I am one of those art snobs whose goal is nothing less than to be able to draw like the late Kim Jung Gi and only rely on my imagination to create work.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
If like me, you are only at the start of your artistic journey, this mindset can hinder your efforts and be detrimental to your progress.
We take for granted that all the best work is created from imagination and undermine how much research and references can participate to the creation of the most exciting artwork.
Kim Jung Gi himself was not creating art out a vacuum, instead he was digging into a mental library he crafted over years of studies. Years of looking at and analyzing references.
Few weeks ago, my fellow Basque Vis Dev artist extraordinaire Sylvain Marc, unveiled his new Schoolism class and looking at the trailer, I was once again in awe at his very distinctive work characterized by simple bold shapes as statements and intricate details … as whispers. I am feeling poetic this morning. As you can see on the trailer, Sylvain gathered a very large collection of buildings and clocks references before opening Photoshop and this is certainly what makes his work stand out compared to artists using formulaic and generic assumptions.
An other example I would like to mention for the use of references to give more umpf to your work is the character design of 10 years best selling manga: Once Piece.
I am not an avid One Piece reader but I can’t help going back to Eiichiro Oda’s best seller and marvel at his striking character designs.
For a very long time I simply admired the bold designs and once again assumed they were created out of thin air when in reality, real characters and caricatures of those real characters are what the world of One Piece is populated with.
Had I not came across this fantastic post on Quora, I would have never thought about it and just assumed Oda was just gifted by god-like abilities.
There are a ton of examples on the thread so make sure you check out the article :
That’s it for today, I hope this article will incite you to look at references for inspiration and stop behaving like an artist snob!
As I was doing it for myself, I thought I could share how I go about turning my designs.
If you are having trouble making your designs “turn”, here is a simple trick that might help you. Click on the pictures to zoom in.
And here is a more advanced character turnaround demo by the great guys at Bam Animation
I was lucky to have Albert Lozano as character design teacher while attending Animation Collaborative in 2011 but my drawing abilities didn’t allow me to make the most of that great opportunity.
Albert rarely appears on social medias so it was great to find this little video insight into Albert’s thought process when designing characters, starting from simple shapes based on the personality of the characters.
When CG animation came out, it looked so different and so fresh compared to 2d animation that we could get away with a lot but the novelty effect has faded and the bar has been raised very high with CG entertainment. Funny enough, technology is finally enabling us to … go back to the appeal of the 2d aesthetics!
Shaping the mouth corners is one of those 2d tips used in top studios to make the characters look less CG. By moving the outside corner closer inside the silhouette of the character, you will make the mouth shape more stylised and closer to what an illustrator would craft rather than a stupid computer.
Doesn’t the tweaked mouth shape look clearer and more appealing on this Sony’s “Angry Birds movie” presentation? I am posting the picture twice just so you can flip it and the link to the video is below.
A movie based on a game, yeah I know. Has anyone seen Sony’s “Angry birds” movie though? I eventually did!
I wasn’t too excited about it originally but being directed by Clay Kaytis I knew I HAD to see it even with a 46% at the Tomatometer. I was sure the animation would be top notch, served by great visuals (I love the character designs) and a story that would still have some fun gags and it did.
The movie has become a great inspiration for me lately I have to say, it is a lot of fun and unlike most CG movies those days, they didn’t try to cater for a maximum audience and specifically parents of young children.
Great job guys!
I don’t play games much those days but it is the second time I am posting about Overwatch as they are doing all the right things to me at the moment!
Great animation, great behind the scenes, sharing knowledge and upping the game! Thanks Blizzard!
Today is an exceptional free 1 hour behind the scenes about Overwatch’s animated shorts. Look at those rigs, definitely on par with the ones from animated features or even the Kayla rig since I am studying that one at the moment.
And few stills from the talk followed by one of the animated shorts “the Last Bastion” (gorgeous):
At the begining of Messy goes to Okido”‘s production, our TD needed some help to rig various props and environment so I gave him a hand for few weeks and mostly for the “Taste buddies” episode. I never got credits for this but I don’t care much since I don’t really want to advertise those skills too much. I am an animator and don’t want to land rigging jobs.
Among those props was the rigging of Lolly’s Ice cream van which was a lot of fun.
It was a bit of challenge as I hadn’t done that kind of stuff in Max for a very long time but at the end of the day it didn’t take too long since I was able to use the exact same techniques I would have used in Maya. I could have spend a bit more time on some areas but TV series require a really fast turnaround unfortunately so the entire rig had to be done and tested in less than two weeks I think I remember.
