Monday, January 18, 2010


So... I'm going to phase out "Fill This Space" in favor of a new blog by myself and Bill Plympton called "Scribble Junkies". Please come by and I ask all my followers on this blog to transfer over! it will be worth it I promise!

Patrick Smith

Monday, December 7, 2009

Improving your Staging...

I drew this layout the other day.. and it just didn't sit right with me. I was happy with the drawing, but it didn't help move the characters and the story forward. At this point in the film, the masked men have elevated themselves to predator, and have become a menacing, horrifying force that are gorging themselves on the helpless "little dudes".So I redrew the layout to express this feeling. I placed the little dudes lower in the frame, and I launched the masked man up high.. utilizing a low camera angle.. a classic and cliche way to make a character more powerful (just look at all the low shots of Darth Vader!). A bonus to the scene now is that I can show some really frightened expressions on the little dude.The re-staging of this shot even influenced the style of drawing.. I drew the masked man in the improved version with a lot more insidiousness and evil.. whereas the previous version, the masked man comes off as cartoonish. the overall composition improved as well. I suppose this is just a reminder to push yourself at every level.. you just never know how you can improve things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cutting the cord...

I've moved to the other side of the planet...I've joined the faculty at New York University's graduate program in Singapore (Tisch-Asia), under artistic director Oliver Stone. I'll be continuing work on 3 films that I have been busy with for the past few years which NYU is helping me immensely with. Also, I'm stoked to be teaching again, to be invigorated by that enthusiasm that students have, and professionals sometimes lose sight of. I'm joined here by so many talented filmmakers, namely Todd Solondz(Happiness, Welcome to the Doll House), Allan Nicholls(A Wedding, A Perfect Couple), Jennifer Ruff (Boys don't cry, y tu mama tambien), my old buddy from MTV, Matt Sheridan... and so many more. (below photo, Patrick Smith with NYU Faculty members visiting the temple ruins in Cambodia)It's with a lot of sadness that I have left New York City, Sometimes we need to radically change our surroundings, and "cut the cord" from what we know, if we are to move forward. Staying in the same place has never really agreed with me, and it's been a nearly a decade in my Tribeca studio, Blend Films.

"Hand Drawn Animation has gone through a shift within the medium itself. Now dominated by digital input devices, Hand Drawn Animation has become a less rigid art form, opening itself up to a new unexplored world of production methods, styles, and exhibition choices. The classical principles of animation and the drawn form, put forth by the masters of the medium, have become even more vital to the curriculum as we bring the medium into new arenas beyond simply entertainment. I teach the classical techniques of drawing in motion, gaining insight to observe and record the world in motion that exists around us all".
-Patrick Smith, Animator

I will keep in touch, stand by for some big blog news... a collaboration!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Plausible Impossible: Weight and DUMBO...

This sequence from my new favorite Disney film of all time, "Dumbo", exemplifies an aspect of animation (and artwork in general) that has become the overwhelming feature of my own work: The idea of the "Plausible Impossible" (term by Walt himself) in terms of weight and balance.
This clip from Dumbo would obviously be impossible, but it looks so believable because the animators understood how to render, balance, and move masses that feel like several tons. I love how the gossip hordes continue their bitchy little quips the entire time. Characters that express weight are FELT by the viewer, you can FEEL the precariously balanced fleshy pachyderms.
In my paintings I create configurations of people piled on top of one another. The configurations look like they may work, although impossible, I draw them to look and feel believable. After studying this Dumbo clip, look for a more "fleshy" and pliable variation of what is above, which, comparatively, my drawing looks dull flat and boring (ummm.. perspective patrick? use it you knob!). You can learn a lot from studying the masters!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CARTOONS FROM HELL, Charleston Film Festival...

That's right... the third edition of the traveling showcase "Cartoons From HELL" is going to play at the Charleston International Film Festival this Saturday night. New to the line up is Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick, the creators of "Super Jail".

"Bubble Wrap" by Arthur Metcalf
"Lupo the Butcher" by Danny Antonucci
"Puppet" by Patrick Smith
"Shut Eye Hotel" by Bill Plympton
"Bar Fight" by Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick
"The Box Man" by Nirvan Mullick
"Ah L'Amour" by Don Hertzfeldt
"Son of Satan" by JJ Villard
"Seventeen" by Hisko Hulsing

As you can see, it's quite the line up of darkly epic disturbing animation. These are simply my favorite animators to date, and some of the greatest animated films of all time. "Cartoons From HELL" will also screen at MOCCA Art Festival this June here in New York.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

David Lynch Says it, So I don't have to...

