Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Best Croods Poster Yet!

Wow, what a poster! Chock full of colorful critters, saturated scenery and more bare feet than Quentin Tarantino's fetishistic filmography, this one is a Thanksgiving feast for the eyes. While I'm planning to let you soak this one in without too much of my alliterate interference, if you'll indulge me for just a minute more, I'd like to share the first five things that hit me as extra-amazing about this image.

1. The saber-tooth tiger actually has the humungous head that it had in Chris Sanders' Comic-Con poster! A small stylistic touch to be sure, but one that I'm delighted made it into the finished film.

2. The Crood's clothes seem to reflect their "animal inspirations." Remember how in last month's Entertainment Weekly piece, co-director Kirk de Micco described Gran as a "ferocious, almost crocodile-type woman"? Well, look at the crocodile-type skin she's wearing here. Again, a small stylistic touch, but one that adds a li'l bit more character to each...well, character.

3. The colors. Look at the foliage. Look at that fur! What the Toy Story films were to primary colors, The Croods seems to be to every saturated shade of the spectrum. I also love the way the background is shown as slightly blurred by mist and clouds. One of my favorite things about Chris Sanders' first film, Lilo & Stitch, were the gorgeous watercolor backgrounds. This poster captures something similarly beautiful.

4. The critters. As a little kid with far too much time and scrap paper on his hands, I used to try and draw every character from every movie, cartoon, comic book, and TV show that I adored. I was like one of those ancient Biblical scribes who made it their mission to copy the entire Bible by hand. Only, in my case, my spiritual calling was to draw the entire junkyard gang from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. If I'd had access to this poster back then? Yikes. Drawing all of the animal amalgams on this poster would've kept me busy for WEEKS. Not only that, I'd have had the youngest documented case of wrist arthritis ever.

5. The release date. I've know that the film was coming out on March 22 for quite some time. Still, seeing it printed on this poster makes it that much more real. Oh, and did I mention that my birthday is in March? HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ME!

Related: The first three Croods posters 1, 2, 3

One last thing, courtesy of Commenter Bob:
"There is not much there, but the web site for the movie is now up."

New Cover Art for The Art of The Croods (DROOL)

Croods visual designer, Arthur Fong, is quickly becoming this blog's go-to guy for new info and artwork. In the past few months, Fong has dropped bite-sized news nuggets about the limited edition poster he did with Chris Sanders, a progress report from the visual design department, and the first official quote as to the trailer's release date. Now Fong is back with yet ANOTHER tasty bit o' eye-candy:

The cover art he created for The Art of The Croods.

Featuring at least one brand new critter and a much clearer look at the Crood clan's faces, this is one of those images that makes a Croods-cravin' cretin like me salivate all over my already spittle-soaked keyboard. (Ew! Just typing that made me want to swap laptops with my girlfriend. Okay, done. But, shhh -- don't tell her. While she accepts certain bodily fluids as an unavoidable part of our enduring entanglement, touchpads dripping with drool are still a definite no-no.)


Correct me if I'm wrong, but those adorable Stitch-shaped critters (in the top left corner) are a new addition to the Croods menagerie, aren't they? And I LOVE how the prairie dog-dogs and elephant-mice from the third poster are drawn here. Too cute! As for the humans, this is my favorite version of Emma Stone's character, Eep, thus far, and Cloris Leachman's Gran looks like the misunderstood villain from some unproduced Rankin-Bass caveman Christmas special.

Astute (an/or borderline obsessive) fans will have already sussed out the small section of the plot portrayed in this picture. For the rest of you (i.e. the healthy ones), allow me to quote Entertainment Weekly's re-cap of the Croods footage screened at Comic-Con:

The [film] starts out with a distinctly Brave-like feel, featuring the eldest, unnamed daughter escaping her cave to scale a sheer cliff face. Then after her family’s cave is ruined, the dusty, monochromatic world of the Croods explodes into a wildly lush and dangerous landscape filled with giant animals and vibrantly colorful plant life.

