Designing a World of Characters

In this week’s summer art workshop we drew some fun animal characters together and the students loved it. So I thought I would share the step by step drawing exercises in case anyone else wants to give them a try.

These characters are based on the art from a popular designer board game called, “Root.” I have not gotten a chance to play the game yet, but I love the art!

I’ll be posting more art exercises and crafts kids can do at home. I may also start offering some more online art workshops. To receive some fun free art exercises be sure to sign for our newsletter!


Free Paper Craft Exercise

I know a lot of of you are at home spending A LOT more time than usual with your kids. Now that summer is here, and classes are over, there is a way too much free time.

I’ve been teaching online art classes and we discovered a great set of characters and a fun paper craft we can create with them.

Shaun [me] and 3D printed Mango Panda

Ever since I was a child I have been designing my own characters and have been fascinated with the idea of seeing them as toys in the real world. In art school I sculpted them into figurines, and when teaching home school workshops at Techno Chaos I even 3D modeled and 3D printed what came to be known as Mango Panda!

Well this paper craft will allow you and your child to do the same.

I’m including a downloadable and printable image here which you can use to make your own little Minecraft-shaped character, or you can just cut out and fold the one we designed using our favorite character, Monkey.

For detailed instructions on how to assemble the craft simply watch this video. Be sure to use thicker paper if you have it!

Monkey Paper Craft!
Design your own character on this blank template!

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Practice by Day, Research by Night

I find that it’s unrealistic to think that we can just work endless hours. I’ve heard it said that we have a day phase and a night phase. Our brain can probably really only do about three to five hours of really difficult cognitive extraneous work. Real problem solving is just difficult once you get tired later on in the day. Knowing this we should plan for it and make sure to arrange to schedule the most difficult work in the beginning of the day, and do more casual passive research later in the day. Once you get too tired to work, read or watch movies. Spend time with others and socialize. Share ideas. Look to see what others are up to.

I also suggest keeping a list of books and movies that will help you to come up with ideas that pertain to your projects. This way you aren’t just reaching for whatever an algorithm suggests.

Why my Kickstarter was a Failure & a Success

My first kickstarter was  failure. My second one reached its goal, but for reasons explained in the video it was both a failure and a success. I have no regrets, but it was definitely a learning experience, one that I am most proud of.

You can still order the original game from the GameCrafter at

Or find out more about the game at my website

Intro Song “Sail” by Sumni Boys

BG Music “The Gold Lining” by Broke for Free

Work with Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life and my work. Comics, like anything worthwhile, take an insane amount of time to produce. I always find myself trying get more work done faster. And since it takes so long I constantly find myself questioning whether it is worth my time or not. There are a lot of other things I could be doing.

So here is the dilemna. We only have so much time, and that time is extremely valuable. So what should we do with it?

The answer? Well it’s not so simple because what I should do and what you should do are entirely different. Our options are not even the same. But I think the factors that go into making that choice are same for all of humanity. How should we go about choosing what to do? Most people in the world do what they have to do. They have to eat, pay their bills, sleep, die, whatever. We all have things we have to do. But we also have some choices. How should we pay the bills? How can we make more time to do what we really want to do? Who should we spend time with? What is worthy of our short amount of time?

If you consider yourself an artist then you may be spending a substantial amount of your time doing artwork. If we are going to do artwork with the time that we could be using to spend with family, work, or do anything else more rewarding, then there must be some reason or purpose. How can we justify using our time on something so … self centered? I think most of us get a good feeling from seeing artwork, and we want somehow to recreate that good feeling by doing it ourself. You can call it competition (our desire to out do or mimick other artists), you could call it jealousy, or you could say it is a noble cause because it is something animals can’t do. This good feeling is not really enough to justify all the time we are spending to produce our work.

There are of course the financial rewards of doing artwork. If you are a professional then it is possible to make money off of doing your work. But if you seriously love what you do then you might not want to turn it into something you have to do. Even if you have to do your artwork to make a living I’m sure you have hopes of doing something more with it. If you are trying to do some meaningful artwork in the hours left over from a full time job, then you of all people truly understand the limits of time.

Have you ever started a project with tons of motivation only to find yourself in the middle of your project wishing it wasn’t so difficult and demanding? Even when we finish our work we find ourselves wanting something more after the good feeling wares off. We may argue that it is a noble cause because we are pursuing excellence when in reality, we are really just pursuing that good feeling. The reward of our hard work and effort.

Don’t you want to create something more meaningful than just a good feeling? There are so many valuable ways I could spend my time. If there were not something more to my art I would no longer pursue it. Luckily for me I have found a much more meaningful purpose in doing my work. My purpose is a little different than most but I’ll explain more about that later in this article.

I find inspiration in my favorite stories. When I watch a show like Naruto I am clearly reminded of why I want to do artwork. I want to be moved, and I want to move others. If you havn’t seen Naruto then maybe you’ve seen one of the Pixar films like Toy Story, Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Cars, Incredibles, or their most recent film, Ratatouille. These films revive the human spirit and bring out our most noble virtues. They touch upon truth. In the end it all comes down to love for our neighbor and the hope of seeing them do well.

A sketch I did of Naruto

These stories set my heart on fire, and the designs look so good that I immediately find myself drawing once again. Then more of the good feeling comes when I see my initial sketches. When I’m really inspired I write story lines for my original characters in the hope of creating something truly meaningful. The problem is that this motivation dissipates when I begin to see the realities of how much time and effort it will cost to produce such a work. It is just damn near impossible to see how I could realistically produce anything of real substance. The only reason it seems possible at all is because of the existence of shows like Naruto and Incredibles. Their existence is proof that it is possible. But there is such a huge gap between my dream and my reality. How do we resolve this?

Continue reading “Work with Purpose”

My Commercial I did back in College

I graduated a while back but while I was taking my first motion graphics class I undertook this project. First I came up with a concept. My friend sleeping on my couch at the time worked at Friar Tux and used to hook us up with free t-shirts. The inspiration was to do everything in suits. Then I grabbed a camera from the school video cage, found some buddies in the hallways and classroom, and shot all the footage by nightfall. I didn’t know anything about filmaking at the time so I just threw the camera at my roomate who happened to be a video production major. Rico did a good job and most of the footage was usable. My buddies are Demaurie and Brandon. They came up with a lot of the ideas. I peticuliarly liked the idea of going to the sauna in suits, but unfortunately the room was too small to get a good camera angle. It’s not easy to shoot a video all in one night, but find a fun energetic group and friends and impossible things suddenly become possible. Enjoy.