Sorry for all the bunk posts, guys! I set up an IFTTT from my Instagram account to update this blog because I’ve started posting lots of sketches on IG, and thought my test looked fine, but then saw that, nope, it wasn’t posting the pics. Yikes, apologies for the pseudo-spam, and I’ve shut off the feed until I can find something that works.

In the meantime, enjoy one of the recent sketches I thought had posted over here….


Rickon ‘n Shaggydog

Today’s prompt: “snow nomad and his shaggy dog”.
CLEARLY they meant I should do behbeh Rickon Stark and Shaggydog living the tough life on Skaagos. Since I missed yesterday because headache, I made it a bit nicer.

conceptualizing an animation style character – Maid Marian

During a previous post I showed some of these pieces and talked briefly about trying a hand at animation styles. You can also find them in my character design portfolio. I thought I’d expand a little upon it, as I have new work for the project to show. Apologies if any of this is repetitious.

My inspiration came from the 1982 animated film, The Last Unicorn, during which there is a scene where one of our main characters, the wizard Schmendrick, conjures up a vision of Robin Hood and his Merry Men for a bunch of outlaws who try hard (and fail) to pattern themselves after the legendary hero. The outcome is NOT great (Schmendrick ends up tied to a tree in one of my favorite scenes in the film) but it’s the first time he’s able to actually produce magic. YAY.

I loved the idea of an animated Robin Hood story done in a style somewhat like The Last Unicorn’s and thought I’d at least start with developing our favorite lady, Maid Marian. Here’s where I started off. maidMarianSkinHairColors

I love her in all of the skin tones and hair colors but she’s usually a straight-up brunette or auburn-haired, so I decided I’d move forward with that. I have a degree in fashion design before I went to Gnomon to study entertainment art and modeling, and one of my favorite things to do when I still worked in fashion was drawing “flats”, or flat technical drawings of garments that show off the pattern shapes and all of the details effectively. Flats are symmetrical, but essentially I applied the same idea. And yes, I freakin’ love paper dolls.


Once you get started, it’s easier to keep going with these because you can just build new pieces off of the ones you already have – much like when in fashion we were creating flats in Illustrator. You can create libraries of collars, sleeves, necklines, skirts, and just stitch and Frankenstein them together to save yourself time. But in my case here, because I created these on independent layers, not only can I easily change the colors (the line art, base color and shading colors are all separate) now I can also have fun playing dress up!


I would love to figure out the programming behind making a dress-up app, but let’s just hope one day I’ll be in the position of paying someone who already knows how to do it to do the back end so I can just focus on the content. I enjoyed this so much, it felt like a great piece for my portfolio when applying to animation studios so I decided I needed to do a series of expressions. On my Facebook page I asked friends to give me an emotion or mood, and then I drew it. Much the same as the clothing, once you get started you can keep building off the facial features you’ve built up – for example, once I had her with wide eyes, it worked for a lot of expressions.


My favorite is still the eye roll. And I finally got around to drawing that goblet I imagined the costumed lady version of Marian would be holding. During this project, I realized I wanted to model her, too. I think seeing it fully realized in 3D would be so fun, and though I am not the best at texturing, I could polypaint her in ZBrush. The idea of 3D printing the finished model is also extremely exciting, and since I have been practicing setting up good topology in Maya and then detailing in ZBrush on simpler models (I recently and FINLLY got my feet wet and 3D printed a little wooden log haha) I kept thinking a lot about which program I wanted to start her in. In the end, ZBrush won out since I have more experience in character work in it and basically none in Maya. I did, however, spend a lot of time when taking her out of Dynamesh on getting ZRemesher to give me some quite decent topology. Hopefully it stands up when I get to printing her.

I also took it to Facebook to see which costume everyone liked best and there were a lot of differing opinions, but I liked how she feels identifiable in her Robin Hood outlaw outfit. So I needed a turnaround.


And because I would be sculpting the clothing as subtools, I needed a quick sideview of her naked. I decided not to spend anymore time on creating a symmetrical front view because I felt confident I could figure it out from the asymmetric, slight 3/4 one I had. The side view doesn’t have the most elegant shading, but it’s really just quick and dirty production art that served a very, very helpful purpose.


