Joey Ellis

About Joey Ellis

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So far Joey Ellis has created 53 blog entries.

The Hometown Team

By |June 19th, 2013|Uncategorized|

The Charlotte Hornets are coming back. I AM NERDING OUT HERE. I grew up watching Charlotte Hornets basketball games. They were my TEAM! I loved them all. Zo. Muggsy. Grandmama. Rex. Glen. Dell. ETC ETC. The Hornets simply captured my imagination. I, l...

Building Blocks

By |May 13th, 2013|Uncategorized|


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Back in late 2012, I had the pleasure of working with McGraw-Hill Education to help develop a series of iOS. Ultimately, the development team took the games in a different direction, meaning most (if not all) of my art was left on the editing floor. Sadface. However, I received the greenlight to share my work, so the post below walks you though some of my process behind the project.
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The interface was supplied by the client. I supplied that realistic tiger.
The majority of my responsibilities were to design a series of sprites/characters for each game, as well as background scenes that would fit around an existing interface. The image above shows an example of a finished scene, with the character and controls in place. A scene, like the one our tiger friend is in, can take weeks (even months) of concepts and redesigns. Patience (and coffee) is key.
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Workflow from Illustrator. How did people research before the internets?
Whenever I started with a new scene, I always worked on the easiest, or most comfortable portion first, then worked my way out of that. I also pull a lot of reference images, especially when drawing animals. The shot above shows an example of what my Illustrator screen looks like while constructing a scene. I'll usually have tons of reference photos and color swatches and whatever construction lines are needed. In this case, I had a template of what the final interface would look like (see the pink lines) which helped me design the scene around where the buttons would go.
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A sample of some final animal designs.
Originally, I wanted the characters to have a lot of detail and roundness (as shown in the chickens above), but due to the volume of animals/props needed throughout the entire series of games, coupled with the production schedule, a simpler execution was needed, so the final designs took on more blocky shapes.
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Some key frames for the animals' movements.
I am NO animator. I don't have any animation background and it's a service I don't offer, but sometimes I still have to give the real animators some sort of concept to go on. For each animal, I did a few key frames that gave my idea on how I thought each animal should move.
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What's that Van Halen song?
The chicken and the mouse above show my ideas on how I thought they should jump. This is pretty much the extent of my animation ability. So… if you know of someone who's looking to make a major motion picture starring a jumping chicken and a jumping mouse, send them my way.
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I'm faxing these designs to NASA as we speak.
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That might be the worst-looking robot ever.
Designing animals can be time consuming, so it's nice when a project also has in-organic objects that need to be illustrated. Part of the assignment was to draw space ships, trees, cactuses, robots, musical instruments, and so on and on and on. The images above give an example of some of the objects I produced to exist within the games.
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Several final scene designs. Leaving room for various interfaces was tough.
The last part of my responsibilities was to stage my animals/objects in a way that would match the style and also give room for the game buttons/controls. Most of the games needed space above and below, so scenes were designed accordingly (which explains why most of these have big spaces on the top and bottom). It's always a challenge to design a stage that has the same amount of personality as the characters, but also lets those characters stand out.
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A couple of examples of scenes with final characters in place.
Designing games is always rewarding, but there's always a tremendous amount of editing, re-working and changing concepts to match the production methods. Even then, there's always the chance that final art won't get produced. But that's the biz, yo!
You can see more examples (and larger images) of my work on this project by visiting my portfolio site. Thanks for reading!

Beastly Badges Series 1 & 2

By |April 19th, 2013|Uncategorized|


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I'm excited to announce a new personal project: Beastly Badges!
Beastly Badges are the best pet monster money can buy! Beastly Badges don't require food, water, shelter or any attention whatsoever! They can fit in your pocket, decorate your book bag, take up room in your hoarder house... whatever you need them for!
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Series 1 and 2 contain 10 Beastly Badges. They do not bite. Well, a few of them do.
Beastly Badges Series 1 and 2 each contain 5, 1.5" buttons that are individually named and numbered. Once each series is sold out, they will NOT be reprinted, so be sure to grab them while you can!
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Early sketch of Muck Mouth. He's so handsome.
The size and shape of the Beastly Badges allow me to come up with lots of ideas. "Aren't you just drawing monster faces on circles?" OH, YOU. There are no plans to produce a certain number of these. I'll keep making them as long as people keep buying them. When people stop buying them, I'll collapse into a heap of depression!
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"Urpp" is actually short for "Urpphaldudelphiuserton".
SERIES ONE: 01: Toofy 02: Grimey Slimey 03: Muck Mouth 04: Lord Barfington 05: Nervous Nerdly SERIES TWO: 06: Snort 07: Glurp the Indifferent 08: Urpp 09: Caveface 10: Picklenose

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Each series comes individually packaged in a monster-safe pouch.
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I'M BURIED UNDER THESE
I've had a lot of fun creating these, and I look forward to making many more. The folks at Pure Buttons did a great job of producing all of them, and the quality is top notch. I think you'll be pleased!
Head on over to my Big Cartel store and order Beastly Badges today!
Buy Beastly Badges Series 1 ($4.00 +$3.00 s&h)
Buy Beastly Badges Series 2 ($4.00 +$3.00 s&h)
Buy Beastly Badges Series 1 & 2 ($7.00 +$3.00 s&h)
Good luck and happy collecting!

