Chen Yi Chang on Character Design

This has been around for a while, but it’s still a great link. In October 2002 California State Polytechnic University Pomona filmed a presentation by Disney character design supervisor Chen Yi Chang (Batman, Mulan, Tarzan). For over two hours Chang gives a multimedia discusssion covering the basics of good character design and technique. Then he reviewed student’s work for another hour. There’s some really good stuff here, mostly a refresher on the basics but still very inspiring!

Sketchbook Update: Doodling in the Dark

I’ve been working on a project illustrating Bible stories in a comic book format. Last night I went to the comic book store for inspiration, and found some great stuff! Most notably “Kyle Baker: Cartoonist” (Vol. 2) and a few comics by the legendary John Byrne.

I got home just in time for a thuderstorm to blow through and knock out my power (again!). But it turned out to be a real blessing. After weeks of non-stop craziness, there was nothing I coud do except curl up with a flashlight and read my newly-purchased comics. It was very relaxing.

Kyle Baker’s stuff is really inspiring. After absorbing his book, I did this late-night doodle by flashlight. Why a barber? I have no idea. He just came out of the pencil that way.

Speed Bump

I’ve been pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines, so there’s not much new to report. Here’s a cartoon that’s been hanging in my studio for a while. Since I work at home, it really made me chuckle. It’s from a great strip called “Speed Bump” by Dave Coverly, a very funny and award-winning cartoonist. If you need a smile, click on the image above to see more of his work.

Fanboy Radio to the Rescue!

One of the great things about freelancing is that you get to work at home and be your own boss. One of the not so great things is that it can get quite lonely. You miss having other artists around to talk to, joke around with, and be inspired by. So I was really excited this morning when I stumbled upon Fanboy Radio. It’s a two-hour radio program dedicated to discussing comics and interviewing people in the industry. Airings have included interviews with Mike Wieringo, John Byrne, and Stan Lee just to name a few. For only 75¢ each you can download episodes as podcasts. For me It’s like a breath of fresh air to hear such accomplished artists discussing their work, sharing their ideas, or just kidding around. It’s not the same as having a live person to talk to, but at least I get to hear the voices of other artists in my studio (even if it is through my computer speaker). And not just any artists, but accomplished professionals whose work challenges and inspires me. So if you love comics and you’re looking for something fun to listen to, check out Fanboy Radio.

Sketchbook Update: Bridezillas

Jennie (my fiance) is into this new reality show called “Bridezillas”. Normally I don’t care for reality shows (especially reality shows for women), but with my own wedding only 2 months away there’s a certain level of curiosity for me. In each episode a dysfunctional or highly stressed bride-to-be deals with crazy mishaps and headaches that come along as she plans for her real-life wedding. Personally I’m convinced the producers are working behind the scenes to intentionally create problems. In real life no wedding could possibly be plagued with so many disasters.

Anyway, these are two really quick sketches I did with a grease pencil while watching an episode with Jennie.

Books Every Freelancer Should Own

It seems every month or two I get an e-mail from an eager young artist who would like some tips on getting started as a freelancer. I’m happy to give a little advice and encouragement when I can, but there is just too much information to pass on in one quick e-mail. Besides, a lot of people have written excellent books that say it all much better than I ever could. So my advice is to read, read, read. Absorb as much as you can before starting out on your own. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn so much from the experience of others?

Here’s a few books every aspiring freelancer should read. Click on the image or title to order the book from

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer (Revised Edition) by Micheal Fleishman
The author does a terrific job of laying out the basics.

The Business of Illustration by Steven Heller and Teresa Fernandes
Insights and interviews on making it as a freelancer.

2005 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market
This book gives you the contact information for over 2,000 companies that hire freelancers (updated yearly). Or, if you want a really big mailing list check out

The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (11th Edition)
Quick and easy charts to help you figure out what you should charge. Also a lot of good info on writing contracts and dealing with legal issues.

The Graphic Designer’s and Illustrator’s Guide to Marketing and Promotion by Maria Piscopo
This is probably the best book I have ever read on marketing yourself as a freelancer.

Legal Guide for the Visual Artist by Tad Crawford
Detailed info on issues such as copyright, contracts, taxes, etc.

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators by Tad Crawford
Comes with a CD. You can copy the sample contracts in this book, modify them (or leave as is), and then slap your logo on them to make them your own.