Friday, June 26, 2015

The thought process behind the ten second drawing by Jeff Harter 6.26.15

This is an exercise I often do for fun. These contour gesture drawings are quick and intuitive, but here is what's happening in the the 10 seconds that it took, combined with years of drawing practice, of course, to whip out this drawing:  When I sketch from life, I try to capture the accurate and descriptive essence of a subject, while at the same time, do a caricature of the subject. Some drawings are more or less exaggerated than others. Rather than include shading, I focus on drawing the essential contour lines. I put them down confidently and with purpose in order to describe the form. You could compare it to a map... not every road is shown, just the ones that get you where you need to go. Same with writing a story, only the essential words and sentences should be used to move the story forward. Unlike a written story, where several rounds of editing may take place over time, and chunks of words and sentences pushed around, added or removed to end up with the perfect story (e.g. it took me over 30 minutes to write about this 10 second drawing), with these drawings I try to edit on the spot as I draw. Sometimes the lines are searching, but I don't erase those. This helps give the drawing additional energy. I don't do this for the sake of an energetic drawing, they just happen when I'm searching... maybe the perfect drawing for this exercise is to nail it the first time, with as few searching lines as possible. Another analogy: the essential lines that are put down in a drawing are like the bones of the human skeleton. Without the proper skeleton, the body either falls to the ground in a messy pile, or becomes too cumbersome to move. Same goes for a gesture drawing, a character design or a full blown illustration.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hey all. I'm finally heading over to Tumbler. Check out my new site here: I may continue to post sketchbook drawings and doodles here on Blogger, but you can find my newest finished character art over yonder. As always, thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Willie the Welder

I created this character design in visiting Pixar artist Chris Sasaki's character workshop at American Greetings. It's a combo of collage - cut out shapes from magazines, as well as some photoshop touch up.
So the story behind this character is… this is Willie the Welder. Willie is a rather hardworking turtle. He grew up in the middle of the extremely energetic and densely populated borough of Manhattan. On the other hand, he gets his energy from peace and quiet. He also has a really hard time coming out of his protective shell, or letting others inside. He used to be afraid of heights, but it's far better than dealing with the alternative below him. It's a tenuous balance between fear and comfort, but he now feels more at ease assembling even bigger shells high atop the steel beams of a sky scraper construction site. It's as far away from others and as close to solitude as he can possibly get.
Yikes! It's been a while. Here is some recent magic...

Monday, August 04, 2014

Morrow Point, Adirondacks

A quick sketch from the boat house on Morrow Point.

The lodge...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

American Meetings

We have a lot of meetings at American Greetings, more so than ever. 
Hence the name American Meetings.

Father's Day

A few new father's day cards that I illustrated for ©American Greetings, written by Scott Mendenhall.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Focus Group

I attended a focus group this week.
A few of the many interesting characters that participated... 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Packages from Planet X (The idea)

The idea for Packages from Planet X came about after several weeks of research and revisiting what I liked as a 10 year old kid: Sci-fi, comic books, Super Heroes, Robots, Space Ships, Aliens, monsters, and anything to do with Outer Space. I did a bunch of research on Planet X which had an interesting mythology...  a mysterious roving planet inhabited by ancient aliens. So there was this nugget of an idea, but it needed more thought. I put Planet X in my mental parking lot and waited for something to connect it to later...

While flipping through some comic books for ideas, I came across one of those old novelty toy ads in between the superhero action... think X-Ray vision glasses and the Surprise Package.  What exactly was in that package?  For fifty cents, it was no doubt something really cheap. But what could be in that package? What if they came from some place really bizarre? What if they came from a place like... Planet X?  That's when the concept came together. 

I initially envisioned PFPX as a feature animated film, so the designs were less cartoony. Dan was much younger, average and nerdy. I liked the idea that he was not a hero, but he had the potential to be heroic. Most kids are that kid, so it's relatable. Dan's character evolved from there. Above are some of my early attempts at finding Dan...

The direction changed a few times. The designs became more heroic and Sci-fi.

Here is a younger Dan with a vest that came in one of the packages. Maybe it had certain powers... I turned the vest pockets at angles to form a subtle "X."

Below is an older version of Dan. We narrowed in on this version for a while.
I also added the subtle "X" to his shoes. From the side they look like upside down "V's,"
but from the top they also formed an "X."

Some early versions of Dan with Troll, who is Dan's best bud.

My initial version of Amanda (below)

Early on, there were two rival comic shop owners dueling over the Packages from Planet X. One (below) acted as the antagonist trying to get his hands on the packages for "not so good purposes," while the other acted as a mentor to Dan, Troll and Amanda. We narrowed down to having just one comic shop owner named Gary, who was clueless about the packages, but gave Dan and Troll advice from a comic world view. His wacky advice based on issue 108 of the X-men, for example, sometimes helped our trio solve the latest dilemma. Both characters were inspired by comic shop owners from my home town, particularly Gary, who was the owner during the time I frequented the store to buy my monthly dose of the Uncanny X-men and other favorites. Both characters were eventually dropped from the line-up. Rather than having dueling comic shop owners, they became rival scientists (Uncle Rory and Copernicus.)

