Style Exploration for Disney Figurines

A toy licensing company asked me to help them explore ideas for a line of Disney figurines. They wanted the characters to be recognizable but at the same time stylistically unique, almost as if the characters all belonged in the same world. It sounded like a fun challenge.

I started by noodling around just to see what might work and what wouldn’t. First I tried to see what I could/couldn’t do with Mickey Mouse, followed by Ralph and Vanellope from Wreck-It-Ralph:

After some client feedback we eventually settled on a “look”. Next I began exploring possible poses for the figurines. They asked that the characters appear to interact with each other visually, but with poses that would also work as stand-alone figurines:

Eventually I worked up sketches and turnarounds for twelve characters. I can’t show them all but here’s what we wound up doing with Dash and Violet from The Incredibles:

Unfortunately the plug was pulled before the project could make it across the finish line. But it was fun while it lasted. (Images are posted with client permission.)

Deleted Post

After initially giving me permission to share my work, a client changed their mind and asked me to remove this project from my website due to legal confidentiality reasons. Sorry about that. You can view my other toy design, illustration, and cartooning work on my Portfolio page or my blog.

“Cars” Cow Tipping Cake


A few months ago novelty cake maker DecoPac, Inc. hired me to help them develop a jumbo “signature” cake to promote the Cars franchise for Disney/Pixar. Because this would be a large, triple-layer cake there was more freedom than usual to do something really fun and appealing.

I started by working up several very rough thumbnail concepts of possible ideas:

(Click to enlarge.)
(Click to enlarge.)

The client liked the “tractor tipping” idea (bottom row, middle). So I worked that up into a detailed color sketch:

"Cars" Cake Concept by Cedric Hohnstadt for DecoPac, Inc.
(Click to enlarge.)

From their DecoPac refined the design and sent it off to the manufacturer. And yes, the “cow tractor” tips over and even makes a “Moo” sound!

Cars-Tractor Tipping ToyYou can also view the final product on the DecoPac website.

For Sale: Autographed Kuzko Maquette and Original Drawing

Kuzko maquette and drawing

Since I’m doing a book sale to thin out my studio shelves and make room for new stuff, I thought it would also be a good time to part with my “Emperor’s New Groove” maquette-and-drawing combo.

I originally purchased this pair of Disney goodies at a fundraising auction. The first item is a limited edition animation maquette of Kuzko from “The Emperor’s New Groove”, signed by the lead animator (Nik Ranieri) and the sculptor (Raffaello Vecchione). The second is an original, signed sketch of Kuzko by Nik Ranieri on genuine old-fashioned animation paper.

I’m auctioning both items together as a set on ebay. Jump on over to read more info and/or place a bid.

Book Sale

I’ve got a pretty large collection of art books in my studio library. Too many in fact. They’re nice to have and inspiring to look at but the reality is there’s a large chunk of them that I never, ever pull off the shelf and thumb through. So I’ve decided its time to start selling a few.

I’m starting with some of the more expensive ones but plan to add more modestly priced books the near future. You can view a live update of everything I have available on my storefront:

I’ve tried to undercut other Amazon sellers whenever possible. If I’ve got a like-new copy I’m not going to sell it for cheaper than someone selling a raggedy book full of highlighting and coffee stains. But within reason I’m willing to be the lowest price. For the moment at least buying from me will get you the best deal (though you can check for sure by clicking on the item and looking at the various “Used and New” offers). Current titles include:

  • To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios
  • Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Storyboards
  • Rockwell On Rockwell: How I Make A Picture by Norman Rockwell
  • Don Bluth’s Art Of Storyboard
  • MAD’s Greatest Artists: The Completely Mad Don Martin (2 Volume Set)
  • Puss N Boots (illustrated by Andreas Deja, signed limited edition)
  • Peter Pan Sketchbook (Walt Disney Sketchbook Series, limited edition)
  • Little Mermaid Sketchbook (Walt Disney Sketchbook Series, limited edition)
  • Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation
  • The Art of Monster’s Inc.
  • Rough Beasts 1 (sketchbook of Bill Halliar)
  • The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age
  • Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm
  • Modern Masters Vol. 1: Alan Davis
  • Modern Masters Vol. 6: Arthur Adams
  • Leonard Maltin’s Animation Favorites from the National Film Board of Canada (DVD)
  • Out of the Picture: Art from the Outside Looking In by Chris Wedge
  • Amistad: A Celebration of the Film

I won’t be updating the above list on this blog but if you just visit my storefront you can see the most up-to-date list of what I have for sale. Most books are in very good condition but if not I’ve noted any tears, underlining, etc. in the product descriptions. If you decide to buy one, I hope you enjoy reading it. I can tell you from personal experience that just leaving it on the shelf to soak in through osmosis doesn’t work very well.

Happy shopping!

Good Disney Documentary at a Great Price

Dream On Silly Dreamer is a low-budget but nicely done documentary made in 2006 by Disney animators chronicling the massive layoffs handed down by Disney management in 2002. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Disney studios following the massive success of The Lion King all the way down to the “official” end of 2D animation at Disney. Animators recall the wild ride from uber-celebrity status and massive paychecks all the way to pink slips. It’s a must-see for any animation fan and not nearly as depressing to watch as you might think. I own a copy on DVD and have watched it twice, enjoying it both times.

While browsing around iTunes I happened to notice the entire film is available for purchase for only $1.99. That’s less than what it costs just to rent most movies. I have no idea how long it will be available at that price so you might want to snatch it up while you can (also available on DVD at Amazon, including extra footage and some good special features but minus the bargain price).

While you are at it you might want to follow it up with Waking Sleeping Beauty, Don Hahn’s new documentary about the Disney “Renaissance” under Michael Eisner. The two films together are a great combo for studying the modern Disney 2D-animation era, one during its rise and the other during its fall. Waking Sleeping Beauty is available on iTunes and Amazon.