Animation Character Designer/Animator for the last 20 years. Worked at Spumco, Nickelodeon, Paramount, MTV, Cartoon Network, HBO, Disney. Currently designing Gravity Falls.

  1. acmehour1945 said: How do you deal with criticism, especially when people say negative things about the designs you did when you were working on Spongebob? Global criticism is crazy and humans were never meant to deal with that. Though I think chasing global praise is more dangerous because it leads to static art that lacks individualism. If we all take from the same pool of inspiration and use the same photoshop brushes/colors it leads to a large non-unique population that are highly replaceable. Then companies only have one criteria, who costs the least. So how do I deal with people not liking me, I try not to think about it, I go to my desk and draw and just stay confident that my choices will pay off in unexpected ways if I let go of the need to control everything. Easier said than done. Meditation and unplugging help too.

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  2. matteso586 said: Do you think Bill survived the explosion Mabel caused? I know all the answers to all the mysteries, but it wouldn’t be fun if I just told you. I take after Bill in that way.

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  3. nickgibberish said: Any tips for an amateur animator I’ve written quite a bit of tips on drawing. Here are some that I could quickly cut and paste. "So to all the people who ask for tips… it boils down to this. Deliberate practice (replicating specific art that teaches you a skill you don’t have): 1 hr in the morning, 1 hr at night in a sketchbook to see your improvement. You’ll know it’s working if it exhausts you and hurts your brain. Analyze your favorite artist and then study their strengths, improve their weaknesses. Analyze your art, then be a magician by putting your strengths forward while you improve your weaknesses when no one is looking. Draw through every shape. If you complete your shapes you’ll get a fundamental understanding of construction, shape vocabulary, and problem solving in art. Solve your problems in small scale and your final larger piece will only be better. Art is math.I wish I could explain how it all breaks down for you, but it would take weeks to type it all up, but staying interested in geometry and fractions will improve your skills. If you’re not learning or having fun, why bother. A lot of artist go through the motions drawing things they are comfortable with, or things they think an artist should be doing (coffee shop sketching) but if you are not learning from it, then you should move on to studying other artist and skills you don’t have. I personally pick 3 art goals every year to improve. I work on them everyday cycling through them on a monthly basis. This year has been fabric, forced perspective (4 point), and color… I set up studies for each of those skills by analyzing artist who succeed in those areas. For example, for fabric I picked Leyendecker, Bernini, Cole. Then I selected works from them and organized them from easiest to duplicate to hardest. then I thoroughly study them… finding my own solutions… art theory is useless unless you completely understand the subject….so you will need to do the heavy lifting. No one became a better artist from listening…you have to draw through your problems.” -June 2011 "There are paths in animation and what you ultimately want to do in animation should determine where you try to break-in. Path 1:storyboard revisionist > storyboard > storyboard writer > having your own  show. Path 2: clean-up>prop design > character designer > art directer or colorist>bg painter> art director (it’s more common for bg painters to get the art director position). Path 3: bg layout > forever (the true heroes of animation).  Get to know people in animation without annoying them. The animation community is full of super nice people who are always eager to discover new talent. Be genuine, listen to their advice and REALLY apply their criticisms to your work… only bother them again when you’ve done so. You will need to learn patience because animation moves slow. If someone tells you they’ll let you know about a test or job in a month…go ahead and double that time… it’s closer to reality. I always try to show people how eager I am to work with them and gear my portfolio towards the job because people have trouble trusting that you can handle the job until you directly show them. It is exhausting and daunting to have to test and do free work for a job that is not guaranteed…but that’s the reality of the industry. If you think you’re really good and deserve a job… you have a difficult road ahead of you and will be humbled soon. Don’t put life-drawing or studies in your portfolio…that’s like a musician playing scales to get a record contract. Good Luck, and I hope you’ll consider me for design when you finally sell your own show.” -July 2011 I have a series of lecture notes from Calarts floating around if you google it. I just gave another lecture at Six-Point Harness last week, so I have an updated version I will be sharing soon. Hope that helps. It basically breaks down to, don’t care about doing it quickly, care about doing it well. The rest figures itself out for you.

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  4. matteso586 said: Did you see how much fan art of "Bipper" was made during the past week? I also wonder how Mabel is able to operate more than two sock puppets with just two arms. No, I was vacationing with no internet access when the episode aired. So I missed everyone’s reaction, but I knew it was a great episode. I’ve mentioned that it was my favorite story outside the mid-season finale. I spoke with Alex yesterday and he told me to hurry up and post drawings since he said the fan reaction was off the charts. As far as operating puppets, she had grenda and candy’s help. Also love makes you try harder.

