Final “3-2-1 Penguins!” Post

Deadlines met, I can now resume blogging.

This past weekend NBC aired the final episode of 3-2-1 Penguins! for this season. Incidentally, it was also the last episode I had the privilege of working on. We originally did two seasons back-to-back and my role in the project was completed almost a year ago. I haven’t heard anything since about creating new episodes, and the buzz is that the show will not be renewed. Even though Penguins! is one of the highest rated shows on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup, the fact is that most kids aren’t tuning in to the Peacock Network on Saturday mornings. Most are running into the living room in their pajamas, cereal in hand, and flipping to the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or Cartoon Network. Bummer.

For this episode I designed a character that was to be the leader of a race of cow people. Here’s the final design:


cowcommanderexpresionsv31In this episode the main characters are hit with a shrink ray and become very tiny. One of the gags involved the dim-witted Kevin getting caught in a mouse trap. The tone of the gag was such that Kevin didn’t feel any pain, he just looked a bit dumbfounded. There was some discussion about how it should look and where on his body the trap should be, so I worked up some rough concept sketches. Eventually it was decided that only the top of his head should get caught in the trap. This was primarily for practical reasons. In hand-drawn animation it would be a matter of simply re-drawing the character with his body pinched in the middle. In 3D computer animation, to distort a character’s body takes a lot more work. In some cases it may involve tediously re-rigging the entire character from scratch. TV production is incredibly fast-paced, so by resting the trap on his head we avoided that extra work:


I had a blast working on two seasons of 3-2-1 Penguins! and I feel honored to have had the experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with, and I’m a better artist for the experience.