Life Drawings - Drawings of the human figure. These conte, charcoal or graphite drawings must be drawn "from life" and not from a photograph. Get into a Life Drawing class if you can, it's the most important step you can take along the path of getting into animation school and becoming an animator. A Life Drawing class with instruction is your best bet but the next best thing is an open Life Drawing class (students each pay $10 per class toward the cost of a model and agree on a number of short poses usually followed by longer poses toward the end of a 3 hour drawing session) which will at least give you exposure to the nude model and opportunities to draw the figure.
Object Drawings - Drawings of individual common objects. The key here is to draw objects that are based on basic geometric forms such as a sphere (an orange?), a box (milk carton?), a cylinder (water bottle?), a cone etc. Don't "clean up" your object drawings. It's perfectly acceptable if your drawings show some of your "rough" construction lines as these will show that you understand the structure that lies beneath the surface of the objects you draw.
Room Drawings - You need to demonstrate a working knowledge of perspective. Use 2 point perspective to draw a room in your house (kitchen, bedroom?). When choosing a view of a room, avoid facing a wall directly. Look toward a corner instead. If you are 12 to 15 feet away from a corner of the room, your view will show angles that can enhance visual interest.
Character Drawings - Design an animation character and draw a turn-around of the character (front view, ¾ view, side view etc.) along with various action poses and facial expressions.
Hand drawings - Drawings of your hand (sometimes in a befor/after sequence) should show familiarity with gesture and structure.
Animal drawings - Grab a sketchbook and head to a zoo or a farm, get your pet to sit and sleep while you draw, draw, draw. The goal here is gesture and structure (notice a trend?)
Storyboarding - Some schools will give you a script that outlines a very simple story, a character model sheet and a number of storyboard panels. Basic story-telling skills, character drawing skills and creativity are evaluated based on your storyboard drawings.
Personal artwork of your choice - In addition to the required drawings, you may be asked to include artwork of your own choosing. Some schools will offer parameters for this portfolio piece ("no animation characters - aka SpongeBob", or "no photography", "no flaming skull-heads", etc.). This is an opportunity to show off your strengths.The format for the final portfolio will vary from school to school. Some schools will ask for 8.5 X 11 scans or photocopies of your artwork in a plastic folder. Other schools will require original artwork to be submitted and then collected by the student after it is evaluated. Either way, if you invest the necessary time and effort into each of the drawings that make up the portfolio and then present the final drawings in a professional manner, your portfolio can highlight your drawing skills and help you get into animation school! Check out these examples of artwork taken from successful animation portfolios - http://www.animationportfolioworkshop.com/students-2 Happy drawing!
Vince Peets is one of the Directors of the Animation Portfolio Workshop (APW). His professional experience as a storyboard artist covers animated TV series, feature films and TV spots in both Toronto and Los Angeles. He has taught Drawing for Animation and Storyboarding at Sheridan college in the Classical Animation Department and presently is the co-director of the Animation Portfolio Workshop.