Rory Aronski, a film critic for Film Threat magazine, once said about my films "Patrick Smith has the mind of David Lynch and the hand of Bill Plympton".. to this day nobody has ever paid me a higher compliment. I was reminded of that when my intern, Peter Ahern, posted this great clip on his facebook page. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Time Warp" on Discovery Channel...

This program is practically tailor made for Animation Artists. I've never been so obsessed with a television show before. Motion analysis is one of my favorite past times, and capturing it with a series of drawings is what sets the art of animation apart from all other art mediums. Once you get into motion, everything else feels static and boring.The movie above is one of my favorites. I'm always fascinated at how fluid human flesh can be. And to think that people say MY FILMS are weird and stretchy! Real life can be so much more bizarre, just look at this fighters nose! Enjoy a free course in action analysis complements of Discovery Channel.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Discussion with Mike Stuart...

Last month I began an exchange with Animator Mike Stuart based on my longstanding interest and obsession with the animation from "Pink Floyd's The Wall". Mike was the directing animator on practically all of the sequences, and the more I researched, the more I realized that Mike was simply "The Man" behind "The Wall". Here's bits of our exchange, Enjoy:

above: Master Animator Mike Stuart, photographed and obnoxiously watermarked by Richard Wolff. Who has an impressive collection of photos on his site of mostly british animation artists.

"THE WALL" gave me a lot of creative freedom and allowed me to move into direction as well as animation. The opportunity to 'forward animate' ie. to start with a drawing and draw from drawing to drawing instead of producing 'key' drawings and then have an assistant 'inbetween' them. The Flower Sequence is an example of 'forward animation'(psmith note: "straight ahead" to us americans). And I used it also in the 'Tumbling Leaf Man' sequence - which, incidentally, is the first bit of animation I did for Pink Floyd." -Mike Stuart

"THE WALL" was made in a very unconventional way. Very much 'on the hoof' as it were. Most of the animation for the live performances was 'recobbled' and used in the picture. The 'hammers' caused a big problem as they were initially designed for the circular screen - extra hammers had to be added on either end as, in the film, we used an 'anamorphic lens', It is really Roger's film (Roger Waters) in my opinion. Nick Mason (pink floyd drummer)occasionally came to rushes but it was Roger Waters that had the last word." -Mike Stuart

"I am working with a chap in the states who is writing a book on the making of the film. He has already produced a book on the making of the album." To quote G. Scarfe - "I don't understand why people like it so much" I think you'll find this comment on the DVD." -Mike Stuart

Above: Images depicting my obvious influence from "The Wall" from my films "Drink" and the music video "Moving Along"

"My last project was the 78 'KIPPER' series. It won a BAFTA and Annecy in 1998 plus something in Positano. I have just designed a float for the Viareggio carnival. I mainly spend my time painting and making jewelry". -Mike Stuart

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm sold...

Some of these are better than films i see at film festivals! and it's solely generated by text!! I'm rarely impressed with computer technology, but is incredible and hilarious. If I was an animator I would really be concerned... oh wait.. I am... anyway, If you're wondering where the future is.. pre-programmed actions using text. all this needs is professional voice acting, custom character design option, then tweeking by director, and you have a dialogue driven script and one hell of an entertaining film!!! I love how the awdwardness actually makes it funny!!!! My prediction.. we will see a lot more of this company and this concept. I feel like making a film right now and submitting it to film festivals, it would probably get more attention than one of my traditional animated short.. NEW TECHNOLOGY just fascinates everyone, it's so pathetic. Ok...on second thought.. i'll be here at my studio drawing. Here's my attempt at it.. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eyvind Earle/Fredric Edwin Church...

