How 3D/Animation Has Changed My Life

The past four weeks have seemed like a whirlwind of information and learning with regards to my most recent class, 3D graphics/animation.

There is truthfully so much that concerns the 3D/animation world and only so much can be covered during a four week span.  However, this class and everything that I have learned has without a doubt left an impact on me!

Even though my animations are simple animations, I have learned how much work really goes into animating figures.

I have always been a huge fan of animated films and now I can begin to understand just how much all the teams of illustrators put into the films that we enjoy.

Recently, my wife and I watched the 2013 Pixar film; Monsters University.  We are like children in the way that we love watching animated films as often as we can!  When I was watching this movie most recently however, it was like my eyes were opened for the very first time.  Even from the very first scene with the scene being set with a row of houses surrounded by trees, and the morning sunlight shining brilliantly through those trees; I was able to see a glimpse of what those animators went through even to make just those few first seconds of the movie!

Animation takes so much patience and so much manpower.  I am even more impressed with everything that is able to be accomplished with todays animated films.  It really isn’t a surprise at all that these movies take years to complete!  All the folks involved in the animation process are superheroes in my book, and I just can’t wait to see what they come up with next!


Animation Studios + 3D Printing

When I discovered 3D printing, my mind was pretty much blown (which I think it is safe to say is the reaction that most people have when they discover the magic behind 3D printing).

An industry that has benefited from the use of 3D printers is the movie industry.  I recently read an article that discussed the animation studio LAIKA that relies on using the software and 3D printing hardware to make its films.  With recent improvements on the technology that the [really good] 3D printers use, LAIKA has the ability to print thousands of precise colors and subtle gradients in plastic, which achieves color accuracy that has not been accomplished with 3D printing before now.

The way in which LAIKA most utilizes the 3D printer for their films is pretty simple in concept:  faces.  LAIKA’s designers produce the puppets’ (they produce stop-motion animated films) faces, and they the 3D printer is used to print literally tens of thousands of slightly different facial expressions for each character that is utilized during filming.

LAIKA actually pioneered this specific technique on their first film Coraline and they have continued to continually change things up with each film that they have produced.

3D technology is amazing and is constantly changing, and it has produced incredible applications to so many industries including film.  I cannot wait to see where this technology goes in just the next few years!

Drawing: It’s Not So Bad!

In the past four weeks I have done a good amount of drawing, which is saying something!  I have never considered myself to be a drawer in any regard, but I have found drawing to be (and I’m sure it will continue to be) a useful skill.  Drawing has helped me to visualize the work I am doing before I even go into Illustrator to start designing.  It has helped me to have definite direction in the design from the very beginning, which I have found has saved me a good amount of time.

I have seen that my drawing has improved, even over just the past few weeks.  Practice truly does make perfect, and I know that my drawing will only get better the more I practice it.


The above is my favorite drawing that I have done over the past few weeks.  I am very proud how it turned out, and it is certainly my best so far!

Graphic Designers: Thinking Like Illustrators

Working as a freelance illustrator is daunting work (so I’ve heard). While I am not one of the brave souls that is putting my work out into the world and landing illustration jobs, I am able to learn from the successes of the illustrators out there making a living doing what they do best.

One of the things that I have been able to learn from (and put to good use) from illustrators is their ever so useful sketchbook.  The sketchbook is and can be a designer’s best friend.  Not only is it to be used for sketching and drawing, the sketchbook should be with the designer at all times. The sketchbook should be used to record important notes, place images of inspiration as well as any sort of inspirational material.  It is a good practice to make sure your sketchbook can easily fit into your pocket or the bag you carry.  This way, you are never without the item that documents design inspiration, whenever it may strike.

Another meaningful leaf that can be taken out of na illustrator’s book is the art of brainstorming.  To many graphic designers, brainstorming can be a tedious task that just stands in the way of creating a design solution for a client.  I believe that this train of thought could not be farther from the truth!

Simply speaking, brainstorming allows the designer to bring together their research, notes, sketchbook scribbles, and plentiful thoughts together to create a solution for their client.  All of these items combined might not create a definite design solution immediately, but they certainly can (and will) play their part to creating what the client needs.

In the brainstorming process, even when the ideas coming through the designers head might seem ludicrous or outright ridiculous; the ideas need to be jotted down.  All ideas need to be documented because there is no telling when the designer will need to recall that thought or idea to create a design solution from that abstract thought.  There is no telling when design solutions will strike.

The Fundamentals of Illustration: Music Industry Illustration

Upon continuing my reading through “The Fundamentals of Illustration”, I realized the  sector of illustration that I find most interesting (and the one that I would certainly enjoy working in the most) is the music industry.

Illustrators in the music industry possess a lot of power:  they control how the public views the musician as well as the music before the public even hears one bit of music!

Now, the sub-sector within the music industry that I would feel at home is certainly in the classical genre; I grew up listening to and unequivocally falling in love with classical music.  There are many situations in the classical field of music where graphic designers and illustrators are able to find work:  there are countless music competitions that need promotional materials to be created, there are summer programs that happen all over the world that mailout brochures, there are opera companies and symphonies that have entire departments that are responsible for promoting the organization, and there are even record labels that sign only classical artists that need to promote the artists brand.

I find the potential of working in some regard within the classical field exciting because before a single note is heard the illustrator and/or graphic designer is the person that first communicates with the audience about the music.  When I look at a newly purchased c.d. I am already making up my mind as to what the recording is going to be like and how the artist even goes about their performance!  The job of an illustrator and graphic designer includes a lot of power and that is so exciting.

The Fundamentals of Illustration: Chapter 1-2

The thing that stood out to me the most when I read the first two chapters of “The Fundamentals of Illustration” was how much difficulty illustrators have faced in their careers.  Illustrators have been seemingly stuck “between a rock and a hard place”, with the rock being art and the hard place being design.  I (maybe ignorantly) always assumed that illustrators considered themselves to be under the discipline of art, but now I see that is not necessarily the case.

Illustrators cannot just be regarded as artists; they are also designers.  Illustrators produce art based on the clients needs, but they also utilize many different mediums in the design field to get to their final result.  A successful illustrator makes use of drawing studios, photography darkrooms, print-making workshops, wood and metal workshops, architecture and furniture design studios as well as computers (and the programs) used by graphic designers.

Illustrators really are chameleons, as they are piecing together multiple disciplines to make a career for themselves.  It is obvious to me that illustrators as a group are very talented people, and finding an illustrator that can successfully make use of the many different disciplines that are available to them is truly unique.