Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Expression Sheet

Just in case there are those of you who don't have this doc, this is a very often-used scratch sheet of random expressions done in a simple way. I've used this countless times over the years when it came time to add a lil' more character to a design, or just do some expression the one i did below for a show in development at Sony. It's a pretty good file size, so please feel free to download and print.


In Line at Baja Fresh

Among my many favorite sketch sites is Baja Fresh - any Baja Fresh. Such an interesting clientele arrive there.

Caught this guy waiting for his to-go order last weekend...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Samurai Robot

Every now and then I like to combine a couple of often-designed ideas to see what happens. This time around was the combo of the two words you see above - samurai (more specifically, a ronin), and robot. I put 'em in the scribble blender and this is what came out:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Quick Color Study

Another assignment. I love Tyrus Wong's stuff. In case you don't know him, he was one of the lead concept artists on 'Bambi'. He's a master pastel artist, and was instrumental in developing the look for the backgrounds in that film. His work led to further development in the world of BG design throughout the ages, and called on future painters to use color more effectively, as well as composition.

Anyhow, I've developed a love of the art of indication vs. rendering...and I wanted to see if I could do up something that seemed like it belonged to that world. Just a 15-minute study, but I think it's one of the more successful ones.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hot and Cold

Here's another one of my assignments. I attempt to take two opposites and design them out in whatever context I choose. Only other rule is that each concept must have the opposite concept within it.

This time, the topic was 'Hot and Cold'.

I wound up designing two busts of characters, in an attmempt to get more comfy with vector creations. Seein' as how masters like Ragnar are showing us just what can be done with a clean line, I figured i'd try my hand at it.

The top woman is more cold than hot, but her features are appealing and I imagined that she'd be a nice naughty June Cleaver when you get her alone. The bottom one is more literally hot than cold, but her stare and eyeshadow color helped lean the character a lilttle cold.

At least that's how it worked in my head - you decide for yourself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Trick or Treat

Every so often I crack open Flash to just doodle a lil something. Most of my practice stuff gets tossed...but every so often one works out. More to come...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Zoo Watercolors

I like to take a small watercolor set to the LA Zoo every now and then and get down some gestural images. Contrary to asssumption, though, i tend to use a flat one-inch wide brush. I find that this brush makes you choose your images and strokes very carefully, while at the same time forcing you to act quickly and decisively. In the end, working this way has helped me not only see the subject's form and weight better, but also how light and color play off of the animal.

Over time, I'll try to post as many of these as possible, to give you some furthre ideas of not only how I work, but of how an image can be captured in a very short time. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


every so often i like to do my own take on pre-determined characters...i was workin' out some redesigns of man-bat, when i doodled this:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bratz Test

a little over a year ago, i did a test for a spin-off show based on the horrible bratz characters, called 'bratz petz'. yeh, a winner.

i was intrigued, however, because they were pursuing a very kirsten ulve-like style for the show. flat with texture...and an attention to fashion and detail.

the test was to design one 'cool guy' character - line only. so, ever the one to take it a lil' further, i went to town, and submitted five options, and one full-color version. see below.

i got the gig, and was so psyched about it because i'd have the chance to work under the master director, gary hartle (he-man, calamity jane, etc). gary's rep in the industry is legendary among those who've worked under him. several friends and colleagues spoke of him as one of those rare gems.

so i showed up for my first day of work bright and early, ready to roll. i had already done some more kids (figured we'd eventually use 'em as incidentals), when 11:00 rolled around, and i was informed that the show was killed. poof.

gotta love this industry.

anyhow, enjoy the designs:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hot Pants

i have no alibi for where this design came from...but once the doodle was done, i had to finish it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stuart Little 3 Development

back when i was wrappin' up season 5 of jackie chan, i was fortunate enough to do a quick stint on 'stuart little 3', before the man, dave colman, took hold and kicked the crap outta my designs. lesson learned - don't get near his animal designs unless you're prepped for some eye-poppin'.

anyhow, after i saw how he just ruled on that show, i tossed most of my stuff. but a few roughs held on. of course, they completely changed this character in the end...but hey...ars longa.

