In May of 2010, I began working at an animation studio in Woodland Hills, California called Moonscoop Entertainment. I was one of two character designers hired to help turn the very popular Zhu Zhu Pets toys into living, breathing, and adorable animated characters. My partner in this endeavor was the highly esteemed Stephen Silver who had been developing the characters’ looks with director Bob Doucette. When I joined the team, it was my job to give the hamsters personality and to make them work for a CGI (computer generated imagery) animated film.
Fast forward seventeen months later, and you will be holding the results of our initial efforts in your very own hands. Amazon recently began to pre-sell our first Zhu Zhu Pets movie to be released at the end of September from Universal Studios (CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon). When I saw the video cover that the marketing folks put together, something looked strangely familiar – all the main four character poses were based on some of my early drawings!
I was planning to share with you some of my work for the Zhu Zhu Pets series from time to time, so why not start by showing you the sketches that led to the first video cover!
After Stephen Silver created the initial designs, I took them and drew up lots of action poses. The goal behind these drawings was to really get their personalities across, and to show the range of motion that they should be able to have when they get animated. These types of drawings help the CG artists know how to build the characters, they help the storyboard artists get a handle on how to draw the characters, the animators on how to animate them, and sometimes they help the marketing people promote the film as was the case with these four drawings.
Our story is about the adventures of four hamsters who go on their Quest for Zhu – the title doesn’t lie! There is sweet and dainty Num Nums, the adventurous Pipsqueak, the heroic Mr. Squiggles and laid-back surfing aficionado Chunk. Below are just a few of the many sketches created really early in the process of developing who these characters are. While they were early sketches, somehow these particular four poses struck a chord with others who came after me since they influenced the video cover.
The Quest for Zhu movie is just the first of three DVD films that will be sure to capture the imagination of your little ones. In fact, even now I am at work on more Zhu Zhu cartoons that will eventually make their way to the internet as webisodes. Now and again I’ll share some of my behind-the-scenes work with you from this magical series here on my blog.
Here’s a trailer showing the characters in action….