The character below started out as a somewhat creepy and unsettling Tiki that would just silently "be there" in the background at the most unexpected and opportune times, which always startled Dan. Initially the first package from Planet X, he was the "instruction manual" for the packages delivered in a monotone Tibetan Monk-like voice. I thought it would be a cool and even funny alternative to the overused and sometimes annoying comic relief sidekick e.g. Jar Jar Binks (the absolute worse ever).  Tiki evolved into a totem pole with three distinct personalities that always gave conflicting advice. Hence the name Thriki. He was ultimately replaced by the character CuRT.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Father Time

Another funny card written by the funny writers 
at American Greetings, embellished by me. 
© American Greetings

Monday, January 27, 2014

Professor Harter, Visual Development

It's been a while since my last post... In addition to my Alternative Humor day job, I am busy teaching a course in Visual Development for the animators and illustrators at Cleveland Institute of Art. Part of the class is devoted to teaching the history of Visual Development, starting with Disney's Albert Hurter and working our way up to present day vis dev artists. The class is also visually developing and adapting a story to pitch to a hypothetical director, using their own artisitic POV and outside influences.

I hope the students are having as much fun in this class as I am!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Bear and Bird

Working on a new self initiated project based on this illustration. We'll see where it goes. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Packages from Planet X Premier

Packages from Planet X
The animated sci-fi/comedy TV show Packages from Planet X premiered on Disney XD this past Saturday morning, July 13, at 8:30 a.m. Needless to say, it was an exciting morning. The first episode included Feast Beast and Brain Briefs.

It was a long time in the making (7 years since I first pitched the concept) but I think worth the wait. I am no doubt completely biased, but I think it turned out to be a really fun show, thanks to the many people involved from AG Properties, DHX Media, Disney XD, and Teletoon. Thank you for your persistence, hard work, passion and for believing in this show!

This is the poster that I created for the advanced screening. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Packages from Planet X are about to invade your home!

Kidscreen article above. 
Tune in to Disney XD, Saturday July 13 at 8:30 am to catch the first episode... 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Disney Trip 2013

This is a sketch of the Magic Kingdom's Cinderella's Castle.
It's also the first drawing in the new Moleskine sketchbook.
OK, it's not another Charles M. Schulz Museum/Snoopy Moleskine sketchbook,
but I'm working on that.
This is a sketch of EPCOT's Germany Pavilion. Epcot is easily my favorite theme park because of the world showcase. It reminds me of the olympics in a way, which I am also a huge fan of. There is something about all the nations coming together in one happy place. Where else can you travel around the world in one day and encounter the people, architecture, and flavors of the different countries, AND watch a Bee Gee's concert? Ok, it was "Stayin Alive," the Bee Gee's tribute band, but they were very good. Anyway, we ate at Germany's Oktoberfest. Lots of yummy German food, fun entertainment, and a good amber beer called Hovels. Laura, our waitress from Germany, taught me how to say Hovels in German. You don't enunciate the "H,"like Huvells. I made that mistake. It's pronounced "oovelz" with a silent H.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hayden Auditorium

Quick sketches of exterior and interior of Auditorium.
No sketchbook yet, just the flimsy folded brochure, printed on copy paper.
Medium: bic pen found at the bottom of my wife's purse.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

US Capitol Building

This is the last drawing in my Charles M. Schulz Museum Moleskine sketchbook. I started drawing in this sketchbook on May 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. It's been to NYC, Lake Placid, Montreal, Back to NYC (to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon  w/ Of Monsters and Men; and to the The Eugene O'Neil Theater), Stockbridge MA (The Norman Rockwell Museum,) Salem MA and Canobe Park in NH (where I saw the best Michael Jackson impersonator of all time.) Lot of fun sketches and memories. Sooooo thank you, Snoopy sketchbook, for being my trusty sketchy travel companion. Now, sadly, you are out of pages. Time to replace the old dog with a new Snoopy Sketchbook.  :o)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jeff Harter's Mental Block Party

Some of the characters I created over the past few years...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chairman's Award

A bit of exciting news! Earlier this year I was nominated for a Chairman's Award at American Greetings in the Category of Creativity and Innovation. Last Wednesday I found out that I was the Grand Finalist/winner. I couldn't be more thrilled and honored!

The nomination was for creating two TV show concepts: Packages from Planet X, and another TV show concept currently in development. Packages is in production as we speak at DHX Media in Vancouver Canada, and is scheduled to air in the Spring of 2012 on Disney XD. Thanks to everyone at American Greetings Intellectual Properties for believing in these shows, and to all of our partners for doing such great work! Stay tuned for PFPX and be sure to contact your cable provider if you don't already have Disney XD.... and keep your fingers crossed for that other show!

Friday, September 07, 2012