(that means 'art is long' latin...comes from the old latin saying 'ars longa, vita brevis' - art is long, life is short. gotta love dem classics.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Charlie and the TOY Factory

every now and then, i give myself an assignment - take a known entity (story, play, movie, myth, whatever...) and remix it.

this time around, the victim was 'charlie and the chocolate factory'. i wanted to do some more production design work, so in this incarnation, i decided to envision it as a video game.

in my rendition, charlie is an 18 year-old girl...a scrappy daughter of a poor tinkering inventor. the contest commences when Mr. Roboto ( notifies everyone in the world that inside his latest robotic toys, there are hidden five golden microchips. if you find the lucky chip, you're granted the coordinates for his secret, lost fortress factory. once you arrive, you are challenged to break in, and find the central command center. once you get to the command center, you place your chip inside, and activate the factory. the first person to get to the finish gets to own the factory.

what can i worked in my head.

anyhow, so i was off to drawing some stuff...and here are those that made it:


charlie's sub (couple of versions)

the cockpit of charlie's sub

the approach to Mr. Roboto's iceberg fortress. on its outskirts you'll see giant fiberglass panes that undulated randomly, thus changing the shape of the fortress when seen on radar...making it undetectable.

charlie decides to enter from beneath the she approaches (bottom corner of bottom image), the security system is alerted to her presence.

charlie breaks in (i got so tired of this piece that i just left it unfinished...please accept my apologies for the sub at top-right...please forgive the slackin'...)

the central information center

Mix Master

here's a character for a concept in development...maniac dj...ya know...the basics.

style inspired by the man - jose lopez...though i have a feelin' he'd do it better.

Quickdraw McGraw

waiting at a stoplight, i spotted these two kids yappin' on a corner. i wasn't driving, but i had the sketchbook ready.

but still, don't try this at home.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

10-Min Value Study

every so often, as a warm-up, i give myself 10 minutes to do a value study in p-shop or painter.

most of 'em i toss...this one i kept.

Rejected Viagra Ad Comps

every now and then i like to combine character design with advertising and submit them to the company for which the ads are designed.

i had no delusions that they would print these, of course. but sometimes an idea just has to be done...

Bond Villains

if you're ever hard-pressed for an exercise, just go huntin' through the web for the catalog of james bond villains. such a wonderful resource...

yup...that's a young benicio del toro right there...

This Guy Looks Familiar...

...can't quite place my finger on it...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Tad Bit of Street Cred

one of the notches on my resume is the incredibly fortunate experience i had workin' under jose lopez on jackie chan adventures - season five.

and when i say 'working under'...i'm referring to the distance in talent levels. i was clearly beneath him, and cleaning up and turning his roughs (if you can call 'em that - SUCH a tight line!) was like going to school. i'm still convinced i didn't do his stuff justice. but hey, that's learning.

anyhow, here are a few of the pieces i was allowed to go through with on my own. clearly not as solid as the man, but when paired with my other work, i've been told that they show some range...though i'm open to believing otherwise.

ah, humility - every artist's curse and blessing.

jade gets taken over by the spirit of the frog demon - here's stage two of that.
that's dj fist in commando gear on the left (based on a design JL did for one of the other demons...gotta give props). and drago, in his season five costume. drago, the main villain was originally designed in season four, but i got to redress and slightly adjust his character for s.5.

Random Pin-Up

i don't usually do pin-ups...but this one seemed to work out as a warm-up.

Fat Laces

i've been developing a series of characters based on homies i knew back in the 80s...

this here is Lupe...he used to work at this record store in the valley. he loved kool moe dee.

not much more to say bout that.

here's a closeup...

