Sorry! We’ve been busy!

So it’s been a year since we posted anything on the studio blog (OK, one year, one month, and 23 days. Don’t judge). We’ve been super busy working on some really fun projects.

We’ve been producing an all new animated curriculum for the Salvation Army’s Junior Soldiers program. It’s a 4 year animated curriculum with lesson plans, activities, and an app. Timbuktoons developed the concept from the ground up and we’re currently halfway through production on season 2. We’ll be able to post some artwork and more information once the project is officially launched. It’s been over 2 years in the making and we can’t wait to unveil it!

We’ve also been working on visual development for an upcoming show that Phil Vischer (creator of VeggieTales and What’s In the Bible?) is working on. We’ll also share more on that as we’re able to.

Oh yeah, and I’ve been writing and illustrating a book for Harvest House Publishers which will hit Christian bookstores and all the online outlets in the Fall of 2018.

Sean has been busy managing 2 full animation teams, a few strategy and branding projects for some great ministry organizations, the Junior Soldiers curriculum, and his cold press coffee brewer.

Stay tuned and look for more updates soon…and I’m not just saying that. C’mon…I said don’t judge. We’ll be sure to come up for a breath of air to give more updates soon.


kidsQuest Wallscapes

kidsQuest Wallscapes

During the branding process for kidsQuest, the kidmin of Quest Church, Timbuktoons developed a story and art direction for the environment design.

Using those as a springboard for illustrations, we created a series of unique wallscapes that visually express the personality and heartbeat of the kidsQuest ministry: “kids can be part of the on-going amazing journey of faith that connects us all.”

“kidsQuest sends families on an exciting adventure through God’s big story.”

The story and style of the ministry reminds families that kidsQuest is an excursion, a destination…not just an environment.

Each environment captivates with an ancient-future feel that communicates the importance of “then, now and next.”

Project Challenges:

  • Translating a verbal brand story into visual environment design
  • Create an art direction that works for preschool through 5th grade
  • Connect ancient stories with the next generation
  • Communicate key messages about the kidmin

Our Solution:

  • Develop characters that represent the children at kidsQuest
  • Action comic look and feel with colors that match church brand guide
  • Add easter egg “story starters” to each wallscape


Services: Concept Development, Branding, Visual Development, Art Direction, Illustration
Software: Sketchbook Pro, Illustrator

Spot Illustration Project

This is a sample illustration we developed for text book RFP. It was for a large single color management training text book.

Though that may sound about as fun as watching paint dry, sometimes limitations actually help to force creativity. We had to develop a visual style that read quickly, conveyed the message, had humor, and looked current. Since we were limited to a single color, we used tonal textures and patterns, bold iconic outlines, and strong silhouettes.

This is the style frame sample (and rough sketches for you to see the initial phase) we produced. The final is a vector illustration so the client can use it for any potential future need including oversized printing, web, motion graphics, etc.

The caption reads. “Employees and supervisors should work together to set goals.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 7.48.34 AM

LifeKids Project Launch


Timbuktoons recently had the privilege of producing a show intro and several animated music videos for LifeKids next project which officially launches tomorrow!

On Friday, April 1, Mr. Music is back, now with Emily and Guy the Bible Guy to bring you the latest LifeKids album, Bible Adventure Worship! Sing along with your kids to 14 of their favorite songs like “You Are Awesome,” “My BFF,” and “Count on Jesus.” Mark your calendar to get it on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple Music.

See animation sample on Timbuktoons FaceBook page.

Monster Crash


NorthPoint Monster Crash

Timbuktoons was asked by NorthPoint Ministries (specifically KidStuf, their K-5th Grade Ministry) to create a series of monster characters for a series they were developing for all of their campuses.. The series created by BigStuf usually focus on a single “big idea.” In this case the big idea was self-control.

The concept for these monsters centers around the idea that normal kids turn into monsters when they don’t exercise self-control.

Project Challenges

  • Make four distinct characters that were monstrous but not scary to the younger grades
  • Budget and Time constraints
  • Getting concepts approved that met the needs of every NorthPoint campus

Our Solution

  • Timbuktoons established the art direction as fun, colorful but not too scary
  • We created bumper videos, coloring pages, stickers as well as a “Monster Cage” series logo


KidStuf is the place where kids and parents learn together about God’s Big Ideas! It’s a 45-minute fun, digital, interactive experience that happens once a month from September through May. Because our goal is to partner with parents, we launch the Big Idea that K–5th graders are learning about in UpStreet all month long. We also provide each family with a KidStuf Take-Out so that parents can help their kids apply the Big Idea at home—where it matters most! We also provide an Encore performance of KidStuf on the Friday following KidStuf Live.

Services: art direction, visual development, character design, ink and paint.
Software: Sketchbook Pro, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash

Top 5 Reasons to Collaborate

5 reasons creative collaboration is great for multi-site and single-site churches
Here are 5 reasons creative collaboration is great for multi-site and single-site churches:

1. Good Stewardship
It doesn’t make sense to crew up for short term or “one-off” projects when the talent is already available on a contract basis.

2. Quality Work
We’ve found that each creative team has different strengths and weaknesses. Pulling on an outside resource to fill a gap always increases the overall quality (and timeliness of completion).

3. Unity of the Body
Churches shouldn’t be silos or feel like competitors. Working together for THE Church (capital “C”) is what we should all aim for.

4. The Best Artist Is All of Us Together
If the indie entertainment industry can effectively collaborate to get the job done (as was the case with Secret of the Kells and other indie films), how much more should churches and likeminded creative shops be able to collaborate to make a project better than if we tried to pull it off alone?

