Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It's been a busy two months since my last post in October. I finished two freelance gigs, and also received the T1 and paint samples of Sketchbot! Tweaks and adjustments are in the works, with final approval mere weeks away. Exciting times lie ahead for 2010. More info come late February.

Sketchbot Studios wishes you all Happy Holidays and a great start to the New Year!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I've been on Twitter for 8 months now, and it's by far my favourite social networking site. It's the pure essence of micro-blogging. I've found that I discover - via succinct, 140-character 'Tweets' - an abundance of interesting posts and tidbits than had I spent 3-4 times more scouring various websites for the same information.

How best, then, to show my appreciation for the site than to create an interpretation of the Twitter bird - in this case, one that would fit comfortably in the Sketchbot universe! I present to you, TweetBot.

I scribbled a quick sketch of this idea month's ago but just now had some free time to play around with the character. I'll definitely be rigging and animating this little critter, so stay tuned for some animation posts in the near future.

Clike HERE to add me to your follow list!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mimobot X Infectious Contest Entries

It's been awhile since my last post. I recently wrapped up a 6-week animation freelance gig (will post about that next) and needed to finish some entries for the Infectious X Mimobot Design Challenge.
I thought it would be cool to actually model the shape in 3d and use the 2d template as the basis for a texture map. This way, I could easily slap various designs onto the model and see how well they hold up on the actual 3d volume.

Head on over to the site and check out all the other entries. And do cast your votes while there!

Click here to vote on Jellyfish Mimobot

Click here to vote on Sketchbot Mimobot

Saturday, August 1, 2009

SDCC 09 / Summer Vacation Wrap-Up

We've got one day left on our 2-week West Coast adventure. First stop was visiting family in AZ, followed by 2 1/2 days in San Diego at Comic Con, a 3-day visit to LA, and wrapping up the final week in Cambria with more family visits. Unfortunately, I've spent 10 days very much under-the-weather, as I picked up a nasty sinus infection amongst the 125,000 Comic Con attendees. I did manage to get some antibiotics earlier this week and am starting to feel much better.

A few quick thoughts on Comic Con. This year seemed even crazier than last year. Preview night saw people rushing the doors like it was black Friday! The lines to every panel were longer, and the crowds more jam-packed than ever, and this was just Thursday and Friday. We drove to LA Friday night after the show, so I can only image the weekend was even more intense. More SDCC 09 pictures up on my Flickr here.

I was excited to have the Sketchbot prototype on display at the DKE TOYS booth, and got lots of great response. This thing is finally becoming a reality! Met a slew of folks from my Flickr and Twitter contacts and lots of familiar faces from the year before.

One of the highlights was getting into Hall H to see the Disney/Pixar presentation. John Lasseter talked about the Toy Story series, a new 2d animated Frog and the Princess, and the highlight was bringing out Hayao Miyazaki and showing an incredible clip from Ponyo, which hits theaters in the US August 14th. The other panel that got me excited was seeing Peter Jackson present Neill Blomkamp's District 9. REALLY looking forward to seeing this one. I missed the Iron Man 2 panel (it was on Saturday) but the HD trailer for TRON Legacy made up for it in spades. The artists over at Digital Domain are doing an amazing job on this and being a huge TRON geek, I can't wait to see this on the big screen.

Alright, time to enjoy our last full day on the California central coast. We're gonna take the dog over to the beach and dip our feet into the ocean. Will be back in Brooklyn on Monday, have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sketchbot Prototype SDCC 09

What a difference a year makes.

Last year this time I had just completed two hand sculpted and painted prototypes of the first version of Sketchbot. I brought them along to SDCC, had one on display at Toyqube's booth, and the other I carried with me and showed to whomever would stop and listen to my spiel. I received lots of positive feedback and even some constructive criticism. The plan was always to revise the character to be more animation friendly, in addition to further refining the shape and features. It was also important to settle on a cohesive branding strategy for all the various elements that comprise Sketchbot Studios.

