Thursday, December 11, 2008

[insert space cliche here]

sorry, it's late and i want to go to bed... all the clever space titles i tried to come up with fell short, so cover for me. i usually do these during the day, but my work schedule has been all wonky with cut-backs here and trying to make it up there, etc, etc.

anyway... today we behold the creation of yet another character! as you can see below it took quite a few tries before i hit on a design that i didn't think sucked rocks (sorry for the hard-to-see drawing... i have a pretty light hand when i sketch, which makes for crappy scans).

actually i was rather fond of the fish bowl guy, but i thought it was too similar to the fish Earth Worm Jim character. i know, he didn't have a body, but it was a fish and he was in a bowl and he was in space. so i decided to keep trying.

and trying.

EUREKA! i haven't properly named him, but have affectionately been calling him Astro. bet you didn't see that coming. so here's the finished design in Flash:

OK i'm off to bed. gotta work 2 jobs tomorrow. gonna be a long day. see y'all next week!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walk Cycles A-Go-Go! [pt.3]

I know it's been a while, but my motivation for doing these posts has been rather non-existant. Now that my dear friend Sally is no longer with us, however, and is now in a better place (Massachusetts) I've decided to start up the ol' blog again since she really liked it. or at least told me that she did. So this one's for you, Sally!

It seems i left everyone hanging on the 3/4 walk cycle, so click on the image below to see it in action:

pretty exciting, eh? this was the most difficult to do, but i think it turned out the best out of all the walk cycles. to be completely honest, i had a little help from my life drawing instructor/wife in getting him to look less 2-dimensional. but to my credit, it was just a small correction.

after it's all said and done, i'm not sure i'll take the 3/4 plunge again any time soon. it kinda sucked. we'll see.

I'm getting relatively close to finishing the animation portion of the 'toon, so the end is in sight!

tune in next week for more Agenty goodness!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walk Cycles A-Go-Go! [pt.2]

As promised, i return to you with the front and back walk cycles. for these scenes i need a bit of a slower walk... a ramble if you will. unfortunately that means i had to draw more frames than the side view (about 25 each!). on the other hand, the motion is a lot smoother. hmm.... more work = better quality? it can't be!!
anyway, here's the goods...

First the front:

then the back.:

to see them in action click on the above images.

Most cartoons you see operate only in 2 dimensions. I mean the characters only move left or right, and very rarely towards or away from the viewer. Now i know why... because it's a big pain in the ass animating perspective and foreshortening and all that business. but afterwards i thought," this front/back stuff doesn't suck enough. I'm going to animate 3/4 perspective!" oh, the folly of youth.

more on that next time!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Walk Cycles A-Go-Go! [pt.1]

Like i said before, i spent a large chunk of my vacation working on the cartoon. when i story-boarded this sucker i wrote in a montage of The Agent strolling into town, all spaghetti western style. Unfortunately that meant i needed lots of walk cycles. what's a walk cycle, you ask? click below and see! (no porn, i promise)

I had to draw The Agent 16 times to make this cycle. ok, there was some copying and pasting involved, but it was still a lot of work. especially when you consider i'm a SLOW drawer. If you remember the past episodes of The Agent, you might notice he's a little less sloppy and clunky. if you don't remember, refresh your memory. his previous incarnation had its charm, but i thought i'd try cleaning him up a bit. i particularly like the way the movement of the glasses came out. good job wes!

Tune in next week when i show you the front and back cycles... how exciting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back is the Incredible...

OK, the blogging break got extended quite a bit longer than anticipated. after i finished the work for the previously mentioned shows i had to fill the majority of my spare time with home improvement projects and helping my mom [not] move. I'm out of the woods now, and i spent a large chunk of my "vacation" last week cranking away on the ol' cartoon. i gotta tell ya, this is a big improvement from the last episode of The Agent, as far as animation goes. I think the writing's better too, but the improvement is not quite as obvious as that of the animation and design. I'm going to push for more out of my voice talent as well, so start practicing Dustin! ;) The down side is that it's taking me a bit longer than anticipated to get done. what can i say... quality takes time.

In the meantime, I'm resuming the blog posts! so tune in for some [hopefully] interesting progress reports and what-not. I'll have an official post complete with pictures and stuff soon.

until then!

ps: today's 9/11... the day we mourn the death of Liberty in the United States. light a candle. or pray. or burn some incense. or just remember.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On youTube!

I FINALLY found a way to get my animations on youtube! you'd think that Macromedia or Adobe would have that covered... nope. not if you're a Mac person, like myself. On PC, you just export to .avi then presto! but on mac your only option is to export to .mov. the rub is that Quicktime hasn't updated their Flash support since Flash 5! I have 8, and they're currently on 9 (CS3)!

