Monday, August 27, 2018

Parenting? Constraints? Choose Wisely.

    If you've ever animated a shot with props in it, chances are you’ve had some difficult encounters with constraints. Just creating a parent constraint often doesn’t meet the needs of a shot, and it can be confusing to try to figure out how to animate the prop correctly. Parenting is another way of creating a relationship between two objects, and can be quite effective if done properly. So, should you use parenting? Constraints? One of the best ways to deal with props is actually to use both.  

Parenting: Parenting refers to putting an object (the “child”) directly under the hierarchy of another object (the “parent”). The child follows the parent, but can also be moved independently of the parent. This hierarchy cannot be toggled on and off.

Parent Constraint : A relationship between a parent object and child object. The parent object dictates the movement of the child object, and the child object cannot be moved independently of the parent. The relationship can be toggled on and off.

   By parenting a child object to a locator, then parent constraining that locator to the parent object, you can create a degree of separation between the parent object and the child object. This way, you have a parent constraint which you can toggle on and off as needed, and the child object can still be moved and animated independently of the parent object.

    If you're new to parenting and constraints or just need a refresher, check out this clip from our Body Mechanics class, where instructor Charles Larrieu covers parenting, parent constraints, and using locators to gain more control over the constrained object.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Character Rig: Marco 2.0!

Marco is AnimSchool's new pretty-boy character rig. He has two complete outfit changes and two hairstyles to choose from. Students can mix and match the shirt, pants, shoes, as well as hair to get a unique look.

AnimSchool's new character Marco is a new favorite among our animation students. Our students use Marco in our feature animation classes 5-7.

Marco was carefully crafted over a long period to ensure appeal and versatility.

Marco represents a new initiative at AnimSchool, using detailed texturing, while still maintaining a simple look. Marco looks great in Maya's viewport too, taking advantage of Maya's Viewport 2.0 stingray materials display.

Marco was designed by artist David Lojaya and modeled by Dave Gallagher, Jacob Van Valkenburg and Paul Bellozas, rigged by Dave Gallagher, and textured by and Paul Bellozas.

See when the class is offered here:

To apply to be a student at AnimSchool go to
Come join our animation classes to learn with AnimSchool rigs!

New AnimSchool VFX Character: Grave

AnimSchool's new VFX Creature Animation class uses our new detailed creature rigs.
"Grave" is our new lizard character. If you could combine a lizard, crocodile, velociraptor, and dragon, you might get something like our new creature rig, Grave. These creatures are eager to wreak havoc and create mayhem in the cityscape provided.

Our students use Grave in our new VFX Creature Animation class, integrated with our custom HDRI background plates. To apply to be a student at AnimSchool go to

Grave was designed by artist Jong Lee and modeled by Dave Gallagher, and textured by Dave Gallagher and Paul Bellozas.

See when the class is offered here:

Come join our VFX and other animation classes to learn with AnimSchool rigs!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pushing Poses Through Iteration

    There are so many animation principles to keep track of when creating poses - line of action, silhouette, appeal, and contrast, to name a few. The first pose you create is almost never your best, so here are some techniques that many professional animators use to take their poses to the next level. You can use these along with others as a great way to help train your eye to both see and create better poses.  

(Preston Blair on Line of Action)

  • Purpose: What's the drive and intention of the character? What emotions does your character have? What are they trying to express? Where is their focus and their energy? 
  • Line of Action: Push your main line of action to reflect the story behind the character at that frame, whether opening them up to one side or the other, or hunching away. Follow the line through the body, and see if you can extend the line of action through the limbs and other extremities.
  • Silhouette: Make sure you have a clear pose even in silhouette. Can you get rid of or make use of negative space?
  • Appeal: Is your character’s personality showing in the pose? Is the pose engaging and interesting to look at?
  • Contrast: Make use of different shapes and angles to add interest to your poses. Think of what your character is doing before and after that pose - can you exaggerate certain parts of the body to accent a motion, or play with squash and stretch to contrast a previous or upcoming movement?
  • Iteration: Keep pushing your poses until you end up with something a little more appealing. Don’t worry if you don’t see much change or improvement right away, or if you’re concerned about pushing things too far. It’s an iterative process, and as instructor Thom Roberts mentions in the demo clip below, you can’t judge your progress or determine whether you’ve gone too far until you can compare with what you had before. Make sure to occasionally flip between your old pose and new poses to compare and make decisions about what parts look better. 

