Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Burbank California on Christmas Day 2015

Hey everyone I'm checking in to say hello and wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a not belated Happy New Year! Thank you for continuing to frequent my blog even though I haven't posted anything lately. Been very busy and sometimes I get caught up in some crazy stuff that leads me away from creativity. Temporarily that is.

Anyway I hope everything is going great in your life. I'd like to share this video with you. It's from Christmas Day. I went to the roof of the building I operate from to record what Burbank looked like on Christmas Day in the afternoon. The audio is from a local radio station that plays classical music ( The tune is what was playing at the time on the airwaves. So both the audio and the visuals were a moment that's been captured for all to experience.

Wishing you the very very best that life has to offer in the coming New Year and beyond! 

Charles Zembillas

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another Alien Girl

Having fun drawing as a student in class at my own school. This is the continuation of the assignment I was working on from the theme established at the previous session. On the left is the initial red line concept sketch and on the right the same image but with black line and some shading.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Alien Girls

Still on a breather from authoring my character design book. Meantime the staff of instructors at my school are doing so well I thought I might take a class with them. Here's what I did in session this week for the assignment we were given based upon the evening's lecture. First sketching I've done in a while.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween art - Hallmark Cards - 1981 & 1982

Here's where I went with the halloween poster art I would create while at hallmark Cards in Kansas City in the early 1980's. By 1981 my painting skills had gotten good enough that this Frankenstein poster was marketed at their stores the next year in 1982. It had these word balloons at the bottom that you could punch out and place in a slot at the top of the poster. There was a blank balloon where someone could write their own remark. A the upper right you can see the sales tab. The art was painted in gouache. The price was $2.25. The poster is too big to scan so I took a photo.

By 1982 I was really challenged with this poster below. The photo shop at Hallmark - which in those days involved cameras and film - set up a window pane with dramatic lighting. It was my responsibility to create a monster and make it look like he was coming through the window into your room. I worked from a small transparency to keep the colors keyed in and then had to mask out the areas where the window frame overlapped the monster and vice verse. It was very technical and I had to be extremely precise. The results were a huge success. It was marketed in 1983 I think for Halloween. This is also a photo of  original poster.

Around this time in 1982 I had been accepted into a training program at Disney Studios and made my way west to Burbank to start a career in animation. It was my last Halloween poster so I went out on a positive note.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween art - Hallmark Cards - 1981

It's a personal treat to rediscover this art. It's the layout for what was called a door-wall poster at Hallmark Cards in the earliest days of my professional career. It was printed around 1981 and sold at Hallmark Card shops all across the country. I'm pretty sure I drew it in 1980 the year before. It was my very first Halloween poster that went to market. The product was something like 7 feet long. It was the size of an actual door as a fake entry and of course it was in color. The floor mat at the bottom had "welcome" on it after it went to the lettering department.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween art - First professional drawing

Hello folks! Taking a little break from working on my character design book to share this ancient art with you. Digging through my archives last night I found the very first drawing I ever did in a professional situation. I was working at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City Missouri in 1980. I had just gone on staff and my first assignment was to contribute a concept design for a Halloween poster that several artists in the department were involved with. I imagined a fiddle playing scarecrow dancing around in a pumpkin patch with field mice framed by a rising moon beyond the horizon which is hard to see but it's there.

This is a copy of the original which Hallmark provided for my records at the time. It's yellowed from age but overall the image held up pretty well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Update - Character Design book

Howdy everyone and I hope things are going great for you. Checking in to see what's happening and I thank you for continuing to visit my blog. Even though I'm not posting much people are still coming around all the time to view posts and I appreciate the attention.

I've been dealing with daily life like all of us and doing what I can to clear time and make headway on the character design book I'm authoring. I've been able to muscle enough space here and there to layout around 220 pages and the count is still climbing with art and information.

Every moment that becomes available I work towards making progress on the book. So far it's looking good and I can say with a high degree of confidence that it could be the most comprehensive book on the principles of professional character design for animation ever published. I've checked out what's available on the market and there's nothing quite comparable. So we'll see how this winds up.

