Thursday, December 25, 2014

Year in Review

A little bit early but it has become a yearly thing for me to just look back at what I did, set some goals for the next year.

January was such a rough start of the year, I just started back on Randy and was having a real hard time with my work. Coming in to work every day feeling you suck and you can't do it is not a pleasant experience. There was one particular scene that broke me (it wasn't even a difficult one), but I just couldn't figure out how to do it in flash. I remember staying up all night trying to get the scene done...I had typed out my resignation letter, and my plan was to come in right when the studio opened to hand over my scene and leave my resignation letter in the office...never to return.

But by the time the sun came up and it was time to go to work, sense finally settled in. What's the worst thing that could happen? Get fired? But most likely get notes on how to make the scene better. So I dragged my ass to work (injected myself with some coffee), my scenes were approved and I moved on to the next episode.

I did however do a complete 360, and went back to the very basics of animation. I went through Richard Williams' survival guide, I watched Jason Ryans' free tutorials (==> Those really clicked with me, so I'll forever be grateful to Jason Ryan!), and I did all my scenes from scratch.
In TV animation you should re-use animation clips and drawings to save time, while a disney feature animator can spend a month on 1 scene, we need to get about a minute of animation out the door every month.

But I realised I didn't understand what I was doing. So instead of re-using a clip, I would just look at it as a reference and try to do it myself. This came at the cost of time and quality, but it made me a much more competent animator, and now (a year later) I actually enjoy animating, I'm also relatively fast while maintaining a good quality, so in the end it paid off for both me and my employer.

February was a continuation of January, I mostly spent my time at work understanding animation better, but I also started an ART-SWAP on facebook. I wanted to motivate myself to do some finished drawings, while at the same time getting some rad art from my peers :D This was super fun, but I dropped this after I quit all social media a few months later.

Quitting social media (I'm especially talking about facebook) ended up being a really great thing for me. I initially used facebook to motivate myself when I was trying to get a job. I really got a lot of support through it, so thanks to all those people who pressed the 'like' buttons. But once I had my job, facebook was starting to have a negative impact.

Especially something my friend said about drawing for yourself. That's something that really clicked with me. I didn't want to rely on external approval, I wanted to draw from myself and see if that was motivation enough. There's also something about continuously being exposed to cool art in your feed, instead of being inspiring it just makes you feel incompetent. Most importantly I spent at least an hour a day on facebook, and I wanted to free up that time to draw.

Honestly if you say you don't have an hour every day to draw, make a list of what you spend your time on. And then weigh it off against each other, what do you get more value out of? Don't cut out things like cooking and exercise, but cut out video games, tv or social media...unless of course that is more important to you than drawing :D

I think by March I was starting to be comfortable in my job, so I was starting to free up time to focus on personal work again. We had life drawing at Boulder as well, this was the first time I drew with other professionals. And it really opened my eyes that my figure drawing / gestures were not up to the level it should be. So I tweaked my plan for 2014 and decided to focus on drawing the human figure again.

In April I was working on concepts for a little animated sequence I had planned to do with a little witch. But I was starting a course the next month, so dropped it. This is however something I am picking up again this year.

I took a course with Michael Mattessi in Anatomy & Figure Drawing, which honestly was the best thing to come out of 2014. I learned such a lot from that course and I also found new passion for drawing. If I wasn't making a living as an animator I would just draw the figure for a year or 2, really dive into anatomy further, experiment with different medium, and continuously shift between quick gestures and long studies.

The next few months were really focussed heavily on drawing figures and anatomy. I started to draw a lot of realistic figures from imagination...looking back I definitely want to get back into doing that. I really feel that my drawing grew a lot during those months.

Ok...this is where I started to get back into comics!
With my passion for drawing figures, I was looking at the artists who drew the best human figures. And while I was never really into American comics, they are known for drawing dynamic anatomy and figures. I was honestly quite impressed with how comics evolved, the artwork in some titles is just mindblowing! But even more, the writing on some comic books is equally superb. So unfortunately it's a new hobby for me to collect comic trades :D

Here are a couple of books I really loved (in no particular order):
- Batwoman by J.H Williams III
- Thor (Marvel NOW) by Jason Aaron / Ribic
- Wolverine & The X-men by Jason Aaron / Bachalo
- John Byrne's Next Men by John Byrne
- Hawkeye by Fraction / Aja
- She-Hulk by Soule / Pulido
- Batman by Snyder / Capullo

So talking about comics, I joined a community for comic book artists called penciljack. They run monthly art battles which I've been doing. I really wanted to put my figure drawing into practice, so this was a great opportunity..I've been slacking off a bit lately, simply because my focus has shifted to animation again.

September was the month where I ventured back into traditional medium, I started to do a lot of pencil drawings, I actually think it's very important to switch back between traditional and digital art. You might get lazy using ctrl+z, so it's good for discipline to draw on paper!

I think my course had finished and I took some time out to see what I was going to focus on next.

November saw the light of ToonBoom! The studio is switching over to ToonBoom and I always really wanted to use ToonBoom for frame by frame animation (sorry..I hate flash  for drawing). So this month I mostly spent learning the software and I also did my She-Hulk walkcycle test in ToonBoom.

So this month I need to get cracking on my drawing for penciljack and I'm also doing a cat walkcycle in Toonboom! Oh yeah, I also opened up my TUMBLR, I'm updating A LOT. So if you decide to follow me, just keep that in mind! It is slightly more filtered than what I post on my blog though...none of this year in review garbage for example :D

What's next?

I will continue to focus on animation in 2015, my aim is to have a 30 second piece of animation. I'll be going back to the witch concepts I did in April and create something from that. I'll also keep up my figure drawing with weekly life drawing, and maybe do another intense 2 months of anatomy.

That's it! Hopefully nobody is bored enough to read this, I post this mostly for myself and I really think that if you are serious about art that you should do something similar. Just to make sure you are moving forward and not getting lost on little sideroads...although as long as you are in good company, it's all good!

Merry Christmas!

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