I have been making these free facebook posts that contain the basics on the kinds of work I do in my studio. Some of you are looking for how to make art, some are looking for writing tips, some want to combine both and make graphic novels. Here are a number of different live sessions I posted on my Facebook page (they are public so you don’t have to click “like” to see them:

This is my last writing session I did. If you think writing is like watching paint dry you’d be right. It’s about as dramatic as a brick wall, but I’ve never seen a writer actually write something live so I thought I’d be the first.

Writing live on Facebook in case you want to watch.

Here is a tutorial on watercoloring foreground characters. These are just watercolor basics.

Watercoloring foreground characters

This video shows the layering I do to achieve pink worm-flesh for Earthworm Jim.

Watercoloring Earthworm Jim

I use an ink and brush in my comics when I’m not using a Cintique. This is a demonstration I did while inking commissions for my Kickstarter. The one after is about penciling art which I do before I ink it:

Inking a character tutorial.

Pencil Hall of Records from the Neverhood

Ever wonder how I digitally letter my comic books in Photoshop? It’s all right here.

Lettering comic pages!

Just for contrast, this is what it’s like when I ink my comics on a Cintiq:

Inking on a Cintique

These videos aren’t supposed to be super-tight, they’re kind of basic and conversational. If I spent the time it would take to properly light things, use a professional mic and edit them I probably would choose just to not make them. Please pass these along to your pals if they’re reluctant to start and just need a little demonstration to get going!

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When fans can request anything for me to paint, almost anything can happen. In this case, anything did happen! Below are five watercolor commissions I got to paint for my recent Kickstarter campaign that I just wrapped up.

For this twenty-sided dice I had to be careful to nail the perspective on the object, or it wouldn’t look authentic:

One of my stranger commission requests, a 20 sided dice.

Next, I got a request to do a Pokemon, and I know a lot of Pokemon, but this one was beyond any of the hundreds I’ve seen. To render Nosepass I kept thinking of the volume for those Easter Island statues:

Perhaps the most obscure of Pokemon. I had to look up “Nosepass”.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of G. K. Chesterton’s body of writing. His work covers most of the early part of last century and he is the master of so many forms of writing it’s hard to pin him down. He wrote plays, books, over 10,000 articles and his work is still relevant today. Could you write 10,000 articles and have them still be relevant in one hundred years? I’ve read my old blog posts and most of my thoughts only lasted a few years before they stank like cheese– cheese being another topic that Chesterton covered.

Perhaps my favorite writer of all time is G.K. Chesterton.

If animation was a Star Trek movie, mine would be the Wrath of Kahl. I’m Kirk, he’s Kahl and my famous quote would be screaming, “KAAAAAHHHHLLLL!” He seemed like a hard guy to work for, but undoubtedly the best Disney animator, making him the best animator, period. I added sharp teeth to better bite your head off.

The Intimidating Milt Kahl.

Earthworm Jim’s laser blaster was designed by my pal, the great Mike Dietz. It’s a fantastic design that goes back to googie shapes from 1950s science fiction. It’s fun to draw and paint:

Earthworm Jim’s blaster.

For more on this campaign, check out the completed Kickstarter here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tennapel/make-100-doug-tennapel-original-watercolor-inks

 

We’re opening up orders for just one month to anyone who wants Volume 2 of my Sketchbook Archives through Paypal. After today, if you want this leatherbound volume you’ll have to buy it at the mercy of Ebay, where the few copies of volume 1 that are available regularly go for well over $100.00. After this month, the books will no longer be available unless I bring a copy or two to the San Diego Comicon. Good luck with that.

Click here to buy:

Last Chance for non-Kickstarter folks to get a Sketchbook!

 

One of the most common questions I get is “How do you come up with your ideas?” They are no doubt talking about my bigger successes like Earthworm Jim, The Neverhood, Nickelodeon’s Catscratch or any one of my 13 graphic novels. But while a broad variety of my work is out there, people don’t see my ideas that don’t make it to the public. I’ve created HUNDREDS of ideas and only a handful of them have made it to where the public can see them. That’s right, for every Earthworm Jim you’ve seen there are twenty Earthworm Jims you haven’t.