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  5. nychannelrs said: So what was the story behind designing the head that's always screaming? It looks like its supposed to resemble some one. Unless you made it from your imagination OwO Well my buddy Sunil Hall storyboarded that section (a tired father exiting the puppet show I designed bares a striking resemblance to him). I just started designing it, mostly figuring out all the anatomy involved, making it flip, and pushing the expressions further. I was nearly finished by the time I saw Sunil and asked if it was based on anyone. He told me “Yeah, I was watching GoT and sort of based it on Drogo”. I had already turned it in at that point, so I didn’t add “Drogo” to it. So for me it’s based on Sunil’s rough board and I just tried to get a reaction from both Alex and Sunil, to make them happy, to get excited, etc. That’s all I really do. I don’t ever have much of an agenda outside of getting my friends to say “cool”.

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  6. ahmallama said: you are like one of my new idols, and you have gained a follower! hows it like working on gravity falls, and have you done any other "spooky" but actually somehow unsettling stuff in your past? also i'm curious, what was you favorite and your least favorite things you had to draw in your career? Oh Thanks, those are some real interesting questions. Working on Gravity Falls has been the best I’ve been treated in my 20 years I’ve been working in animation. That’s not an exaggeration, and I don’t have to kiss Alex’s butt at this point. I met Alex a few times (2006 working on a short called Snail Detectives with Pen Ward, and 2012 at an awards ceremony) but we never got to know each other. I was warned that he was difficult to work for and was cautious when I first agreed, but instantly I think we hit it off. He’s become someone I genuinely love spending time with, but he doesn’t have a lot of time unfortunately. That situation makes it easier to work because I trust he’ll stand up for what he wants and defend me and my work, and I in return want to do my best to make my friend happy and I love getting Alex’s jaw to drop when I nail a design.  Outside of working with Alex, all the happiness in my life currently is owed to this show. I met my current girlfriend through my neighboring office-mate. I’ve felt like the fans and crew have been very supportive of the work I’m doing. So I feel very fortunate right now. Dark unsettling past? I’ve got you covered, Kidnapped for 2 years of my life, homeless, a year in the hospital in a fullbody cast. You can’t design horror if you’ve never lived it. Favorite thing I ever got to design?  IDK, it always changes, it’s usually what I’m currently working on. Least favorite? I learn from everything, so even when I’ve been unhappy in a job, I’ve tried to take away enough to grow. Sorry, those aren’t really “good” answers. How about this. I love it when I design something that I have a clear vision for how to improve it, and I hate when I have to just clean up the storyboard and follow the model.

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  7. piratecoves said: Hello, first I'd like to say that I've admired your work for years and I love what you've done so far in Gravity Falls. Now to my question, what has been your favorite thing so far to design for Gravity Falls? My favorite thing I’ve designed for Gravity Falls is what I’m currently designing, the last 3 episodes of this season. I can’t describe it to you, I can’t even tell you what it involves, but it’s crazier than anything you’ve seen yet and I’m pushing my imagination to the limit trying to give the fans and Alex the best. Thanks for the kind words btw!

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  9. grimphantom said: Hey Robert. Amazing designs especially the ones of Gravity Falls and Spongebob. On the designs of the Shape Shifter how did you come up with those cool designs? I know some of them are inspired from John Carpenter's The Thing but still has it's own unique look that you wish the 2011 version was like that. Also can't wait to see the designs you got of Sock Opera which again shows your mad skills in that episode, Bill/Dipper was just creepy! The design of the shapeshifter was basically the combination of giving Alex 11 rough designs to choose from and then he cherry-picked his favorite aspects and those that would work well with the functionality of the board. I would say the storyboard artists (Niel Graf) were more inspired by the Thing than I was. Alex did mention it to me but I was really inspired by Clayface from the animated Batman and a vietnamese springroll I ate in 2001. I’m not joking, that springroll disturbed me and I always thought it would make the basis for something weird. I mentioned it to both Ian Worrel and Alex Hirsch and they allowed me to mess around with the idea. I just arrived back from a mineral springs resort that had no internet access, so I will organize my designs of Bill and Bipper from Sock Opera tomorrow and post them. Thanks for the kind words, I always appreciate any compliments I receive.

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