Today, I'm proud to announce that Sketchbot is now in full production as a designer vinyl toy!

The new prototype will be on display at the DKE TOYS booth at SDCC 09. I'll be in attendance Wednesday during "Preview Night" and wrapping up my visit end of day on Friday. I'll have a batch of the newly designed stickers and business cards with me, so hit me up for some free swag if you see me wandering the vinyl toy aisles.

It's been an exciting journey since I first began this venture over a year ago, and the future promises a plethora of surprises for Sketchbot. See you all in San Diego!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sketchbot Prototype Final

Here's a quick update on the Sketchbot prototype. Two full sets were delivered yesterday from the awesome Crystalline Models! One will be fully painted and on display at the DKE booth during SDCC. The other will be delivered to the factory where it will be used to create the master molds. Some key improvements are removal of the grooved eye, which doesn't lock me into one shape, and better defined grooves in the arms and legs. The figure has been scaled up by 10% to take into account the shrinkage factor when it gets cast in vinyl. Also, the enlarged right hand and accessories have been completed and look great. You can see a size comparison with a mini Munny up on my Flickr. I'll post pictures of the painted proto before heading out to San Diego for Comic Con.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's iPhone 3GS Day, and V2.0 Sketchbot Wallpaper!

Truth be told, I'm gonna miss my original 1st gen iPhone. I really liked the look and feel of the casing, and OS 3.0 ran just fine on it. However, I couldn't wait to finally upgrade to 3G, as the Edge network is slower than molasses. Of course, having a slight bump in camera resolution, along with being able to shoot video clips, is a nice plus. I just hope I don't regret this come same time NEXT year. We'll have to wait and see if the fourth iteration of the iPhone will be evolutionary, or revolutionary.

In the meantime, I'm offering up some fresh iPhone wallpaper with V2.0 graphics. It's refreshing to update the brand across the board with the latest imagery. Enjoy!

Sketchbot iPhone Wallpaper V2a

Sketchbot iPhone Wallpaper V2b

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sketchbot Customs... In Glorious 3d!

Sketchbot DIY MadL from Steve Talkowski on Vimeo.

This project started out as a proof-of-concept for setting up the Sketchbot blinking eye rig. I haven't started to rig up the bot itself, and thought I'd apply the animated texture map to a 3d MadL that I cranked out. I've been in a 3d customizing mode the past week, and figured I'd explore my first MadL concept. Possible candidate for the next artist series?

If you have the capacity, I encourage you to download the HD version of the animation on my Vimeo page.

I've also been presented with two paper templates to customize, and thought it'd be great to bring them into 3d and do some photo-realistic rendering. The first one is a design from Sharim Gubbels, called "Ghostboy." The second template is by Gareth Lancaster, aka "moopf".

I do have an original paper toy based on Sketchbot in the works and hope to have something available for download in the not-too-distant future.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sketchbot Update - Stickers and Quotes

Lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes at Sketchbot Studios. First, you'll notice a new masthead at the top of the blog that represents the updated logo. This redesign carries over to a new batch of stickers, which include artwork for each of the 6 planned colourways and the DIY blank version. I'll be including a sticker inside each box. Unfortunately, I have to conceal all the amazing versions until those variants become available (gotta keep the suspense alive!). The good news, everyone gets to follow along with Variant 1, and here's the final artwork:

And, yes, that's a sparkling new URL that will be the official home for the Sketchbot brand. It's currently under construction and I'm working on some killer content for the site. As always, you can continue following the adventures of toy production and other going-ons right here.

The following image represents but a third of the ginormous sticker run I recently had completed by the fine folks at Stickerobot. My design is currently featured as their Sticker of the Week! I highly recommend them for any of your sticker needs - tell 'em Sketchbot sent them your way.

Here's a quick comparison between V.1 and V.2 - the design sorely needed updating, and V.2 is now consistent with the revision to the actual 3d model.