    In the clip below, you’ll be able to see Thom’s process for iterating on a pose. Watch as he takes into consideration the purpose of the shot to shape the character, little by little, into a pose with more appeal.  

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at  

Monday, July 16, 2018

Hand Posing 101

(Hand poses drawn by Milt Kahl)

    When creating poses, some of the most overlooked yet important parts of the body are the hands. Hands can reveal a great deal about your character, but many beginning animators tend to leave the hands in flat, default poses. Even a neutral hand pose should adhere to the principles of good posing, such as readability and appeal. Hands can help accentuate a movement or action, and bring life into a gesture. Hands and fingers call follow a path of motion, reinforcing the path and strengthening the impression of a quick movement.

(Model sheet for the Disney animated film, Tarzan)

    Some ideas to keep in mind when posing hands are spacing and grouping. The fingers should be in harmony, and create appealing shapes with strong, interesting silhouettes. It’s preferable to avoid even spacing and parallel fingers. You can create interesting groupings, and play around with pushing one or more of the fingers to set them apart from the others. It also helps to utilize the arches and curls in the fingers, and to pay attention to the splay of the fingers in relation to each other. Don’t forget that fingers also have 3 axes of rotation!

(Hand references for Hogarth from the Warner Bros animated film, The Iron Giant)

    It can be difficult to effectively pose hands with all the different controls you need to keep in mind. In this clip, instructor Thom Roberts goes through his process of posing simple hand poses and gives us some helpful tips, such as rotating in the palm for a more relaxed and natural look to the hand, focusing on the first two joints of the fingers, and achieving visual interest by pulling out one or more fingers.   

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How to Caricature the Face to Create Appealing Poses

    As animators, we have the ability to push characters past the bounds of reality, and this is often what makes animation so appealing to watch. Though it can be very helpful to reference real life when animating, exaggerating and caricaturing those references can result in something with more life and appeal - especially when posing the face. Caricaturing the face can lead to cleaner mouth shapes and eye shapes, which make the expressions easier to read, and can help introduce some more personality into the face.

(created by Nico Marlet for the Dreamworks film How To Train Your Dragon)

    Character expression sheets for animated movies provide some great examples of how shapes can be simplified and pushed to create appealing expressions. Translating those into 3D comes with its own restrictions, but it's not uncommon for animators to "cheat" the facial controls into unrealistic positions to achieve the looks they want.

    To help illustrate this concept, take a look at this clip of Hans Dastrup, an instructor for our Facial Performance class. He shows us how to push a normal facial expression from a reference into something more appealing and suited to stylized characters, and talks about some tips for posing the face in 3D.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Friday, June 22, 2018

Lecture- Animating Pupils

In this clip, AnimSchool instructor Luke Randall discusses how to animate a character's pupils to make them appear more alive and getting the maximum effect out of an eye animation.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Friday, June 8, 2018

4 Quick Tips for a Better Idle Animation Cycle

    When creating idle animation cycles for games, there is more to keep in mind than just keeping the character moving. It is important to make sure that the animation is not only mechanically sound, but immersive enough to keep the player focused on the game. The key is to make the animation feel as natural and balanced as possible, while allowing for personality to show within the subtleties of the animation. Here are some good points to keep in mind:

  • Body Mechanics: The foundation of all animation. Make sure to have solid posing that accounts for any extra weight from armor or weapons.
  • Appeal: What is your character’s backstory, and how can you show your character’s personality through the animation? Even within an idle cycle, you can add appeal and contrast through posing, quirks, fidgets, etc.
  • Balance: That being said, it’s also important to keep your animation balanced and feeling natural. Too many fidgets or head turns can feel unnatural, so it could help to space them out so that they occur once every few breath cycles. With eye darts to the side, make sure to bring the gaze back to the other side and looking forward, so that it doesn’t feel like your character is focusing on one side.
  • Smooth Cycling: Even idle cycles contribute to a player’s immersion in a character and a game, so make sure that there aren’t any hitches in your cycles! You want to make it so that no one can tell when the animation loops back again. Make sure to check the tangents at the beginning and end of your animation to prevent any jitters.