Anyway, i found a demo for a screen capture program that did the trick. not the best way, i know... but beggars can't be choosers.

Now that Welfare Queens is in the bag, i need to take a break from animating to work on a couple of pieces for upcoming shows. Unfortunately that means you won't be hearing much from me here on this blog for the next couple-3 weeks. I WILL, however, continue to post my regular tirades at

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

(half) DONE!


ok, it's not COMPLETELY done, but the intro got so long that i decided to make it into it's own feature. so i present to you WELFARE QUEENS!

after watching (its only 2-3 minutes) do me a favor and vote on it. look for this:

and click whichever number you feel is appropriate. You DO NOT have to be a Newgrounds member to vote. I'm not asking you to falsely pump up my ranking... i just want to let people who are not familiar with the functionality of Newgrounds to be aware that the voting option is available to ALL.

"why vote?" you ask... well to put it simply, the higher a score i get, the more exposure and views the cartoon will get, and of course i want as many people as possible to see it. i'm pretty proud of this cartoon, and frankly feel it's my best to date. so i'm confident that it'll prompt you to give a good score. of course, if i'm wrong, then by all means vote appropriately.

Oh yeah, the voting must take place TODAY (Thursday) to be effective.


Thursday, May 29, 2008


if you couldn't tell by my cartoon portfilio, i'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to animating. but, i try hard and every project turns out better than the last! A large part of the progress can be attributed to my research on several websites dedicated to the art of animation. I figured i'd share a couple-3 with you this week, since i haven't really accomplished much since last we spoke due to scheduling issues with my voice talent.

first we have Cold Hard Flash. a site dedicate to excellence in Flash based animation (which is what i use, so you might see why i find it interesting). a good place to go to see what the the top tier animators are up to, and for inspiration.

2nd we have the legendary John K's blog. if you aren't in the know, John K. created one of my favorite cartoons, Ren and Stimpy, as well as pioneered using Flash for cartoons. He's kind of a curmudgeon, and has a very narrow view of what animation should be, but his blog is full of valuable information for would-be animators none-the-less.

next we have Mark 2000. M2000 is a talented animator/designer who shares my passion for political commentary. He also started a series of VERY helpful tutorials sharing his expertise on the subject of Flash and design. hooray PNGs!

here's one i kind of stumbled upon. I'm a fan of Hellboy and really all things Mignola, so i followed the Hellboy Animated blog pretty closely. Unexpectedly, mixed in with the progress updates and interviews and what-not are in depth tips on scripting and storyboarding. helped me A LOT.

so hopefully this weekend i'll have the voice-over all recorded, and by next week i'll have something besides filler to show you! ;)

'til then!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Hi all.

Somewhere along the way the intro to the cartoon grew to about 3 minutes, which is about how long i shoot for a whole piece to be (for load time and attention span reasons). instead of editing, i think i'm going to publish the whole project in 2 parts. the "intro" as part 1 and the actual Agent portion will be part 2... at least on Newgrounds. on Company State i'll probably put it all together as one.

Anyway... part 1 of the 'toon is just about done! all's left is audio pretty much, and i can't finish that until my main voice actor, and good friend, Dustin, can come over to record his lines. so if this thing gets delayed any more, the buck has now officially been passed!

good day.
(what?! no pictures?!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Quick one this time, as I'm trying to make the move from posting bi-monthly to weekly.

Today we have a happy burger man!

doesn't he look proud of his creation? but look at that ET hand! it's almost like i didn't think anyone would ever see these things. like they say... always wear clean underwear.

OK, that's much better. AND it's in tune with the rest of the characters! somewhat modeled after Mel from that show Alice, only with a paper hat instead of that sailor's cap. I guess he looks a lot happier than Mel ever did too. OK, forget the Mel comparison. He's based on Han Solo.

so here we have the version of Han that we'll see in the actual cartoon. say, that realistic rendition of a burger is making me hungry! i wonder what kind of vegetable medley my wife has waiting for me tonight. maybe my boss will let me work some overtime. (just kidding sweety! yum yum veggies!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

50' Queenie!

It's getting increasingly difficult to come up with posts free of any serious spoilers. So, here's some more character design breakdowns from the 'intro' segment. i hesitate to call it an intro, 'cuz its roughly a 3rd of the cartoon.

Anyway, we're doing a 2-fer! First we have the Welfare Queen, the subject of this little project.

as usual my storyboard drawings fall just shy of being portfolio material, but bear with me. next we have a priest holding some bread. and no, he's not stealing it or corrupt or anything... it's for charity, you cynics!

