Simpsons/Toy Story

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Cover of "Toy Story: An Original Walt Dis... 

In this assignment you are challenged to replicate the look of poster signs found at major amusement parks such as Disneyland or Universal Studios that are used to “set the mood” for a themed ride as you wait in line. In other words, this is not necessarily an advertisement. It is an image found within a series that is meant to prep you for the type of ride or event that you are presently standing in line for. The ride essentially begins with these images.

In this assignment you are to choose between two themes, The Simpsons or Toy Story. After choosing one of these, create a poster for a factious ride/event. The visual look of the poster/sign must try to capture, reference and combine the visual vernacular from two different sources. One of these is the “look” typically found at carnival sideshows or the ‘midway”. Pay close attention to the decorative border treatment and “banners” as elements of this vernacular. 

The second comes from the themed character(s) — either Toy Story or The Simpsons. Working with either of these themes where the character drawings have already been created by someone else will require you to modify poses, expressions, etc. that you will find online. Use these as references to accurately draw your own “Homer” or “Woody”, etc. Your goal is not to simply copy or trace these characters in the exact poses as you might find them, but rather to put them in new poses and actions. This is called character development and is a major aspect of drawing for animation. Another aspect of character development is stylistic development or how details may be drawn. An example of this is with the outline or stroke around the character drawings.

Both the Simpson and Toy Story characters are drawn with single stroke line weights. For this assignment I want you to draw the characters with a variable weight outline stroke, not the mono-weight stroke that their drawings were originally drawn with.

A common mistake is drawing the “scene” from too far away. In other words, the composition needs to be a close-up of the “action” in the scene.

Obviously a large part of this assignment is focused on developing illustration or drawing techniques on the computer. Another equally important aspect, however, is developing the broader capabilities of a designer. As a designer, you should be “tuned in” to the larger message that is potentially communicated by this poster. With that in mind, you should pay special attention to the title/headline, slogan and any additional words or phrases that you use in combination with your illustration that will result in a unified, creative and attention-grabbing poster design.


  • Create a carnival ride or sideshow act poster. Creatively name it.
  • Use characters from either the Simpsons or Toy Story. You may use as many characters as you wish. Or duplicate one more than once.
  • Create a “scene” that makes use of dramatic lighting effects, perspective, angles of view, juxtaposition, etc. to heighten the carnival “look”.
  • Develop new character poses and/or expressions
  • Use variable line weight for outlines not mono-line weight as is used in the original character drawings.
  • Final trimmed size is 11 x 17 on 13 x 19 matte paper
  • One of your goals is to capture or replicate the visual look or style that is associated with both a sideshow as well as your theme. Add elements associated with a particular genré, time period, place or group to extend the “Visual Vernacular” of both the carnival and your theme.
  • Think “extreme” in your treatment of all elements. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the carnival is “over-the-top” dramatic treatment of everything from typeface, borders, banners, colors, etc. It is in many way the exact opposite of what modernist design with clean line and effective use of white space is driven by.


  • First, collect several images of your favorite characters from either Toy Story or the Simpsons to use as references in your drawing.
  • Decide on the type of event or ride that you want to create a poster advertisement.
  • Create an active “scene” with dramatic, dynamic perspectives, not normal straight ahead front or side views.
  • Consider the title as well as other written elements in your development of the design.
  • Then, sketch out with pencil and paper the overall layout for the poster advertising the ride or carnival event.
  • You may choose to scan your layout into the computer to use as an aid to drawing within Illustrator.
  • If you place your scanned pencil drawing in Illustrator as a reference, put it in it’s own layer and lock it. Then create a  new layer on top to begin your computer drawing.
  • Create custom swatches as global colors.
  • Separate major elements into their own layers.
  • Pay close attention to the stroke weight of outlines around shapes.
  • create a word-list

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