Badland Vista

Above: The badlands just south of our kitchen window.

After an amazing year of working and living in Seoul, we have returned to our Wyoming home. To me the sky always seems a bit bluer, and the light a bit richer after a long trip away.

Next stop... Ireland.

Image © 2015 Tod Polson

The Book of Life: 2D Flashback 002

Above: Some key color frames for the 2D bullfighting flashback

One of the key themes in The Book of Life was that the main star, Manolo, was unable to kill a bull in the ring. He did defeat a bull once however when it was struck by lightning. Which is the moment this key frame illustrates. Of course Manolo goes on to defeat the grandest bull of them all... with love.

Below: Some color day time color exploration.


The Book of Life: 2D Flashback 001

 A concept sketch for one of the 2D flashback sequences. Here we see an idealized version of Manolo's childhood... before the passing of his mother.

For the backgrounds in the 2D sequences I tried to use a design style that complemented Sandra Equihua's character designs: simple color and shape. Here I tried tying everything together by using background colors that echoed those of the characters.

Cocoa Astronaut

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Above: A Cocoa Puffs commercial from House Special, directed by Aaron Sorensen

A while back I was asked to design a space themed commercial spot featuring Sonny and his "Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs." Commercials can be a lot of fun because the schedules are short, and you often get to work in a style that you normally wouldn't.


A few of the key sketches I created for the spot.

Book of Life: Parade Balloons 2

Above: Parade balloon concepts inspired by Mexican folk toys- for the animated feature "The Book of Life."

The Book of Life: Galleon Parade Floats

One of the areas I focused on in the "Book of Life" was the festive parade near the entrance to the "Land of the Remembered." Each float in the parade represented a different character from the movie. Here are but a few of the many sketches I made for the Galleon float.

Above: My first sketches captured the fractured quality that the creative leads were looking for... but weren't that unique to the world of the dead.

Above: So I played with more ornate versions of the ship. Thinking of it as a character unto itself.

 Above: I thought it would be fun to have "dolphins" pull the ship down the street.

Above: First I focused on the overall shape of the ship. Then I spent time detailing out areas that were important to the story. For example, in one version of the storyboard the hero lands on the ships sail yard, and another character jumps from the crows nest. -tod


Book of Life: Entrance to the "Land of the Dead" 1

Above: Exploration for the entrance to "The Land of the Dead."

The LOTD, which would become "The Land of the Remembered" was a great place to explore. A place where almost anything could happen. I reckoned that gravity wouldn't act exactly the same way as it did on earth... so played with floating walk ways... upside down roads etc. This land was neither night nor day. There was no bottom or top to this world... it just kept going and going.

In the final movie, the hero comes through a much simpler door... something more parallel with the "Land of the Living." But a number of ideas made it into the overall treatment of the world. 

More entrance ways to come. 

The Book of Life: Fountains 1

Above: A few of my fountain sketches for "The Book of Life."

Every detail in the "Land of the Forgotten" was thought out carefully. Here I was exploring a fountain that was planned near the grand entrance. You'll notice most of my designs are very rough. My technique for most every assignment was to explore as many ideas as I could in the short time I was given. Trying to give as many choices to the creative team as possible. I explored dozens of fountain ideas. Whimsy and fun were the artistic direction I was given.

More fountains to come...

The Book of Life: Parade Balloons 1

Above: Parade balloon exploration.

One area that I focused on in The Book of Life was the parade at the beginning of the "Land of the Remembered." Director Jorge Gutierrez imagined this land as a constant party, filled with balloons, floats... and anything remotely festive. My early balloon sketches were inspired by Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls.

Here I was mostly exploring shape and color. Other than art director Paul Sullivan, I was the first artist on the team to explore this world. And though most of my balloon designs were never used in the film. They helped inspire other elements, and the general shape language used.

More balloon sketches to come...

The Book of Life: Travel Posters

Above: Maria dreamed of traveling the world... and plastered the walls of her room with travel posters. Several of us on the Book of Life design team contributed poster ideas. These are a few of mine.

The Book Of Life: Guitar Exploration

Above and below: Variations on a theme... early guitar exploration.

At long last "The Book of Life" is out on the big screen and I am now able to share some of the concept art for the movie. 

My main focus on the film was exploring what was called "The Land of the Dead."  Marketing thought the word "dead" was a real downer... so the land was later renamed "The Land of the Remembered." 

Director Jorge Gutierrez described the world to me as one of"...whimsy... full or round fun shapes... a land that is essentially one long continuous party." Here is a few takes on a guitar... some of my first designs on the movie. As far as I know none of these designs were used as seen here... but led to other ideas. And helped the art team better visualize what the Land of the Dead would become. 

Comics Alliance Reviews The Noble Approach


As the first anniversary of The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design draws near... great reviews are still coming in for the book! This time from Patrick A. Reed of Comics Alliance.

Read the post  HERE! 

The Book of Life: Part 1



Above: One of the trailers from the book of life.

Things have been fairly quiet here on the blog for the last year. Besides some health issues, promoting "The Noble Approach," having a new baby and moving to Korea... I was busy helping director  Jorge Gutierrez put together his first feature film at Reel FX in Texas... "The Book of Life."   Unfortunately I am unable to show any of my own artwork for the movie at this time... but there is plenty of eye candy from me and the amazing crew in the upcoming Art Of Book of Life. 

There is also some tasty treats on the official website by art director Paul Sullivan. 

After the book and movie come out I will be able to share a bit more. Until then... 

A Gingerly Prepared Meal -or- Ginger eats a close relative.

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A promotion video for the store window. Directed and animated by Poul Riishede

Recently my good friends Poul Riishede and his wife Sansanee, opened a new Pancake House in Chiang Mai Thailand. They have sort of adopted the lead character from my film Escape Of The Gingerbread Man!!! as their mascot.

Years ago Poul left his native Denmark to help me make my film at The Monk Studio Thailand. Like most of my personal film work, I had no budget to pay anyone. But despite that, Poul went above and beyond what was expected... and helped make the film a reality.



A few pages from the menu. Layout and photography by Poul Riishede

During the production of the film, Poul constantly yearned for a well made pancake. Then after a while, he decided to take matters in his own hands... and opened up his own shop! I owe Poul so much for helping me make my own dream a reality... so offered him and his wife the character to help them get their little dream business going. I never expected him to run, run, run with the character the way he has... but I am happy to see little Ginger running again. -tod

Some Ginger goodies for the kids! By Sansanee Riishede!

P.S.- I would like to add that I owe a great debt of gratitude to so, so many who have helped me in my personal film work over the years. Friends with much greater talent than I... who have chosen to share that talent with me for a time. Without you, I wouldn't have much... and I will always be in your debt. THANK YOU!