While I'm attending to the project I'd like to again express gratitude for your stopping by. The key to a happy life is in creativity so why not create and be happy.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Working on epic Character Design book

It may wind up becoming the best how-to character design book ever published. Certainly one of the best. I'm not aware of anything that can compare to what I'm authoring. It's going to be the most comprehensive educational resource on the subject in the industry. I've got 960 scanned files so far and many of these have multiple images on the page and still I'm scanning. I've accumulated a vast amount of material and have been gradually digitizing it. Much of the content is in the form of notes, lessons and demos created in class while I was lecturing or instructing individual students.

I've got it down to a fine art science. This is going to be a master work. The fundamental basics of Character Design explained in a way that will greatly benefit whoever applies these professional principles. The accumulation of what I've been teaching in the face to face classes at my school The Animation Academy in Burbank over many years. And even before considering that I started teaching in LA way back in 1985 and even before that at Hallmatk Cards in Kansas City in 1981.

These are the lessons that famous character designers in the animation biz use to teach their classes after they took classes with me. A great many of my students went on to lofty heights utilizing what I taught them and now I'm putting all of that knowledge and more into a publication that will have no equal. Much of the featured art will come from professional projects and shows I've worked on and will back up the ideas and methods I describe.

Once the scanning is complete I'll be able to get the art prepped for digital reproduction and lay it out along with text. Then it's off to the blue yonder. I'm confident you rising stars out there will appreciate it when it's ready. Hopefully not too long.

This is just one area that's keeping me busy. But I'm making good progress across the spectrum. Incidentally I've authored 2 books before and they've both turned into collector's items.

Thanks for your attention and wish me luck as I embark on getting this done!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crash Cash

How many of you wonder who made the big bucks on Crash? Was it Naughty Dog? Universal? Sony? Activision? Others in between? Who wound up with all that Crash cash?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thank You !!

Since the time I started posting on the blog you guys have been great! That's going on 3 years and 4 months now. I've really enjoyed myself sharing art and getting old and new stuff out there. The blog's popularity with Crash fans has been an added plus and I truly appreciate the activity and interaction with many interesting individuals all this time.

I'd like to tell you that I'm working on a Kickstarter campaign for my school. It's taking up a lot of daily hours along with everything else that's going on. So I'm dedicating my efforts in this direction with the hope that we'll have a good response and The Animation Academy in Burbank will level up and we can start to operate as more of a studio and a publishing house along with other things like getting our lessons online. 

The campaign will be ready fairly soon I anticipate and it would be my hope that you great people here would be so kind as to help spread the word through your own networks when the time comes. It'll be a fun project and maybe folks will enjoy the twist it'll have. I've been creating several videos lately that are getting positive responses and are leading up to this. That's what's taking my creative time at the moment. I might start embedding the videos here for something different.

Meanwhile  thank you again for the great experience of building out my personal art blog with content which appears cool people like you enjoy. I'll be back soon with more! Wishing you Joy Peace Happiness and Creativity in your life.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Catching up

Well friends I really do hope this finds you well. Here in Burbank California things are rolling ahead. Just like the Blues Brothers. On a mission from God. I'm very busy with a great deal of positive stuff evolving and emanating from my school. The form it will take is still coming together but it's getting clearer. Especially in light of the changes that are rapidly happening in Hollywood.

It's exciting and amazing. The combination of forces such as the declining trend in TV viewership and the rise of online streaming. The progressing lawsuit against all the major animation studios in Hollywood for colluding with each other to keep artist wages down. The very successful 3 year contract negotiations the animation union has just won. The emergence of crowdfunding and its impact on business. It's all coming together in a perfect storm that's leading to an era of what I'm going to term as the power artist. Or the era of artist power. Something like that.

It's very thrilling and I'm super excited to be here in the heart of and part of all this activity and new thinking. The animation community is experiencing a unique phase right now and my school is in the whirlwind.

