colorful props

This is the story of a kid who had no idea what they were getting into. But it’s also more than just that. They went to band day in seventh grade and got to play pep band with the local high school. It was amazing, and they fell in love immediately. How could they not? The high school had such an amazing show and treated them great. Two years later, this kid started high school and was so excited for marching band. They were shy and timid, but still excited. Throughout their first season, they dealt with so many things. They dealt with anxiety, depression, devastation, and disappointment. But they also woke up. 

What this kid ended up realizing was the importance of marching band, why it really mattered, and the great things to come out of it.

Marching band is not just a group of kids running around with instruments on the field. It’s musicians who are coming together to do something they love. Music is something that fills us all with passionate emotion that nothing else can. Being able to make something like that is amazing. But then add in a physical aspect. You have a story to tell now. You have formations and movements and a color guard and props and suddenly band is so much more.

The time commitment required for marching band is greater than any extra curricular besides maybe football. Hours upon hours are spent on the field, running the same set, the same music over and over. Revising and relearning and reinventing over and over. You’re constantly improving and constantly pushing yourself. Band is an every day thing. Musicians put in hours of practice on and off the field, they have to physically train themselves, and they work so hard. Harder than anyone gives them credit for.

Over this time, all the rehearsals, the late night practices, the early morning rehearsals, the time consuming fundraisers, you grow closer with your band mates than you could have imagined. You spend hours working with them, joking with them, creating something amazing with them, and then you get to your first competition and you perform with them. That’s when you know it’s worth it. And all the late night bus rides and singing your show and falling asleep watching the lights flash by is something you could never forget. Marching band becomes a family. It’s full of people who will be there for you quicker than you could snap to attention.

Through all of this you make the most amazing memories, but you also grow the most.

You become stronger as a person. You learn more about yourself, you learn your limits. You learn to push them. You learn to go farther than you’re comfortable with. Marching band is more than just an extra curricular, it’s a home, a place of growth, a safe haven. 

So this kid ended up changing so much. They were pushed farther than they had ever been before. They went from being that depressed, anxious, shy, and confused kid to a confident and outgoing leader. They figured out their passions and met their family. They finally found a home they knew was right.

Color thumbnails! I love color so much, and this is definitely one of my favorite ways to work! It is quick, it is easy, it gets a lot bang for your buck, and you can use this technique to design everything from plants to squid monsters! This is how I taught myself to really paint back in 2015 (click here and here to see), and I wanted to put a new page together for @kogasaurus and @coranovamarx to help clarify a few things! To that ends I will probably make a full tutorial explaining some things at a later time.

But for now, a summary! Color. It can be scary, but it is really quite simple and enjoyable if you approach it the right way! As you can see in the top left, I start by painting swatches, and trying to harmonize the colors–in this case creating an Analogous palette. If your painting or design works here, it will work at any level of complexity! 

In the bottom left, you can see a demonstration of this where I thumbnail props using only these three colors–and the designs read! This is an extremely fast way of working, has a lot of visual impact, and has the added benefit of conveying mood through color (which thumbnail line sketches can’t quite do the same way). The palette of swatches you create determines the mood of each piece.

There are also a couple tricks you can use to quickly make the thumbnails look far more finished than they are. In the bottom right, you can see me do this with a simple highlight mark–literally five seconds! In the top left I show the second trick–cast shadows! This adds a lot of dimension to the thumbnails (and can even ~trick~ people into thinking the thumbnail is a nice rough), with very little work on your part!

There is much more on this page to talk about, but again I think I will just make a full tutorial next chance I have! Cheers!


Some concepts & storyboard for the short I have been working on with my team. We only had one month to complete it, so the whole preproduction phase was pretty rushed, but I had a lot of fun doing these anyways.

It was actually interesting to do something a little bit different from what I am used to.

Artistic direction by Elise Simoulin. The movie can be found here.