Crash Bandicoot - Artwork - Charles Zembillas


The following art and commentary was posted by Charles Zembillas on his blog. Charles was one of the main artists for the game and provided many of the original designs and ideas for the series. Check out Charles's blog for more art and development history, including not just Crash Bandicoot but also many other projects, such as Jak & Daxter.
Crash Bandicoot Origin
Crash Bandicoot Origin
Crash Bandicoot Origin

Crash Bandicoot Origin

I've planned on featuring these drawings for quite a while now in honor of the many Crash Bandicoot fans the world over that follow my blog. They were first published in 2005 on the AnimationNation Forums which I maintain to make note of the 10 year anniversary of when I started working on Crash in his days as Willy the Wombat in early 1995.

The first set of sketches are my initial concepts of the character that would become Crash. The second set is a reworking of the first based upon Naughty Dog's input and Joe Pearson's take on the character. The third set are from when I locked down his look to everyone's satisfaction. I used Photoshop in 2005 to color these images.

Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin
Crash Bandicoot Spin

Crash Bandicoot Spin

This is from early 1995 in the days of Willy the Wombat. One of the things they wanted to do at the time was work out a motion for Crash that would give him the ability to spin as part of the game play. These are the initial sketches I came up with to help Naughty Dog with the animation. I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the quality of the art. I was just trying to communicate information that would be useful in the production process. The drawings themselves were loosely arranged on each page. I organized them a little more along with the accompanying notations for this presentation. I wasn't attempting to impress anyone with the images. If I knew back then that I'd be publicly featuring the sketches in the future I would've made a better attempt at drawing them out. Alas, it is what it is and they are what they are. So here ya go! I hope Crash fans will enjoy and appreciate them.

Crash Bandicoot Rotation
Crash Bandicoot Rotation
Crash Bandicoot Rotation
Crash Bandicoot Rotation
Crash Bandicoot Rotation
Crash Bandicoot Rotation

Crash Bandicoot Rotation

The authentic one and only rotation ever created for Crash back when he was Willy the Wombat in early 1995. The date on one of these poses is February 1995. And all the drawing except for the 3/4 front view are the actual artwork and not a photocopy.

Rotations are a standard necessity in animation production for character designs. This is what I did for Willy/Crash using the 3/4 front view as a starting pose. The drawing is based upon a clean up I did of the sketch Naughty Dog sanctioned as the official look of the character. The images were used to create the CG model of the first Crash. They're primal in the creation of the final version of the character in his earliest days.

Cover Concept

Cover Concept

This is the original concept sketch I provided for Naughty Dog when they requested something for the cover of the very first Crash Bandicoot game! This was faxed to ND on January 19, 1996. Coincidentally that's the date I conducted the first class of my school two years later. I remember doing a color version of this too but I don't have a copy. At least there's this. Compare it to the actual cover of the first game and you can see how the idea was retained.

First Tawna
First Tawna
First Tawna
First Tawna
First Tawna
First Tawna
First Tawna

First Tawna

Here's the very first development sketches of the character who became Crash Bandicoot's girlfriend way back in the Willy the Wombat days.

That's right. Crash's very first original girlfriend concept doodles. This is the character that eventually became Karmen which eventually became Tawna.

I tried a few different approaches to see what Naughty Dog would bite at. From the girl next door to street walker to dimwitted floozy to plain jane. It went on from there. Hope you enjoy this never before seen artwork from the original creation of Crash Bandicoot in January 1995.

Original Tawna
Original Tawna
Original Tawna
Original Tawna
Original Tawna

Original Tawna

These sketches are concept drawings of Tawna Crash's girlfriend. They were drawn in 1995 with black line pen early in the creation of the project when it was Willy the Wombat. Looking back I wish I would've taken more time with each one but they are what they are. To my knowledge the images have not been published until now. Hope you enjoy them.

Neo Cortex Origin
Neo Cortex Origin
Neo Cortex Origin

Neo Cortex Origin

If you're interested in seeing how Crash's arch nemesis Neo Cortex was born here's a look at the first batch of sketches I created back in the days of Willy the Wombat in 1995.

Neo Cortex Origin (Composite)

Neo Cortex Origin (Composite)

A few years ago I published a composite graphic consisting of several concept designs I created for Neo Cortex in January 1995 when developing Willy the Wombat which would become Crash Bandicoot. Here it is again for the benefit of Crash fans who've never seen it.

Neo Cortex Origin 2
Neo Cortex Origin 2
Neo Cortex Origin 2

Neo Cortex Origin 2

There were also several other sketches I created of Neo Cortex as the character became more defined. These have never been published before. I forgot about them until they were rediscovered when I was going through my Crash Bandicoot archives recently. Here's three more unseen images of Neo Cortex. Hope you enjoy them.

Aku Aku Origin
Aku Aku Origin
Aku Aku Origin

Aku Aku Origin

The character of Aku Aku was originally considered to be a fairy or a genie. Not necessarily a voodoo mask. Even when he was conceived to go in that direction, it was initially someone who wore the mask as opposed to magically floating around on its own.

These are the original concept sketches for the character that would become Aku Aku in the Crash Bandicoot series. They were created in early 1995.

Papu Papu Development
Papu Papu Development
Papu Papu Development
Papu Papu Development

Papu Papu Development

Another special feature for the Crash fans who frequent my blog. I don't know if you've seen these sketches before. I'm not sure if Naughty Dog ever published them. I don't think they did. My feeling is this is the first time that development art for the character of Papu Papu has been shown. There are more drawings but these images are the core of the concept development work from March 1995. Hope you enjoy them.

Original Pinstripe

Original Pinstripe

This is the original concept design for the character of Pinstripe from the days of Willy the Wombat. I initially drew him like a 1920s Chicago mobster kind of a rat henchman. Pinstripe became more of a New York / New Jersey wise guy. This was how I first conceived the look for the character.

Unused hyena

Unused hyena

When I was developing Crash / Willy the Wombat in 1995 one of the characters Naughty Dog wanted me to design was a hyena character. The line drawing on the left is what I came up with. I think they changed him to a character that had a normal hyena body and not anthropomorphic standing on two legs and clothed in a  costume. The color version was created as a marker demonstration in class during the early days of my school The Animation Academy in 1998.

Unused characters
Unused characters
Unused characters
Unused characters

Unused characters

As the first Crash game was being developed during the Willy the Wombat days in 1995 several characters were created that never made it. Except for the shark design they were changed from being unique individuals to plain animals as was the case with the hyena I posted two days ago. Here are some of those characters from the primal Crash period. This is the first time these sketches have been published. Until now they've been unseen. They include a resort alligator, a thugged out monkey, a shark and a racing lizard.

Naughty Dog

Naughty Dog

I'm finding a lot of material from the development of Crash Bandicoot. Some of it for characters that weren't used in the game. For example here's a design I did for Naughty Dog the production company that was developing Crash. This is from the Willy the Wombat days too. It's a character I came up with as a courtesy to Naughty Dog. The logo character on their business cards was not very impressive. I thought I could interest them in something more appealing and contemporary. So I came up with this guy Naughty Dog. Thought it would be cool to have a character by the name of Naughty Dog making a cameo appearance with the other characters. Didn't go anywhere but it produced a sketch for us to enjoy 17 years later. First time this has been published.

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