That's what's going on. I intend on getting back to creative fun and I want to especially say hello to the Crash Bandicoot fans who frequent my blog and make it special. And to all visitors of course! Thanks everyone and we'll get rockin' soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Frankenstein 2015 ... 1996

Back when I was working the studio scene one of the projects I was involved in was creating a series of concept designs for a direct to video situation that DIC animation studio was developing in association with CBS TV. The video concepts were based upon classics of literature. One of these concepts was Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". 

Earlier today I saw a trailer for a new movie on the way this coming November entitled "Victor Frankenstein". In one scene I got a glimpse of the monster from behind and it reminded me of what I had come up with nearly 20 years earlier around 1996 when I was on the video project. So I dug through my archives and lo and behold I found the art from that time. Thought I'd post it to confirm that my visual interpretation of the Frankenstein monster was 2 decades ahead of what this movie envisioned.

This is the raw image of the original art. The line was photocopied onto an animation cel and painted.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tobor the 8 Man

I think the original title was "8 Man" but was changed to "8th Man" when the series was aired in America. I always preferred the straight up 8. Are you familiar with the cartoon? Early TV anime. Felt like doing a simple homage to Tobor which is "robot" spelled backwards. So here it is...

Monday, August 03, 2015


I've been thinking about this character lately and wanted to give him my own visual rendition as I continue to practice digital illustration with Photoshop. Samson is the legendary strongman from the Bible story. He was of the Hebrew tribe of Dan and I looked to give him that kind of feel. Almost like from an ancient biker gang. He had his long hair in locks or braids and I attempted to reflect that in his appearance. A lot of fun and the practice is good.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Pretty Girl practice

It's been a while since I got into color and recently I'm determined to shake out the cobwebs and get some practice with painting in Photoshop. Here's what I did today. I drew each girl separately in digital black line and went into the compositions to work up the color. Then I combined them into one picture.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Feel like a werewolf

Playing with Photoshop looking to create. There's a blue moon tonight...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Crash - Portrait of the Bandicoot

A couple of months ago I started a class demo and thought I'd use Crash as the subject. I was working with acrylics on illustration board emphasizing how the mastering of traditional skills is beneficial even if you work digitally. This is as far as I got with the underpainting phase during that session...

With some free time last night I completed the composition in Photoshop using the same technique as I would have with acrylics. Turned out to look pretty much like what the analog results would've been. It was fun doing this and I hope you enjoy the art.   

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A couple of recent sketches

I managed to get these drawings out in the past few days. Nothing spectacular but it's better than nothing at all. They came about as demos while working with students in class. Both were created with ball point pen. Lesson being that a non-erasable medium helps to build confidence in one's draftsmanship skills. Also some guidance in tonal rendering and a little Photoshop color on the second one to liven things up. I'm determined to get back to creating on more of a full time schedule. Hopefully that day will come soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crash and turn

Hello there everyone and a special greeting to the many Crash Bandicoot fans who frequent my blog. As I've mentioned previously my schedule and free time have been caught up with a lot of different things that pull me away from creative productivity lately. But I did have a chance this evening to punch out this 4 pose turn of Crash in the classic mode with some minor design variations. It was done as practice and also as a class demo on how to do a character rotation. Best regards to all and thanks for checking in. Hope you're doing well. 

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Crashing in...

Hello friends! It's a busy time and I have my hands full with the growth of my school. It's all good only it takes me away from posting as much as I would like. It also takes me away from drawing and art in general but I'm working on it! Meanwhile here's what I came up with a few days ago while helping a student understand how to draw straight ahead with a ball point pen.

Wish it could be more but at least it's something new and I'm keeping my Crash chops up. As always thank you for checking in and I'll be following up again soon.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Monster heads

Hello everybody! Fighting for opportunities to get some art done and here's what I came up this week as a class demo. Things are really picking up at my school and it's taking a lot of my time in a good way. Still I'm determined to turn the corner and get into a full time creative mode. Hope you are experiencing happiness in life and thanks for continuing to check in with my blog. I've got more art on the way.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spy vs Spy

Another little window presented itself for some in-class sketching as one of my students in the advanced session of Character Design suggested a James Bond-ish type of subject for a demo. 

