Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Transformers Prime

Here's a little more artwork from Transformers Prime. The best CG animated show on television...of course I'm not being entirely biased since the show has won seven Emmy Awards in just the first two seasons! Not many action adventure shows can boast accolades like that...actually none! Although the series is officially complete with the final episode having aired earlier this year, we still are eligible to win further honors for this year's third and final season.

This diagram explains many of the initial design needs for the Autobot headquarters interior. The use of Sketchup throughout the production was an invaluable tool that made everything easier for designers, storyboard artists and our partners in Japan...Polygon, easily the best CG TV animation studio in the industry!

Overall view of the Autobot HQ

Technical diagrams for the Autobot HQ set. 

Details for the sets were sometimes easier to do as isolated drawings to avoid burdening the Sketchup file with too much data.

All the monitor graphics, whether they were in the Autobot HQ, in any Decepticon facility, in the Mech hideouts or even in the military installations were designed specifically for the shows by background designer Marcelo Bonifacio. This is just one example of the hundreds done for the show.

View of the Autobot HQ from the ground bridge.

With amazing lighting during the scene when Raf is saved, you are reminded what a beautiful looking show this really is.

Most importantly, the believable sets grounded the show for the awesome character designs provided by the ridiculously talented Jose Lopez.

The Autobot headquarters was originally located in the base of a hydroelectric power plant, but it had to be changed to avoid any similarities with the feature films. Consequently we relocated the headquarters into an abandoned secret military silo base located inside a desert mesa.

I distinctly remember Polygon stating that they were very confident about modeling their architectural sets but in fact were a little nervous about the treatment and modeling of natural environments. I think they kicked that challenge in the ass...

Yet another example of an absurdly awesome natural environment.

Creating the city of Jasper was an exercise in making the mundane interesting. This is achieved by recognizing proper scale and proportion while paying attention to the everyday details.

Stepping into city planner mode, we designed a section of a small town with actual city zoning that makes sense. From street level views, stuff like this helps make the set feel authentic.

Designing Decepticon architecture was fun and challenging. Where the challenge of making Earth based designs register as believable, the Decepticon architecture had to feel menacing and alien without feeling too fantastic and ridiculous. This first concept sketch was modified to feel less ornamental.

The Decpticon tower on Earth

Concept sketch for a section of a renewed Cybertron. Unfortunately this design got a little lost in translation...

The Nemesis glides through the atmosphere above Earth...this really doesn't look like a Saturday morning cartoon to me.

These technical diagrams illustrate the design details for the interior of Unicron. It's a complex looking space, but simplified once again through the use of Sketchup. Jason Park did a wonderful job articulating this concept and it's no wonder that he also won an Emmy this year for his outstanding work on the show. 

The interior of Unicron's artery. I'm really proud of this space. The concept was to create a space that reads both organic and mechanical. I think we achieved this quite well.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Transformers Prime

When we started production on this CG animated series over two years ago, we always set our sights on putting together a show that would set a new standard for TV animation quality. If you haven't seen the series, please check it out in HD. The first season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. I know I may be a little biased, but every aspect of the show, from the writing, voice acting, designs, animation to the soundtrack is so stellar. The show impressed enough in the industry last year to earn two Daytime Emmy awards for outstanding individual achievement in animation for background design (me) and color design (Christophe Vacher).

Anyway here are a couple of early production designs I generated for the first season.

Cybertron after the civil war

The Autobot headquarters. A very complex set that turned out really well. I was hoping that Hasbro would make a toy playset out of this...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse:

These designs were done for one of the five DC direct to videos that I contributed to while at Warner Brothers.

Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

I've always felt that the interior of Superman's Fortress of Solitude should feel more like a place of sanctuary as well as reflect more of his Kryptonian technology. Maybe you'll disagree, but having a space dominated by giant angular crystals isn't my idea of the ideal place for retreat and relaxation.

Darkseid's fortress.

The open air battle arena on Apokolips.

One view of Wonder Woman's paradise homeland island.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

I only worked at Warner Brothers for a year, but had the opportunity to work on projects that involved my childhood comic book heroes. A lot of fun...

In my initial sketch at the top left, the interior of the Crime Syndicate headquarters lab originally started out as a vertical space with all the equipment located at the top of this space. I thought it would be cool to have the larger elements suspended from the ceiling, allowing the showdown battle between the Justice League and Crime Syndicate to happen below and above the platforms. However, in the design review process Bruce Timm suggested we flop the design 180 degrees and open the staging area for the non flying super heroes. All subsequent revisions were a result of script issues.

This typical corridor in the Crime Syndicate headquarters is an example of an uneventful space that becomes interesting only by utilizing strong shapes and avoiding tunnel vision. I liked how the background framed the very awesome character designs by Emmy award winning Phil Bourassa.

A high security vault. Simple strong shapes help create visual interest.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jackie Chan Adventures

The TV Animation industry is a pretty small community. And anyone who works in this industry will tell you that it's filled with a lot of characters funnier than the ones that we make cartoons about. At some point you'll inevitably end up working with the same people on another production. I worked on Jackie Chan Adventures in 2003 and currently find myself working on Transformers Prime with a few of the same people you might see below.

Some of the crew members on Jackie Chan Adventures included, Dave Hartman, Therese Trujillo, Jose Lopez, Jeff Kline and Duane Capizzi.

Halloween store from episode 406. Design guidelines for the background style include:
• A controlled freehand line
• No texture
• Maintain proper rules of perspective
• Minimize detail and emphasize shape
• No variation in line width
• Combine shapes as elements recede into the background
• Controlled compositions manages the color that is applied in unregistered blocks of color, creating graphic backgrounds that read casual without being chaotic.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Boondocks...

I worked on this series for two seasons before preproduction went overseas. Still outrageous and still in production.

In early development for the first season, it was planned that Huey would spend a lot of time reflecting under an old oak tree overlooking the city. As it turned out, this background really wasn't written into the scripts that often.

Exterior of Uncle Ruckus' humble abode.

Personally I think designing residential backgrounds is one of the most challenging things to do in animation background design. It may seem pretty straight forward, however everything easily becomes a target for scrutiny because everybody is inherently familiar with correct residential proportions and even details. The above is a close up detail of the Freeman family home driveway.

A typical street view of the fictitious city of Woodcrest. Anybody familiar with this show knows that this idealized suburb is intended to provide a stark contrast to the street wise Huey, Riley and friends. The Freeman house can be seen in the background beyond the tree.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More recently, The Spectacular Spiderman...

With cool character designs by Sean Galloway and great scripts, I think this was the best interpretation of Spiderman to date.

These are very early background designs generated during development. Again, because this is an action adventure show, and Spiderman does interact with the environment; perspective and scale once again become a major consideration. But to soften the look, the overall envelope of shapes will adhere to the correct vanishing points, but incidental details will be less rigid. These color passes are also my effort to introduce a simpler, more graphic background.

Green Goblin battles Spiderman here...

Venom and Spiderman showdown...

Regardless whether I'm working in traditional or CG animation, I will create a floor plan to help me design, help the story board artist visualize and help explain designs to our animation studios overseas.

Cityscape style guide