Three Cartoon Characters

Sometimes on the show I get to flex my cartooning muscles. Recently I got to illustrate some characters so our hosts could try and do cartoon voices for them. Here's what I came up with.

I should note the goldfish idea came from the meeting the night before when Mike Hinkley our editor pitched this idea saying "What if Dave drew some characters, like a fish playing tennis?" That's how fast things happen on this show sometimes.

 If you'd like the see the segment these were drawn for, click HERE.

Creative Inspiration: Jackson Shrub Supply

I've rented from these guys often over the years for various projects. Every time I go there and wander around their lot I get inspired. This company has been around since Gone With The Wind. Here's a (oddly edited) video of Huell Howser touring the shop from several years back.

This is the story, of a prop for a Brady.

Awhile back Florence Henderson was a guest on Home and Family. On the same episode producer's planned a game segment to play. It's become the norm that I create some kind of fun themed trophy prop for the winner. That day's game, with Ms. Henderson playing and The Brady Bunch in mind, was to guess old TV show themes.

As someone who grew up watching the Brady's, I couldn't think of a better trophy than the evil taboo tiki from their classic trip to Hawaii episodes. You remember those right? When the kids found the tiki at Mr. Brady's construction site and it cursed all who wore it? Then Vincent Price showed up to tell them how to end the curse?

I decided to custom make one for the challenge and fun of it. It's far from screen accurate, but I knew it wouldn't be, not having a whole lot of time to create. I was just going for a recognizable nostalgic facsimile to sell it.

Here's how I made it.

First, after pulling lots of reference from the web, I roughly sketched the idol onto a piece of random craft foam (from the prop stash).

Next I began sculpting it. Best part about craft foam, it doesn't really require special tools. I literally used a kitchen parring knife to roughly cut out it and whittle it, then with my own fingers, I pressed and mushed the foam until it had the basic shape and form.

I then added the smaller details onto it with Model Magic.

Once the Model Magic set up, I coated the whole thing a coat of Fix-It-All patching compound. Once dry, I sanded globby spots and carved in the finer details like nostrils, defined lines, grain, etc.

It was finished with a base coat of grey acrylic, then a wash of watered down black-brown acrylic, and a dry brushing of light grey.

Was this the story of a prop that represents my best work? No.
Was this the story of a prop that I'll never forget making and glad I did? YES!

Oh, and yes, if you're wondering, when the trophy tiki was presented, our fantastic soundman added the famous evil music sting from those episodes.

A very good day at work.

A long time ago, in a suburb far, far away... I thought Lando Calrissian was one of the coolest characters ever to exist in the Star Wars universe. But did I ever think one day I'd meet him? Nope, never.

Ezra The Hitchhiker

My Haunted Mansion hitchhiker sketch trilogy is complete.

Now I want to Photoshop them all together in their proper lineup. Soon.

Gus the Hitchhiker

Added some color to the ol' Gus the Haunted Mansion prisoner sketch I posted a little while back.

Ezra is soon to make an appearance.

Phineas the Hitchhiker Sketch

I know in Haunted Mansion history, Phineas the hitchhiker was originally only known as "The Traveler" because of his packed suitcase, but I've always imagined him a demented Doctor hoping to get a ride to his next grim house call.

Beware Hitchhiking Ghost Sketches

I'm still having fun drawing Haunted Mansion characters.

More to come, could I let old Gus the prisoner here be all alone in my sketchbook without his hitchhiking cohorts? No.

Tap-able Tree for Tanya

Stop looking at Tanya, the tree's the subject here!

A segment on Home and Family last week became a fun creative challenge for me.

One of our show's "family" regulars, Tanya Memme, was to DIY tapping a maple tree for sap that then you can later turn into syrup.

Tapping a maple tree is actually easy to do, finding a maple tree to tap for a TV show set in Los Angeles is not. Our Universal Studios location did not have one, and finding a mature tree to bring on set from elsewhere was impossible to find. Believe me, I spent an entire week searching for.

With only a couple of days left until shoot day, the only solution left was to create a fake tree that was capable of demonstrating the tapping.

The gag required drilling a 2 - 2 1/2" deep small hole into the tree about 3 feet above a root, next you'd hammer a spout/spire into that hole to hang a bucket from to collect the sap. The real challenge was the fact that in the real world, sap often starts to slowly seep almost immediately once the hole is drilled.

Happy to say I actually made it happen.

Here's how...

The tree itself was fairly simple to make. I stacked two 4' tall 12" round Quickcrete tubes. They were secured together by screwing two 1' x 4" ribs vertically inside. The now 8' tall tube was centered on a 3' round plywood base. Next I added mounds of Great Stuff expanding foam around the bottom of tube, this both glued the tube in place and began building up the wider root bottom. Then I began adding long thin lines of foam up and down the tubes to create bark.

I continued to layer the expanding foam, until it had a decent tree look. This took a few hours as each layer needed to expand and set up before adding the next. No way to speed up the process, gravity makes piling wet foam on wet foam impossible without collapsing.

Once the final foam layer was expanded and dry, I shaved off all the bulbous top areas to create a more flat bark look. It's actually really painless to do just dragging a good, sharp parring knife up and down the trunk. The larger root portion at the base required a bit more time and true sculpting to create a natural curve into the trunk.

Painting it was three steps. First the entire tree was coated in flat black spray.

Next, a flat greyish brown was rolled on along the raised areas of foam creating some dimension.

Finally, a dry brushing of lighter grey brown was added just on the bark highlights. To detail the tree I glued on small dead branches trimmed from a nearby bush and layered the base with leaves.

So now, the tree looked okay, but I still had to make it ooze with sap once tapped. This was done super low-tech similar to the "Dripping Head Sack" Halloween prop I created a few years ago.

A section behind the tree was cut out. Inside the hollow trunk, a wood board with an empty gallon water jug lashed/glued onto it was screwed into place. The jug was then filled with Karo syrup (Maple sap is clear before becoming syrup).

A covert mark was made on the tree face. Tanya just had to hit that mark, drill into the trunk facade, through the wood board, then pierce the jug. Which she did perfectly. The sap flowed.

For more info about maple tree tapping click here.

L to R - Tanya Memme, Fake tree, Sasquatch.

Hatbox Ghost

I was thinking the other day, how can I call myself a Haunted Mansion fan and NEVER have sketched any classic characters from the ride?

Well, I changed that.

Little Known Fact:

Female werewolves have French manicures.

I make silly stuff at work sometimes.

More Reindeer Sketches

And this one I think, one day, I've got to make a life sized prop for my own Christmas house decorating.