Back in the Swing of Things

After a brief vacation from blogging, I am back! Much has happened since my last post, including some new freelance work.

The first good news is that I am teaching a cartooning class for ages 6-11 at the Department of Cultural Affairs in Savannah. Preparing for this class has been a challenge, but a fun one! I just finished the first round of 6 week classes, and many of the students returned for the second offering of the class.

The second good news is that I had an opportunity to do some illustration work for the Xcel magazine, which should be out soon.

The third good news is that I am currently completing a freelance project for SCAD. It is a unique project and quite complicated to explain, but a quick summary would be that I am providing illustration assistance to the Architecture Department for their Studio Culture Event and Studio Culture Policy. I will be able to post more work in the future with in-depth explanations.

So good news all around! I have been extremely blessed over the last few months and am very thankful for it. At this point, I'm trying to make sure I steward well what the Lord has given me as I gear up for future opportunities! Also, I am striving to keep making personal work even with my freelance commitments to keep pushing myself as an illustrator and designer. I will be posting more personal work here in the near future!

In other news, I have been gaining a lot of great information from Chris Oatley's Podcast, and encourage any creative person to go there and listen in for some great tips.

Until next time, stay classy!

Xcel Strategies

I recently had the opportunity to create some illustrations for Xcel Strategies, a non-profit organization run by Jay Thompson in the Savannah area. One of the main goals of Xcel is to equip young men with purpose and help them accomplish their dreams. In most cases, these young men do not have a father-figure in their life, so Xcel surrounds them with mentors to help them set goals and meet them. The illustrations were created in order to help communicate Xcel's purpose.

Every person has the potential for greatness. In a way, they are like a rocket that is about to take off into space. With a solid foundation, a working guidance system and fuel for the journey, this rocket can reach for the stars.

However, if that rocket doesn't have the proper guidance, it can also become a missile, causing harm and destruction. 

The goal of every rocket is to reach its destination.

It is Xcel's mission to help make that possible.

Practice Paintings

Here are some quick digital sketches I made recently to try out different painting methods. I wouldn't call these finished works, but I am pleased with how they turned out for the time put in.

This painting was completed in an hour or two. I was exploring working 
from light to dark in a painting, similar to a watercolor approach. 
I was also exploring how to  paint a half-lit character. 
It was a fun challenge!

The first painting was done in about 15 minutes from memory.
The second was created from imagination in about 20 minutes.

This painting was completed in about 15 minutes. 
I was trying to capture what I see during my 
night-time drives. 

Posing Practice

After sharing the Olympic sketches I did with some fellow artists, I received valuable feedback about pushing the poses. 

At first, I tried to keep the pose and find ways to accentuate the gesture through cartooning. These were okay, but the problem was the readability of the pose.

To address that, I started from scratch. Here, I am exploring pose options for someone with a bow. I've completely thrown out the old pose and the story with it. If you follow the numbers, you can see my train of thought. Enjoy!

Going for the Gold

Although I've been seeing a lot of traffic about the Olympics like the U.S.A. girl's gymnastic's team, which was amazing, the Olympics often has many powerful stories that don't make it onto prime time television. One of those was archery. Even though it may not have been as spectacular or quick-paced as some of the other sports, it was the quiet moments of tension that made the archery finals so interesting. 

You are shown close-ups of the athletes going through a range of emotions shot after shot as they fight against the other team, the elements and their own nerves. I learned that I don't really watch the Olympics to see how many golds our country can win. What makes the Olympics captivating is the courage and conviction that people manage to pull out when under pressure. I saw this most clearly in Ki Bo-bae's performance during the women's team archery final between South Korea and China.

I was sketching as I watched the final. At one point, I saw Ki Bo-bae go up to take a shot. However, this time, I saw her hit by a wave of pressure as she loaded her bow. She pensively looked at the target, thinking of the shot ahead. Then, she exhaled a sigh of stress and and readied her bow. As it passed in front of her face, I saw the most amazing thing happen. Any pressure, fear, doubt or insecurity wiped from her complexion and there was a serene confidence that could only be born out of years of experience. She let loose her arrow, and the rest is history.

Unknown to me, this was the last shot of the tournament. She was literally shooting for the gold medal, not only for herself but her teammates and her country. Wow. 


One of the last projects I worked on while at SCAD was Vow, a short animation directed by Bridget Underwood. I helped with visual development and was a supervising layout artist on the film. It was a huge honor to work with such talented and delightful people, and I am very happy with how the film turned out.

We were elated and humbled when Vow won many awards at the 2012 SCAD Animation Graduation Show, including Achievement in Character Animation, Achievement in Original Storytelling, Most Entertaining Film, and The Collaboration Prize. To many on the crew, the best reward was viewing it on the big screen next to so many great animations, and being surrounded by our friends and collaborators made it that much sweeter. Seeing months of work and memories flickering on the screen was a culminating experience, especially since it was the finale to our college days.