Eyvind Earle was one of the many fine artists recruited by Disney in the 1950's. Eyvind's artwork is simply stunning. I can't think of a stronger visual designer, the best examples of which are the incredible images created for "Sleeping Beauty". I would highly recommend Hans Bacher's book "Dream Worlds". Below are a few of my favorite paintings by Eyvind. Michael Sporn does a way better job of collecting these images than me. I'm typically not drawn to this heavy use of contrast and graphic design within the context of animation, but these images are too alluring not to admit their greatness. Power like this reminds me of the american painter Frederic Edwin Church, a Hudson River school landscape painter that specialized in this type of imagery, with out the graphic design element. Specifically the his iceberg paintings.
Church gives an amazing lesson in contrast of scale here, something I use very often in my own work. One of the things brilliant landscape artists seem to excel at is making us humans feel insignificant in comparison to nature.
Earle uses a similar contrast of scale method here to create a feeling of power. jeeeez.The depth of this piece is astounding. I often notice that the more depth a piece has, the more dramatic and powerful it becomes.. in contrast to this, things that are flat are often used for humor or light hearted-ness.
The contrast of scale itself is the single element that provides depth to this piece above.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Blood and Posture" from Mark Kennedy blog...

"I don't use action lines to describe what is happening in the frame; I use blood and posture to tell the viewer what is happening" -Gibbens (of "Watchmen")

Another epic blog entry from Mark. Please take some time to read this very extended entry, it's something I think about all the time, and I happen to lean toward the NO action lines especially in animation. I hate that I've used them in the past, they added practically nothing to the action. "Blood and Posture" may just be my new tag line. ok... i'm using my own drawings as examples, you'll have to forgive me, i just have no immediate other examples at hand.
Above I used motion lines in "Puppet" to punch up this key that was exposed on ones. Now that I look at it, it didn't add anything, i should have left it out.
Above, I think I did well, some animators would use a "wipe" effect by elongating this exposure (again on ones) but it looks better with the more realistic "stretch" of the sock being thrown down, as well as a nice drag from the hair.
Above I think I used the saliva coming off the kids mouth as a "Blood and Posture" move, eliminating any motion lines, and only using goober to leave a motion trail, and also again the direction is aided by the drag on the hair, as well as the puppets little hands. This was a fun scene to animate.Dangit... above is another one... what's wrong with me?? this one had no reasoning behind it.. I think sometimes I put them in when i'm working on 1's because i think it goes by so quick.
I even see they crept in within the rough of this one.
Here's another one above, you see the VERY NEXT FRAME has debris (read "blood") that made the action quite clear enough.. no lines were needed. moral of this... stick to the real world for your references... there's no motion lines in reality!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Patrick Smith Program at Lake County Film Festival...

In addition to programming this years selection of Animated Shorts, Lake County Film Festival is hosting a talk and a screening of my last five short films, as well as several commercial productions my studio has completed this past year. It should be fun, I love talking shop with other professionals or students. I'll be at both Animation programs Sat. and Sun., and the Patrick Smith show is Sunday... info below. Hope to see you there!

Patrick Smith Show: Sunday March 8th, 2pm.
Animation Program: Saturday March 7th, 12pm, and Sunday March 8th, 4:10pm.
19351 W. Washington St., Room D100, Grayslake, IL

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Boston Underground Ben Levin/Patrick Smith show...

I'm really excited to share the spotlight with fellow animator Ben Levin, who animated one of my favorite shorts of 2006, "She's a Bombshell", which premiered with "Puppet" at the 06 Tribeca Film Festival. Be sure to heckle us at the Q and A on Saturday, we'll both be there to be ridiculed. I'll be showing the trailer for my new film "Masks". Also screening in the regular BUFF program is "Bubblewrap" by my super talented buddy Arthur Metcalf.
Boston Underground Film Festival presents:
New York Spawned a Monster, The Animation of Ben Levin and Patrick Smith.
-Friday, February 27 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Space 242
-Saturday, February 28, at noon, don't miss a Q and A session with the two animators.

Join us at Space 242! SPACE 242 is located in Boston's South End at 242 East Berkeley Street, 2nd floor, between Albany Street and Harrison Avenue in Boston (The Medieval Manor Building).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kill Your Television...

Jamie Wyeth was asked about a recent sale of one of his paintings to the actor Tom Arnold. He replied, "Who's Tom Arnold?" I think Mr. Wyeth spends much more time working than in front of the TV. Note to self.. Kill your television. It's a strange relationship to be working primarily for TV, but not watch it. I discontinued my cable TV this week, and I'm really thinking that I'm not missing out on much. I did, however, retain my netflix account. Here's a few thoughts provided by

"I don't really watch television, and I make my living out of it. It's not out of any great principle. I work at it all day. I'm traveling, at night I'm going (to give) speeches. Other than watching sports and the news, I just don't watch it." -- Talk show host Jerry Springer

"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV." -- The Kaiser Family Foundation

"You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on." -- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar

Recessions as blessings...

