-portrait of the artist hidden in one of these pics- can you see me?