With that said, grab your popcorn and enjoy the show!

Vow from Bridget Underwood on Vimeo.

The Secret Number

Check out the final version of Colin Levy's award-winning short, The Secret Number, which is finally online. I had the opportunity to do concept art and previsualization in the film's early days. It was a great experience to collaborate with so many talented film students!

You can find more information about the film here.

Gustaff Design Finalized

After many revisions and drafts, Gustaff's character design has finally come together into something I am comfortable with. In small ways, he will change here and there, but I can now move on to the secondary characters in the story. I would say he is about 95% finished at this point, and drawing him in action with other characters will fully round him out. The following images show the last part of his development.

Finally getting the acting I wanted out of his cartooned form, 
I decided to get a few more details in there.

Adding back in that touch of realism put the
 character exactly where I wanted him.

Old man shoes...check!

I decided to do a portrait of Gustaff to finalize his design
and insure that I knew his forms well. Also, it was just plain fun. 

It feels good to have Gustaff looking exactly how I want him to. I learned so much just by spending the time to really work on him. Now, I can move on to the other elements of the story. Things to look forward to are the completed sculpture and new character designs. Also, I will begin exploring the props and environments in greater detail. Check back soon!

Gustaff Look Development: Shapes

Here are the drawings I did of Gustaff right after sculpting in his basic form. Since then, I have been tweaking his design and deciding which details to include and leave out. Compared to previous sketches, Gustaff has lost much of his detail and appears a bit more youthful. This was so that I could distill him down to his most basic form and build on top of that. There are things I like more about his earlier designs, but I can always bring those back.

 This cartoon shorthand of Gustaff makes him useful for animation or comics. 

 These drawings show Gustaff at his most basic. 
From this point, I started to slowly add detail back.

The next stage of drawings will be focused on infusing Gustaff's character with more life. This will include redesigning certain parts of his face and learning more about his character. Check back soon for more process as this character takes form!

Gustaff Look Development: Reactions

Here are the drawings I did of Gustaff right before starting the sculpture. Compared to the early drawings, these have a bit more cartooning to them. These drawings were about clarifying story points and showing how Gustaff reacts to the world around him. More to come soon!

Early Gustaff Concepts

Below are some of my first drawings of Gustaff. These were my initial feelings of what the character should embody. I imagined him as a lanky, animated fellow who has a real charm when talking to people and a total focus while working.

As you can see, these are more detailed and realistic than some of the other drawings I have posted. Since these drawings were made, I have been working to find a nice balance of cartoon and realism in his design to get the most out of his emotions. 

Although I started drawing a newsboy hat on him, I kind of dig the visor.

It is nice to have these early drawings to look back on. They help me keep the initial spirit of the character while I refine his design. In the next post, I will show how the character has developed into more of a cartoon since I started the sculpture of him. See you soon!

Gustaff Maquette

Lately, I have been working on my character design for Gustaff, the repairman in my story. He is a kind, laid-back, yet hard-working gentleman who enjoys his quiet, little repair shop.

Although I like where he is going, I want to make sure I am 100% comfortable with what Gustaff looks like before I commit him to comic book pages. The best way to do this is to sculpt him. Here are some process pictures of a small bust I am making to help me figure out his character:


I begin by creating a metal armature for the head.
Gustaff doesn't do well with metal detectors.

By this point, I have mounted the armature and begun sculpting.

Having added the mass of his torso, I start to build Gustaff's facial features. 

Here is the current state of the sculpt. It is still very-much a work in progress. However, I am already discovering new questions about his design and answering others. My next step will be to redraw him in order to  figure out some of the sculptural details. Then, I will finish the sculpture and finalize his designs. 
(I will be sure to give him ears as well) 

The lower images showcase Gustaff with a placeholder mustache and eyebrows. I can still remove them at any time to refine his face, but they are very helpful for visualizing the final product.


I hope you enjoyed this look into how I design characters. I will be updating the blog with more sketches and process in the near future!

Sneak Peak

Here is a sneak peak at what I'm currently working on. More process and updates to come. Stay tuned!

Also, here's a dog in a chair.

New Project!

Although I have been kept busy with freelance work, I can't help but have other ideas in the process. While I am forced to put them on the back burner, I do try to at least put them down. Here are some concept sketches for a comic, that's right--a comic--I am working on. It's a twelve-pager set in the 1930's that involves a woman bringing a repairman a broken mirror. The script has been written and thumbnails completed, but I am still fiddling around with the character designs. This is a first look at the characters and environments for "Broken" (working title).

