Friday, April 27, 2012

3 Free Facebook Timeline Photos...Pt. 2

Seeing as how our first batch of Facebook timeline photos was such an unexpected success, I decided to spare you yet another embarrassing confessional and post a second batch instead.

The pictures are already sized to fit the new Facebook timeline, so all you've gotta do is follow the seven simple steps below and you're done. Eff tech support!

1. Click the photo you’d like to use for your Cover photo
2. Right click the photo and choose “Save Image As…”
3. Go to your Facebook Profile
4. Click “Add A Cover/Change Cover”
5. Choose “Upload Photo…”
6. Click “Browse” and select your Cover
7. Click “Open”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How To Train Your Dragon: Live Spectacular Preview & Clips

Embedded above is the official How To Train Your Dragon: Live Spectacular preview. While I don’t think the stage show will make me tear up like the film did, I do think it’s pretty cool looking and plan to check it out when it comes to my state. What do you think?

Bonus: Click 'Read More' to see a PR-approved interview package and two audience-shot clips of the show.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fan Art Friday

Seriously, folks: I NEED YOUR FAN ART. This make-shift mask is my own creation, an anemic attempt at meeting the minimal requirements of a 'Fan Art Friday' blog post.

So what can I do to get you to contribute? Oh, wait. I know. A CONTEST!

Here's the deal. Everyone who contributes a Croods-related piece of fan art gets put into a drawing to win a signed copy of Croods story artist Louie del Carmen's comic book, Steel Noodles. Drawings, statues, animated gifs, topiaries -- everything is eligible! To enter, simply send me a link to your piece via the comments section of this post.

Das rules: You have 'til May 2, 2012 to enter. Enter as many different pieces as you'd like. All fan art will be used in future Fan Art Friday blog posts. All fan art will be credited to you (or whatever name you wish to use). Let me know if you want me to link back to your website, blog, Tumblr, etc. I can do that, too.


For more info on Louie del Carmen and Steel Noodles, click here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Did You Know...

…that director Chris Sanders was actually working on The Croods before switching over to How To Train Your Dragon? S’true. In fact, Sanders credits his work on HTTYD with helping him to see the true potential in The Croods. Or as Sanders says it:

“I learned what CG was capable of — the lighting, the textures. I went back to Croods with a new vision of what we could do. We could make this world feel absolutely real. I didn’t understand how real it could look until I did Dragon. That was a really beneficial thing to learn.”

I’ll tell you what I learned from watching How To Train Your Dragon (as well as Sanders’ other flick, Lilo & Stitch): It doesn’t matter how photo-realistic or completely cartoony the characters and environments may be. When Chris Sanders makes a movie, I feel “absolutely real” emotions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Croods Crew: Louie del Carmen

Publisher's preface:
Our legal department was unable to verify many of the statements made in this piece prior to its publication. Read at your own risk.
Editor's note:
This blog has neither a legal department nor a publisher. Come to think of it, the "editor" is actually the author. Does that even count?
Author's aside:
In answer to myself, 'No, I don't think it does.' Still, if the person reading this has gotten this far, they clearly don't give a damn about journalistic integrity, authorial intent, or any of that other stuff I heard mentioned in the final season of The Wire. Gosh, I miss Omar.

Louie del Carmen currently resides in a bomb-proof bunker buried 6 miles beneath Glendale, CA. As one of the elite 'story artists' working on The Croods, DreamWorks deemed it prudent to
protect del Carmen and his co-workers until the film's completion. But were you to somehow sneak past the 'No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Cruelly Caricatured' signs at the bunker's entrance, through the immense steel and concrete blast doors painted to look like a winding desert road (√† la The Road Runner and Coyote), and down the rapidly rusting air duct providing del Carmen and co. with whatever air they're presumably still breathing, what you'd see would astound you. Lit by a bank of flickering fluorescents, a crack team of today's top story artists sit in front of supervillain-sized computers, tirelessly plying their trade. Animation. Layout. Backgrounds. Design. You name it, they do it. All in the service of the schizophrenic assembling and re-assembling of The Croods’ storyboards.

