our blog

The Story Behind Sesame Street’s Latest Spoof: The Beatles!

By Graydon Gordian


At Sesame Street we love spoofing cultural touchstones. It’s a great way to bring smiles to the faces of parents, and humoring parents along with children has been a goal of the show since its beginning. Recently, to help promote a new series of home videos, we’ve been spoofing classic posters and pop art. Our playful versions of iconic propaganda posters such as Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam for our “Bye Bye Pacifier” home video were very popular, but our art department’s most recent creation may be my favorite so far.

To celebrate the release of our “Singing with the Stars” DVD, Sesame Workshop artist Diana Leto created a parody of the cover of the Beatles iconic album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Diana and Art Director Mark Magner pulled from Sesame Street’s vast library of characters to create an intricate reimagining of the album’s cover art.

Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

April 26, 2012

Tags
share this +

The Making of a Sesame Street Mural

By Louis Mitchell


Ed. Note: Louis Henry Mitchell is the Associate Design Director of Special Projects. He was recently tasked with drawing chalk murals of the Sesame Street MuppetsTM on the 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices. The drawings have become an office favorite, so we invited Louis to talk about his creative process.

When Sesame Workshop’s CEO Mel Ming asked me to draw murals on the recently opened 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices, I was excited and intrigued. Despite having been a professional artist for 35 years and having worked with Sesame for 20 of those, the murals presented some real challenges. I had worked on a black background before but never to this degree of detail, and, except for Elmo I had never drawn such large versions of some of the characters. Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

February 28, 2012

Tags
share this +

The Technology Behind the Art of Drawing Oscar the Grouch

By Graydon Gordian


Evan Cheng, associate art director of character design, draws on his digital tablet.

When Sesame Street debuted in 1969, the term “digital pen tablet” didn’t exist. It would be years before the use of personal computers and similar technology became widespread. But nowadays digital tablets are one of the primary tools used by our Creative Resources team, the talented people who take Grover, Elmo and Big Bird and create the vivid two-dimensional images that go in educational books, on clothes and on any other item where Sesame Street MuppetsTM can be found.

Often they’ll begin drawing an image with a pencil and paper, but the advancements made in tablet technology now allow them to complete a drawing in a small fraction of the time it formerly took. Unlike previous tablet technology, the Wacom tablets Sesame Workshop uses allow an artist to draw directly on the screen, as opposed to a separate touch sensitive pad. They also respond to the pressure of the pen, giving the artist crucial control of the thickness of lines. Whether furry or feathery, every Sesame Street MuppetTM is incredibly textured. The artists on our Creative Services team need that level of control to render them accurately.

The tablet also allows the artist to view the drawing from a variety of angles and distances. If the artist zooms in on a particular section of the image in order to add small details, his pen strokes will affect a zoomed-out version of the image as well. That way he or she can see how the details are changing the entire drawing.

The digital pen tablets used by the Creative Resources team are just another example of the ways Sesame Workshop is using technology to encourage laughter and fun, while educating children all over the world.

To learn more about the digital pen tablet technology, watch this video in which Sesame Workshop artist Diana Leto explains how she uses it.

share this +
printprint
divider

February 07, 2012

Tags
share this +

The Making of a Sesame Street Comic

By Mark Magner


Ed. Note: Mark Magner is a Design Director at Sesame Workshop. His team released a new comic strip today in conjunction with the release of our newest home video, “Elmo’s World: Favorite Things!” Mark wanted to take a few moments to tell you just how he and his creative team go about conceiving of and creating a comic strip.

Our mission here at Sesame Workshop is always at the forefront of our mind. We want to educate children, to prepare them for school, to help them better understand the world and each other. We want them to think, dream and discover, to reach their highest potential. Sesame Street‘s home videos are already effective tools for helping and inspiring children. Alicia Durand, who handles public relations for Sesame Street, approached the creative team about creating some activity or artwork to accompany the release of the home videos, and we were excited by this new challenge.

For the first video, “Bye Bye Pacifier,” Diana Leto, an artist who creates visuals for everything from our apparel to style guides to web elements, and I created spoofs of old propaganda posters, which were a big hit. The second video released was “Iron Monster,” and because of its cartoonish nature Evan Cheng, associate art director of character design, created a comic strip that would parody the story in the video, another idea that proved popular.

We realized that comic strips were the perfect way to connect parents and children while encouraging literacy. That’s why we’ve created another comic strip for our newest home video release, “Elmo’s World: Favorite Things!”

We start our process by watching the Sesame Street home video that we plan to feature in the comic strip. We choose a section of the video that lends itself well to a comic strip, and then discuss how to tell the story in a few frames. We decided it would be fun to spoof a famous comic strip. In this instance, a spoof of Calvin and Hobbes worked perfectly. The layout and design pays homage to Bill Watterson, the author of the comic, and features dinosaurs, a perennial favorite of Calvin’s.

At this point, Evan Cheng starts to sketch out his ideas using pencil on paper. Evan does several small sketches until he knows what the final comic strip will look like. Evan then sketches the final illustration, refining each frame to tell the story. Evan scans his final artwork into Photoshop and passes the file onto Diana Leto.

Diana takes Evan’s illustrations and digitally applies color, texture and halftones to the artwork, bringing it to life. In this instance, the color palette and texture was chosen with the style and tone of Calvin and Hobbes in mind. Using Photoshop, Diana layers the color and textures, fine tuning the look until it’s perfect.

We always work to ensure children engage with a story or a lesson in as many mediums as possible. That’s why, in addition to the home video and comic strip, Diana also created a coloring activity based on the comic. Our hope is that, if the child watches the video, uses the coloring activity and is read the comic strip by their parents, they’ll not only have lots of fun but they’ll learn a little something too.

share this +
printprint
divider