These sketches of the characters are very close to what I want. I am still tinkering with small details and proportions. I am even considering sculpting them to make sure I have them fully locked-in. I am considering simplifying them a bit as well.

For a larger project like this, I typically have the idea stewing in my head for a while as I try to finish my mandatory work. As it unwillingly coalesces into what I know it needs to be, I feel the need to draw it but resist because I have other work to do. Then--usually some point around 3 A.M.--I realize I can't avoid drawing it any more. So I get up, click on the light, and let my pencil fly. That is how the following backgrounds were created. I draw quickly and rough, not being overly specific about perspective or details because I am just trying to get my ideas onto the page. Once they are drawn, I can see what I need to refine, and move forward from there.

Antique Store



I will be updating more of this as time goes on. Look for more advanced character studies and refined backgrounds! I'm very excited for this project and glad that I can share it. 

Portrait Study

Since my freelance work keeps me on the computer, I enjoy making a quick traditional drawing for fun every now and then to revitalize me. Then, I can come back to the computer with a fresh perspective and tackle my work. I'm not sure why, but something about using paper and pencil just makes the entire process more enjoyable.

Although this was created from a photograph, I didn't just copy it. Instead, I used the photograph to inform my sketch and emphasized the areas that characterized the person. In drawing, what you leave out is just as important as what you include.

If you can guess who this study was based on, you get 5 bonus points. 

In Aeternam Teaser

Exciting news! If you have been keeping up with this blog, you might remember that I did some concept and storyboard work on "In Aeternam," a short film directed by Stephen Venezia. They finally revealed a teaser for the movie, so check it out here:

April showers work (and when it rains, it pours), but May brings a bloom of updates. Stay tuned!

Web Site

Here is a link to my web site!

I plan to add few more features in the future, but it is ready to be seen. Browse around and let me know what you think.

Life Drawing

While I work on longer projects, I try to get away and keep myself fresh. My favorite way to do this is to draw from life. I'm not thinking of continuity, story or capturing every detail. I am trying to capture the life of a moment in a quick, loose sketch.

To do this, I will sit down and really just soak in the world around me. I don't start drawing until something catches my eye, be it a color, shape, gesture, or movement. Then, after observing it and really assessing what is special about it, I'll put pencil to paper. A big part of this is actually just paying attention to what is happening around me. All too often, we speed through life and rush past beauty in all forms. Taking a moment to appreciate an interesting moment reveals a deeper truth behind the world we live in and points to the beauty of creation.

The coolest part is that every person sees beauty in different areas. While our interests may overlap, your eye will pick up unique things that I would never notice. This is what fosters community in art. Everyone enjoys learning what another person values, and we celebrate a person who can display that visually. That is why we go to art galleries or pause and crane our necks on our tip-toes to see what that kid with the sketchbook is drawing, because we are curious.

I find this type of life drawing much more rewarding than the intense study of light and form. There is a place for that in my work, but doing these sketches more like a quick blurb of life than a thesis paper. Here are a few of my recent life drawings. I hope you enjoy! I would also encourage you to grab a sketch pad and try the same. Remember that it isn't about the drawing, it is about enjoying the moment. 

Web Site: Coming Soon

Hey everyone!

Here is a header image I made for the group blog Scribbled Eggs N Bacon that I am a part of. It is a fun way for several of my friends and I to keep up with each other's work. Feel free to head over and take a look!

In other news, I have been working on my official web site, and it is almost finished. I am fine-tuning the presentation and making sure everything works. Look for the official link in a future blog post. My work is going great, but I still cannot show a majority of what I am working on. I'll do my best to keep updating this blog with sketches and personal pieces that I complete. In the future, look forward to life drawings, comics, and more personal paintings. Thanks for viewing!


Here is a test drawing where I was exploring color and texture. Enjoy!


Hope you are all starting off the morning on the right foot. Here's a sneak peak of more to come. Enjoy!

Exciting News


Today I have some very good news: I just started my first freelance job!
I can't give details right now, but I will update you as soon as I'm allowed. I can say that it will be keeping me busy over the next few months, which I am very thankful for. As one professor I had put it, I'm playing with the big dogs now.

Since it will be a while until I can show work from my projects, I will also be including sketches and experiments in this blog in addition to finished work.

To start it off, here are my latest batch of sketches. Tonight, I messed around in Painter for the first time. Here is what I ended up with. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Iron Sharpens Iron

This personal piece was made for my best friend. May we have many adventures yet!

Change in Pace

Hey everyone!

Now that we are on to storyboarding on In Aeternam, the concepting phase is complete. Here are a few more pieces of concept art for the film. 

As always, thanks for viewing. Unfortunately, a lot of the work I'm doing lately I can't show until I get permission. However, I'll try to update as often as possible with side projects!