Flavio! Coolness!

Well, Mike Milo's cartoon Flavio finally premiered on January 24th, 2009 on the Nicktoons channel. If you didn't get a chance to see it, check to see if you have the Nicktoons channel on your local cable or satellite provider, and check local listings for the show Random Cartoons. I'm sure they'll be rerunning the show with Flavio.

I caught the initial broadcast and it was great to see Mike's latest effort on the air. Clearly he's been busy! We both have- I've been plugging away at my job at Fox and haven't had much time for other projects lately.

Check out Flavio when you get the chance!

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Mike Milo writes about Digital Storyboarding

These days, it seems the entire animation industry is going through a revolution of sorts. The idea of using computers to create all-digital storyboards has been around for a long time- every year since I first started in the industry in 1990 I can recall people claiming that a paperless animation studio was just on the verge of happening.

In the traditional "office space" world, the paperless office has been promised-land since the 1960's.

Finally, here we are in 2008 with amazing tools available for animators and digital artists, like Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro.

Maybe the digital, paperless animation studio is just around the corner. But then again, the big question remains: where will we stick all of our post-it note drawings? On our monitors and Cintiq tablets?

Check out Mike Milo's article about SketchBook Pro on the Autodesk website.

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Comedy Central

Recently, I've worked for Comedy Central doing graphics- check out my credit on "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil". Hey, I'm up there with AP, Getty and Corbis! This gig was a lot of fun.

Check out the show on Comedy Central- it's pretty funny.

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So where was I…?

Oh yes, rambling about nothing much in particular.

This past year I've been busy, busy, busy… but the current WGA writers strike has put the kibosh on the show I work on at Fox for the moment, so here I sit with time on my hands for the first time in a long time.

I've been keeping busy with some freelance graphic work for Comedy Central, as well as a feature film project with the Milo brothers, with a newly formed company.

That's it for now- wow, it's 2008 already? How did that happen?

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Mind of Mencia

Over the weekend, I Tivo'ed an episode of The Mind of Mencia, the show featuring comedian Carlos Mencia on Comedy Central. The episode featured an animation clip done by none other than Mike Milo. My friend Mary is a producer on the show, which led to the producers contacting us for some animation they needed.

The turnaround was fast! Mike just animated this last week, and it aired this past Sunday!

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It’s HML Time Again

Yup, it's HML time once again. For those of you that have dropped by now and then in the past year or so, you'll know that stands for Hot Mexican Love, which isn't just three words strung together, but the title of a fantastic collection of comic book work put together by some of the finest talent working in the Los Angeles TV animation industry.

The last issue went over so well at the San Diego Comic Con (and in a limited run at various comic book stores across the nation) that the publishers have decided to serve up another annual helping. Hopefully, it'll be an annual thing from now on, rather than "every decade, or so" as was the case previously.

Here's a sneaky-peak at my own submission, a story titled, "Planet Mexico". It outlines a future where the twin of the dinosaur-destroying Chicxulub asteroid (or perhaps, comet) arrives for strike two on Mexico, and this time knocks the entire country into its own planetary orbit. As the centuries passed, most of earth's citizens have long forgotten that the oddly shaped planet was ever a part of earth. That is, save for one lone soul who vows to be the first to find what, if any life exists on Mexico.

There's no word yet on the official release date for the next issue of HML, but we know it won't be available in time for the APE Con (The Alternative Press Expo) this year, April 21-22nd in San Francisco.

However, the publishers will have a special sketch book featuring the work of HML contributors ready in time for the APE Con, and the new issue of HML will be hot off the presses in time for the biggie- the annual San Diego Comic Con, July 26th-29th, 2007.

This post just wouldn't be HML-worthy, without ending with an exclamation in Spanish, so here goes:

¡Buonas díaz!

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Flavio Premiere

Last week I was up at my good friend and fellow Zaptooner, Mike Milo's house for the world premiere of Mike's cartoon, Flavio. The house was packed- I'm not sure how many family, friends and co-workers of Mike's showed up, but there must have been 30 or more people on hand for the main event. We all gathered around Mike's brand new high-def TV and watched the cartoon from a screening DVD fresh from Viacom.

Standing room only as the crowd enjoys the world premiere screening of Flavio!

I have to say, I loved the classic look and feel to the cartoon. Watch it here: Go on, take a look. Then come back and finish reading this post.


Back? Okay… so what did you think? Pretty cool, huh?

Specifically, I like the look of the backgrounds, the character design, and the little details like the cartoony sound effect pop ups and funny sight gags. I also love that it's an all animal world, something I've always thought was more interesting than just human characters.