The truth is that ideas are easy to come up with, but execution of any idea is near impossible. Earthworm Jim had so much working against it that it boggles my mind how it ever got made. My job at Shiny was offered to two other people who turned it down and if either of them went for it I wouldn’t have been hired and wouldn’t have created Earthworm Jim. When young designers ask how to make it in the gaming industry it’s hard to tell them, “Be incredibly lucky, and hope that two other people better qualified to do your job turn it down.”

Getting the opportunity to make Earthworm Jim was a complete freak accident of coincidences and lucky breaks. Not just for me, but Shiny just-so-happened to have an open invitation to create a unique title by our investor Playmates Toys. The Neverhood was created solely because Dreamworks was aggressively trying to start their gaming division and gave me an open invitation to create something unique and interesting. I didn’t go to business school, I was a fine art major and Dreamworks funded my company. No other company in the world would have greenlit The Neverhood, a clay animated puppet animation adventure game.

But opportunity is a fickle lover and my game projects could get no heat for fifteen years. People ask why I left games and I say, “I didn’t leave games. Games left me.” I’ve pitched plenty of games, at least as viable as Earthworm Jim and Neverhood and I got the sound of chirping crickets. Rejected by disinterested publishers, I always assumed that the gaming medium would be dead forever to my work. Then came Kickstarter. Then came Tim Schafer’s appeal directly to players for funding, circumventing the usual publisher route. After his DoubleFine game got over 3 million dollars in funding, Brian Fargo blew the door wide open with the crowd-funding of his games Wasteland 2 (edit) and Torment.

My old pals Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield were running their animation studio Pencil Test on fumes. We were trying to find a project that would be appropriate to Kickstart and we were spinning our wheels trying to make a 2D animated movie make sense. Finally, Mike said, “Why don’t we just make another puppet animated point and click adventure game?” Within a few hours, Armikrog was born. There was no way I could have predicted that Kickstarter would exist one day, or that if we proposed a game that it would get successfully funded. Once again, if a young designer asks how to make an Armikrog, I would say, “Wait for fifteen years after you’ve become a gaming has-been and hope for some new invention known as crowd-funding to come along and rescue your idea.” Just five days before our campaign funded, many were still betting against our success. Even Mike, Ed and I had regular Skype sessions where we went over the principles of crowd funding to try to look for any positive hope, a fool’s hope, to see the thing through.

Now that Armikrog is funded, people will play the game, and like so many of my other projects it will seem like they couldn’t do anything but exist. But now you know the truth. My punctuated string of successes are an unforeseeable stroke of luck, coincidence, and perhaps even miracle, one after another.

There are better creators than me working in game companies right now and they can’t get a break. There are amazing artists, designers and idea men who have the world’s best ideas that can’t reach that unachievable goal of execution. Your lack of opportunity is not necessarily because of your idea. It could be because of the normal problem of how difficult it is to have any idea executed.

It’s my great hope that the successful funding of Armikrog will only make more ideas by more people become a reality. But it’s not a given that you can follow the exact trajectory of Armikrog, it may not be Kickstarter that makes your idea become real but there are more options than ever available to my fellow artists. There’s always hope… a fool’s hope.Image
Ed Schofield, Brian Belfield, Doug TenNapel and Mark Lorenzen work on The Neverhood (Photo by Joe Sanabria, circa 1996).

Here’s a group portrait of all of the commissions. Lots of familiar faces and some new ones. (Click the pic to have a closer look)
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Today we’ve got four new commissions. Here’s Willie Trombone from The Neverhood:
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Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim:

Earthworm Jim's classic nemesis.

Earthworm Jim’s classic nemesis.

A request for one of my Five Iron Frenzy characters:

From my artwork for Five Iron Frenzy

From my artwork for Five Iron Frenzy

…and finally, a request for a space pioneer:

I got a strange request for a pioneer/frontiersman in space. Okie doke!

I got a strange request for a pioneer/frontiersman in space. Okie doke!

Earthworm Jim Commission

February 4, 2013

Earthworm Jim Commission

I did this live at the San Diego Comicon. Earthworm Jim is always fun to blast out!