You see what Fong did here? He summed up a paragraph's worth of plot with one sumptuous image. Slick.

HEY, DREAMWORKS! Care for some unsolicited advice from an untested amateur? This image would make the IDEAL teaser poster to hang in theaters this winter. Simply swap out Fong's paintings for the 'on-model' CG characters, add a few more critters (like, say, the amazingly awesome saber-tooth tiger), and then blow this sucker up to 27" x 40". AUDIENCES WOULD BE IN AWE. Interest in the film would skyrocket. John Lasseter would panic and green-light Cars 3. And the only downside? (Well, other than a Cars 3?) The large puddles of saliva on the lobby floor.

You can pre-order The Art of The Croods here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Croods Merch: Theatrical Freebies

While scanning Google images, looking for new Croods stuff, I happened upon this batch of Croods-themed movie theater merch. While a butter-stained popcorn bag will be hard to justify bringing home, I’d suffer a little stickiness for those soda cup-toppers.

For more info (and a look at movie theater merch for Frankenweenie, Rise of the Guardians, and many, many more) visit Snapco's website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Commenter Bob Proclaims, "The Trailer Is Nigh!"

Commenter Bob, the most valuable investigative resource this blogger has found since Google, has done it again. Through an unusual bit of online investigating, Bob has discovered that not only is the first trailer for The Croods coming, it's COMING SOON!

Commenter Bob's first big break (in what I'm opting to call 'the case') came in a blog post from Croods visual development artist, Arthur Fong. While announcing the good news that he had been chosen as the cover artist for the upcoming The Art of The Croods book, Fong dropped this ten word tease regarding the teaser:

"Keep an eye out for the trailer coming in October."

Ah-ha! You see that? A clue. And the game was afoot...

Like a bloodhound who had just caught the scent, Commenter Bob was off, Googling god-knows-what in order to find THIS:

A list of upcoming film trailers approved by ratings bureau of Alberta, Canada.

Random, right? But there it is, listed right at the top. Dated September 24, rated G, and with a running time of 2 minutes and 15 seconds: The trailer for The Croods. This is what the impossibly attractive TV detectives refer to as "pretty damning evidence," and it's all due to the irrepressible instincts and investigations of one Commenter Bob.

The trailer IS nigh!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chris Sanders Shares A New Croods Sketch...

...that he drew for a dinner invitation...

...based on an unused storyboard idea.


Around here, this sort of thing regularly passes as news!

For the full story, click here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Croods Blog Rule #1: Whenever You Don't Have Anything Halfway Interesting To Say, Post Some Chris Sanders Art

The fuzzy, gray drawings that you’re destroying your eyes trying to see are CHRIS SANDERS’ PENCIL SKETCHES of the lead characters and lovable critters from The Croods. Do you remember that limited edition Croods poster that DreamWorks was handing out at Comic-Con? These sketches were the background doodles on that.

I don’t know about you, but ogling this artwork makes me wanna go out and buy a tent, some Lunchables, and head on down to Grauman's Chinese Theatre to start a line for The Croods.

Realistically, though, the most I’ll end up doing is building a blanket fort in my living room, opening up a box of ice cream sandwiches, and watching Lilo & Stitch for the umpteenth time with my gal, Mishka.

(Wait, didn’t Jay-Z once describe ‘Big Pimping’ the very same way?)

An EXTRA-SPECIAL THANKS to Daniel Chun for sending me a copy of the Comic-Con poster (thereby making this entire post possible). I had two secret wishes when I started this Tumblr. You made one of ‘em come true.

Croods Crew: Jennifer Harlow

(Note: The following boldface quotes come from Animation Insider's exhaustive interview with Jennifer Harlow. It's a treasure trove of talking points, and you could probably save yourself a lot of eye strain and alliteration by simply skipping the rest of this blog post and heading over there. That said, DON'T YOU EVEN CONSIDER CLICKING AWAY! This blog is like Spanish Fly when it comes to water cooler conversation. You miss even a DAY of it, and you risk living your life lonely and unloved. Consider yourself warned.)