In this clip from our Introduction to Game Animation class, instructor Jarrod Showers outlines the basic rubric of a good idle animation cycle, and shows his creative process from video reference to character animation.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Monday, May 21, 2018

What Makes a Great Game Animator?

     Anyone who is interested in game animation may have wondered at some point how to prepare to be a game animator, and how game animation differs from feature film animation. Our Introduction to Game Animation instructor, Jarrod Showers, gave us some great insight on what it takes to be a great game animator.

Good Body Mechanics

A good sense of body mechanics is a must for all types of animation, but it is especially important in game animation to be able to convey weight. Game animation has the potential to be viewed in 360 degrees, so the animator must be sure that their animation looks correct from all angles. This starts from having strong poses. Readability is key for game animations, so strong key poses are extremely important because they represent the action that is going to be performed. Game animations tend to hold a pose long enough to be read clearly, then transition quickly to the next pose.

   Enhanced timing is another key component of game animation. Games need to be fast and responsive, which carries over to animation - as soon as a player hits a button, the character reacts. This leaves very little time for anticipation, because getting to the main attack pose or the extreme of a jump in the air in a timely fashion is the highest priority. But, once that goal is achieved, animators are able to add anticipation and follow-through afterwards, so long as the animation is interruptible.

Be Technically Minded

Being a game animator isn't just about animating cycles! The games industry is a team-based industry where everyone relies on everyone to handle their part of the pipeline. Your involvement doesn’t end when you hit export out of Maya- it’s important to own your animation not only from the beginning, but also through implementation and iteration. You need to know the pipeline of the game engine you’re using, know how to implement constraints, troubleshoot problems that arise while exporting your animation, etc. so that there are less people you need to depend on. Because the industry is always changing and advancing, it’s very important to stay on top of the technology. At AnimSchool, we teach game animation students not only how to animate for games, but also how to implement their animation in the Unreal engine.

Being a game animator isn't just about animating cycles!

Be Efficient

    Game animators don't animate 100% of the time. As disappointing as that may be to some people, it’s really fulfilling to actually get MORE control over how your animations are being represented in the game. The industry is known for being fast paced due to tight deadlines, so it’s important to improve upon any part of the process to speed it up.  If you do something repetitively, can it be turned into a single click of a script? Always question if there is a better way, because others may not know your part of the pipeline as well as you do. Or, maybe someone else will have ideas for you!

Additionally, it is extremely helpful to be proactive. This is probably one of the best ways for a game animator to get noticed on the job. Because the game industry is very team based, if someone isn’t delivering progress in a timely manner, another area in the pipeline is being blocked - and it could easily snowball so that the entire production is being held back. It’s extremely important not to prevent anyone from doing their job.

This means working out the timing and poses of an animation quickly, without polish, so that you can hand it off to a designer or programmer who needs it. It helps to work in big “brush strokes,” where you focus on the main body parts that are the most important for selling the animation, and to focus your time where it is most needed. Keep in mind what might be needed in the future when you begin to block out an animation. For example, if your character will be using a two-handed grip on his weapon for his attack animation, it would make transitioning easier later on if you forego the cool one-handed idle animation for a two-handed option that will flow better. Once your animation has been implemented, the iteration process begins, because seeing your animation in the game can be very different than what you may see in Maya.  Blend times between animations and move speeds can often have an unplanned-for effect on your animation’s overall presentation. Iteration is the key at this point, with polish coming after approvals are made to move forward.

In the event that you are blocked, or have finished your animation, it’s really helpful to start thinking about what task is coming next. Usually, a lead will have a few ideas in mind, and it’s always great to begin thinking about them early on so that planning can be done, i.e. thumbnails and video reference. The situation you always want to prevent is coming to your lead and surprising them by saying you have nothing to do.  In those moments, you should be prepared to offer up your own ideas, or already have plans for working on the next assignment. This can start even in school as students can look ahead to the syllabus. As in most learning situations, you will get out of it what you put in.

Be a Good Communicator

Have I mentioned that the games industry is team-based? Making a game is a collaborative effort with many dependencies, so having good communication skills are extremely important.  E-mail is a great way to keep track of information, but if questions don’t get resolved after a couple rounds, it’s often necessary to get up out of your chair and walk over to the person to hash things out. If you’re new to the industry or new to the job, it’s especially important to talk to your team and ask questions to ensure that you are all on the same page and prevent any misunderstandings that could lead to mistakes later on.

