Laci Morgan's Art Blog

Freelance illustrator/animator Laci Morgan's latest projects, helpful advice, and news!

Christmas animated Ecard for my clients

I thought it might be fun to make an animated Ecard to thank this year's clients, so here it is!

A gift fit for a princess

I was asked to create a cartoon portrait for a family whose daughter loves princesses. I personalized it by caricaturing her, and even including her dog. I think it turned out really cute! Her parents think she'll be really surprised when she opens it on Christmas morning....

Aaaa! I'm a finalist! :D

Wow. I just found out that I'm one of the finalists in ToonBoom and's "Out of This World" animation contest. I'm so excited!!! I win a free copy of their Animate Pro software, which will come in handy for my future projects. Yippee! I worked really hard on this, so I'm quite happy.

Now I'm hoping to make it to the final round, because the winner gets a job on an animated series. How cool would that be? Please help me out by voting (you can vote once a day, every day for the next 12 days) for my animation, "Wait, there's something behind me, isn't there?" at this link:

Mine has my name on it, and a picture of William Shatner posing with Fuzzball from Captain EO (blast from the past!). So please rank me highly if you like it! Thanks!

Gummie Bears, bouncing here and there and everywhere....

Has anyone else been noticing how many of the classic 80's/90's cartoons we grew up with are making a comeback? I've been seeing Care Bears, My Little Pony, Smurfs, and Strawberry Shortcake around the stores, just to name a few. So I was happy to hear that an event celebrating Disney's "Gummi Bears" series will be held soon!

According to Cartoon Brew magazine, the event on Saturday, Dec. 11th will be "a two-hour webinar featuring photos, artwork and interviews with the creative team that brought this show to life." I've participated in webinars before, and really enjoy having the ability to ask questions and hear behind-the-scenes stories all without having to change out of my pajamas, haha!

The downside is that the event will be charging $20 for access, which I'm not sure I can afford at the moment, (Perhaps if I cut someone off my Christmas list? Mom? Grandpa maybe? Just kidding) but it's limited to only 50 people, so don't miss it if you were a huge Gummi Bear fan.

You can find more info at the article:

Review of Disney's "Tangled"

I finally had the opportunity to go see "Tangled" last week, Disney's latest 3D animated movie. This was shortly after reading the article in the Los Angeles Times that stated that "Tangled" would be Disney's last princess/musical flick (noooo!!!!), so I definitely had some mixed feelings walking into the theater. Also, since I work mainly in 2D animation, I was a little grumpy about the fact that this film was in 3D...I hate to see 2D die! I had been seeing the previews for "Tangled" for the last few months, and kind of thought that Rapunzel looked a little too "Barbie-ish" and plastic.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised when I actually saw the initial impressions were so wrong! This movie was one of the few I saw this year that actually made me laugh out loud, yet it wasn't so slapstick and "dumbed down" as a lot of children's movies are these days. Rapunzel is a strong, spunky heroine (and I loooved the fact that she's an artist...hmm, wonder why?) She was not as Barbie-perfect as I thought she'd be portrayed, and her abundance of emotions gave her a lot of appeal. Mandy Moore was a nice choice to provide her voice, giving her more of a down to earth feel than previous princesses. Maximus the horse stole the show, and I was greatly impressed by his animation (trust me, you've NEVER seen an animated horse do the things that Maximus does!) Mother Gothel makes a great villain, in a wonderful "Mommie Dearest/Ursula" broadway diva way.

I have to grudgingly admit that the movie did, indeed, work well as 3D animation. I found myself entranced with studying the textures onscreen and marvelling over the little details like grass and Rapunzel's hair. It didn't lose the "Disney quality" that a lot of classic 2D features had, and I think the whole film was improved by the extra use of space. I saw the film wearing 3D glasses, and liked the layering of the film's elements and how they didn't try to make it too "gimmicky."

To sum it up, I highly recommend this film...Disney seems to have gotten it right again, finally! I hope they'll continue to tell good stories like this one in the future.

And all I can say about the ending is....*SPOILER ALERT*

wow, finally a princess that I resemble! I know what my costume next year will be..... :)

Animation Examples

I've been realizing that I have NO examples of animation on my website, so I've been trying to put together some work I've done for school projects. These are not necessarily my best work...they're still works in progress, and need a lot of clean-up and refining. But they at least show that I can animate! Enjoy.

I'm hoping to continue to refine this in the next year and add more 3D and 2D clips, in order to complete a more "official" animation reel as I continue to go through my classes.

Why you should hire professionals for your design work

I came across this awesome article yesterday while working on a new logo for a client. I think it sums up EXACTLY why it's important to hire a professional designer for your design work, instead of relying on the cheapest option.