Flavio will eventually be on the Nickelodeon channel, on the show "Random Cartoons", but of course keep your fingers crossed that it'll be picked for a series. Mike did an awesome job on this cartoon!

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We've really taken a lot of hits lately. Last month, so many people visited Zaptoons.com that we exceeded our alloted server space- hence the bandwidth overage message you may have seen if you tried to visit this site within the last two weeks of February, 2007.

Since starting this website in 2003, I've watched the visitors to it climb steadily from a few per week, to several hundred to a thousand per day. Last month was off the charts; we had well over 1,000 unique visitors per day until the server limit was reached. We had visitors from over 100 nations. All I can say is, welcome to everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Where I seem to run into trouble with my webserver is when so many people view the flash and animation files we host on this site. In the coming weeks I'm going to begin a content transfer to a larger server so we can handle the steady increase of traffic.

At any rate, I just wanted to say sorry for the outage we experienced last month, and hopefully the same won't happen again before we can make the move.

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Painting Tutorial

Hopefully you've seen our current site cover, a painting from Ribeye the Bullbarian and the Sands of Fate, created by Mike Milo using a tablet PC and software called ArtRage. Mike wrote a tutorial about how he created the image, so I thought I'd post it here:


"I start first with the original art. In this case, because the art was drawn for a children's novel which I illustrated in black and white art, the drawing was done on paper and then scanned.

After that I brought the line drawing into ArtRage and set it up as a Tracing Image.

From there I started to paint just the base colors over the line drawing, working slowly to achieve the flat major colors I knew would need. I didn't waste time getting into detail here and as you can see I was even a bit sloppy in the process. I can almost hear my daughters yelling "Stay in the lines daddy!"

From here I grabbed my Pallet Knife and started to sculpt in the darker shadows trying to find the light source I wanted and also attempt to get a little bit of form. Again, I'm not really too concerned about details but more getting a feel of solidity and shape.

I continue to refine the Ribeye. I build up the colors alternating between slapping dark color over the lighter ones by turning on the Insta-Dry function in the Brush settings.

This allows me to place precise amounts of flat color directly onto the lighter areas. Then I can smear it and sculpt it into shadows. I have found that I can go as dark as I want and I can still get it back to a lighter richer tone all the while looking for form.

Now I've moved onto the Lion, trying to get some nice dramatic shadows on him. I learned a lot from doing Ribeye and I am trying to apply this knowledge to the Lion. At this point I discovered that if I add contrasting colors as the shadows and then smear it in it somehow gives it a richer shading. Why? I got no idea but it worked for me…

Now I moved onto getting a nice organic background behind them by starting with a purple smear of paint with the Brush tool set with a high Loading of about 60 and a low Thinner setting of about 20 (so I'm getting that nice thick painty feel) and swirled it around adding contrasting colors each time, so I went from purple to green to yellow back to green each time taking the Pallet Knife and smearing the "globs" of paint mixing them, The great thing about ArtRage is that you can really add and take away from the canvas unlike real paint.

Now did it make a difference that I went back and forth with contrasting colors to achieve this at the end? Probably not, but that's how I built it up to this. I also added daubs of light teal directly behind them and smeared it into the green giving them light behind them and allowing us to focus a bit more on them.

Finally, now that I ended up with a green background which worked nicely for Ribeye and the Lion, (and I think helping them stand out best) I needed to change the Lion's sleeves because they were too similar to the bg. They also felt too naked to me so I changed them to green as well. I also added some blue to Ribeye's shadow which you may not be able to see but I think it adds a bit of depth.

I have been told by a painting artist friend that sometimes, even if you think a color you've added is gone and you have gone over it with another color, it still changes the final color enough and that the feel, or "aura" remains. Your eye can see it even if you think it can't. Well, I'm not sure if I believe that but, hey it sounded go so there you go.

This is the final pic. Anyway, I am pretty new to painting and I probably broke several rules in creating this but I had a blast doing it and I hope at least some of what I said made sense. Feel free to ask me to clarify if I wasn't clear."

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Out With the Old Year… In With The New!

It’s the last day of 2006- wow, how time flies!

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends, and hope that everyone out there had the same. This past year has been amazing, but I’ve been incredibly busy during most of it, hence not much activity around Zaptoons in quite some time.

Early next year sees the release of my latest book, Badhat, as well as some other projects, so stay tuned.

Happy New Year everyone. 2006 was great, here’s hoping that 2007 is even better.

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