Love Games!

Last but not least, it helps to love playing games! Playing games and knowing the competition and trends is important for referencing to others when brainstorming. The games industry is always changing, from technology, to pipelines, to game trends. What is fun today, may not be fun tomorrow. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had my week all planned out on what I was going to accomplish, only to have to have priorities re-arranged because either an asset wasn’t ready, or the gameplay or story had changed significantly enough where I need to rethink how I’m going to approach an idea.

   It really helps the team if you can offer up good feedback based on your experience playing games, or even from testing out the game yourself. It will also help you become more creative, because you’ll have a better understanding of what will work and what won’t based on expectations of other game players. When being interviewed by a potential game studio, the one question that will almost ALWAYS come up is whether or not you play games and which ones are your favorites. In those moments you can stand out by staying current.

  Passion also plays a huge role. As a game animator, it’s important that you believe in the product you are making. A great animator is also a game developer who is passionate about driving the industry forward. Making the game should be as important, or more so, than being just a great animator. Basically, just love what you do and it will not only show in your work, but also make you a great addition to any team!

If you're interested in being a game animator, be sure to keep these points in mind, and don't forget to check out our Game Animation program!

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

3D Animation Interview: AnimSchool student Nina Tarasova

Today we have an interview with AnimSchool student, Nina Tarasova.

Welcome Nina, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your education and which class you’re currently in? And also if you are in an animation or modeling program or track?

I come from Belarus, but currently live in the London area, UK. My path to 3D was not straightforward. It took me a while to figure out what I want to do in life and also gain confidence to pursue a career in the animation industry. So I can’t say my dream has always been to become an artist.
When I was a kid I loved drawing and my best friend at that time encouraged me to start taking classes with her at an artist’s studio, where I learned drawing and painting. At high school the subjects became more difficult and homework more time-consuming so I didn’t have much time left to practice art and quit. I chose to study literature and languages at university because it is my family’s tradition and it was a good education to get a secure job in my home country.  When I was in my third year I was lucky to win a scolarship from the German Academic Exchange Service and went to study to Germany. This was the turnover point in my life. I was far away from home in the new culture, met a lot of new people.  My boyfriend who was completely on the tech side introduced me to 3D. I installed the student version of Maya and started learning it in my free time, first just watching videos on youtube and following some book tutorials. It was not an efficient way of learning, I wouldn’t do it again and wouldn’t recommend it to people who don’t have prior experience at all! 
After the graduation I moved to the UK, where I’m currently working as an office administrator assistant. I think moving to London motivated me to start pursuing a career in the animation industry. I finally realized how close the studios are, you just need to get your foot in the door. I remember I saw once the amazing entries for the Autodesk student award competition and was so impressed by the students’ work! It inspired me to work harder to achieve their level one day. I signed up to digital-tutors and noticed how quickly I started to progress! In my opinion it’s extremely important to have well-structured lessons and good explanation when you start learning something completely new!

When I was confident with the software and was at a point to start working on my portfolio I came across AnimSchool’s website and decided to give it a try. So here I am now at AnimSchool in the modeling/rigging program. I joined a year ago and have just finished my 4th class: Environmental modeling.
I think it was the best decision I have made in my life. I couldn’t imagine that AnimSchool would be able to push my skills so far. I met a lot of wonderful people here who are not only great artist, but also amazing instructors, very dedicated and passionate about teaching! 

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Your work is really amazing. How do you prepare yourself for a modeling assignment? Where do you find your artwork? 

Unfortunately no secret recipe! I just model hour after hour! I spend most of my free time working on the modeling projects. I like to take challenging concepts and most of the time when I choose a concept, I have no idea how I’m going to do it. It’s always difficult to start, but later if you keep pushing yourself something nice will come out for sure. I also don’t stop when things start to look good but keep working on the model… maybe I can make it look even better? There are a lot of places where you can find beautiful artwork, I found the concepts for my projects at DeviantArt and ArtStation, but Pinterest is also great. 

