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The Lost Boards part 3 January 27, 2013 18:28

The Croods are a caveman family, possibly the last caveman family on a crumbling continent.  They are what you'd expect, not the brightest bunch, with beginners' minds.  They only emerge from their cave every three or four days or so, and only in the daylight.  By sundown they are back inside their sealed cave.  The Croods cave is the only thing that stands between themselves and the super predators that rule the desert night.  If their cave is their main survival strategy, the second is their pack behavior.  They Croods are an extremely cohesive group, never being out of sight of one another.  Ever.  In a world with no hospitals or telephones, staying together is critical.  The father, Grug, takes his role seriously, constantly checking up on everyone and herding them here and there.

Our film kicks off when the Croods lose their cave.  Without the cave they will have only a few hours of daylight before they will have to face the night for the first time.

That's the set up you see in the trailers.  But what you won't see is this tiny horse.  He's at the end of this series of drawings, and he's a little rough, but you'll get the idea.  He was dropped from the film only after he was built and rigged, and performed wonderfully in the talented hands of James Baxter, who took him through his paces.  It is one of those hard choices you have to make during the development of one of these movies, and dropping the pony wasn't an easy decision.  Who knows?  Maybe someday he'll get another chance.  At the time of this boarding he was one of the things the Croods met on their prehistoric road trip.  The pony took a shine to Grug, despite the fact that Grug wanted nothing to do with him.  Grug was always chasing him away, only to have the pony return and linger just out of arm's reach.  In the Croods world, all animals are to be avoided - even the smallish ones would gladly trip you and bite you.  So a friendly animal just didn't make sense to Grug.

The pony picked out the one Crood that was least likely to accept him.  The pony saw something good in Grug and was quietly devoted to him, following him everywhere.  There was a hopeless, heartbreaking quality to the relationship that I liked.

Crood Odds and Ends January 24, 2013 13:04

I promise I'll post finished drawings again after I get back to Los Angeles.  For now I'll continue to dig around in my drawing box.  The first drawing is the start of some marketing ideas I was drawing up featuring Sandy and the big Macawnivore.  We have a collection of animals in the Croods that are combination-creatures.  In this case it's a Macaw and a Saber-Toothed Tiger.  We moved the teeth around so they face forward like tusks, and borrowed the parrot colors for his fur.  He's the only animal I designed - most credit for our wonderful creatures goes to Shane Prigmore, Carter Goodrich, Takao Noguchi, and Shannon Tindle.  Takao would go the extra step and would model our characters, practically overnight.  When he presented them he would typically reveal that he'd thrown in some rigging so that the creatures could do some rudimentary things like smile or move their legs.

I wish we could release our characters like we saw them on his computer screen.  Before they were covered with fur they looked like collectible vinyl toys.

Anyway, some of the following things are in the movie, some are not.  The vampire rabbits are, but appear only briefly.  We call them Jackrobats.  Names like Liotes (Lizard Coyote), Jackrobats (Jackrabbit Bat), and Macawnivores are never mentioned in the movie, but they are occasionally given other names by the cavemen.  In the case of the Macawnivore, he was dubbed Chunky by the grandmother.


The Lost Boards part 2 January 22, 2013 12:12

Something I forgot to mention yesterday, which is that observant readers might have noticed the big stone menu suddenly changed into a flat rock after the first few panels.  I'm pretty sure that the flat stone menu came first, and then I decided that since it was a menu, it should look more like a menu.  So I changed the first few drawings.

Anyway, today's offering is from the same sequence.  In the opening minutes of The Croods we need to get an idea of what life is like for our caveman family.  In early development days we had the men out hunting and the women gathering.  This didn't mean that the women had things any easier than the men.  This was a little sequence where Eep is picking berries.  The plan here was to have Eep doing battle with an extremely aggressive flytrap-ish botanical.  Eep likes this sort of stuff, she's probably the most aggressive and certainly the most fearless of the Crood family.

I draw these panels with a black china marker, which is a crude sort of drawing instrument - basically a giant crayon.  It keeps things fast, as sharp detail is impossible.  There are a mixture of finishes in this sequence.  The first five panels are a second-pass over my initial rough drawings.  Panel six, through thirteen are my first rough sketches.  If I had more time I would have cleaned these up to look more like the others, but they are a good example of the sort of energy I want to capture in my drawings.  It's pretty obvious I didn't spend much time on them, probably less that fifteen to thirty seconds.  A second pass will take more like three to ten minutes per drawing, depending on the complexity.  Panel 21 took about ten, as I wanted to clearly describe how Eep was using her body weight and leverage to subdue the plant.

Croods Update - The Lost Boards part 1 January 22, 2013 11:16

As I write this I am at Skywalker Sound in the Kurosawa stage where we are working on the final sound mix for The Croods.  This means I have a bit of time to finally get this Blog going again - and not a moment too soon!  Croods is due to be released on March 22.

I drove up from Los Angeles so I could have my bicycle here.  On weekdays I ride from the inn where I stay on property, to the tech building and back again.  On the weekend I punish myself by going into San Francisco and riding up hills till I barf.  More on that later.

This morning I am publishing some deleted story panels from the movie.  I have a big box of them - I'm still in the dark ages when it comes to boarding which means all of my panels are still on paper rather than in a computer file.  This is a little series where Grug, the caveman father is getting ready for an early morning hunt with his son, Thunk.  On the outskirts of their hunting grounds there used to be a massive menu, which I imagined had been there for generations.  With only two items, it isn't really much of a choice.  After picking what they'll be trying to find, Grug leads Thunk over to another rock.  This one depicts all the things that they need to steer clear of - all the things that can kill them.  There are more things in the Crood world that can hurt you than can feed you.  Pretty much everything on that rock is in the movie, with the exception of the exploding cactus on the upper right of the painting.

I really miss the exploding cactus.

Then Grug and Thunk move on to choosing their hunting tools, which consist of either a stick or a rock - the idea behind all of this was to show how spare their caveman lives are.  Grug and Thunk do a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who gets what, but since there is still no Paper or Scissors, they each choose Rock and their match ends in a draw.  So in the end, Grug flips Thunk like a coin.

The only bit of this that survived was the coin toss, which is still in the film.  Only instead of flipping his son, Grug flips his mother-in-law.

Cave Girl Drawing September 24, 2012 08:35

As you can probably imagine, I've been drawing a lot of cave related things the last few years.  Cave bats, cave bears, cave centipedes, etc.  Put the word "cave" in front of anything and it changes everything.  The next time you can't think of what to draw, try it.  Cave Christmas.  Cave unicycle.  Cave birthday party.   You get the picture.

This was drawn as an invitation to a Croods dinner.  I wish the cavegirl's menu had been more cavey, but I ran out of time.  Earlier in the making of this movie we did have a caveman menu.  I was quite fond of it, and it made several appearances in my storyboards before ultimately being dropped for good.  My caveman menu varied in its appearance, but it was always huge.  In its simplest form it was a series of things painted on an outdoor rock wall.  The cavemen would gather around it to choose what they would try and hunt for dinner.  In it's final form it was two huge slabs of rock, angled against each other like an open menu.  It dwarfed the people that used it.  There were only two things pictured, one per page.  On the first, a bird, on the other, an egg.  Presumably the bird was the same one that had laid the egg.  The point being that there were few options in the Croods' world, all of them being pretty simple.  The more subtle message was that the Croods didn't have a strong hold on life - if that bird ever disappeared the Croods wouldn't be far behind.

This drawing would represent a slightly different take on the Crood world.  A slightly more comfortable version.

Cave girl on her way to dinner.