ANM 633 - Character Design for Animators

The semester has finally started coming to a close and I just finished my final for Character Design, taught by Nicholas Villarreal, who was a great teacher. While this was probably the hardest class ever so far for me, it was a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. The class was structured around having models come in with costumes each week to pose and we would mainly do 5 or 10 minute poses, sometimes some 20 minutes and 2 minutes, and this would go on for 6 hours. Nicholas let us draw in any style that we wish, as long as we keep the fundamentals of a good drawing and designing a character. We had to have structure, a strong line of action, and asymmetrical shapes. I felt like I have learned more about drawing in this one semester than the four years while I was at UW studying fine art. It's not that I didn't learn anything at UW or that the school or professors were bad, but rather the foci between the two are vastly different. While the major at UW was called "Drawing and Painting" the main focus was on painting and all the professors I had were primarily oil painters. Thus, even when I took drawing classes, we used vine charcoal and did extended poses with full composition to focus on light and value. Additionally, any sketches, thumbnails, or under paintings that I did were done very loosely as I mainly just use them to jot down ideas and to find the layout of my composition, particularly since I will be painting over everything anyway. However, in character design it was all about line work and so I was struggling a lot. Other students in the class were in illustration and visual development so when I looked around the room at their drawings I felt like the weakest one there. Even though Ollie Johnston says to draw clear, not clean, I see all those illustrators with their nice, sharp, crisp, and clean lines which made me really jealous. I can't really just draw a single line and leave it; I have a habit of going back over my lines to build my drawings and even if I draw lightly, it builds up over time. I also have to draw in the basic geometric shapes underneath first to build up the figure so that causes more lines that I would have to clean up at the end.

Even though my grades are probably abysmal in that class, I like to think, and hopefully Nicholas would agree, that I got better. I did learn a lot and came out of the class with a lot more drawing knowledge which is what is more important than a letter grade for a class that I took as an elective.

For one of the assignments we got to create characters of a family and so I took the chance to further develop the characters for the short 3D animated film that I had planned, "Supernova". The characters in "Supernova" are stars that are people and Reo, the main male character, is an old star miner. He has lost his wife and his long life is now coming to a close. As he sits down in his armchair, lights his pipe, and reminisced about his wife, he goes supernova. As when stars die they don't just disappear so as all the star particles of Reo drift out into vast galaxy he finds himself reunited with his wife. Unfortunately I have decided against producing my own film for my thesis and instead work more on collaborative projects. While I already had a grasp of what my main character, the father character in this assignment, will look like, it was great developing his wife and then the children. I even got to make a maquette! supernova_smallmaquette The final project of the class was also really fun. It was a Good vs Evil assignment and so we had to come up with a story and design 4 character, the hero/heroine, a guy/girl (normal person, love interest, damsel), a sidekick, and a villain. The story is called Fera Silva (Wild Forest), and so I have a Tree of Decay that goes around kidnapping the little forest animals, in this particular case a bunny, and so the guardian of the forest, a weretiger, has to come save the bunny with his quippish friend, an owl. The process involved first doing ten thumbnails for each character for one week and then doing a final drawing the next. I didn't think that the thumbnails had to be shown for the final so my first set were pretty basic, just trying to draw up some ideas and create a story. When I realized I had to show them, I ended up redoing the majority of my thumbnails, while extremely tiring, was good in that it helped me solidify my characters. feraSilva weretigerowl bunny tree