Besides working on your AnimSchool assignments, you also participated twice in the Pixar’s RenderMan contest challenge. First time you ended up 3d place, which is fantastic, but the last time you even became 2nd! Incredible! Can you tell us about the RenderMan challenge itself and if you have had any advantage from classes here at AnimSchool?(tips, tricks, workflow etc)

Thank you for your kind words! Both times I was very surprised when I saw my name among the winners! I didn’t expect that since many artists who took part had a lot more experience than me. The first challenge was very special for me! It was the first time ever independent people recognized the quality of my work regardless of my experience, background and connections. I took part in the RenderMan challenges because I love lighting and they were a great opportunity to practice it and also get my work noticed.  Yes, it was a lot of work, many trials and errors, but in my experience if you don’t give up and persist, sooner or later you will achieve the result you want. I think it’s all about your dedication, how hard you want to try to achieve something. 
Here are some very valuable tips in my opinion: start by experimenting, trying out different ideas, their pros and cons before choosing one. After you have carefully chosen the idea, stick to it and do your best to make it work. Also when working on a bigger project take care of the main things first, overall form, shape and design and don’t go into details too soon. It is super important! This preparatory phase will save you a lot of time in the end and will give you a more successful result. And the last tip: never stop at ‘good enough’, because ‘good enough’ mindset is not good if you want to win. Do the best possible within the given time frame, push yourself to the limits and you might be surprised of what you can accomplish. And don’t get discouraged if you get stuck at some point, in fact I always go through such phase in every challenging project. But if you don’t give up and keep pushing you will create something great!

Did these challenges help you with your assignments at AnimSchool?

Since I’m learning modeling and rigging at AnimSchool, the rendering skills don’t help me directly to work on my assignments. But they are very useful when I need to do a presentation of my project.  I also strive to be a well-rounded artist and have a skillset that makes me standout. It was also a huge motivator to win some great prizes from Pixar!

In January 2018 your work got published in 3D Artist magazine, congratulations! How did they find you?

They didn’t find me, I found them! I strongly believe we have to take initiative in our hands if we want to achieve something. Because I follow 3D Artist on Facebook I saw the post that they wanted to make a gallery dedicated to celebrating women in the animation industry, so anyone could send in their work.
I sent the link to my ArtStation and got their reply the same day that I was shortlisted. 2 weeks later they said my work would be featured!

The sky seems to be the limit Nina, what more surprises can we expect from you in 2018? 
What would you like to do once you’ve finished AnimSchool? What are your ambitions?

My work King’s Taylor has recently received 3D Total Excellence Award, yay! My main goal for this year is to finish my demo reel and get my foot in the door. I want to keep growing as an artist, try different styles and participate in collaborative projects. I have recently done a small collab with the talented Nikie Monteleone who is a senior Surfacing Artist at HouseSpecial. She textured and rendered the Greenie Genie model I did in the Intermediate modeling class with Brien Hindman. Another great news is our collaboration will be featured in the next issue of 3D Artist magazine!

King's Tailor

I’ve had a few people ask me how long it will take to become good at it. Can they become good at it at all? Do they have enough talent? It’s always hard to start learning something new. My start was also very hard, but if you overcome the first difficulties, you will see your work improve from day to day and it will motivate you to get better. I think dedication and perseverance are way more important than talent. I actually don’t believe in talent in the sense most people use it. IMO it’s an excuse for lazy people why they can’t become good at sth. But yes, I agree some people have more natural ability than others to certain things, but it doesn’t mean you can’t develop it.  I think it’s also important to enjoy the process of learning new skills, not only the final result of your work. 

What advice can I give to those who just start learning 3D?

My other advice: self – learning is great, it requires a huge amount of discipline and self-organization (I started as a self-learner and have enormous respect for such people!) but if you have a chance to go to a good school (good is a key word here!) and get professional feedback as well you will progress so much faster! Another good side of going to school is it will set strict deadlines when you need to deliver your assignments, so no matter what excuses you have, you project needs to be finished by the end of term!

And one other super important advice: try to surround yourself with people who believe in you and encourage you on your way!

Thank you so much, Nina and good luck!

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Monday, April 30, 2018

VFX Splocking Workflow, Bonus Features: Camera Shake, Q&A


    In this last installment of instructor Tony Mecca’s 3D Animation VFX workshop, Tony goes over the basics of camera shake in Maya and answers some questions from students about VFX workflow and industry.

