Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Here's a timely little post for Halloween!
For anyone interested in having a little sneak peek at my working process, here's a bunch of behind the scenes sketches and notes produced for the 'Halloween Friends' digital book I illustrated for JibJab's line of Storybots - 'Starring You' books, now available on iTunes and the iPhone App Store.

After they sent me the text for the book and briefed me, I started off in a similar way to how I approach storyboarding - doing a quick pass at the whole thing in the form of very rough thumbnails (below). These are really for my own reference, not to show the client. I use this stage to just vomit out the ideas as quick as possible and also to get a sense of the pacing and flow of the book, as well as attempting to develop variation in the shapes and shots (close-ups, wide-shots etc) from page to page.

Working from the thumbnails, I'll then produce slightly more refined sketches and notes which will then be sent to the client for comments/approval/disapproval etc.

Below are two examples of pages where the action/animation would affect the lighting of the scene, so basically the colours on the background and characters would change. This required me to produce 2 variations of each illustration - like a before and after.
Quick note - This particular series of books allow you to personalise the stories so that the main character will have your child's (or your own) face and name. For the purpose of this post I added glasses and a mouth to the main character wearing the ghost costume instead of leaving it blank or having a random child's face.

Below are more sketches from the book. The animation notes were just suggestions and ideas I'd had while sketching. Once I handed over the final art is was then up to the super-talented people at JibJab to work their magic, and infuse it with their own fantastic ideas, giving us the final book as it is now.
Kurt Hartfelder was the animator on this project and did an awesome job!

This page (below) was a lot of fun to do. The character shifts her shape into lots of silly objects. I adjusted the colours of the BGs to emphasize the transformations.

Once I'd done a first pass at the whole book in sketch form, I then did a rough colour script (below) to give myself and the guys at JibJab a sense of the pacing of the colours throughout the story and how they evolve from one page to the next.

...And from there I worked it up to final art!

Big thanks to everyone at JibJab for hiring me to illustrate this project. They did a fantastic job of taking the project to the next stage with animation etc, and I'm very proud to be a part of it! 
Can't wait to work with you all again!!!


Anonymous said...

Great work you made for JibJab! But one question, I was wondering about the location of Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe (a studio where Gumball & your show Pinky Malinky is made), do you think it's in Turner House in Great Marlborough Street or somewhere around London?

Chris Garbutt said...

The Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe no longer exists unfortunately. It was originally at a separate location from Turner House, on Great Russell Street in London's Soho area. It was based there from early 2007 until the end of 2009.

From the start of 2010 a much more down-sized version of the studio was based within Turner House on Great Marlborough Street. A lot of this was to do with the whole financial crash that effected many, many businesses. Turner made a lot of cutbacks in many areas, and of course development is an obvious place to try and save money.
This smaller version of the studio continued to dwindle despite there being a lot of interest to make the projects we had been developing there (Pinky included). Myself and Rikke left at the end of 2011 after being offered roles at Dreamworks in the US. The studio pretty much ceased to exist late last year, early this year.
I believe CN Europe's mandate was to focus more on acquisitions and co-productions rather than the development of original programming.

Unfortunately by the time Gumball was becoming a success and people were recognising the fact that something great had originated from the development studio, it was too late. The studio, in essence, was no longer around.

Gumball on the other hand is located elsewhere. It was originally developed (alongside Little Rikke) at the development studio while we were at the Great Russell building in 2008. The first season was then produced at a studio they set-up especially for it kind of near Holborn. Season two and three are being produced out of a studio near Old Street.

Anonymous said...

So can you show me where the current CN Europe building is in Google Maps?

Chris Garbutt said...

As I mentioned above, CN Europe is based out of Turner House, which is located at 16 Great Marlborough Street, London.

But unfortunately, as I also mentioned, the development unit is no longer there. As far as I'm aware there's not really anything in terms of original development or programming going on there right now.

Anonymous said...

I understand. But I've seen the behind-the-scenes videos of Gumball & this video shows the building of the current CN Development Studio Europe. The inside details of the building has posters & artworks from Gumball by Mic Graves & Grant Orchard, the awards, storyboards, the Gumball team, & a graffiti by London street artist Malarky. His blog is at Thanks for telling me this.

Chris Garbutt said...

Trust me, there is no current CN Development Studio Europe.

That is all shot at the studio I mentioned above where they're producing Gumball.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. (& Happy Halloween!)

Anonymous said...

I got 2 questions. 1: What are your current projects you're working on at DreamWorks? 2: Have you ever visited Vallejo, California? (a town where Ben Bocquelet & his crew took pictures of houses & places for the backgrounds from Gumball)

Chris Garbutt said...

I'm afraid I can't talk about the stuff I'm working on at Dreamworks as the project has not been officially announced.
And I've never been to Vallejo either.

Anonymous said...

Wait - you haven't been to Vallejo? So you're saying you're NOT the Zodiac Killer? Hmmm, I find that hard to believe tbh.
But back to the post, fantastic stuff as usual Chris. Thanks for posting the process too, always great to see an insight into what goes on in the making.

Chris Garbutt said...

Thanks! Glad you like it!