Most of us aren't foolish enough to believe that we could be the next Chris Sanders or Kirk De Micco -- superstar directors with big budget productions, signature art styles, and multiple deviantART fan clubs. Yet most of us ARE delusional enough to think that we could someday see our names in the long list of credits at the end of our favorite animated films. Sadly -- statistically -- this is also pretty unlikely. BUT THERE'S HOPE. Take DreamWorks animator Jennifer Harlow. Harlow whiles away her days animating anthropomorphic animals in front of fat-ass flat-screens at one of Hollywood's hottest animation studios. Homegirl is LIVING THE DREAM, and all she had to do was locate that ever-elusive, near-mythical, possibly metaphorical secret to 'breaking into the biz.'

And do you know what that secret is?

Me either.

But I think I know where we can find it. Using nothing but this cut-and-paste profile piece, we can retrace the steps that took Ms. Harlow from crayon-carrying scamp to up-and-coming animator. Using her unique journey as our template, we'll chart an obstacle-free, can't lose career path for all aspiring animators (and beleaguered bloggers) to follow. The good life is within reach. We're gonna be rich!


So where do we begin? A noted English thespian was once quoted as singing, "Let's start at the very beginning; a very good place to start." Sounds sensible to me. In this case, let's start with Harlow's childhood. What makes a seemingly normal child decide to devote her life to the aberrant art form of animation?

Jennifer Harlow: I always drew as a kid, even before I can really remember. My Mom likes to tell this story about how she found me in the living room drawing with a big red crayon on the white carpet right in front of the fireplace. Instead of getting mad at me, she saw how proud I was of my piece and just made sure to keep a giant supply of paper in front of me. All family road trips usually involved me in the back seat drawing up a storm, even at the risk of making myself extremely carsick. I also loved to watch cartoons. My brother and I would always tune in for our favorite Warner Brothers and Disney shorts on Saturday mornings (big fan of any Chuck Jones short). We also enjoyed the classic Disney feature films as well.

However, I never thought of a career in animation or even art in general. For the longest time I wanted to be a veterinarian. [...] I even spent a few years between middle-school and high school volunteering at a couple clinics, attending surgeries, etc. At 15 though, my interest started to fade, a lot of a vet’s schedule was spent spaying, neutering, or having putting a beloved family’s pet to sleep. I eventually decided to pursue my other interest, drawing.

Well, seeing as how Harlow's career choices were either killing cats or animating them, it's easy to see why she'd choose 'toons. (It's reassuring, too. It's proof positive that she's not a psychopath!) Now let's take a look at Harlow's education. What sort of schooling is required of a career cartoonist?

J.H.: I left high school early to continue my education at Rogue Community College and later, Southern Oregon University where I was able to take life-drawing classes and build up my portfolio to apply to CalArts.

To re-cap: Drop out of high school. Sketch some naughty bits. Get accepted into the same school that taught most of America's animation elite. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3!

J.H.: I was rejected [by CalArts] on my first try... 

Wait, what?

J.H.: ...but was accepted on round two.

Correction. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4.

J.H.: Once at CalArts, it was literally 24/7 animation boot-camp for 3.5 years. I animated with both 2D and 3D tools during my attendance, and had a blast—even during the rough days when a Maya file would corrupt losing hours of work, or having an especially bad drawing day. I learned so much throughout the good and tougher times and met so many wonderful people that were there by my side during the heat of crunch-time, overall it was an absolutely amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. During my third year, I completed my film called, “Bothered Bot” that led to the exciting opportunity to be a part of a summer internship at Pixar. I had a wonderful, and intense 11 weeks there where I learned so much! I returned to CalArts, where I graduated in December 2010, and in January 2011, I started working at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale.

So becoming an animator takes time, perseverance and a lot of hard work, huh?  You know, I think euthanizing small animals provides an important service to the community. And while I hate seeing puppies limp or kitties cry, I'm not that comfortable with rejection or rigorous work schedules, either.