Finally, I've been having lots of back-and-forth conversations with two factories in China, presenting my plans for production and getting those much needed quotes. Financing is going to be challenging, but I will not compromise on quality for my first release. I think all the fans of Sketchbot will appreciate the value that is going into bringing this character off the page and into reality. I'm still shooting for a release before the holidays, so keep sending those positive vibes in our direction!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Honey Nut Cheerios Sci-Fi Spot

SciFi Cheerios "if" Spot from Steve Talkowski on Vimeo.

I worked with Hush on this spot a few weeks ago. My role entailed rigging up and animating the bee character, modeling the honey wand and subtle honey animation, and full lighting of the character. A hero Cheerio was animated landing and bobbing in an imaginary plane, and this was repeated numerous times to fill out the foreground splashing bits of cereal. The spot was composited and colour-corrected in After Effects.

Check out Hush's website for more killer work, including another spot I animated on, Sony Ericsson's "Dance Off"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

KickToys Launch Party @ Toyqube

After enduring a hellish 45-minute traffic clusterf*ck on the L.I.E., we finally made it to Flushing for the Kicktoys' Launch Party at Toyqube. There was a great turnout for such a modest show, considering there were only 10 custom pieces on display. Met the entire Kicktoys crew, who are really nice people. Congratulations on the launch, and we are definitely looking forward to some of the newer projects that were displayed on the video monitor. Funny how the ride home took less than 15 minutes!

Monday, May 4, 2009

KickToys Custom Teaser

Here's a little sneak peak of my custom BEit Dude for the Kicktoys launch party this Friday at ToyQube.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Moon: Interpretations of the Chinese Zodiac @ MPH

Here are my pictures from the My Plastic Heart opening that took place on Friday, April 10th, 2009. Lots of excellent work on display, and it's always a pleasure viewing more customs in person from non-local artists. The show runs thru May 10th, so be sure to stop by if you find yourself in the East Village.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sketchbot Update - Blueprints Completed

I can't believe it's been six weeks since my last post! I've been incredibly busy, with two back-to-back freelance gigs taking up the majority of that time. Fortunately, I also had the last 7 days off and have spent the entire time focused on completing the Sketchbot turnarounds for all seven planned colourways. This included designing and modeling five additional accessories that will each accompany a unique colour variant. And, for all you customizers out there, I'm also going to do a decent sized DIY blank run as well! This is going to be an ambitious first release, and I can't wait to get the ball rolling with manufacturing. I'll be submitting my blueprints for quotes to see exactly how much this is going to set me back, then - provided the actual cost doesn't give me a heart attack - proceed to green light the start of production.

I also have a collab series with Drilone to complete, and will be doing a custom for Toy Qube's upcoming Kicktoys show in May.

For now, I'll share the turnaround for Sketchbot Variant #1, Pencil Edition. The others will be kept secret until the release date gets closer. Stay tuned for some additional, exciting developments in the near future!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sketchbot 3d Update

The pencil is back! I really needed to revisit the accessory issue because, really, what good is a sketchbot without his drawing implement?! I had always envisioned numerous art tools that this character would employ, and I see no reason (other than cost) to include a separate hand that is large enough to grasp the super deformed objects. This also affects the various colorways I have in mind. I'll most likely have to do an additional 3d print run, as the vinyl toy will shrink by 10%, and I really don't want the final toy to be less than 4.5". This also gives me the opportunity to finesse the grooves on the arms and legs, as the first 3d print was a bit shallow and required use of a tiny jewelers file to enhance the groove profile to a more desired finish. All of these issues start cropping up as I'm preparing the turnaround blueprints to submit to the factories for quotes. I really need to make sure there is no discrepancy in what I propose, and what I would like the final piece to look like. Lots of work involved before pulling the trigger here, and I'd rather take the time getting it right first time out of the gates as opposed to rushing it out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