What's with the chinaman holding the loot?! First of all, its not a chinaman, you freakin' racist, he's just REALLY happy and squinty. OK, well why is there a slash mark through each of the pictures, you ask? did you despise them that much? NO, i say! that means i've progressed beyond that point in the storyboard. Just to make it easier to find where i left off the previous night.

after establishing the the 'look' of the characters with Joe, drawing the rest were considerably easier. i was able to work these out (relatively) quickly.

From there we go digital...

yep. pretty much the same. except i changed the eyes from the soulless black pits in the sketch to something a little more lively, and he lost a couple fingers. what can i say... war is hell.

here we see the Flash drawn version of the Queen accompanied by her brood. doesn't her nouveau riche opulence make you sick? excellent.

As an added bonus, here's the super rare chaser, 1 per box , alternate version of the Welfare Queen before her newfound wealth.

So that's all for today. i think i'm going to make an effort to post more often, but with shorter posts (cuz i don't have that much material). I recently attended a Tiny Army meeting hosted by the benevolent Daniel Davis, and was told that if i post more it will appease the Google.

see you soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Character design!

the first 3rd of the cartoon is a very different style from that of the "Agent" portion. To be more specific I used the modern style, popular in the 50's and 60's. Something i hated as a kid, but love now. why the 2 different methods? My grandpa is fond of telling stories about when he was a boy he'd spend all Saturday afternoon at the movies. not because he was theater hopping (i don't think that was even an option back then) but because before the feature film you'd get a string of news reels, cartoons, 3 stooges shorts, cliff hangers, etc. so that's kinda what i'm referencing. that, and the variety helps to keep me from getting bored. ANYWAY, the main character of the opener is supposed to be an everyman... an average Joe, if you will.

as you can see, it took me a few tries to get Joe just right. his design was particularly important, because i used his basic elements to create all the other characters of the opener.

now we need to get Joe digital! I've always drawn my animated elements in Flash, but I've been told by pro's that it's preferable to use Illustrator then import to Flash, because Flash's brush tool stinks. so i thought i'd test the theory.

If you enlarge the image you'll see the Illustrator version IS better that the Flash version (the one in the middle)! i was a little despondent with the results, because it's a pain in the rear to keep bouncing between applications, AND i'm not entirely convinced that the quality difference was enough to warrant the time and work it would take. so i worked for quite a while to optimize the settings on my drawing tablet and those in Flash. Thankfully the work paid off. as you can see, the optimized Flash version of Joe on the far right is close enough to the Illustrator version (at least for me) to allow me to just draw everything right in Flash. YAY!

All's left now is to animate!
[click on the box below]

until next time!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doom and Gloom

OK, I'm done with the backgrounds and have begun on character design. Unfortunately i just started last night, so i haven't amassed enough material worthy of a post yet. Instead, here's ANOTHER BACKGROUND!

There wasn't a storyboard frame for this one, as it's part of a montage and i didn't feel like drawing it all out at the time (shame on me). so if there are no objections we'll skip straight to the perspective guide.

While caught up in the magic world of vanishing points i didn't stop to think about what a pain in the @$$ it is to animate a 3/4 view walk cycle, which is exactly what i've set up here. CURSES! It's going to be part of a quick montage of The Agent walking through the "twilight trails" trailer park. Which was until recently a real place, btw.

yessss... gloomy... run down..... i love it! the kind of place i'd go to shoot photos, were it not full of creeps and meth labs.

Speaking of gloomy, Arthur C. Clarke died recently and as a nod to the old fella HAL makes a cameo in the cartoon. Not that i particularly liked 2001 (i still can't watch it without falling asleep) but it's become an icon of sci-fi cinema and literature. The IDEA behind the movie is great... an AI going crazy and killing everyone because of secretive orders from on-high? Awesome. the execution, however, was a snooze-fest.

NOW Charlton Heston died last Saturday to boot! On a day i chose to watch Omega Man, oddly enough. Heston made several movies that i like so i was a little more moved by his passing than that of Clarke's. I think it fitting that i give Chuck some kind of nod in the 'toon as well. I'll think on it.

seacrest out!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BGs in Space!

Hopefully you're not getting bored of these yet, cuz here's another!

in this scene we find ourselves in orbit. wait... you go from a trailer park in the desert to 'up the gravity well' in the same cartoon? you'll have to trust me that it makes sense.

OK, in orbit... as you can clearly see below (maybe not so clearly) is a satellite weapon pointed towards the earth. i wanted the space around the earth to be choked with satellites... spy, media, military, etc., so that's what all those little boxes are supposed to be. the name on the satellite in the storyboard is T.H.O.R., but this changes a few times before I finish, because I couldn't decide what clever reference to use. first I wanted to use norse mythology, hammer of the gods kinda stuff (totalitarian governments tend to like that sort of thing). I was even contemplating calling it "Project Rainbow Bridge" (??). BUT the video game "Gears of War" has a satellite weapon called the "hammer of dawn" or some such, and I'm already including a rather lengthy G.O.W. parody in the 'toon, so i decided against all things hammer related.