Storyboards, according to the neo know-it-alls at Wikipedia, are "illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture." One fictitious former animator began to twitch nervously as he described storyboards as "the whole f**king film sketched out like one long comic strip, haphazardly hung on post-it notes and bulletin boards stretching the length of whatever wall space we're allowed -- and then some. Try and imagine an anthropomorphic manifesto as drawn by Ted Kaczynski. Only, instead of being stuck to the padded walls of an insane asylum with human feces, it's thumb-tacked obsessive-compulsively along the corridors and conference rooms of a multibillion dollar film studio."

Walt Disney, far too much of a gentleman to drop f-bombs or fecal references in the presence of Minnie Mouse, described storyboarding this way: "Instead of writing your story, you [...] present the entire idea with sketches, with a few notes below each sketch to explain the action. This [is] an ideal way to present your story because it then shows the visualized possibilities, rather than a lot of words, explaining things that [...] turn out to be impossible to put over in action."

Why, even Croods crewman Louie del Carmen has pontificated on the process, proclaiming: "The objective is to make your drawings clearly emphasize the intent of the scene. And that means having to re-work things over and over until you do. There’s also a lot of meetings and brainstorming. It’s a very collaborative process and very challenging but, in the story process one is always trying to achieve that balance of pushing your personal ideas to work with the collective."

(I should've just jumped right to Disney and del Carmen's descriptions, eh? Oh, well. Too late. Now it's onto a bare-bones, barely there biography of Louie del Carmen.)


Louie del Carmen was born in the Philippines in 1967. Inspired by his "two talented older brothers" and fueled by an "overactive imagination," del Carmen discovered his love of drawing at a very young age. Upon graduating from U.S.T. (in Manila) with an Associate's Degree in Commercial Art, he and his brothers headed to the U.S.A. (in North America) to find their fortunes.

Landing in Los Angeles, del Carmen carefully considered his options. It was 1989. He could either be a starving artist or an IBM executive. del Carmen dutifully dropped his doodling for a career in computer technology. This meant more schooling. "But I was 21 and was really done being a student at that point," del Carmen recalls. "So I kind of floundered around for a few years." Ah, but an artist's true calling cannot be ignored. And while del Carmen was "floundering," his brothers were finding financial success in the animation industry. This inspired del Carmen to pick up his pens and pencils once more. He began taking classes at the Animation Guild. He put together a new portfolio. The prodigal brother had returned!

del Carmen landed his first job in animation in 1995 as a character designer for Nickelodeon's Aaah! Real Monsters. He spent the next 13 years serving in the trenches of TV animation, working on such shows as Kim Possible, Invader Zim and Lilo & Stitch. In 2007, del Carmen made the leap to feature films, joining the story crew at DreamWorks. Since then, he's provided storyboards for Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rise of the Guardians and The Croods -- and made gazillions of dollars doing so.

The end?

Hells no!

In addition to his work in animation, del Carmen has also been busy creating comics. In February '06 he released his first book, Random Anomalies, a collection of "editorial style vignettes about relativity, synchronicity and fate." That same year, he dropped a science fiction-themed sketchbook, The Wayward Traveller: Snapshots from Alternate Worlds. This was followed up almost immediately with 2007's Steel Noodles: A Slice of Heaven, a twelve page teaser for del Carmen's current comic book, the mostly silent sci-fi series, Steel Noodles.

Steel Noodles #1, which blends the best bits of Lawrence of Arabia, Alice In Wonderland and Mad Max to make one hell of an extended character introduction, is currently available at Stuart Ng Books. ($10 for a signed copy! Tell 'em I sent ya. They'll act like they don't know who you're talking about, but that's just a li'l game we play.)