To view the blocking and posing parts of the demo, follow these links:

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Saturday, April 21, 2018

3D Animation VFX Workflow, Part 2: Posing and Overlap

This is the second phase of instructor Tony Mecca’s VFX Workflow demo, where Tony takes his initial rough blocking pass and adds in more detailed poses and some overlap in the limbs. He also covers other 3D animation principles such as offset and posing to the camera, which can be especially important in VFX shots. This part of the demo has been split into two videos. Watch here:

This covers the posing and overlap phase of the demo. To view Part 1, which covers the layout and planning phase, follow this link.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lecture- Interaction of Material and Light

In AnimSchool's Material and Texturing class, Arvin Villapando, the instructor, discusses how material and light interact with each other in the software Substance Designer.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Friday, March 30, 2018

VFX Workflow, Part 1: Layout and Planning

    With the rise in popularity of fantasy and sci-fi films comes a huge surge in demand for VFX. AnimSchool instructor Tony Mecca has worked in the forefront of the VFX industry for several years, animating for films like Snow White and the Huntsman, RIPD, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Tony has a particular workflow for VFX, which centers around a “splocking” method that is designed to produce smooth, realistic animation as quickly as possible in VFX shots, which are typically too heavy to have real-time playback. This workflow starts out in spline/auto tangents right away, and can be used for full-CG shots as well. In this demo, Tony utilizes his “splocking” workflow to animate a shot of a monster running and jumping off of a ledge, using AnimSchool’s Hellhound rig.

Part 1 covers the layout and planning phase, and Part 2 will cover the posing and overlap phase of the demo.

Looking for the best 3D Animation schools? For more information about AnimSchool and our online animation programs, visit us at

Friday, March 23, 2018

3D Animation Interview: Sony Pictures Story Artist Eva Bruschi

Welcome Eva Bruschi, Storyboard Artist for Sony Pictures Animation! Could you tell us about yourself, your career and how you became a Story Artist at Sony ?

Of course :) My name is Eva and I'm Italian, born in Tuscany 34 years ago (almost 35) and about myself and how it all "started", well, I remember that as a kid I was always ready to solve situations by drawing something, because I loved drawing and liked to help. 
One day - probably I was around 4-5 years old - my grandma needed celery and I drew a bunch of celery for her recipe. I though that was the same as having real celery for cooking, it was green and looked like celery so was enough for helping her. My mom was often missing the beach during winter time so one day I drew the sea, the sand, a blue stripe for the sky and the yellow sun, probably a crab walking and a boat floating far on the horizon, there certainly was even a seagull.. and then I gave her the drawing. "You can hear the waves if you get closer, mom, so now the beach is nearer and you shouldn't miss it so much!"
The rest of the time I used to draw for myself (when everyone was done with my presents).
It's really common among kids to give drawings as gifts thus I was perfectly acting as everyone, maybe I just kept doing it for a longer time than everyone.

I was actually always drawing, literally everywhere, the walls of my house were also filled with my drawings because my parents made the great mistake one day to say : "okay, you can draw on the walls but don't go out of your bedroom space". 
Didn't work and I ended up covering the rest of the house.
C'mon. How can you resist to those big, white and empty walls?? My graffiti remained there for many years and as I grew up was nice to see the crazyness yet the truth that's in kids drawings. 
I remember I loved to draw houses and gardens, well detailed gardens and animals. Cats and cows in particular. I remember while I was spending time with grandparents, my grandma used to tell me about her youth spent among the mountains, since she was Swiss. I often drew something out of those stories.. that's probably where the many cows came from.. and probably even my first storyboards panels!! :D 
I was also fascinated by bugs, so I used to often draw them. I knew them pretty well because for one birthday I received a microscope as a gift, so I soon became the nightmare for all the small creatures around in the back yard because I wanted to see if bees were wearing underpants. Anyway, looking in there, through the lens, was like looking through the window of another world, another dimension. 
I was drawing and drawing and drawing and I never could get enough of that! 
I drew until the end of secondary school, then thought I couldn't survive nor pay for a rent with only drawing, so I followed a technical high school (and discovered photography, still another great passion of mine beside playing a bit on the guitar) and wanted to become a mechanic! But if there's something in you that you really can't hold, one time it comes out again, I promise.

