Monday, November 24, 2008

3D animation and drawing

This is a post I put up on, and I wanted to put it hear, just because it turned out so darned well :0)

A member of 11 second is asking about the necessity of drawing ability for a successful 3D career. The portion of his post that got me going was:

"I still find it frustrating that I can't put down on paper what I can see in my head.... I really want to be able to do this, but to be honest, I just don't enjoy drawing. Perhaps this is because I can't do it well."

To some degree, this falls into the "I don't have the talent for drawing" category, which just doesn't hold any water for me. Here's my response; I really hope the original poster takes it to heart:


"When you learned to walk, you didn't stand right up and tear across the room at a run; you toddled on unsteady legs and fell repeatedly.

When you learned to speak, you couldn't put together thought-provoking sentences; you uttered sounds that were close enough to actual words to be understood.

When you learned to write, you couldn't string together complex thoughts while employing perfect penmanship, spelling and grammar; you scratched out "I Luv momMee" with an unsteady hand.

Yet I'm going to guess that, despite a lack of experience or training, you want to be able to draw well every time you sit down, and come away frustrated that you can't.


Drawing is a learned skill, just like walking, talking, writing. The difference is now you're a fully-functioning adult, and you have heaped the expectations of instant competency on yourself. We all do it - we expect to be great at stuff we've never done, right away. Doesn't work like that.

The good news is you can get better with practice. Keep everything you do, even if you want to line a bird cage with it. Date it, and then put it away. Keep working, then go back in, say, six months and compare. If you're working diligently, you should see improvement.

Drawing teaches you how to see and observe, how to abstract detail to the minimum necessary to represent an object, and so many other things. I know plenty of terrific 3D artists who can't draw well, but I know far more who can.

Don't give up. If you really want to learn, the first step is to cut yourself some slack. I recommend starting with cartooning - it's a much more forgiving genre, and you're not subject to anyone with no drawing skills themselves looking over your shoulder and declaring 'that doesn't look right.' It's a cartoon; only you decide what looks right."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Educational expectations

I've been teaching animation at the college level for nearly two years now, and I'm a bit frustrated. Not with the teaching – that, I love. I'm frustrated with some of the students I encounter. Maybe it's because I'm firmly in middle age, but I'm just astonished by students who act as though they've got a great future ahead of them simply due to their existence.

Don't misunderstand; I've got a lot of students who work very hard, listen closely to critiques and act on the advice they're given. But I have far too many who do the bare minimum that an assignment requires, or turn in shots where it's obvious they started working on them earlier in the day, rather than over the course of the week since the last class.

I wonder what these students think will happen once they complete their education and start looking for work in the industry. They will have a freshly-minted degree in their hand, and a reel that shows mediocre work at best. And as they start sending it out to no response, what will they think? Will they then take responsibility for their lack of initiative during the years when they had the best opportunity to excel at their chosen craft, before the pressures of work and adult life take their toll? Or will they blame their teachers, their college, or the curriculum, as I see so often on discussion boards and other blogs?

Yes, there are schools that have astounding placement rates and hordes of successful students working in the industry. But there are many successful students from schools that have much more mixed results. And in both cases, the “x-factor” is the effort students put in, and the ownership they take of their future.

A professor can only present the information to the class, or answer the questions the students ask. A professor can't make the student pay attention, or apply the information they're providing to the work the student is doing. That's up to the student. Those who pay attention in class, who do more than the assignment requires, who really push themselves to get better every time they sit down at an animation disc or a computer – those are the students who have the best shot at making it in this business. Animation is a competitive industry in the best of times, and a cutthroat one when times are tough. Anybody's best chance of surviving long-term is to work as hard as possible and constantly strive to improve. Anything less just doesn't serve you very well.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time Warp

If you're an animator or an animation student, you should be watching "Time Warp" on the Discovery Channel...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Disneyland in the late '80's...

...or early 90's; not sure which. Anyway it was when "The Disney Afternoon" cartoon block was running in syndication. Disneyland decided to dress up the old motorboat cruise attraction with some cutouts of the Gummi Bears, characters from one of the shows in the original block.

I snapped this picture on my second ride on the attraction; I spotted the cutout the first time through and had to go around again and make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me - they weren't. Either someone wasn't paying attention when they posed ol' Tummi's left foot, or the artists who designed this cutout was seeing just how much he or she could get away with. At any rate, it's one of my favorite pictures ever from Disneyland...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Club 33

Last weekend I had the opportunity to have dinner at Club 33 in Disneyland. As a huge Walt fan, I had a ball. Here's a walk-through of the place, starting in the banquet room, going past the entry staircase/elevator, restrooms, bar and lounge, main dining room, and back again, with a pause on the return trip to look out the window at New Orleans Square.

The cool thing was the cost of the dinner included a park-hopper pass to Dland and C.A. Dinner was chateaubriand with truffle mashed potatoes, so it was a pretty good deal :0)

It was a unique experience, and I'll never look at the windows above New Orleans Square the same way again.

It's windy up north...

My wife on our cabin's balcony during a June cruise to Alaska. Bonus points if you can I.D. the audio...


Because I forgot the login for my other blog :0(