Next time someone says "but I can get a logo online for $5! Can't you lower your price?" I'll direct them to this. :)

My Outer Space entry submitted!

I spent all last night working on finishing my entry for's contest. I had to take a voice clip from William Shatner, then animate it as an ad for the website using Toon Boom Animate Pro. The winner gets the full software (which costs thousands), free animation courses, and a spot on their animation team to work on a series. Cool!

It took a while to learn the software, but I have to admit, I really like the Toon Boom programs. It seems a little more "artist-friendly" than the typical Flash that's used for 2D web animation, and I've really appreciated how responsive Toon Boom seems to be in their forums when I have technical problems. Also, there's lots of tutorials on their website that explain everything in a really clear, easy to follow way.

Anyway, above is a screenshot from my animation. Does anyone recognize the "creature" behind him? (hint...think Disneyland and cheesy 3D....) I'll post the full video once I find out for sure if I'm allowed to...don't wanna accidentally disqualify myself! Plus, if I make the finals, I'll need a lot of votes... :)

Getting my butt in gear

I recently found out that I'll be a student volunteer at the annual Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo (CTN-X) next weekend. That means I had better put together a decent portfolio to show off, because there will be all sorts of reviews and majorly talented artists there. The problem is that I've been concentrating mostly on my freelance stuff this year, which consists mostly of illustration work and character design, which is great, but I haven't developed much decent animation to show off just yet.

So this week will be spent working hard to put together some of the animation I HAVE done in the past, so that I at least have something to show. Wish me luck!

..And the winner is...

Congratulations to miss Christine Cabal Culter, who serves as the inspiration for my next character! She'll be starring along with Willow when the book is released. Yay! I added glasses and a cutesy outfit to make her a little more kid-like (the character is about 12 years old), but I think she fits in great! Below is the cartoonized Christine, and the low res mockup of the front cover. (***Edit...sorry, my client has asked that I not post images of the full cover until it has been you'll have to wait for a little while longer to see it!)

Book covers galore

I've been excited to be working on a few book covers for a preteen fiction series. It's been a blast so far, as I get to create the characters, and there's quite a variety. I'm on cover #5 out of 8 so far. This particular cover revolves around a girl who runs her own talk show. I've already designed the girl (though I can't post the pic until the book is released for copyright reasons), and I just need to add another girl talking to her. I thought it might be fun to turn it into a little contest with my friends...last night on Twitter and Facebook, I asked for volunteers, and said I'd randomly pick one of them to "cartoonize" and put on the cover! Who will it be? Well, you'll just have to wait and see....I'll post the winner's illustration later today!

Words of Wisdom from Don Bluth

Uploaded with
I had a wonderful opportunity last week to attend Animation Nation Night in Burbank, with special guest Don Bluth! If you're not familiar with Don Bluth, he's the animator/director who designed and created some of our classic childhood characters in movies like "An American Tail," "The Secret of Nimh," "All Dogs Go To Heaven," and "Anastasia." I was incredibly excited and honored to have met such an animation legend, and wanted to pass along some of his wisdom from the talk he gave:

- A little history: why he left Disney. While working on "The Rescuers," many of Don's fellow artists were feeling dissatisfied with the lack of creativity they were forced to adhere to. Little things like "adding highlights to eyes, or reflections to water" were deemed "too expensive," and the artists were getting frustrated at seeing the quality of the Disney films going down due to money. He also felt that animators were not being taught how to "be filmmakers, not just artists." So in a REALLY gutsy move, Don left Disney, taking 17 other animators along with him, to begin work on his own animated film, a 26 minute short called "Banjo the Woodpile Cat." (Check it out on can already see the typical chubby-cheeked character styles that Bluth is so known for) Through a lot of hard work and endurance, he went on to produce his first full-length feature film, "The Secret of Nimh," and many more.

- Why 2D isn't as popular as 3D. He pointed out that our generation (people in their 20s, 30s) grew up going to 2D movies with their families. They remember 2D as something from their childhood, and as a result, teens today also associate it as "kid stuff." The ones that DO go see 2D animated movies are small children and their mothers. So obviously, studios gear their films toward those. However, the biggest movie buyers are 16+, so 2D doesn't bring in as much. CG films, though, tend to have a different LOOK than the "kid stuff" they remember, so it's still "cool" to watch those.

- Creating hope in your films. Don discussed how important it is to give people hope and make them feel something. Otherwise, your movie will quickly be forgotten! He pointed out that so many animated movies today rely on sarcasm and cynicism rather than hopeful fantasies, and our nation is becoming jaded as a result. He told us how he'll often go view a movie with the notion of "I dare you to make me feel something!" and discussed how pleasantly surprised he was by Pixar's "Up." He said "if you can't make the audience feel something, all you're making is graphic babble." The stories that have the power to touch your heart and make you feel and understand who you are are the best films.

