Monday, June 3, 2013

Blast from the Past #643: January 12, 2005: Re: tmnt sketch

(Note: For the next few weeks or months -- depending on how many emails I put into each "Blast from the Past" blog entry -- I will be posting select emails between me and Kevin Munroe (director) and Galen Walker (producer) from the development of the 2007 TMNT CGI animated feature film. -- PL)

Subj: Re: tmnt sketch
Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:38:59 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe

In a message dated 1/11/05 12:19:38 AM, Kevin Munroe writes:

<<Hey peter!

It was great speaking with you on friday. It's so much more helpful (and fun) to speak directly. Direct communication - how un-Hollywood.>>


I agree!

<<I'm working on a beat treatment, fleshing out some of the ideas we discussed. I'm liking the feeling of it. Working in casey and april - I can see why you like them, they're so organic to this world.>>

I look forward to reading it.

<<Here is the rough sketch I mentioned. (emphasis on rough - was on scrap paper at my in-laws) Not an official submission, but just wanted to illustrate the concept of making their body types more "teenage", versus hulking and muscular. Don't want to make them "skinny" tho.

It's an idea, and I'm sure my designers will do a better job. But does this throw up any red flags with you? We'll of course explore a few different looks just to be thorough.

And I took your rejected-Playmates-sculpt anecdote to heart. We'll stay away from too-human looks.??>>

I appreciate your sending me the sketch, and I made the following notes about it (I went into perhaps a little more detail than absolutely necessary, but maybe that's a good thing at this point):

Nice drawing. I like the general proportions -- very similar to our original TMNT, albeit a little taller -- and the "attitude", but there are some details that are wrong or slightly off. 

Leo's scabbard/belt has some odd things about it -- I'm not sure I'm loving the waist-level rings -- but the weirdest thing (and this happens more often than you might imagine when other artists draw Leo) is where the diagonal scabbard belt is GOING when it gets to his shoulder. Is it attached TO his shoulder? Is it going INTO his shell? (It should go OVER the shoulder and top edge of the shell.) As an aside, I will confess that Leo's belt/scabbard set up is something that we have always "cheated" in the comics -- we've never actually figured out EXACTLY how those pieces come together logically to work as they should. In fact, in a recent issue of the TMNT comic, Jim Lawson drew a scene where Leo was wearing the belts/straps WITHOUT the scabbards attached -- and what he drew looked so odd that I whited it out! So I am open to a redesign of this gear so that it makes more sense/looks better, but it will be one of those "I'll know it when I see it" kind of things.

I'm not crazy about the scraggly wraps around the calves and wrists -- and where are the elbow pads and knee pads (I see one of those, but...)? Also, while the "conical calves" idea looks cool in this drawing, and is very much like we originally drew the Turtles' calves, I'm not 100% sure it would work in animation.

The "tail" coming off the hilt of the katana is an interesting touch, though it feels more Chinese than Japanese. If we went in that direction, I think it should be significantly shorter/smaller so as not to get confused with the bandanna/mask. 

While I like the grimace on Leo's face, I think his head proportions are off -- maybe it's just too "cartoony", making his head look like it's half teeth in volume. I'm sure you didn't intend this, but to me the shape of the head and that "head forward" position gives Leo an unfortunate kind of "dumb redneck" look.

I'm pretty happy with the way you drew his plastron (front shell), though there is a LITTLE bit of "humanizing" there -- not much, just a little -- with the subtle indication of pectoral muscles on the protruding lower edge of the top row of chest plates. I like to keep it more like a turtle's actual plastron, so as to remind the viewer that this is NOT a funny-looking human being.

-- Peter


  1. AWESOME! Wow, this will be a very interesting series of emails. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Really cool. I love the behind the scenes details of drawing Leo. I'm going to have to start watching for the shoulder scabbard placement by all the TMNT artists.

    Any plans to post pictures of what the "rejected-Playmates-sculpt(s)" looked like? I would love to see those, if you still had them around.

    1. Chris, at the moment, I don't recall the anecdote Kevin is referring to here. It's possible it may have been about the first sculpt we saw for the proposed TMNT figures back in 1986, which looked like a "Masters of the Universe" version of our characters -- very over-muscled. (I think I posted an image of this sculpt grabbed from a video some time ago.) But I could be wrong. -- PL

  3. Whoa, that's crazy. I'm trying to picture what that would look like, and it's not pretty. Just read your Blast from the Past:644, and I love, absolutely love, reading your direction on the turtles. It's amazing how every detail of the TMNT has been thoroughly thought out.

  4. Thanks again for sharing these emails. I really enjoyed the TMNT film and felt like it's a film that only a true Turtles fan that understands the dynamics between the 4 turtle brothers can accomplish.
    Looking forward to more posts.