Monday, November 24, 2014


Herbert isn't in The Boxtrolls for a long amount of time, but sometimes that means you can have more fun with that character. He's definitely one of the more extreme cases of a character in a Laika film. At one point we were debating whether or not he'd have animatable hair. We finally figured that all the oil in his hair would just make it hold it shape after all the years he spent upside down.

We were also careful to use the same color scheme for Eggs and Herbert. Color harmony between characters is pretty important stuff.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mr. Gristle

Mr. Gristle was a pretty important character. He was the first character to get approved through all the steps (design, sculpt, puppet, maquette, etc). We learned a lot about how to capture the looseness of the style in a human forum. In the end though, he was cut from the film as his personality became redundant with Crabs, the old name of what is now Mr. Gristle in the film. To add to the confusion, we more or less used his face for Sir Broderick the White Hat in the film. A lot can happen to the life of a character in a short amount of time.

The process for creating these images was a lot of fun. Head of Costume Deb Cook (no relation) asked me to help her with designing the costumes on the film. We constructed them as paper collages and touched them up with color digitally. Ripping and cutting paper really gave us interesting edges and made the costumes loose and expressive. Debs taught me a lot about the actual construction of a costume - not only does it need to look like it was constructed like a costume would in real life, it needs things like animator access and to be able to hold its shape. She could tell me if something I designed was too difficult to make or animate and we could go from there.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Main characters are always tough to pin down. They need to be the 'straight man' (or woman), but still be distinct and interesting. They also get the most scrutiny, both from a design and technical standpoint. Eggs went through a lot of iterations, with a bunch of designers throwing in their version (many can be seen in the great Art Of Boxtrolls if you haven't already taken a look). Mike Smith, Kent Melton and I helped contribute a lot to the final character you see on screen. I did these sketches while working with Kent on the maquette sculpture. After a certain point in the process though, the sketches only can take the character so far. A stop-motion puppet need to exist in a real space, and Kent is a master at designing characters in 3 dimensional space.

The one question I have is, is his name "Huevos" in the spanish version?

Monday, November 03, 2014

Egg's Goggles

So I had the great opportunity to help design on Laika's latest film, "The Boxtrolls" directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable. Initially I helped out with nailing down the look of the characters. Designer Michel Breton did a great job establishing the look and feel of the world and I did my best to emulate the way he drew.

Since Eggs had been living as a Boxtroll for most of his life we wanted to make it seem as though Eggs was trying everything he could to look like a boxtroll. The idea of his goggles were something that were around for a long time (Notably designer Tom McClure had done a bunch of great designs, many of which you can see in the "Art of Boxtrolls" book). We also needed to make sure it looked as though it was hobbled together with disparate elements (his right eye is made of a mason jar with the bottom of a glass bottle inserted inside, the left was a hose clamp).

I tried to make it so his silhouette was similar to that of a boxtroll, but on second glance, you could could tell something was up.

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