- Learn how to act. Don discussed how a lot of modern animators tend to lock themselves away in their cubicles and animate, when they really should be getting out and OBSERVING life. He pointed out how important it is to be able to understand acting, because your acting skills will come out through your pencil. Don also recommended that every animator at least take a basic acting class at some point in their career. I personally have benefitted greatly from performing with community theater in my spare learn so much about how the human body moves and can create emotion! Don also said that you can only learn so much from your classes, teachers, or've got to take the initiative to get out and learn on your own. Study the world around you!

- The importance of marketing and copyrights. One of the saddest, most ironic stories Mr. Bluth told was in regards to his characters from "An American Tale." As his animation studio was just starting out, it was difficult to raise money and get sponsors. He was lucky enough to develop a marketing deal with McDonald's and Sears (did you know that Fievel was the first character from an animated movie to be licensed by a major chain like McDonalds?), but was forced to sign away the rights to his designs in order to get the film completed. He told how mind-boggling it was to be watching a show at Universal Studios with all his characters in it, dancing onstage, yet he himself was stuck behind a gate, watching from outside! So in other words...don't sign your creations away.

- Some morbid/interesting facts. Don and his animators didn't always have it fact, they had some difficult things to deal with during the production of their films. During "All Dogs Go To Heaven," the sweet little girl who voiced Anne Marie (and Ducky in "Land Before Time") was shot and killed in a murder-suicide by her father. So sad! So the animators, knowing this had occured, still had to develop a happy film using her little voice. How tough that must have been! Interestingly enough, the actress who voiced Mrs. Brisby in "Secret of Nimh" also died tragically, committing suicide from jumping out her apartment window. Not that these things have anything to do with the art of animation, but I thought they were interesting to hear!

So those are the things that I remember from the presentation and my notes. Thanks so much to Animation Nation for setting this event up and allowing fellow animators like me to meet such a great animator. And thank you again to Mr. Don Bluth, for sharing your wisdom and time with us!

A pink bulldog?

Ever wondered what a pink bulldog/Tazmanian devil eating ice cream looks like? Well here ya go:

Uploaded with
This is Miss Moo, a mascot I recently completed for an ice cream shop. She'll be gracing their menus and billboards shortly! The owner emailed me a photo of the new menus, and I was quite excited to see it turn out so well. It's always thrilling to get to see my work out in the world, so I'm always happy when clients take the time to show me the results.

Plus, the dog it was based on is pretty adorable, so it was fun to make reference drawings of her. :)

Review of "How to Train Your Dragon"

This week I saw Dreamwork's "How to Train Your Dragon" for the second time. (That's right, twice! I rarely do that.) I was lucky enough to win a free ticket to see it the week it came out from the Inland Empire Press-Enterprise (thanks!), and thoroughly enjoyed it so much that I had to bring my husband back to see it again.

If you know me, you know that I usually love ANYTHING animated, but I have to say, this was a well-deserved good review. It's rare to find a film that both kids and parents will enjoy, and this is one of them. There's everything you could want in a movie, from the cute "pet" and "heart" factor to lively action, fight, and flight scenes (the 3D is well worth the extra fee). The characters are well-rounded and likeable, and the dragon, Toothless, is adorable and funny. I laughed out loud a few times, realizing that the dragon resembled my cat immensely...I'm sure the artist's studied various real-life animal's play and hunting instincts, or else my cat is part dragon! They have the same big eyes. :)

From an animator's point of view, I have to say that the textures and details were pretty amazing. More than once I found myself entranced, staring at the freckles on the main viking boy's face, or the rough texture of a viking's beard. The artists really captured realism, yet stylized it to make it unique. It actually inspired me to go home and practice my 3D modeling, which says a lot. If a film inspires you to become a better creative artist, you know it's good! :)

Copyrights, copyrights

So for the most part I've tried to stay away from doing book illustrations for clients, simply because I have NO idea what I should charge for royalties/copyrights, or even if that's possible. I was just approached to do a book cover, and while doing a bit of internet research, found this article that helped me explain how copyrights are formed and why contracts are so important. A good read, if you've ever wondered about how it works!

Students That Freelance

Hey, check it out: I was the featured interview this week on a new site called As a student freelancer, there are all sorts of unique challenges we face, so this place is a good start to get some advice and support from your fellow students. Definitely visit it if you get the chance!

(Click picture to see full-size image)
I keep saying over and over that I need to sketch and draw more. Lately, it's hard to remember to keep my skills up and just DRAW when I focus most of my time on work and school. So this weekend's trip to the La Brea Tar Pits and LA Natural History Museum seemed like the perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. I tried to keep everything to around 10-15 seconds worth of sketching, mainly because the rest of my group gets bored easily, and there were a LOT of people around trying to see the exhibits. But I did manage to get some decent sketches in! I think the rhino turned out especially well. I also took pictures of some of the better poses, so hopefully I can do some more detailed sketches based off of those later.