This doesn't happen often...

i'm not a name-dropper.

i don't take pictures with celebrities unless they ask for one with me in it. that almost never happens.

but every now and then, i have a singular experience that i like to get down on paper.

a while back, i was hired to direct a series of shorts for the u.s. dept. of education on the history of jazz. it was coordinated through the thelonious monk institute of jazz (), and i was to write, design, direct and animate almost the whole thing.

now, when i like to get into a project, i like to know as much as possible about it. i like to become as close to a pseudo-expert as possible. granted, i'm not gonna get a degree in it or learn how to hang with the masters, musically speaking. but i want to be able to hold my own, and walk the walk.

so i asked if it might be possible to meet up with someone at the institute and chat it up a bit...get the scoop on jazz.

the client did me one better - they told me that the shorts would feature the one and only herbie hancock, and that he, wayne shorter, terence blanchard, and t.s. monk (son of thelonious) would all be at the institute one weekend, listening to auditions for the masters program at the institute (housed at USC).

they suggested that after the auditions wrap up, that i might be able to come by and chat it up with these four greats...if i was interested.

WHA?? if i'm INTERESTED?!?

yah, i was there very early. i didn't care that i had to wait outside for a bit...ok...three hours. i had my ipod. i was listening to as much jazz as possible...learnin' how to keep cool and not wet my pants in front of these greats.

anyhow, the auditions wrapped, and i went inside, and just listened for a bit as these cats talked bout their families, they caught up on normal stuff...and then my client introduced me. needless to say, like most artists at the top of their game, they were the nicest gentlemen i'd met in a long time. we talked about jazz and the project for about 90 minutes. i asked them questions, they answered. they suggested ideas for the shorts...references...and even a wonderful similie i found fascinating. i asked them, 'what other non-musical creation is most like jazz?' they thought for a moment, and terence blanchard spoke first: 'Basketball,' he said. the other men called out like it was church and the preacher just told it on the mountain-top. they all chimed in on how jazz is EXACTLY like basketball.

'you all are working toward an end goal, and the way you get there has its rules.' said mr. shorter.

'ah yes, but the way you get from one end of the court to the other is up to you.' added mr. monk.

'yeh...sometimes you get some serious airballs, and, it's just kareem and magic all the way!' mr. hancock exclaimed. he's an LA man...

and mr. blanchard added further, 'yeh, but sometimes' he pointed to mr. hancock 'that man has tossed me a no-look pass on the court and i was lookin' the other way!'

they all erupted with laughter, and i tried to just capture the moment - knowing that the odds of me being in a situation like this was most likely never going to happen again. watching friends, highly-respected colleagues at the top of their games, talking excitedly about the thing they love the most, and how to share that thing with children.

yeh, that was a good day.

and i managed to sketch a couple of doodles, too.

...when the project's done, i'll be sure to post a link to the short.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Vintage Troublemaker

often, i'll take a stab at a random character using a random technique. i've created a list of styles, tools, character ages, and other characteristics, and i'll go through the lists and create an assignment for myself.

for instance, this one broke down like this:

style: flat
tool: illustrator
age: 8
gender: male
other: troublemaker

so i put those into the virtual boggle box, and gave it a shake.

here's what came out:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Starter

...might as well post some artwork, eh?

this one is a painter piece - ironically, it has nothing to do with animation, but i think it shows one side of me. ya know...when you're doin' toons all day long, it's nice to flex some other muscles...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An Introduction

greetings, everyone!

my name is david zweig, and i'm currently employed as a supervising character designer in los angeles.

i believe that there is no need to explain my reasons for beginning this blog, as the medium has proven its worth in our industry, and in the larger artistic community as a whole.

instead, i'll simply present what will hopefully be appreciated as a varied approach to design for entertainment. i work in a variety of mediums and styles, because i've always believed that the more one can do, the more gigs they can get. for the most part, i'll be focusing on character work; but occassionally, i may drop in some of my web, graphic, vis dev, or flash work.

so sit back and enjoy what will hopefully be a methodically schizophrenic series of visual expressions.

...and i promise not to sound that high-falootin' in the future...(jeez...who writes like that?!)