But maybe the workload relaxes a little once you're one of the Katzenberg's kids?

J.H.: I usually arrive to work by 8:30 a.m, grab a little breakfast from the commissary, and head up to my desk. I start animating by 9 a.m. and continue working until 11:30 when I join my co-worker buddies for lunch. Lunch usually wraps up by 12:30 and I’m back at my desk animating until about 6 pm. Depending on how my shot is coming along, my day could be spent entirely at my desk or spending more of my time meeting with supervisors and attending dailies/various meetings that might pop-up during the day.

I work on DreamWorks’ proprietary animation software. But also use pencil and paper to plan out an idea. At CalArts, I worked with Maya, but also After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, and of course pencil and paper.

Seriously, Jen, you're doing a terrible job of making this sound like an easily attainable, cushy-soft dream job.

You know what? I'm gonna go ahead and paste the next quote from Harlow's interview with Animation Insider a.s.a.p. In it, she shares some of the high points of the job.

J.H.: Early days on a shot are usually the most fun, when the sky is the limit. It’s always exciting getting to brainstorm the best way to convey the directors’ vision, and using a variety of methods to plan out the best way to communicate the goal in a shot. When I’m just starting a shot, I definitely spend time planning out the actions, whether thumbnailing it out on paper, pulling online reference, or shooting my own reference—those early stages on a shot usually take a good amount of time before I start moving a character around. It’s extremely nerve wracking showing my shot for the very first time and hoping that I hit the right nerve and meet everyone’s expectations, but the reward of getting that reaction whether it’s one person or 30 is a great feeling.

Ah, a feeling of personal success and the praise of others. I'm totally cool with that! Now, quickly, before I accidentally remember how much time and effort it took Harlow to get to where she is, let's close this thing out with some words of advice that she shared with Animation Insider.

J.H.: The best advice I can think of is to pursue what you truly enjoy doing and to not get discouraged along the way. Just because one door closes, doesn’t mean another one won’t open. The industry is very challenging and getting accepted into a school (CalArts or otherwise), is just the first step and definitely doesn’t mean you’re set for life. I’m always pushing myself to work harder, and those whose work I admire the most, all seem to do the same thing of constantly pushing themselves. I’m always learning a new technique or how to avoid making a mistake again. It’s a hard field of work, but I really enjoy it.

There's that damned w-word again. Oh, well. Here kitty-kitty...


Jennifer Harlow has not one, but TWO blogs featuring her art. The first one, Jen's Animation Blog, details her life while attending CalArts. It's full of old sketches, animation tests, personal anecdotes and a glimpse at her summer internship at Pixar. The second blog, Sketchy Observations, is her current outlet for internet self-expression. This blog has lots of new sketches, with a heavy emphasis on the most deadly tool in her artistic arsenal: caricature. Simultaneously goofy and grotesque, Harlow's caricatures would've made the original MAD Magazine crew proud. Take a look at the five examples I included below. They're simply seething with personality.

One last word of thanks to Animation Insider for not bad-mouthing me up and down the internet for all of the quotes that I "borrowed" for this post. I linked to you four times (five!) in an effort to make amends, but in all honesty, a link from me is sorta like that whole 'if a tree falls in the woods' thing. I should've probably given you some sort of co-writing credit, but really, you don't want to sully your resume with the likes of this blog, do you? Anyway, keep up the great work. I'll click on your banner ads daily!

Croods Crew: Jamaal Bradley
Croods Crew: Louis del Carmen
Croods Crew: Christophe Lautrette

All art and photos used in this post are property of Jennifer Harlow. Here's hoping she's not the litigious type.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fan Art Friday

Today's fan art is from Alex D. It's his version of the bunny/bat hybrid from the limited edition Croods print that Chris Sanders was giving away at Comic-Con. Nicely done, Alex. That smile is adorable!