FOR SALES: The best t-shirt I’ve ever made so far.

By |March 13th, 2013|Uncategorized|

I have now entered the lucrative world of t-shirt design. Yes. I'm finally able to share the best t-shirt I've ever made (since it's the first, it's the best), and for just $20, (the price of 20 $1 bills) you can own one. The "Monstercycle" is a very ...

Design Recharge Show

By |March 5th, 2013|Uncategorized|


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Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with Diane Gibbs on the Design Recharge Show. It was the first time I've ever spoken live about illustration, so I had a lot of fun, and did my best not to ramble (although, once a rambler, always a rambler). She and I talked about topics such as my studio space, where I draw inspiration, business practices and lots of other things. I've included the video here so you can watch it at your leisure.
There were a few areas where I misspoke (it happens when idiots do live shows), and wanted to clear a few things up:
• I mention buying a mailing list from Constant Contact. I actually used Agency Access.
• I discussed the cost of my postcard promo as being between $3-5k to produce. This included printing, list buying and postage. This did not include design time. I believe (knowing what I know now) I could have produced this much cheaper, but wanted to be honest about what I spent.
• There's a part where Diane asks me who my favorite artists are (or who inspires me). I drew a blank, but wanted to pull out a section from my earlier Design Inspiration Blog interview:
Chris Sanders, Adam Koford, Alex Deligiannis, Peter DeSéve, Melanie Matthews, Invisible Creature, Laura Park, Chris Lee, Matt Kaufenberg, Scott Campbell, Scott Chantler, Eddie Pittman, Robot Johnny, Todd Bright, Dustin Harbin... I’m just going to keep naming names until my computer battery dies.... these are just a FEW folks I really dig. I admire people that can flat out draw. Jared Chapman is great. He makes me laugh. No one makes me laugh. His work is great too. I’m lucky enough to have a brother-in-arms, Matt Stevens who is also a brilliant designer/illustrator. I think everyone needs a close friend in the industry that you can commiserate with.
ANYWAY! I had a blast talking with Diane. She has produced an entire series of worthwhile interviews that are available online, so please check that out. Thanks to everyone who tuned it and for all the kind words and great feedback!

Casis Academy

By |March 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|

The fine folks at CASIS brought me on to work on some character designs for their new CASIS Academy website. I did NOT get to go aboard the space station, but that's cool. Next time, you guys. Anyway, I was tasked with designing a host character, alon...

One Year of Bitniz

By |March 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|


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Today marks one year since I've become a full-time, self-employed, nacho-cheesed illustrator. Here's what I've learned:
• You need a workspace. Big or small, you need a stable, consistent place for you to hide and work in.
• If you want to draw storybooks, but your portfolio is full of doorbell packaging, you will continue to do doorbell packaging.
• Under promise and over deliver. Always.
• Get organized, or hire someone who will do the organizing for you. Uncle Sam is effing needy.
• Watch out for people who want to waste your time. Anyone who can't clearly (and briefly) explain their project is wasting your time.
• Find a buddy in a similar situation and commiserate. You'll want someone to share good and bad news with.
• There's always something to work on. If you have nothing to work on, you're doing it wrong.
• Continue to work on personal projects. Have big ones and little ones. Make it your passion, and you'll always have time for them.
• When building relationships, don't always make the conversation/topic about you seeking work. Take time to get to know people.
• Be yourself.

Interview Talky Talk

By |January 25th, 2013|Uncategorized|

I recently gave an interview with Jeff Andrews for his Design Inspiration site. I talk a lot about my schooling, favorite artists and Honey Boo Boo. There are a lot of other great illustrators and designers on that site, so it's worth your time to su...

FOR SALE: Sketchbookery Volume 1

By |January 23rd, 2013|Uncategorized|

48 PAGES OF THINGS AND SUCH. ON SALE NOW! I draw a lot of silly things. Silly things that aren't really tied to any project or any one idea. If you're like me, after a while you end up with a stack of silly drawings that get stuffed into a drawer and ...