So this happened. I was 23 and after I gave engineering a try at university,
I decided to attended an art school here in Italy. A 3-year animation course. School was pretty expensive for me so I was working while attending classes. I remember one day, during a workshop, an external teacher told me something like "hey you can't do this as a job and still have another job to maintain you.
You should only draw, all day! You're not gonna make it this way, you probably don't want it for real, to become an artist and make a living out of it". That was a terrible day, one of the worst for me, but I knew that from that moment on, I wanted to become good at drawing and a professional even more

After school - where they destroyed all my confidence in drawing and made me re-mold it - I started collaborating freelance with very talented people, mentors from whom to learn everyday, all the time, for Italian television series and features as story artist, but also as a 2d layout artist or 2d animation assistant. Especially in the beginning I had to take on everything that came by, not only storyboard work, because I needed a job and earn some money to keep living.
So without having the chance to choose the project I liked the most, I did learn much anyway.
At the end of 2014 I was contacted on LinkedIn (holy LinkedIn, get a LinkedIn profile guys and keep it updated!!!) and I was asked to help on a project as a freelance story artist (project was "High In The Clouds"). From that moment on, I have to say that my life has gone through many changes.
After that year and a half I spent boarding on that, I got to know many kind, professional and talented people who trusted me - and I guess that is the main point - and liked my work. So from one project to another, I luckily found myself working for Sony Pictures Animation. Ta-Daa!

What a beautiful story!
Can you tell us what a Storyboard Artist does?

Preproduction is where things get real for the first time and is great, to me, because you can play with a bunch of different aspects together. As a storyboard artist, you work in this phase and basically translate the script into drawings, so from words to images.
To do this, you need to know about acting, figure drawing, perspective, cinematography.. playing with lights in a scene is also really important if, for example, you're showing a particular moment rich of emotion or a moment that someway has to be underlined. You have to understand what the script really says and have to start imagining what's going on, then put it down on paper (or PS layers). This also includes other ideas (extra-script) that you came up with and that you will pitch later, like adding gags and reactions, giving it a certain energy that maybe not be described in the script. 
You also have to be extremely flexible, giving more (and more, and more, and more...) versions of the same sequence if required without getting crazy or depressed (just joking:). You have to take notes and modify what has to be changed. Be able to listen to directors and their ideas of the show and as said before, you have to be able to pitch your own ideas! 
Everything comes with time and experience (I'm talking to myself here!) and it's not only about drawing, but also about patience and the willingness to do what's best for the project.
So in the end, a story artist is in charge to give the first visual breath of life to a story, which as a thought to keep in mind, pays you back for all the sequences they cut you.

Can you use your own style of drawing or is there a certain in-house style of story boarding?

I'm quite free to use my own style in terms of drawing but of course you have to stay close to the models, their proportions on the screen and the right amount of energy to give to a scene that has to hook up to what's before and after in the movie. What has helped me to get to know the style, if there's any, was watching at other story artists work on the project. Comparing styles and ways of solving scenes is always a good thing that gives you the chance to get inspired and learn something.

Have you done 2D or 3D animations yourself? Or are you planning to make some? 

I did 2d animation especially when I was at the art school, but I find animation always fun to experiment. 
I need some free-time to animate tho, so it's often hard to start something and finish it
But from time to time I try.

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Do you have any tips for applying for a job at a main studio, such as Sony Pictures? In respect of demo reel or presentation, where to present your work ( like a website or Social Media)?

You've got to prepare a good porfolio/demoreel for sure- first things you show should be your best, so that they want to see more - then distribute the other good things in the middle and at the end to maintain a high level of interest and attention. Then with your super product in your backpack, you should travel a bit around animation exhibitions all over Europe and USA (to mention two of the most relevant, Annecy and CTNExpo), and book an interview (or just wait in line for your turn) with your favorite studios who have a stand there. Even if nothing relevant happens from the first round (in terms of hiring), you surely got to know many incredible artists and you have a crazy experience to share.
I didn't know anything about all this when I started, but it might be a tip. 
I think that having an account, a social platform or a website and keeping it updated, makes a big difference nowadays. Everyone can see your work this way (and maybe even wants to hire you!). This way you can get in touch with the best artists, knowing them for example from what they do and draw or paint in their spare time. 
You're able to show what you've worked on. And it's also a good way to compare your work to other artist's work. 
It makes you improve your skills and motivates you to always do better. You can learn every day from each single artist. That's what Instagram has given me and still does. 