"Instincts and training go hand in hand. You spend years developing your craft so it can help you make better choices. Hopefully you can reach a point where that little voice that tells you whether or not to add another line or use a certain color is right most of the time."

"Being an artist is a FULL TIME proposition. There was a point after getting started in animation where I treated it more like a job. At the end of each work day I goofed around and stopped being an artist until I went back to work the next day. Then one day it dawned on me that other artists where moving forward and their art was getting better. Even though I was doing a good job designing characters, I was one-dimensional and my artistic range was limited. So I embarked on an initiative to become the best artist I could be. That process still continues to this day and which, will probably never end. Being an artist is a twenty-four seven proposition which requires a personal commitment of education and practice. Instead of merely applying my love of drawing to my job, it has become all encompassing. There is so much to discover if one is willing to commit to it. This is the only way to know who you are as an artist and where you stand artistically in a universe of artists."


del Carmen has a website, and you can access it here.

Dude also tweets a lot, which you can eavesdrop on here.

A nice, long interview with del Carmen can be found here.

An even longer, five-part video interview with del Carmen can be watched here.

To view a sequence from Kim Possible that was storyboarded by del Carmen, click here.

Galleries of del Carmen's personal and professional art can be viewed here, here and here.

All artwork in this post is Louie del Carmen's. Here's hoping he doesn't sue.

Related: Croods Crew profiles of Jamaal Bradley and Christophe Lautrette

Friday, April 6, 2012

6 Strange Gifts for the Chris Sanders Fan Who Has (Almost) Everything

You only have TWO MORE SHOPPING DAYS 'TIL EASTER, and the person you're buying for has allergies to chocolate and a prejudice against Peeps. Whatever will you do? Well, if they regularly visit this blog (or even if they just use it as a SFW screensaver to hide their porn while you walk through the room), there's a good chance that they're a fan of Chris Sanders' work. If that's the case, I've got the answer to your last-minute shopping situation. The six items shown below are not only Sanders-related, they're pretty much guaranteed to be the type of movie tie-ins that even the most avid fan will have missed.

Hope this helps!

Stitch "Personal Massager"
You name a cute cartoon character, I guarantee you that the Japanese have made it into a vibrator. Personally, I find it quite touching. (No pun intended.) But while The Land of the Rising Sun has no problem promoting items aimed at areas where the sun don't shine, the rest of the world prudishly prefers that I label this a "personal massager." Available here.

A Gronkle Cake
If I learned one thing from my step-mother's eating disorder, it was that food = affection. This delightful dessert would've been worth two years of unspoken I love yous. Inspiration can be found here.

Stitch CD Player
Most of the online reviews for this thing describe it as hideous, but frankly, I find it one of the more inspired tie-ins from the film. Super cute: The teeth double as the controls! If you can navigate the site, it's supposedly available here.

Hiccup's Helmet
(a.k.a. Half of Hiccup's Mother's Breastplate)

Wear one as a hat, or buy two and boost your bust. Blending viking fashion and Oedipal undertones, it's the missing link between Greek and Norse mythology that scholars have been searching for. Available here.

Stitch USB Desktop Humidifier
Is pumping clouds of cool steam into the air around your computer really a good idea? I doubt it. Still, there's no denying that this will inspire countless conversations with curious co-workers. Once upon a time it was available here.

Stitch TV
Someday soon I'm going to wake up and realize that the life I'm living right now has been nothing more than a dream. When that happens, there's really only three things that I think I'll miss: My gal Mishka, Marc Maron's WTF podcast, and the chance to have owned this too-cool-to-be-true TV. Again, if you can figure out the website, it's supposed to be available here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

We Have A Winner!

feathercanvas: words can’t describe how happy I am!!!!

Congratulations, feathercanvas! Hang it with pride.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An In-Depth Look at the Painstaking Sketch Process of a Natural Born Cartoonist

You know that autographed Chris Sanders print that we're giving away on Friday? The one that prompted you to 'follow' this blog when you would've otherwise ignored it in favor of Cartoon Brew? You know, the one with the coven of cutie-pie witches riding a broomstick in front of a black raspberry and vanilla sky? (Hint: It's located less than an inch below this sentence.)