NYCC 2009 Wrap Up

It was a tiring three days heading back and forth from Brooklyn to Javitz Center. Saw lots of familiar faces, and many who remembered me and Sketchbot from last year, so that was cool. Everyone loved seeing the revised Sketchbot prototype, and I made some new contacts for working with the manufacturers overseas. Comic Con purchases were extremely minimal for me - two artist's books, one really cool inkjet print from Bob Larkin, and one Ugly Doll action figure from Dave Horvath. Check out this Flickr set for my pictures from the show floor!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sketchbot Molds, Take 2

After a 2-week hiatus, I was finally able to start thinking about the next step with the Sketchbot prototype pieces - mold making and pulling a few resin casts. Now, I haven't done this since last Summer with the first version of Sketchbot, and I'm hoping to get something together for NYCC (which, incidentally, starts tomorrow). Suffice to say, mold making is not my forte. I don't mind sculpting the initial barriers, but the actual mixing and pouring is the messiest part of this venture. After spending an entire day prepping the pieces, the first molds were done and I proceeded to pour the first test pieces. Bad news - every piece was plauged by air bubbles, existing in both the mold and the casts. Ugh.

Already coming to the conclusion that I'm not going to have anything to show (or sell) by Friday, I figure since I'm already in this mode that I'll simply take another crack at making new molds, this time really paying attention to the seam lines and air vents. This evening, the molds were finished and ready for their test castings. They still exhibited a small amount of bubble holes, but were significantly better than the first run. At this stage, I'm seriously debating on whether or not I'm going to be able to pull off a successful DIY limited edition run, as every piece from here on out will require patching and repairing before painting. The good news? I do have a rock-solid 3d printed prototype that I can shop around and see about having that mass produced professionally. I'll bring those pieces with me to Comic Con, have a good time checking all the stuff out over the weekend, and eventually get a few painted up versions done from this week of tests.

Lots more pictures up on Flickr documenting the week's work.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sketchbot 3d Prototype - Pieces Finally Arrive!

The Sketchbot 3d printed pieces FINALLY arrived this afternoon. (mental note - USPS "Priority" is an oxymoron)

I am extremely happy with the quality and detail of these! They do require some additional cleanup, and after about an hour of wet sanding to remove the very slight remnants of layering and micro-scratches, they are rock smooth.

The pieces all have a snug fit, though, the more I've been playing around with it, the looser the connections are becoming.

I won't be able to generate molds from this until sometime next week, so please marvel at these photos to tide you over until the next phase begins. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sketchbot 3d Print Progress

How cool is this? Gabriel from Crystalline Models was kind enough to snap a few pictures of the Sketchbot model in mid-print. I would love to see a time lapse of this process. The printer being used is the Objet Eden260V, which has a .00006” layer thicknesses (16 microns).

I'm extremely impressed with the turnaround time. I uploaded the geometry Friday afternoon, the print was finished later that night, then shipped out on Saturday. I could be receiving the pieces as early as tomorrow (Monday), which means I can start creating molds ASAP. Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sketchbot Revisions Part 2

I've been getting some great feedback over on Flickr, and I agreed with the observation that his legs appeared a bit too thin. I also wasn't entirely happy with the flappy feet and felt they needed to be shorter and more round as exhibited in most of the recent sketches. I also paid considerable attention as to how the limbs would attach to the body, inserting a slightly recessed area on the body so the limbs would inset nicely into their slots while allowing full 360 degree rotation.

I think I also came up with a new logo for the toy line. ;)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sketchbot Revision Update

NYCC is 4 1/2 weeks away, and I'm feverishly putting the final touches on the revised Sketchbot. The plan is to do a relatively modest run of hand-casted resin figures exclusively for the show. This will also serve as a testbed for having a 3d printout created to use as a master to create a silicon mold from. I'm in the process of finalizing this geometry and will be choosing a 3d print bureau soon to upload the model to. I'll post photos from that result when I get the model, then document the molding and casting process once again. Stay tuned, it's gonna be a busy month!

Sketchbot Turntable from Steve Talkowski on Vimeo.