So then comes the perspective guide...

count it for me... ONE... TWO... AHH, THREE POINT PERSPECTIVE!! My first try at anything beyond 2, so kinda a big deal for me. actually a little confusing at first trying to determine which vanishing point to use. although now that i've mastered it, i think i'll skip straight to 7 point next time.

now the almost finished product...

I say almost because this screen grab still has the satellite sporting the name "HARPY III". Sadly, HARPY wasn't pulling it's weight so the name of the space weapon was changed yet again. but first a little about HARPY... I vaguely remembered hearing about a space gun program called HARP, so it seemed a natural reference to make. something for the conspiracy crowd. unfortunately after a little research i discovered that HARP was a big gun on the earth used to shoot satellites into orbit. wrong kind of space gun. so now the satellite bares the name CROSSBOW, which is of course a reference to the excellent movie, Real Genius.

you're probably wondering why the earth has 'region 1' and 'region 4' on it. well i had originally divided up the globe by European Union, North American Union, Pan Asian Union, etc. (once again for the conspiracy crowd). but i decided it'd be funnier and more in step with the CO.ST if i divided up it by DVD region codes. WE'RE REGION 1! WE'RE REGION 1!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Story Board to Background Painting...

Here's a scene where our hero, The Agent, happens upon the abode of the cartoon's villain.

First, the story board:

i tend to draw pretty light (lighter than what my scanner can pick up without showing what's on the reverse side of the page, anyway), so it's hard to see that there's a trailer in front of The Agent in the middle of that mess. You might also notice the heap of a car over to the right. no, that won't do at all.

Next comes the 2 point perspective guide:

MAN! Frank Lloyd Wright couldn't have done better himself! (just kiddin' FLW) This is the first time i've taken the effort to add any serious perspective to my cartoons, and i think it's made a difference for the better. and if not, well it was fun! hopefully it won't make animating too much of a pain. I draw 'em on three 8.5x11" sheets of paper taped together lengthwise, so i have room to kick the vanishing points out as far as i need. then i scan it in and come up with...

The finished background:

i know what you're thinking. you're doing a Flash cartoon... this clearly wasn't done in Flash. you're right! it's Painter! My friend John Worsley introduced me to Painter 9 before my Join the GOONS cartoon, and there was no looking back. besides the fact that it sets my cartoons apart from straight Flash projects, I just really like the way it looks.

That wasn't what you were thinking? OK, it must be that in the story board there were 2 palm trees and an awning on the trailer... where'd they go?! well, you might have also noticed the '69 Cadillac Coup de Ville. Those things don't come cheap! in order to afford the Caddie, we have to sacrifice on other things... like one of the palm trees and the fancy awning. these are the decisions that keep us directors up at night.

that's it for now. More to follow soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A beginning is a very delicate time...

(name that quote!)

well... the idea for my toons generally start with a little sketch or blurb on a post-it note or scrap of paper, but since i didn't scan any of that stuff, here's a picture of my neighbor's dog instead:

if i decide later that the idea is worth fleshing out i'll start researching. for example, on this particular cartoon i must have read about a dozen articles on welfare, its origins, myths associated with it, arguments for and against, and its corporate incarnations. for what i'm doing here i really over-killed it, but i wanted to make sure my bases were covered.

after much reading and highlighting i make an outline with the basic structure of the cartoon with lots of notes. here's 1 page of the outline:

there's more but my wife says no one can read it, so i didn't bother to scan 'em (she underestimates the legibility of my awesome handwriting). After the outline, i type out the script. nothing real exciting there. normally i'd have the help of my buddy Dustin with this part (cuz he's a writer and can be pretty funny), but he wasn't available so this one was solamente wes.

Then comes the embarrassingly bad storyboards! here's a couple pages:

seriously, i almost didn't put them on here. but i figured it'd be neat to see that from the crapfest storyboards:

comes the lesser crapfest background paintings:

and that's really as far as i've gotten. i'm a little more than half way done with the BG paintings. i'll post some later and try to have something interesting to say about 'em as well.

until next time!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Making a cartoon is a lengthy and involved process. ESPECIALLY if you're doing the lion's share of the work by yourself. When i get going i don't have the time or even desire to work on other projects, so I tend to fall off the face of the planet for the duration of production.

In order to let people know I haven't totally given up on the CO.ST (and that I'm not slacking!) I decided to start this blog to give progress updates on the current cartoon so that hopefully folks will stay interested (and to keep me from slacking).

So stay tuned for storyboards, background paintings, audio clips, screenshots, and other various signs of progress!