The best rise to the top in times like these, and the posers end up leaving the room. Do anything you need to do to survive, but don't waste time not creating art. -Patrick Smith note to self
(above: he's taken a beating, but smiling) One of the first things I learned about animation is that there is no easy way to do it, once you get over that fact, you can become an animator. Living in times of economic struggle is no different, simply put: nobody said it would be easy. Historically, recessions and depressions have been times when important and great works of art get made. Our cost for materials is relatively minor. It's time to create good work, stop reading CNN, or Cartoon Brew, get off of Facebook, and start working. When bad times hit and the economy is sucking, artists really need to elevate themselves and increase the quality of what they are creating. (above: stretching things thin) My friend John Dilworth once told me that when you hit the bottom, THAT'S when you will do something real. I'm happy to say that I think I may be doing something real now, John. I just hope I don't lose my house in the process.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Patrick Smith films in HD on Youtube...

I'm happy Youtube started to support a higher resolution option, it kills several of my complaints I had with this exhibition medium. Although I still think Youtube is an outlet for predominantly 14 year old zombies, I have to confess that this looks pretty darn good. Please watch my 2004 films "Handshake" and "Moving Along", or my most recent short "Puppet". Let me know what you think. I know it's not like watching it in a theater or at a home theater, but it's the best the internet can offer right now. For true believers you can still get my DVD for a more formal experience. oh, and it's my birthday, please make checks payable to Blend Films Inc. c/o save an animator birthday fund.

Monday, February 16, 2009

PSmith Graffiti spotted...

I've gotten a few of these video stills sent to me, the latest was sent from animator Alisa Stern, she grabbed these stills from "Dr. Who", and spotted graffiti of mine in the background.Oddly enough, I didn't paint this, someone else just copied one of my "Column" designs. I like to see my work where I didn't put it, makes me think for a second that there's other people who dig my stuff beside my parents, pink pigeons, and my blog readers (full props to y'all).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Birthday Greetings!

I ran into a bunch of my old MTV friends at a party the other night, my birthday came up in conversation (it's next week) and I was reminded of all the cool art and cards I've gotten over the years. here's a small sample of them.This first one (above) is one of my favorites, Bill Plympton gave me this card four years ago, I had just finished my film "Handshake" and he had just finished "Guard Dog", so he threw the two characters together for this card! it's one of my treasured pieces of art. Bill also did a great thank you card for staying at my place in montauk, I will post it soon!
These two cards above are two of many I got while working at MTV. The studio had a tradition of giving cards to everyone on their Bday, it would get passed around and everyone would contribute a drawing. Then that person would get wods of paper whipped at them by everyone, which was occasionally pretty painful, but you'd get a cool card out of it!
This one goes all the way back to Beavis and Butthead, and The Head. Brian Moore was the artist I'm pretty sure.
This one was from when I was directing on "Downtown", a show that had a truly talented crew, the colorful image in the character "Goat" drawn most likely by Dave Vandervort.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Singapore...

It's been over a week since my arrival, the NYU-Asia hosted Master Class I'm teaching is going well, the graduate level students are very talented. It's also great to be back in southeast asia, although I had forgotten how hot it is here. The university is hosting a program of my short films this friday which should be fun. Other than work, I've had a lot of time to walk around this city aimlessly with some of the faculty and students. Matt Sheridan, an old buddy of mine from MTV teaches here full time, and it's great to catch up with him, we ate fish head curry the other night. I was also able to hang out with Lucas Films Animation director, Rob Coleman. Another highlight, photo above, was walking through one of the last traditional villages in singapore, a place called Kampong Lorong, which is about to be razed by the government to build more project-like high rise homes.
Photo above is Lucas Films Rob Coleman, Patrick Smith, and NYU-Asia dept head Jean-Marc Gauthier.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth 1918-2009

One of my favorite painters of all time, Andrew Wyeth, who captured the melancholy of the landscapes and people of Pennsylvania in his brilliant paintings, died aged 91. I've often mentioned him within my writing and teaching, especially in terms of putting "movement" into his work, something us animators always like to point out. Wyeth was the first living US artist to be elected to the Royal Academy. It's a great loss. There just aren't classical painters like him anymore.