You do know it?

Well, before it looked like this:

It started as this:

You don't believe me do you? You're thinking, Chris Sanders is a cartoon genius. Dude doesn't need to make a first or second (or fifteenth!) draft of a drawing to get it right. He simply puts pen to paper and with a few quick flicks of his wrist - voilà! - a mini Mona Lisa. I'll admit, I thought so, too. I'd seen enough scans of Sanders' off-the-cuff convention sketches to convince me that the guy was a perfect picture making machine. Heck, I probably even took some solace in this misconception, using it as an excuse for why I'm not currently writing and directing big budget animated movies that make adults cry like babies and babies laugh like lunatics. After all, if you blindly believe the myth that great artists are born great, it makes it a helluva lot easier to quit slaving away at your own art form of choice. I mean, why bother trying to hone your craft when some folks are just naturally gifted, right?

On the other hand, actually acknowledging the WORK that grandmasters like Chris Sanders put into their art can be an even greater blow to one's ego. It implies that while the grandmasters may be a bit more 'artistically inclined' than you or I, they've also worked much harder than us, put in waaay more hours of practice than us, and quite possibly love the art form more wholeheartedly than we do.

Cheery, huh?

That said, recognizing an admired artist's struggles and stamina can also have positive, possibly mind-altering side-effects. For one thing, you'll view your artistic heroes as kindred spirits rather than infallible gods. The elevated, often otherworldly quality of their work will seem inspirational instead of daunting or unattainable. Seeing their scribbles and false-starts will instill in you the illogical (yet wholly necessary) belief that 'if they can do it, so can I.' Most importantly, it will motivate you to WORK HARDER. After all, if Chris Sanders is ready to repeatedly rework a sketch before he's satisfied, shouldn't you and I be prepared to do the same...only more so?

(Hint: The correct answer is a humbly hollered, 'AMEN!')

Now that that sanctimonious little sermon is out of the way, allow me to link you to the step-by-step creation of the 'Three Witches' print that I promised in this post's title. It's located in the anthropomorphic Eden that is Chris Sanders' deviantArt page, right here.

(Oh, and if you still haven't entered to win the 'Three Witches' print, click here.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Maps to the Stars' Blogs

Do you long to stalk contact the Croods crew, but find yourself being repeatedly red-flagged by DreamWorks security? THE SOLUTION IS SIMPLE! Using nothing more than your home computer and an 'internet connection,' you can INSTANTLY rub shoulders with the animation elite.

Q: Found a minor continuity mistake in Lilo & Stitch?
A: Send Chris Sanders an 'electronic letter' and let him know! He's EAGERLY AWAITING your petty gripes about his otherwise flawless film.

Q: Got a great idea for a hilarious hair gag that should've been used in Tangled?
A: 'E-mail' is the answer! All it takes is a couple of coarsely worded missives to Jamaal Bradley and he'll PERSONALLY animate ALL of your ideas, adding them to the film just as soon as time-travel becomes more readily available.

With the wonderful world of 'website surfing' only an AOL account away, this is a magical time to be a film fan with no real sense of personal or professional boundaries! Listed below are twelve enticing 'links' to the 'weblogs' of some of The Croods' most powerful personnel. Isn't it time you dropped by unexpectedly to say 'LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME'?

Links to the Stars:

Arthur Fong
Benjamin Venancie
Chris Sanders
Christophe Lautrette
Jamaal Bradley
Jason Scheier
Jennifer Harlow
Leighton Hickman
Louie del Carmen
Nicolas Weis
Simon Rodgers
Steven MacLeod

P.S. Whatever you do, DON'T tell 'em I sent ya. There's this pesky, old-fashioned, pre-electronic era thing called 'restraining orders' that I don't want to bore you with...