Being part of a major production company, how does that affect your artistic creativity?

As an inspiration. To be at my best, all the time. Honestly, I've always tried to give all I've got in every work I've done. I always give all of my heart and use everything that I have learned to every new production I've joined. I think this has helped me a lot, because this way your attention goes to everything and this makes you improve. Doesn't matter how big and famous the production you're working for is, if you love what you're doing you'll always give all you've got. 
I'm really passionate about working for Sony Pictures Animation. 
It has happened in the past that I had to work with people that didn't care that much. Nothing is more frustrating,  because we all know this is a job that you do out of  passion. As time goes by you learn to recognize those situations that require less heart, but it's always a shame to give less, so if you can choose, choose what gives you good vibes and put all that you have into it!

Who do you work with when you work on a story? Directors, scenario writers, the animators,  layout artists etc.? 

As a freelance, I collaborate with the directors. 
have meetings with them for assignments, notes and pitches.

Can you talk about the production you are currently working on?
"Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse"

I'm not allowed to show anything yet!  You have to sign an NDA so you won't ruin the surprise :)
But you can check the trailer that's on line, I promise the movie will be fantastic!!
I've  got pretty used to not being allowed to show my work. That's probably why I post  my doodles on Instagram! 

Can you name a few people that have been a big inspiration to you?

Louie Del Carmen, Darren Webb, Normand Lemay.. 
And I could keep going with names, there's plenty of awesome different artists around, of course not only story artists! But they're always a big reference, especially if one day I feel not at my best to draw - and it does happen. But that day you have to keep working anyway, so I often go to their blogs/Instagram or whatever there's on the internet and I stare a bit at the perfection of their art, I kinda treat my eyes. 
I could say they're my happy place where I recharge! 
What inspires me is also an old sketch of a small town square with a fountain and some birds flying over. I remember it was hanging on my grandparents wall, in the hallway. I always asked for it when I was a kid, because I wanted to copy it. Black ink on white paper. So simple yet so strong. Never discovered the name of the artist. 
But I also get inspiration from people who are not in the industry of course. I usually get inspiration from everything that surrounds me. Drawing is important, but also what you do in your free time, the people you hang out with, the places you see.. all this have their weight on your work and sometimes it brings you a lot of unexpected cool solutions!

Have you been a teacher/ guest teacher or do you consider teaching one day (passing on your experience) ? And what other goals do you have in the animation business besides story artist ?

Never been a teacher. Who knows, maybe in the future? I'm pretty shy and everything intimidates me at first, especially because I've got a strong self criticism and I feel like I still have got a long way to go before I can give advise and speak some wise words!
The again it's said that teaching gives you a lot, as a person and as an artist and I kinda believe that, so let's see how things evolve!  
No other goals for now in the animation business. I mean, I'm a freelance so it's a bit different working from home, than being in the studio where you can build your career. I can say I've always liked to work for music videos, creating a story out of a music track. You already have the timing and music gives you the inspiration, the path, so yeah, that would be interesting to do, directing and drawing for music videos! Here you have my goal :)

Thank you so much for your time and your joyful insights of being a storyboard artist, Eva. Finally, do you have some advise for us, students of Animschool?

Well...Don't cook paper celery!! The green pastel has a terrible flavor. :D
But seriously, I've learned not to be concerned of what I draw, as well as to throw my drawings away if they weren't working. I learned the basics of anatomy then forgot them again to make room to learn other things (then luckily re-introduced them :D). 
I mean, I discovered that it doesn't really matter if a character posture is not completely correct while you do storyboards. That will come with time and practice. Problem comes if you only focus on how much you don't like the drawing and you get stuck there, and I share this because that was one of my main concerns when I started.

The important thing is to be simple, focusing on the acting, expression and attitude of your character, putting it in a clear scene with an interesting point of view and a nice light.
You're already telling something if all these things are present in a panel, no matter if it's a sphere on the ground smiling at a beautiful spring day. 

Thank you Eva, for an inspirational interview and good luck with working on your current project!

All drawings by Eva Bruschi

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