5. Impact
Not only do you get a bigger bang for your buck when you pull on creative team members to work in their strength areas, but you also get more creative thought, intuitive networking, passion and creative synergy, momentum, higher quality product, and overall larger impact. Bigger vision comes from getting outside of our box. Also, someone out there NEEDS your talent! The world misses out if you and I don’t network and collaborate for larger impact!

NewPointe CG Kids Show


Timbuktoons is most well known for producing 2D animation “from script to screen” but did you know we also work on CG/3D animated projects as well?

Recently, Timbuktoons had the privilege of collaborating with friend and fellow-animation-lover Andy Waddell (from KidStuf Animation Studio at NorthPoint Ministries in Georgia) to develop CG assets for Creative Arts Director, Zach White and other creative content developers at NewPointe Community Church (a multi-site church in Ohio).

Timbuktoons helped visually develop the world and details of the inside and outside of the key structures needed for the CG artists.

We love the creative collaboration, unity in mission/vision and the pursuit of excellence inherent in a project like this.

Zach and his team at NewPointe did an amazing job proving what we needed by way of a treatment for their CG/Live Action Composite show including character descriptions and tons of reference material for each environment.

After a creative meeting with parties from all three teams/locations, we identified the scope and parameters as well as approval steps and production schedule. Next, Timbuktoons produced rough sketches for each environment needed.

Once final sketches were approved, Andy and his team got started on blocking the modeling space with primitives and tested out the space with a place-holder character and a virtual camera.

Project Challenges

  • NewPoint’s Kid Min Creative team needed their show concept “brought to life” through CG sets they could composite live actors in
  • Budget and Time constraints

Our Solution

  • Timbuktoons established the art direction through concept art, visually developed the world, the 2 key structures, and the interiors for both key environments
  • To stay on budget we focused only on the backyards of the homes and used flat shapes for background elements to make it feel like it takes place in a neighborhood (without having to model the whole neighborhood)
  • Timbuktoons worked with Andy Waddell and his team to produce visual development, modeling, texturing, and lighting for the CG sets
Services: art direction, visual development, ink and paint.
Software: Sketchbook Pro, Adobe Photoshop

Twelve Years and Counting

Timbuktoons turned 12 years old this month.
That’s right. Timbuktoons turned 12 years old this month.

It’s hard to believe, but this little animation company has reached the “tween” years.

Much like an actual tween, we’ve seen our share of changes and distinct seasons over the past 12 years.

In celebration of Timbuktoons’ birthday, here are 12 things we’ve learned along the way.

  1. Dream big and try big things. Don’t give up when you fail. Grow from it and continue to take smart risks.
  2. There will always be others who are more talented, successful, and lucky than you are. The key is to maximize what you’ve been given with an attitude of gratitude and humility.
  3. Pay the extra money for a direct flight to LA.
  4. Passion means you care enough about your craft that you’ll pull all-nighters if needed to get the job done. One all-nighter with your team can be fun as you push to the finish line.
  5. Two all-nighters in a row is not fun at all (even if Sean plays Sabotage at max volume at two a.m. to keep you awake).
  6. Face-to-face meetings and word-of-mouth are the best marketing tools.
  7. Work with your friends and you’ll grow even closer.
  8. Treat people right. A leader serves others and a leader’s job is to encourage others to accomplish bigger things than they thought possible.
  9. Collaboration is key. The best artist is all of us together. Foster an environment where everyone is working primarily in their strengths.
  10. Relationships, customer service, and quality work equals the best business plan.
  11. Economic downturns will come and they will affect your studio. Plan for Murphy to show up from time to time. Embrace it and invite him in for coffee (your treat of course.)
  12. Be laser-focused on your purpose and what market you are serving.

Ok, there are 50 other things that come to mind, but I have to limit it to 12.

I’m humbled and thankful for the employees, contractors, interns, and strategic partners we’ve worked with and I’m honored to serve our amazing clients and friends.

We’re looking forward to the next dozen years of developing and producing animation!

Foundations, Jello, and Ugly Babies

foundation digging is like animation development

For an entire week, we dug and poured the foundation of a church in the Dominican Republic.

It’s been a very busy and productive couple of months at Timbuktoons.

We visual developed and produced English and Vietnamese pilot episodes for the International Humane Society, and have been eyeball deep in development and preproduction for an educational series for another international non-profit organization (which I’m dying to share but we need to keep it confidential until we finish producing season one).

All of this development reminds me of the last mission trip I took. For an entire week, we dug and poured the foundation of a church in the Dominican Republic.

In previous trips, we built entire structures or did all of the finishing, but on the last trip all we did (as far as construction) was build the foundation and it was literally the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life.

Development for Animation is very much the same. It’s awesome work and we all love the blank canvas, but it moves slow and you have to get it just right. You have to consider the end game and make sure what you are measuring for the foundation is going to be adequate. You also have to dig hard and make adjustments as you go.

Like concrete, it takes time to set. Like rebar, you must carefully build the skeleton correctly and make sure it’s going hold up under the pressure.

Whatever creative work you are doing, enjoy the ride. It’s a journey not a destination.

At the same time, development is like nailing jello to the wall. It’s formless and playable and doesn’t initially feel like it’s going to amount to anything. You have to trust the process and follow your gut.

John Lassiter and Ed Catmull of Pixar have both talked about how every one of their movies starts out as an ugly baby. The idea is that parents love their kids but new borns are usually messy odd looking creatures and it takes time to get cute. It takes time for a show to find it’s center, for characters to feel like they fit, for environments and backstories to feel cohesive.

But what a fun ride it is. I’m blown away that I get to do this for a living. It’s not easy work but it’s passionate work. Passion means suffering. You love something enough that you are willing so suffer to see it happen. So whatever creative work you are doing, enjoy the ride. It’s a journey not a destination.

If you are just starting your creative career or education you may feel like the work is hard and progress is slow, but you are laying a great foundation for the future!