Werner Zimmermann’s central role in the training of young animation students in figure drawing and artistic anatomy for decades is well known by anyone in animation circles in Canada, USA and abroad.
In Bertrand Tavenier’s iconic film Round Midnight, (1986) the films main character Dale Turner, played by the great Saxophonist Dexter Gordon, says these very wise words at one point in the film while speaking about the development of a musician:
”You just don’t go out and pick a style off a tree one day -the tree is inside you, growing naturally”.
The same applies to visual artists as well. For now we’re going to let these wise words about style, where it comes from and how it grows, just linger on the page here.
Food for thought that we’ll address in upcoming posts.
Suffice it to say, there’s an awful lot of ‘picking a style off of someone else’s tree’ that goes on when it comes to the making of animation school portfolios these days…and we’ll revisit why we think this is, and what we do at APW to foster the opposite approach to senseless ‘stylistic appropriation’.
We’re proud of the work done by APW grads. After learning drawing fundamentals at APW, these young artists go on to hone their abilities in other schools and programs and then on to the animation biz here in Toronto and internationally. The 2019 Oscars are an opportunity for Animation Portfolio Workshop to salute Graham Finley and recognize his outstanding work.
“Learning how to draw was the most important thing that I’ve taken from APW”
Graham Finley – Animator Pixar
Graham has worked at Pixar on a number of Pixar films: Inside Out, Brave, Monsters University, Piper, and most recently, Incredibles 2. A successful animator, devoted to his craft and producing top-notch work.
Chang Dai’s extensive animation experience covers character design, storyboards, art direction, hand drawn animation, game design and production design in Toronto (Yowza Animation, Arc Animation, Industrial Brothers, Jam Filled Entertainment, House of Cool), , Minneapolis, and in San Francisco (Play Studios). Chang’s professional animation experience shows a highly developed ability to draw well.
Is it possible that we’ve become tired of the increasingly similar look and feel of current animation feature films?
Consider the current response to the Sony Pictures block-buster, Oscar nominated “Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse” in this article from Animation World Network entitled “Art Triumphs Over Everything. Animation geeks and mainstream film-goers alike are finding a virtual treasure trove of inspiration and visual interest in Spider-Verse’s artful direction by the art direction team of Patrick O’Keefe (Animation Portfolio Workshop grad)
Yes and No.
With the advent of the Internet and new technologies, (hardware and software) the platforms existing for teaching the language of observational drawing seem to be expanding…. for better or for worse, one can’t quite tell – yet.
By that we mean that the jury is still out on whether the online offerings are doing more to diminish and eclipse the authentic experience of what is really involved in earning (yes we said earning) what it takes to become fluent in the language of observational drawing as we know it. You have to earn fluency in observational drawing language through a great exertion of energy and time…thousands of hours of sweat basically. The suitability of a term like ‘earning’ makes a lot of sense in context of the advice Gerard is often overheard giving during critiques in APW classes. When a weary APW drawing student comes to cry on his shoulder about how long it takes to learn how to draw, or how hard a particular drawing exercise is, Gerard is heard to say; “Drawing is like digging a hole. You get a shovel and dig.
Once you design a character for your animation portfolio, you need to draw a turnaround that shows your character in four different views. The idea here is to demonstrate a knowledge of character construction and an ability to visualize and draw the character from different angles. Easier said than done. No youtube “how-to-draw” video can come anywhere near being a substitute for going and getting this knowledge for yourself through lots of drawing and helpful guidance from someone who has been where you are and knows what you need to know. Drawing. It’s awesome.
International and Canadian students make up the Animation Portfolio Workshop Summer Intensive Sessions and create a special atmosphere. Diverse cultural backgrounds all come together when it’s time to draw. Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Senegal, UK, USA, Italy, India, Denmark, Switzerland, Vietnam, Fort MacMurray Alta., Winnipeg Man., and even our fair Toronto and throughout Ontario.
The Summer Intensive lives up to it’s name and is a full 38 days of classes (6 hours per day) spread out over 8 weeks in July and August
A look back at some layout drawings selecyed from animation portfolios from Animation Portfolio Workshop class of 2018. Portfolios for animation schools require a solid knowledge of perspective shown in layouts like these. In these drawings, 2 point perspective, composition, solid object drawing, sketching, center of interest, overlapping objects, depth, variation in shapes show a number of the important areas that APW students spend months practising in order to arrive at the final portfolio pieces. These Animation Portfolio Workshop grads are in Sheridan animation.
Animation Portfolio Workshop grad Saud Boksmati has made Visual Development and Character Design a matter of priority in his art practise. Soulful character designs filled with personality and humanity and meaningful story-telling are hallmarks of Saud’s personal drawings and illustrations as well as his professional work for Cartoon Network, LAIKA Entertainment,