Copyright © 2010 Lightstorm Entertainment 
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

These are some of my early Navi character studies for the licensed property Avatar directed by James Cameron. The artists and designers working on our team were amazing and I just remember how great everyone was.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned about anatomy and figure drawing working with these artists. The film, of course, was extremely successful worldwide along with the ancillary products and promotions that were launched throughout the theatrical run.



Two of my character sketches for the Paramount Pictures property The Last Airbender. I enjoyed viewing the animated series for prep work before getting started on the project. The series did a great job blending humor within the underlying serious nature of the story. As you can tell from these sketches, the characters for the film were developed to have a more serious tone to reflect the hard realities of the world around them.




These three images show my digital painting for water bending and the background. I used Photoshop CS4 and worked very large using a Wacom tablet. When the painting was sized down it looked photo realistic. 

I've been crazy busy, so when I have time I'll post a few of my character sketches of Aang . . .



These images are are samples of my digital painting assignments depicting water bending effects and backgrounds for the Paramount Pictures property The Last Airbender. Working on this project was amazing. I got to meet M. Night Shyamalan the day he was flying out to adopt his daughter. My wife and I adopted both our children so I appreciated his excitement and commitment. 

What I remember most is walking into our first meeting getting a jolt of all of the creative energy. Being in that room with so many artists and creative thinkers who were dreaming dreams and making them become reality through their art was so inspiring. I left that place feeling excited to be a creative thinker—a person living beyond the box. 


I thought I'd share a few of my doodles that I did a while back with just about any pen that happened to be laying around. I doodle ideas, thoughts, anatomy studies such as eyes and faces, and sometimes I even doodle artist's paintings to learn as much as I can about their work. 

Doodling helps me see and better understand the world around me. Most often we think we see something but we really don't fully comprehend the significance of it all. It never ceases to amaze me how light can wrap around a seemingly insignificant object and yet cloak it with beauty and deep emotional impact. 



Rough character sketch using Prismacolor on vellum. Just getting a basic understanding and feeling for this character and his personal characteristics as I see them.


This pencil is from memory for an oil painting. Most of my conceptual ideation is in rough pencil sketches. Even when I go to the final canvas or digital painting I most often draw everything out to make sure the anatomy is accurate and the layout is working. The sketch posted above shows my usual style and technique for both thought and preliminary canvas layouts. Sketching people, places, ideas and dreams really helps me grow as an artist. I go through several sketchbooks a year and seem to do more now than ever before. 



Few knew his name but many remembered his face as he made his way along the back roads of the Smokey Mountains. He slowly walked up to the house where he spent his youth and scanned the land with tired eyes. He saw the old truck was parked in it's usual spot beside the field he once worked. He shook his head and smiled. He thought how the years were hard on that old Ford but then realized they were harder on him.

He stood there for a while and just breathed in the air and took it all in. It seemed like no time had past at all. Even the soil was just as hard and cold as he remembered. He tried to to make a go of it but just . . . his mind flooded with memories of his past—even her. Then, the harsh reality of the cold wind brought his thoughts back to the present where he stood alone. The prodigal had returned home but here was no one there to greet him. So nothing changed. Not the land. Not the home coming. Not even him. 


I started this painting with a charcoal drawing which was the best that I ever did—it was fantastic. Masterful. Never before has a drawing flowed so freely from my fingertips. How amazed and impressed I was until I realized the entire layout had to move two inches to the right. I tried to ignore it but I had to wipe off the sketch and redo it. This second drawing wasn't brilliant but it did the job. Oh well.

After that I fixed the charcoal and then gave it an over all atmospheric wash of color to set the tone of the environment. I blocked in the local colors of the face, hat, sky, coat and car with extremely loose brush strokes. After that, I painted the face since it was the focal point and referenced it against the previous color indications.

In my process, the under drawing (if one is even used) is quickly covered up by layers of paint so every stroke of the brush needs to be drawn. In realistic paintings, it's important to realize that each stroke represents a surface fixed within the three dimensional universe. It must be placed in such a way as to turn the flow of light across the figure while giving a defined shape to that form. To me, that's really the biggest technical difference between painters—the various levels of ability to draw form with the brush.