I followed it up in the next session with a female version of a secret agent kind of character where you're not certain if she's just an attractive lady who's interested or maybe she's something more.

Put the two together and you have a story in the works...

Friday, May 08, 2015

Scootin' ArtShark

Here's a sneak peek at the next ArtShark for the upcoming email newsletter for my school in Burbank along with a look at how the graphics developed. ArtShark is the long standing mascot for the Academy.

How it will look on the header...

Here is the reverse process starting with the final colored design...

Flat color with colored line and no dimensional shading...

The line was colored after the flat color was added to the image...

The final line drawing was scanned and cleaned up digitally in Photoshop...

It began with the original concept sketch...

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Getting in the groove / new drawings

After a long and unintentional break from drawing I'm happy to say that I had a chance to do something new this past week. I asked a student what they would have me come up with in the advanced character design class as a demo. She suggested a young boy elfin type of character that was evil but could trick you into thinking he's good, done in my Jak and Daxter style. So here's the result...

Earlier in the first level character design class I did this simple head rotation as a demo and also for personal practice. It's healthy for professional character designers to keep their chops up when it comes to basic skills and rotations are a part of that.

Feels really good to get creative again.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Lost / auctioned Crash drawing comes home

The saga of the lost then found then auctioned Crash Bandicoot drawings concludes with a strange but true ending. At least for one of the three from Project A / BC that took place a few weeks ago. First it was mailed to the UK, then it wound up in Brazil for more than 3 months, then it finally made it to the UK where it was auctioned by the Worthing Boys Club.

As it turned out, the winning bidder as fate would have it was a student at my school The Animation Academy in Burbank, who was in attendance in June 2012 when I created the drawing as a class demonstration. Nearly 3 years later the student returned to take another class. Lo and behold, he brought the drawing with him, now framed and under glass, to the very place where it came into being in the first place!

I wouldn't have believed it myself but here's the proof. Things sure do have a mysterious way of working out sometimes...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Vote 'Crash' for Super Smash Brothers

From a follower of this blog...
... theres this thing in Smash Bros were you can vote which video game character can be in Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS i thought that maybe you can spread the word in voting Crash Bandioot in Smash Bros in your blog or wherever or maybe you like to vote for him as well and tell when he should be in Smash.

I know it might be unlikely to let him be in the game but at least can try I guess?

Here's the site in which you can vote for Crash
Thank you for sharing this and I'm happy to pass it along.

I voted by the way and the reason for wanting this character to be in the Super Smash Bros? He's Crash Bandicoot!

If you like you can click on the link and vote for Crash.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Back in the saddle again

Hello all you beautiful people who happen to be reading this. Sorry for the extended absence. I do indeed apologize. Sometimes ya just gotta deal with the inevitable things of life. And thanks for your continued visits. I appreciate your taking the time to check in during this period.

I've started creating again and will be back shortly to share what I'm coming up with. Meantime I also want to tell the Crash fans out there about some chatter I've been hearing on the street that Sony may be planning a Crash Bandicoot movie. Or at least talking about it among themselves. Heard it from a couple of sources this past week so who knows? Time will tell.

Anyway it's great to get creative again and  I'm looking forward to posting very soon.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Project A / BC - Auction 3 in progress

Hello there everyone!

The third and last auction of an original Crash Bandicoot drawing I came up with is now up and running through this Sunday, Easter Sunday by the way, April 5 2015.

This is the third drawing from the series that was lost in the mail and spent 3 months in Brazil before making it to the UK and the Worthing Boys Club which is managing the auction. Project A / BC which you can read about below.

Here's the link to the auction.

This drawing is very special because it's the first time I started drawing Crash again after a very long hiatus. It was created on June 13 2012.

Proceeds will benefit both my school The Animation Academy in Burbank California and The Worthing Boys Club in West Sussex UK.