If you live in UK, you can see the rig in action on the BBC Iplayer right here:
The ASIFA just released the list of nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards.
I will only mention the categories I am interested in, you can find the full list on Cartoon Brew
It is really bizarre Pixar’s Brave didn’t get a nomination for Character Design. To me it was the movie that, by far, featured the strongest Character Designs in 2012. I would really like to be enlightened about that decision.
Honoring excellence in the field of animation, Annie Awards will be presented in 30 categories including best animated feature, television production(s), television commercial, short subject, video game and student film, as well as the achievement and honorary awards. The 40th Annual Annie Awards will take place on February 2, 2013 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, in Los Angeles, California.
Entries submitted for consideration must be from productions that were released in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. An exception will be made for animated short subjects, student films and television commercials that were not released in the United States. These may be considered for an Annie Award providing they were originally released during the award eligibility period.
Best Animated Feature
Brave — Disney
Frankenweenie – Disney
Hotel Transylvania — Sony Animation
ParaNorman — Laika
The Pirates: Band of Misfits — Aardman Animation/Sony Animation
The Rabbi’s Cat — Autochenille Production/GKids
Rise of The Guardians — DreamWorks Animation
Wreck-It Ralph — Disney
Best Animated Short Subject
Brad and Gary (Illumination/Universal)
Eyes On The Stars (StoryCorps)
Goodnight Mr Foot (Sony Animation)
Kali The Little Vampire (NFB)
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare (20th Century-Fox)
The Simpsons – Bill Plympton Couch Gag (20th Century-Fox)
Best Animated Television Production For Children
Adventure Time ‘Princess Cookie’ – Cartoon Network Studios
Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation
LEGO Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Out’ – Threshold Animation Studios
Penguins of Madagascar ‘Action Reaction’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Amazing World of Gumball ‘The Job’ – Turner Broadcasting System Europe, Ltd.
The Fairly OddParents ‘Farm Pit’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Legend of Korra ‘Welcome to Republic City’/’A Leaf in the Wind’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Animated Video Game
Borderlands 2 – Gearbox Software
Family Guy – Back to the Mutiverse – Heavy Iron Studios
Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America
Skullgirls – Lab Zero Games
Best Student Film
Can We Be Happy Now – Tahnee Gehm
Defective Detective – Avner Geller & Steve Lewis
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart
I Am Tom Moody – Ainslie Henderson
Ladies Knight – Joseph Rothenberg
Origin – Jessica Poon
The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete – Karen Sullivan
Tule Lake – Michelle Ikemoto
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Dan Nguyen ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
David Pate ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Jaime Landes ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios Congrat Jaime and good luck!
Phillppe LeBrun ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Pierre Perifel ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Travis Hathaway ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
Travis Knight “ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Will Becher ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animations
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carlos Grangel ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Carter Goodrich ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Craig Kellman ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Heidi Smith ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ – Illumination Entertainment
Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Genndy Tartakovsky ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux ‘The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie ‘Zarafa’ – GKIDS
Rich Moore ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sam Fell, Chris Butler ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Marcello Vignali ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chen, Jon Townley, Kyle McNaughton ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios
Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Norman Garwood, Matt Berry ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animation
Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Rick Heintzich ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios
Steve Pilcher ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Emmanuela Cozzi ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Johanne Matte ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Leo Matsuda ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Lissa Treiman ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rob Koo ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
This week we had to design the head of three librairians. I finally got around to create a Photoshop brush I am happy with. Not too clean and not too rough. I did a quick colour pass just for the sake of it. Nate showed us his painting technique this week so that is what I will be using in the future.
Till the very end of the week I wasn’t happy about the roughs I came up with. Only few days later I finally saw how I could make those designs more appealing and more cartoony. They still lack some acting Nate will probably say, let’s see.
Here is this week’s assignment. Nate asked us to create a line up with three pirates with contrasting shapes and proportions.
As usual I had a lot of fun exploring different shapes and silhouettes. Clean up was the most difficult part as usual. I had started with the Wacom tablet and fancy line work like Nate but I ended up reverting to pen and paper as I wasn’t getting anywhere.
If Photoshop wasn’t the industry standard for portfolios, I think I would stick to pen and paper. Mind you, I just saw some of Carter Goodrich’s sketches from Brave and he doesn’t seem to be bothered with modern design pipelines.
Anyway, here is what I did this week. Here is the final line up, a rough personality sketch and my research. The final cleanup was eventually done on the poor man’s Cintiq and Photoshop. Great progress compared to last week but still a long way to go before I can reach Nate’s great line work.
CGMA Character design week 01