Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 Update: Environment Sketches and How to Train Your Dragon

Happy New Year! Wow, it's been quite a while since my last update.

I've been taking the Environment Sketching class with Ed Li at the Concept Design Academy this year. It's been a pretty good experience, and I think it's helped me learn and improve on some things I've been wanting to get better at for a while. Most importantly it's forced me to go out there and get more experience sketching on location, which seems to be the best way to learn. I've still got a long way to go with it, but it's been cool to go to different spots in Los Angeles and do some drawing with the added benefit of being in the company of a knowledgeable instructor, who does on-site demonstrations and is available to ask questions to at any time. Here's a page I put together of what I felt was my best work so far:

Some of these I sketched on my own, and some of them I did during trips the class took to various locations. These drawings were done in Burbank, at the Americana in Glendale, inside the Bradbury Building in Downtown L.A., and at a coffee shop in Koreatown. I experimented with using markers a bit here which was challenging and fun.

Ed has been pushing us to do thumbnails to explore different compositions of the locations and to compose our sketches within a frame. It's been a good discipline to try out. It's also been interesting to experience how intellectual it can be drawing from a location like this, since I've found that you have to edit, organize, and change things so much. It seems to be pretty much impossible to draw everything you see and do it completely accurately, so you have to try and make good intelligent choices that express the feeling of the location or that highlight what you want to emphasize and focus on. Not that I've necessarily done a spectacular job with that here, but it's been exciting to finally be inspired by seeing the possibilities of using design. Figuring out why the shapes you're drawing in the landscape look the way they look according to the rules of perspective, form, and logical common sense is also something that the instructor got me thinking about too.

In other news, I guess it's no secret that "How to Train Your Dragon" opens in the U.S. this Friday, March 26th, 2010. All of us here at DreamWorks are very excited for it. I just saw the final version of the film at the crew wrap party last weekend and it was awesome. I hope that everyone can get a chance to see the film in theaters. I'm pretty confident that you won't be disappointed.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got the chance to work on the movie with Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois during the first 4 or 5 months of their run on the project. I can't claim to have worked on a particular sequence in the final film since it was so early on in their new version of the movie and things changed and grew a lot since I wrapped, but it was a fun project to be a part of while I was on the story crew.

Speaking of the story crew, they were a great team to work with and they're a very talented bunch of people that I'd like to mention here. Chris Sanders, Alessandro Carloni, Steve MacLeod, Tron Mai, , Ben Balistreri, Tom Owens, Johane Matte, Mike Lester, John Puglisi, Aimee Marsh, Dave Derrick, Dave Pimentel, Gary Graham, Jeff Snow, Josh Pruett, and Mark Koetsier. I hadn't heard of many of these guys and gals until I started working at DWA, so I've attached to links to all their names where possible. Check out their work if you get the chance.

The production people on the show were great too. Producers Bonnie Arnold and Kristine Belson, as well as the other production staff I worked with including Kate Spencer, David Joyner, Scott Sakamoto, and Jabari Phillips.

So I figured I'd end this post with a small collection of sketches I did while I was working on the film. Before I start working on a sequence I like to try and sketch the characters so that I can get a feel for their proportions, shapes, and construction in order to try and develop a shorthand for them. The little old lady, Gothi, played a much bigger role in the earlier version of the story, which is why I have a drawing of her here. These sketches don't necessarily represent who the characters ended up becoming personalty wise in the final film, but I thought they'd be fun to show:

I hope to get back to posting personal stuff here sooner rather than later, but I'll definitely be back around in May to post a bit about the other film I worked on coming out this year, "Shrek Forever After".


The Ivanator said...

Hi Justin,

Really cool sketches. I really wanted to take his class someday, when my drawings up to par. I'm taking the storyboard class w Radford. And boy, he made realized how I have a long way to go.

Thanks for the list of names who participate in the storyboarding crew for the film. They're so crucial in shaping the story that sometimes their names are hidden amongst the other crews.

Did you guys watch in 3D?

Metz said...

Hey Justin these look great! keep posting!!

Kendra Melton said...

These sketches from class turned out really nice! I especially like the one of the cheesecake factory roof and the Bradbury building.

And the sketches from Dragons are just awesome. :] I can't wait to see it!

Louie del Carmen said...

looks awesome dude. Post more please.

Adam said...

Cool sketches!

Also, Just got back from seeing the Dragon in 3D, saw your name in the credits too! Freaking awesome job you guys did!

ZaR said...

Great sketches, and the film was great, congrats!

samacleod said...

Awesome drawings for your class. I wish I could learn more too. I love your dragons drawings. You rock!

Jason Scheier said...

Gorgeous Sketches Justin!

Munchanka said...

Great sketches, man! I loved the movie! Aside from having dragons and vikings (two of the coolest things on Earth), the characters were great! I loved the twins--such great comic relief! And for as little screen time as they had, I felt like they were all very well developed. Even these rough sketches have a lot of expression. Good stuff, man! Maaaaaybe Dreamworks isn't evil, afterall. ;)

Rochelle said...

I've seen the movie twice now and going to see it for a third time next week. Great job!

Kendra Melton said...

Oh by the way, do you still have that photo of the drunk dude getting cuffed at Bradbury? You should post it on the blog, Ed Li had mentioned wanting to see it that day.

Octavio E. Rodriguez said...

Great post.

Why Edward Juan? said...

congrats on the movie. I saw your name in the credit!

Justin Hunt said...

Thanks everyone!

@Ivanator -- Thanks. Yes they screened the film at the wrap party in 3-D. I wouldn't hesitate to take Ed's class even if you feel like you have a long way to go, all skill levels are welcome. Dive in and have fun.

@Kendra -- Thank you. Unfortunately the cell phone that I took those pictures with broke, so I lost all the photos :(

Thanks again everyone. I appreciate it.

roque said...

Hi Justin-

Great work. Are you available for freelance? You can contact me directly at:


(sorry to contact you via comments)