Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Guest Blogger - Chrissie Peters - Oh no! Not life drawing!

“Oh no….not life drawing!”

A lot of CAA students don’t enjoy life drawing. Working large scale doesn’t suit everyone, and you can feel quite pressured when drawing in front of your peers. But it’s a vital part of animating, recognised by major studios:

“Since 1932, Disney has been the only entertainment studio to continue an unbroken tradition of offering free life drawing classes for its artists within its studios. The idea is that understanding and capturing the anatomy and sense of motion from a live model improves animated drawings and gestures.

Disney animators study life drawing

[Disney] teach daily life drawing of both nude and costumed models to help animators better understand the fundamentals of the human form, how clothing and gesture inform character and intent, and how to infuse spirit and intent into their figures.

However, increased reliance on computer modelling and algorithmic rendering, along with the explosion of web-accessible photo references, stand to undermine that “study the source” attitude. 

“You can draw animation and gesture without life drawing, but life drawing skills give you proportion, structure, perspective, and a certain vitality through rhythmic gestures,” says Gnass, a former Disney TV storyboard artist who has taught at Disney since 1995, as well as DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Nickelodeon, among others. “You can’t achieve dynamics without bones and structure, and in order to have structure you need to study it. From there one can extend out in any direction towards any style.”

drawing by Disney tutor Karl Gnass

Cooper, who’s worked on Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and the upcoming Zootopia, has studied with Gnass for nearly two decades. “Many young artists are looking for an easier way out and study styles of existing animators, as opposed developing their own,” he says. “Doing something that involves the figure, you want to have it based on a little reality as opposed to a stylization or distortion of someone else’s truth. That’s like getting information secondhand. You need to do the same thing they did, which is to work from live models and find your style.”

ZED pop-up studio


There's a VFX event running in Soho for two weeks. The event includes guest speakers from The Mill, DNeg and MPC. I was there yesterday, and today and was able to meet some very friendly and talented artists. Today 8 animators will be finishing a group animation project created by SIGGRAPH London, mentored by industry animators. I was able to learn quite a bit from these student and graduate animators as each have their own approach to the project. You can register at the link below, entry is free:

Register here!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Blogger - Chrissie Peters - Using Thumbnails to generate ideas

"Thumbnails are a cool tool.....

As artists we tend to start with a single idea, sketch it, refine it, and polish it You invest your time and feelings into one concept and become attached to it, and it becomes harder to engage with other ideas. For most of us the first sketch will be generic and heavily influenced. Even if we make several initial sketches we have often already decided in our minds that the first is the best, and the others are just fill-ins to make up the numbers. 

The more variation in sketching, the more critical comparisons you can make. 

You don’t need to spend much time on this! Often you only need an hour or so to generate a variety of basic ideas.

This advice from Designshack is spot-on, you may recognise yourselves here!

Cool It on the Details, Picasso

Some of you out there are sketch artists. You’re never happier than when you have a pencil in your hands. Others are truly horrid with a pencil and can’t produce a decent sketch to save your life.

For the first time ever, the latter of these two groups might actually have an easier time! If you can’t draw, great, you’re perfect for creating thumbnail sketches. Talented artists tend to have trouble with the idea of going fast and not really fleshing concepts out. It’s often the case that artists spend more time generating fewer thumbnails simply because they can’t help but make sure every line is straight, every circle is perfect, etc.

Just remember the key at this step is quantity over quality….just make sure that you remember that your goal is to get all of those ideas out of your head and onto paper. For example, if you can draw a box and later remember that it represents your headline, then skip the laborious lettering.

Keep Moving Forward

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid spending lots of time tweaking an idea to get it just right. If you start sketching one of your ideas and realize that you hate it, resist the urge to erase it and start over. Simply trudge through it and move onto your next idea. Maybe in a few hours you’ll look back on that sketch and see a solid idea in there.

Don’t Draw the Same Thing 50 Times

When faced with the task of producing so many thumbnails, your first instinct will be to start several tiny variations of the same idea. This is often a worthless practice when compared to the value of focusing on truly unique concepts. Try your best and push your brain to produce concepts that are as different from each other as you can manage. Remember that this is the brainstorming stage so there aren’t any bad ideas. Go crazy, think outside of the box; be weird! 

From here, you simply let the ideas flow. This is not a practice for honing your drawing skills, instead your focus should be on idea generation. Thumbnail sketching is quick and perhaps even somewhat sloppy. Use basic shapes and don’t spend too long on a single image, as soon as you can get a feel for what that basic layout idea might look like, move along. for the rest of the article."


Monday, September 29, 2014

FAO CAA Year 2: Revised Timetable Available - Delete The Old Version!

The new re-jigged version of your term 1 timetable is now available on myUCA in your unit folder - and I've also uploaded it here for easy reference.  Once again, apologies for making changes to your published timetables - hope no inconvenience has been caused.

Guest Blogger -Chrissie Peters - It's Monday!

I thought I'd follow on from my presentation to year 1, and show some stuff that reinforces the point on being open to influence.

Animator Lotte Reiniger (1899-1991) has had a huge influence on my work as an artist and an animator.  Her technique is interesting in itself - she was one of the pioneers of stop-motion animation, and she almost exclusively worked alone to create an entire film.

Sadly her achievements are overlooked: "Lotte Reiniger, when mentioned at all, is most often brushed off in a single sentence noting that she apparently made a feature-length silhouette film in 1926, The Adventures of Prince Achmed; but since that was in Germany, and silhouettes aren't cartoons, Disney still invented the feature-length animated film with Snow White. Anyone who has seen Prince Achmed wouldn't be convinced by this reasoning, but, alas, only a tiny fraction of the people who see Snow White ever get to see any Reiniger film at all. Few of her nearly 70 films are readily available--and almost none of them in excellent prints; when Reiniger fled Germany to England in the 1930s, she was not able to bring her original negatives with her, so most modern prints are copies of copies, which have lost much of the fine detail, especially in backgrounds."

This is a short clip from Prince Achmed.  There are plenty more on you-tube, and although the quality of the film is not great I hope you will be able to see through that to the quality of the work itself.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First Year Blogs: Bingo! Full House!

At last!  We have our first year full house of up-and-running blogs!  Thirty-four bright young things in need of your support, guidance, feedback and experience.  Everyone 'add' everyone and let's get this show on the road!

4 Becky Patterson @
6 Julien Van Wallendael @
7 Ella Pinnington @
12 Sankavy Balasingam @