March 21, 2009

With the release of the comic adaptation this past week, and the movie coming out Friday, I thought I’d talk about my work on the Monsters Vs. Aliens adaptation for Titan Books. Even though I had drawn Shrek and Bee Movie for Titan comics, I had to get approved by Dreamworks to work on the MvA book. For that I had to draw sample images of the characters from the film, which can be insulting, but it’s part of the process. The only good part about it is it gives you a chance to practice the characters, although I don’t feel you get a true understanding until about 8 pages worth of images are under your belt. The other problem is, unlike traditional animation, they don’t use model sheets per se. They build the characters in the computer and then pass them around to the animators. So I only got one or two poses to work from, or if I was lucky, I got an animated rotation. Some characters were still being tweaked while I was drawing my pages, so sometimes they don’t match up. The problem in not having a model sheet, is that the approval process becomes a shot in dark. A normal model sheet has notes about things the directors want to make sure you get right, like this one from Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair work. Note the instructions on how to draw certain elements, and things to keep in mind while working. Those types of insights really help, but you don’t get those very often anymore. 



When you don’t get this sort of information, you’re guessing as to what a character’s build is, or the traits that really define how they look. These little notes really do help to make things consistent.  If you know for a fact a character is 5 heads high, or their heads are two eyes wide, you save a lot of guess work. If you don’t get this stuff, it’s really hunt and peck until you get comments back from the studio. Invariably they go something like this “… these are totally off character- isn’t the artist even looking at the materials we sent? By the way we’ve changed the nose since the last email, it’s longer now, but we don’t have a rendering to show- think more Bob Barker.” Wha-wha-WHAT?! Yeah, welcome to my world. On audition sketches I try to have fun with it, and since my editors on this were in England (Shout out to Andrew James- the coolest editor in short pants) I liked to “Brit-ify” my sketches. I’m sure they thought I was lame, but it makes things fun for me. Here are some sketches I did of the main characters and the bad guy to get approval from Dreamworks. Later I’ll post pencilled pages from the story, the fantastic inks by Gary Erskine, and some of the colors… or as they say across the pond- “colours”.

Enjoy these for now. 


This next one was fun for me, only because I’m a dork and I enjoy old Dr Who shows. You ask the average Who fan, and they snicker when you mention the Daleks, as if they’re not cool because they’re so popular. It’s like Trekkies who snicker at Klingons, but we all know they’re cool, so admit it and move on. Davros was never my favorite Dalek related character, but he just seemed a good fit for this one.


If you HAVE to know what they’re saying- here you go. 



slgallant_mvsa_03Eh, it’s a living.


One Response to “We need MONSTERS!”

  1. richard said

    Nice work Shannon!
    Both the GI Joe and the Monsters stuff.

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