That essentially is the whole development process behind the character. The sculpt isn’t finished yet, and frankly, I’ve just begun (about 5-6 hours in), but all this early work has helped immensely. Now it’s just putting in the hours. I may also use her as another guinea pig for Marvelous Designer, and get a good base for her clothes that I can detail in ZBrush. Here’s her progress so far.



I will certainly update as she gets further along, but for now hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading!

patternmaking 101

Recently my friend Santhosh and I both attended a webinar on Marvelous Designer with John Gotch via CGSociety and listened to him discuss his workflow and answer questions. I have messed around some in MD, and knowing a bit about patterns might be a help, though from the sound of it, most CG artists who’ve been using it just reference patterns using Google searches.

Santhosh asked me if I had any recommendations for patternmaking books to get him going, and I kick myself for not having my slopers OR my patternmaking book from my undergrad days (I am sensing I never cleaned out my locker?). BUT I did remember having a series of 1/4 scale patterns, showing how you can pivot darts around into various areas of a basic bodice pattern.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to see, Santhosh. But let’s pattern!

So just in case, the primary point of this lesson involves darts, which if you don’t know are used when sewing woven fabrics (like your basic jeans, or a man’s collared shirt…something that doesn’t stretch) to accommodate areas like the bust or hips so the garment still hugs the body. Darts are not necessary for knits and some stretch fabrics….because they stretch! Basically, you sew the two lines of the dart together lining up its notches at the bottom. Let me show you.

Bodice002Explanation copy.jpg

This is half a bodice front pattern. In essence you’d just stick that nice straight line on the right of the pattern (your Center Front, or CF) on a fold of fabric so when you cut the front bodice out you have both sides symmetrically. I’m not going to get into fabric grains because this really it just to show some basic shapes for the purposes of using Marvelous Designer. So just keep that straight up and down for now.

This is a very basic bodice pattern with a hem that would end up right on the natural waist. If you match the notch on the bottom to the other notch on the bottom, those two solid lines would be sewn together, and the dotted line I drew in red is where it would fold on the inside. The apex, where the dart ends, is the full point of the bust, ie. that’s where the nip goes. You know I couldn’t keep the convo so clean. Let me give you the image without the writing, and in this example you can see how I pivoted the pattern around from having a waist dart (marked plot 3+4), to have a shoulder dart instead (#4). You can also use #3  and have both darts if you wanted.


Another spot to pivot a dart into is the armhole. Make sure you follow anything my instructor corrected in red, because she knows best….and I am the queen of missing notches (which can also be marked by that delightful little ‘T’ shape). Note these patterns below have seam allowance unlike my plots above. This is so you have room to sew all your pieces together without making the pattern too small.


Here’s how we pivoted the waist dart into an armhole dart.


Here’s another classic courtesy of IsntThatSew.org…princess seams.


This pattern is showing you a two-piece front bodice on the left, and a two-piece back bodice on the right. Note the difference in your basic neckline shape from front to back. Much higher in back, but even in the front this is going to sit right on the collarbone. If you want a scoop neck or a square neck or a v-neck, just draw that in, and of course in MD, you can quickly simulate what it’ll look like.

Hopefully that give you a decent idea of your very basic bodice front shape. You can now feel free in MD to lengthen it, or use a stretch fabric, in which case you don’t need a dart for fit. But you might want to use these ideas to create design lines, i.e., seams simply for aesthetic purposes. A classic for sic-fi bodysuits is using the princess seam, but instead of following the line all the way up into the shoulder as above, it curves into the armhole like this:


Image above courtesy of The Cutting Class. You can continue that line down the body if you lengthened the shape into a dress, with or without a waist seam. Making shapes in MD is much easier once MD5 added a cutting feature, something you’re really going to want when flat patterning.

So what if you’re drafting a pattern for a dude? Menswear patterns don’t really need the darts since men don’t have boobs. You can take these basic shapes (look back at the one marked Plot 3+4) and just draw it without the dart – and then you’ll want to straighten that hem perpendicular to your center front. Voila!

Moving on…let’s look at skirts a bit.