I also hope to be able to fill up my portfolio with more life sketches at the zoo or something. It's quite hard to sketch animals in motion, so I'm happy to get some practice with non-moving (read: stuffed) animals first! :)

Lip synch with Acheri

Hey cool, check it out, my character Acheri now talks, thanks to a class lip synch assignment!
Click here:¤t=morgan_laci_wk4_as3_lipsync2.flv

It's still got some work needed, like animating the facial expressions; her eyes, eyebrows, and hair. I got frustrated with creating the hair and it was taking too much time, so she's bald for now, haha! But I learned a lot about the 3DS Max morpher tool through my trial and error, so I'm glad I stuck it out. Hopefully I can revisit her later and really tweak it to look great. Enjoy!

* The sound clip is from an awesome animated movie called "The Secret of Kells." It's an amazing film; I highly recommend it!

More 3D's getting there!

Here's the latest update on my 3D character, Acheri, I've been modeling for a class assignment. I was able to fix some of the problem areas around the mouth area and add more details like teeth, eyelashes, and a little bit of hair. Eventually the hair will become long and shaggy, but right now it just looks like an afro, haha! I'll have to work on that when I get some more free time. :)

Vector art

So I was reading through some of my magazines like Glamour and such, and kept noticing that there's a bunch of cartoony illustrations throughout the magazine. So I thought, hmm, why can't I do that? I contacted some Art Directors at a few places and they want me to send some examples. So I spent today creating some vector art that might fit some of the different genres I'll submit them to. I'll probably also turn these into stock art, unless someone buys them. It was a lot of fun, and I really like how they turned out! So cross your fingers that people like them!

Don't let art become a chore!

I was reminded today of the importance of creating art for yourself by this great article:

I know that I've definitely been guilty lately of focusing on only my school or work projects, and haven't really taken the time to create art for MYSELF. So I'm going to do my best to try and draw or create something each day. I remember some of my best work in the past has been totally spontaneous, things like watching squirrels play in the park and grabbing my sketchbook to capture them. I really need to remember to do that again!

Excellent article about negotiating contracts and prices with clients.

Check out this greate article on It talks about how important it is to communicate efficiently with clients. I've found these tips very helpful in my own business. It's amazing what you can accomplish simply by communicating well!

2D Animation screenshots

I've been working on a Flash animation project for some time, in which I've had the opportunity to create and animate some cute characters for a children's apparel line. Child-friendly art and animation is by far my favorite style to work in, and working on this movie has helped me to learn a lot about the ins and outs of Flash, and how to maximize my time. I'll be sure to provide short video clips a link to the final product when it's released to the public, but for now, enjoy these sneak previews!
--All characters copyrighted to Allen Wilson, 2009.

My first post!

So after seeing all the cool blogs that some freelance friends of mine have, I had to finally break down and start a blog. It'll basically update everyone on whatever project I'm working on at the time, and showcase some of my work in a step-by-step way that's easier to view than my business's website ( I also hope to post helpful articles and links that I think my fellow artists will find useful, and any cool art or animation-related things I discover. There aren't too many images yet, so in the meantime, you can visit my business website and check out my portfolio.

So to start it off, here's what I'm working on today.

I take classes online from the Art Institute, in Media Arts and Animation. I hope to use my skills to either do freelance Flash 2D animation, or head toward the Disney Studios once my portfolio is strong enough to submit. That's been my dream since I first saw "The Little Mermaid" and tried to pause the frames to draw them (odd thing for a child to do, but I think that's what tipped off my parents that I'd most likely go into animation, haha!). However, my skills are sorely lacking in the whole 3D area, which most US studios have converted to. I find it tough to wrap my mind around the complicated programs, when I could so quickly draw the same thing on paper. But I've really been pushing myself to learn, and in my current class we have to sculpt a 3D head.

My character is called Acheri, based on a native American legend about a "spirit of death and sickness" that resembles a thin little girl. She tempts the village kids to come and play with her, and they're only safe if they wear her favorite color, red. Below are some early concepts, as well as the fleshed out sketches for 3D, and then the model as it stands so far. It still has a long way to go, but I'm totally proud that I was able to model anything recognizable at all. Here's to learning 3D! :)


About Me

My photo
I'm an animation student at the Art Institute, as well as a budding freelance illustrator and graphic designer. I tend to specialize in Disney-like character designs and 2D animation, but I also have the ability to do professional graphics like ads, logos, and photo effects. This blog will follow current projects I'm working on, provide advice to fellow designers, and just celebrate anything in the world of art that happens to catch my fancy!

Check out my business website,


Search This Blog