Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Well, so that's it, all the stuff I could dredge up from my files. Now I will have to draw something NEW on this theme. . .soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Real Santa

Here is the sketch I did of Santa for Joanna Johnston on the Polar Express, and also a photo of a bunch of the crew (I am in the red skirt) posing with Tom Hanks, in full costume, as Santa. He looked beautiful! It almost made you cry. The design was based on the same research that we did for the reindeer stuff (Santa was designed first, in fact), and we started in the sketch to keep him a little chubby. Joanna knew that the 'American' Santa is usually sort of round, and was afraid to scare people off by deviating from that (she is British, and they don't think of him as necessarily fat), but we were all glad when they decided to go with a Santa in the proportions of Chris Van Allsburg's Santa from the book. He is a noble, grand, figure, very fatherly, with a deep voice. Larger than life. My favorite in the film.

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Joanna gave me the job of designing the details for the reindeer harness. This was really fun, and I got to do some research into the designs and motifs of the people of the north, and these pieces were actually created by a leather worker out of leather and nail head studs and white wool. They were beautiful! Never really used in the film, as least never that you could see.

More Helpers

Here is 'Elf-vis', a character that was to be in the elf crowd musical number, and costume designer Joanna Johnston with the 'Elf General' model in costume. All the costumes for Polar Express were actually made and put on actors to see how they moved and to give the modelers all the texture reference they needed.

Kids grow up

These are the illustrations that go with the sketches below. Why? well, a large theme within the Polar Express (the film and the book) is the loss of faith that creeps in from childhood forward. These paintings are showing that the older boy is slowly losing his belief in Santa, partly due to the 'fake' department store variety and it takes a trip to the North Pole on the Polar Express to restore it (my problem with this, of course, is that Santa is. . .well, you know).

Department Store Santas

These were some sketches showing the various 'flaws' of the Department Store Santa. Any bright kid can figure out he's not the real thing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Polar Express Elves

On 'The Polar Express', I did LOTS of illustrations of kids in pyjamas, but here are a few elves. They ended up deciding to make them look like little old men, sort of like some of the munchkins from the Wizard of OZ, but we didn't know that yet.

I have Santas, and reindeer stuff to post from Polar Express coming soon. These are all scanned from color photocopies (as is all the film work on this blog), because as illustrators for the film industry, we don't get to keep our work. The originals were in watercolor and colored pencil. As everybody starts to work digitally, the print will be the original of course, so it won't be of much consequence.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Santa Clause 2

I worked on 'Santa Clause 2' (Tim Allen) as a costume illustrator for the designer Ingrid Ferrin. The first film, 'Santa Clause', was designed by April Ferry, and she had done a really wonderful classic Santa Costume with a sort of victorian influence. Ingrid used that as a jumping off point and added certain details like the gold embroidery. I was really excited to work on the costumes for the elves, even more so when she mentioned that she liked the ideas in Carl Larsson's paintings. She ended up using another illustrator for the elves, so I didn't get to work on them. When I saw the sketches, they didn't have any of the charm or apparent influence of Larsson. So maybe for this challenge, I will do my elves. I think that in most films, elves looks creepy or silly, not clever or magical. I never saw 'Santa Clause 2', so I really don't how they turned out in the end.

These two illustrations represent the costumes for the 'good' santa, and the 'evil' santa, which was part of the script. The evil santa had pants that were to be made of really shiny red vinyl to make him look hard and slick as opposed to the warm soft velvet of the good santa. Since costume illustrations are really about the clothing, they are not really 'character' sketches. You can't really pose the figure in a way that obscures the costume, because these are often given to the 'work room' to actually cut the patterns and make the costume. They have to remain pure in that way. Still, I try to get some gesture and personality into the sketch, as much as I can.

My Life with Santa, and other Christmas Stories

So Jeremy Spears, the 1950's Boyscout, has put up 'Designing Santa' as the challenge for December. This made me think of all the various jobs I have had that involved Santa, and other Christmas fare, and although I will draw something new before Christmas to contribute, I decided to have a Christmas retrospective first. This is a hand towel that I designed in my first 'real job' out of school, at a home textiles company in East L.A. The situation was that I had to leave a big area for his stomach, as they were going to make a 'puff' design, and cotton ball type stuffing would go into the applique, to make his stomach bulge out. Thus the odd proportions. Later, of course, the puff part was too expensive, so he was just flat. Naturally, I would have done it differently. I didn't last there more than 4 months. We all realized we weren't right for each other. But I started my commercial relationship with Santa. . .

More to come.