Note on the left of each picture we have a basic straight skirt shape with two waist darts. Again, this is half a skirt front and back, and would be cut on the fold, unless you wanted the seam down the center front and back. Here I’m slashing up those lines and closing the darts to create what is known as an A-line skirt (because it’s shaped like an A…real clever). Here’s what the A-line pattern would look like:




Skirts and bodices are typically what you learn to draft first in a patternmaking class, but to be honest (and this is coming from someone who kind of sucks at patternmaking) pants are NOT really hard. Let me look around for some good pant resources and I’ll create another post on that and sleeves next. Sleeves are not hard to pattern either, but they can be a bit of a pain to set into an armhole. Happily, MD will do all that work for us! Phew!



the Rookies

Hey friends!

I have just posted my entry to THE ROOKIES (the CG Student Awards) in their ILLUSTRATION category. It’s a competition for creative students and recent graduates, such as myself.

One of their categories is “Peoples Choice” and I would love you forever if you helped me with your VOTE. All you have to do is click the link below and then click “Vote for Entry” (on the right-hand side). It takes two seconds and would mean the WORLD to me!

Courtney Trowbridge

Thank you SO MUCH for your support! Here is a new piece that I used in my entry!




updating this ol’ chestnut!

I FORGOT that this sketch is so close to completion, so I can finally finish this painting. Whoopsie! Anyway, thought I should post because I also miraculously still love it. After I finish up the piece I’m working on, I may take a ZBrush detour, but then it’s all about this baby!

supper and cards9

character design

I’ve been working on a bunch of new character designs lately, all in various stages of completion. I had a lovely experience recently doing a few illustrations for a toy client, DEFINITELY a dream client, and I had a great time, got to work on some great properties and learned a lot from a terrific art director. Nothing quite inspires one like getting a good opportunity, so I’ve been trying to keep up lots of personal work.

First off, I found this again today:

face studies14SM

Three faces, three ways – pseudo-realistic, comic, Disneyish…I’d like to think I’ve come a long way even since this, but it was a fun exercise and I still like ’em. Plus REDHEADS.

Recently, I’ve been adding work to the galleries, more often than I’ve been updating this. I have to say, I also have been enjoying ArtStation way more than my own website….eep, it’s true! Anyway, I’ve been having a ton of fun practicing a toonier approach to character design (though rest assured, I also have a painting or two in the works).

When I designed this Maid Marian character, I was thinking about what it would be like if there actually WAS a Robin Hood done in the style of The Last Unicorn. As you may remember, there’s a part in the beautifully animated tale (and of course, the phenomenal book) when Schmendrick creates more of his zany, one-day-I-will-be-a-genius-sorceror-I-swear magic (which is true) and summons a vision of Robin Hood, Marian, and the Merry Men, to Captain Cully’s dismay (resulting in the amazing boob tree scene, I KNOW). I mean, his outlaws were doing so well what with that 4-day rat soup and the mention of tacos. I loved the look of those Rankin/Bass films with all their amaze-balls Japanese animators doing a slightly more western style, so here is MY Lady Marian.




I have a Bachelors in Fashion Design, which maybe I don’t talk about enough. Drawing flats was one of my favorite things when an assistant designer, so when I was creating Marian’s looks it was important to me that each piece still be a complete object. Also, I have several of these ALMOST paper doll projects, so I really need to turn one into an actual working doll with the tabs and slits.

So I’ll leave you with one more design here, but again will remind you that there’s more updates in the galleries. I can’t always be trusted to post about them all, though I will try!

This little lady is from an animation class. Honestly, I hadn’t quite considered when I wanted to draw a deer girl, that I was, in fact, designing a furry. So, apparently that happened, but you know, we could just forget the whole furry phenomenon and remember that the Greeks invented things like satyrs, and that was perfectly respectable material for artists prior to the internet and poorly drawn anime, okay?


smug smugglers WIP

smuggler figures

smuggler silhouettes

I really want to push my portfolio to include more sci-fi and feel more varied (also why I’ve been lately trying to do some more cartooning) so started sketching some faces, silhouettes and clothing ideas one day. I picked out these two guys to take forward and had to sit on this a bit longer than usual to figure out what’s next.  They aren’t finished but got a little stuck here for a while.

Things feel like they’re flowing again so they should now be finished soon and I think I’m going to add a frame around the guys to work on a little materials indication of leather/metal/whatnot and to have a decorative element to the piece without adding much to the background. :D