Thanks for checking in and to all those who participated in the auctions so far thank you for helping to make them a success!

Charles Zembillas 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Project A / BC - Auction 2 in progress

Hello fantastic people I hope you're doing great!

Here's the second of the three auctions for Project A / BC the fundraising collaboration between The Animation Academy in the USA and The Worthing Boys Club in the UK.

This drawing is among the group that were lost in the mail and wound up in Brazil for over three months. They finally made it to the UK and are now being offered to fans of Crash Bandicoot original art.

I drew the picture in class at my school while sketching with my students on December 6 2012. It's not every day that I conjure Crash scratching his ass. There are very few original drawings I've created of Crash Bandicoot that are in private ownership. This is your chance to be one of those individuals and to help the Academy and Worthing BC do positive things.

Here's the link to the auction. It wraps up on March 24 2015.

Good luck and much happiness to you!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Project A / BC - Auction 1 a Success

I'd like to thank the folks who bid on the first art auction of Project A / BC that I've been talking about lately. The first auction closed today and I'm happy to report that it was very successful.

The results at this link.

The auction for the second of the three adventurous drawings will get rolling in a couple of days. Meanwhile I'd like to express my gratitude to those who participated and who value my art. Congratulations to the winning bidder whoever they may be. Personally and on behalf of my Academy and Worthing BC as well I'm sure.

Thank you and Keep Creating good things!

Friday, March 13, 2015

What is Project A / BC ?

It's an eBay auction of original art I've drawn of Crash Bandicoot benefiting both my school The Animation Academy in Burbank California USA and the Worthing Boys Club in West Sussex UK. 

With the Worthing BC as sales agent of the art the first auction is currently in progress and will be wrapping up in 2 days and 11 hours from now.

There are three drawings to be auctioned and the story behind the 3 month 11 day trip from Burbank to the UK via Brazil is pretty darn amazing! Now we can offer the highest quality in original fine art for the Crash Bandicoot community thanks to Project A / BC !

Here's the link to the auction and here's the first that's up for bids...

Friends, imagine what this will be worth when I am no longer a part of the mortal world! Original art like this is an enjoyable investment. 

This is the first time Crash Bandicoot original art I've created is made available to the public. Plus the proceeds from the auction will be helping both the Academy and the Boys Club cover our expenses and help to expand upon the good we do.

Thanks for checking in! 

Wishing you happiness.

Monday, March 09, 2015

ArtShark is a leprechaun !

This month's newsletter went out today and that's a good occasion for featuring the latest version of ArtShark my school's mascot since 1998. Here he is celebrating St. Patrick's Day...

PS... Project A/BC

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Project A/BC - The Animation Academy and Worthing Boys Club

Hello there everyone! Hope this finds you well.

Remember late last year when the three drawings of Crash mailed from Burbank and intended for the UK got lost and wound up in Brazil for more than 3 months? Well I'm happy to say they finally found their way to their destination. Now we can have some fun with...


A fund raising collaboration between The Animation Academy in Burbank, California USA and The Worthing Boys Club in Worthing, West Sussex UK!

This is the second time my Academy and the Worthing BC have ventured forth together in fund raising via auctioning art. We hope to emulate that first success with a series of auctions of original character art. This time it's the world travelling drawings of Crash Bandicoot. The first of the three auctions has gone live. It'll be running until March 15 2015. Worthing is the agent of sale and the proceeds will benefit both of our fine institutions. If we're successful with this project it could turn out to be something we do on a regular basis. 

So help us get the word out! Especially all of you great Crash Bandicoot fans! This is a rare opportunity to own original one of a kind art I've created of this venerable character. There's hardly any of it out there in fan ownership. So let's do something about it!

Thanks very much and good wishes to you!

Charles Zembillas 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Valentine Artshark

Hi everyone. Now that I'm publishing a newsletter for my school, our mascot Artshark will be making frequent appearances once again. Here's the latest from the newsletter sent out earlier this month. Presented in reverse completion...