Related: Every Other Fan Art Friday

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How To Torture A How To Train Your Dragon Fan
(in six sadistic steps)

1. Inform them of the release date for the previously announced How To Train Your Dragon 2 -- June 20, 2014.

2. Wait patiently while they b*tch and moan about the TWO LONG YEARS they're gonna have to endure, and how every second of every day between now and June 20, 2014 is just another opportunity for Death to swoop in and take them to the sweet hereafter before they ever get a chance to see the sequel that they've already waited far too long for.

3. Then, just as they're beginning to come to terms with the wait, let 'em know that there's a How To Train Your Dragon PART THREE in the pipeline.

4. As soon as a smile starts to crease their tear-stained cheeks, tell 'em, "Oh, yeah...and it's FOUR YEARS AWAY!"

5. Step to one side as they collapse at your feet.

6. Laugh maniacally.

That's right, folks. According to DreamWorks' recently released 4-year film schedule, there's gonna be a HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 3 in 2016!  Or, to put it in a way that'll make the wait even more excruciating, if you enter college now, you'll be graduating roughly the same the time that the film is released.

Wholly related: The awesome drawing (above) is by DreamWorks' own Rufftoon. He did it to illustrate his leaving the Rise of the Guardians production to team to join the crew currently working on the Dragons sequels. Please praise Rufftoon's artistic prowess via his Tumblr!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Interrupt This Blog To Bring You The Following Tweet

From Chris Sanders' Twitter feed:

8 Sept Chris Sanders ‏@Chris_Sanders_
Letting everyone know the web store is open! New site is looking refreshed indeed!

Yes, the new and improved Chris Sanders website is finally up and running. Not only does it feature a fancy, faux wood grain background and a sign-up page for exclusive emails, it's also (finally) got a store! Sure, there's only one item up for sale so far, but this is the U$A, y'all -- merchandise WILL be added.

Note: Although a few of the site's links still lead to "Oops…will be back soon" placeholders, said placeholders do feature a couple of Chris Sanders' crushingly cute kitty-cat and cutie-pie cartoons. IMHO, that makes 'em well worth a click.

Related: Chris Sanders Debuts 'New Drawing Thursdays'

Friday, September 7, 2012

3 Free Facebook Timeline Photos...Pt. 3

Proudly proclaim your Croods pride to all of your estranged family and Facebook friends. Installation is easy!

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”

Related: 3 Free Facebook Timeline Photos...Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Internet Adores Those New Croods Pics

When Entertainment Weekly released their three exclusive pics from The Croods last week, the internet went wild. My much-maligned Google Alerts began arriving almost immediately, clocking in at roughly five per hour -- all of 'em ecstatic.

Take's positive proclamation:
"Of the tidal wave of animated films that are on the horizon (and trust us, there are a bunch), DreamWorks Animation's The Croods is one that is worth getting very excited about. [...] While we wish the Sanders touch was more immediately evident (like characters that look like they could just as easily be balloon animals), you have to consider how long the project has been around and how many developers have been a part of it. We think that his input will be more clearly visible as we start seeing trailers and more images, ahead of its spring 2013 release."

Not too shabby, eh? They even put a spirited spin on their sole aesthetic apprehension.

The animation aficionados at went even further, completely withdrawing their previous reservations:
"Originally [...] we called The Croods’ character design 'generic.' But after seeing these stills and reading more of the plot summary, this film could have a lot of potential. The film has everything you need in a good story: a struggling family, a forbidden love story and, of course, a prehistoric setting. Ok, maybe the last one’s a stretch, but it will still be fun to see a film about a Flinstones era family."

It seems that the more folks see of The Croods, the more they're looking forward to it. Where the film's first poster brought gags and guffaws, the most recent pics have ignited the internet's interest in the film.

A similar thing happened back in 2009/10 with Chris Sanders' last flick, How To Train Your Dragon. Folks HATED the first images of the film's human characters. Then, little by little (well, dragon image by dragon image), the chat room reactions turned. By the time the trailer hit, the cartoon crowd was hooked. And when the film was finally released? Eyeball orgasms.

Here's hoping the same thing happens with The Croods.

Related: Awaiting The Croods: The Agony & The Ecstasy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012