Thursday, April 27, 2006

Marco Lee - before and after

Another of the many talented students associated with the Academy's Teen Program is Marco Lee. As with Lauren in the previous entry, Marco is 13 years old. Here's an example of what's he's done recently to address a recurring problem in his character design work.

Marco has an ability to design interesting characters and especially enjoys getting into the costumes and props that his characters would wear and utilize. In the two drawings on the left, Marco struggled with the anatomical proportions of his characters. It's one thing to consciously distort anatomical proportions, quite another when these distortions are an unintended result. In the before drawings, the characters' torsos are elongated and awkward. Once Marco focused on correcting this problem, the results he achieved were a big step up from what he was doing before as can be seen in the after example on the right. A much more suitable design anatomically for what he was trying to do.

Marco is a student whom we have high hopes for. We're enthusiastic about his future creative prospects.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

From Lauren Finn's perspective

Here's a good example of the difference solid perspective makes when incorporated into a composition. Lauren Finn is a 13 year old student enrolled in the Academy's Teen Program. Below are three recent samples of her work. Click on the image for a better view.

In sample A, Lauren attempted to create a background without much attention to proper perspective. Robert Gold, our instructor in this regard, helped Lauren by getting her to focus on one element within her compostion. A half-pipe skateboard ramp you can see on the right in sample A. In sample B, Lauren established a two point perspective grid to construct the half-pipe ramp. In sample, C, Lauren uses what she learned from this exercise to establish a perspective foundation in this sketch from a story she's developing whereby her main character wakes up one morning to realize that his legs are twice as long as what they were before he went to bed.

For a 13 year old, Lauren shows exceptional comprehension of perspective basics. We're looking forward to exciting things from this young lady in the future.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jose Lopez - Mariachi Samurai

I'm happy and proud to showcase this to the Academy's community and to the world at large.

Jose Lopez, lead character designer on the WB's "The Batman" among many other shows in his career, has just come out with his very first book and it's a beauty. "Mariachi Samurai" is a collection of Jose's drawings, sketches and illustrations. Here's a shot of the cover.

Check out his blog for a further sneak peak.

I first met Jose 10 years ago when he enrolled in a class I was teaching at another school. At the time, he was working at an art supply store part time making mimimum wage. Now he's a self published artist and successful in animation. Jose was also among the founding students of The Animation Academy, helped out on projects we were contracted to produce, became an instructor with us, got his break in the industry and is now a top level character designer. Congratulations, Jose!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Jennifer Megara's character rotation

Last semester we had the pleasure of having Jennifer Megara enrolled in the Character Design I course at the Academy. Jennifer is a working professional involved in web design and development for a major toy company here in California. As part of her productivity requirements for the class, she created this five pose rotation of a character she came up with. Click on the artwork for a better view.

Character rotations are a very important aspect of the character design process. They are used for model purposes in the production once a character has been established. In both 2D (traditional) and 3D (digital) animation, rotations provide crucial information about the design of a character and helps the animators, storyboard and layout artists better understand how the character appears from a particular view. This was Jennifer's first attempt at a character rotation and although there are still a few small fixes that need some attention, overall she did a fine job.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chance Raspberry designs

One of the more notable personalities involved with The Animation Academy is a fellow by the name of Chance Raspberry. Yes, that is indeed his real name and here's a sample of his work. A character he created and designed at the beginning of his studies with us. The artwork below also features some expression models along with his main character for the concept he was developing in Character Design I. Nice line quality, bold, simple yet innovative design, good draftsmanship.

Chance has been with the Academy for several years. He started as a student then enrolled in a degree program at California State University in Northridge (CSUN). The Academy enjoys an excellent relationship with the students at CSUN's animation program and many of them supplement their studies by taking classes at the Academy. Chance's talent, enthusiasm for sharing his art and skills, and his long standing involvement with our school eventually developed into a situation as an assistant instructor with our Saturday Teen Program.

Chance will be graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Animation from CSUN in the next few weeks. He credits his experience with the Academy for making a big difference in his ability to handle the demands of a university arts program.

He also maintains a blog of his own which you can visit by following this link:

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, Chance! Best wishes for your future success.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Class demonstrations

There's a vast amount of student and instructor artwork in the Academy's archives, not to mention the art that's continually being created through our classes. As we progress with the Academy's blog, we'll be featuring more samples from the archives that I'm sure you'll enjoy viewing.

In the meantime, here's a couple of sketches I created recently as class demonstrations. Demos are a valuable and effective method for assisting our students in their quest to further develop their skills.

These two drawings were done from imagination at different times during last semester. The purpose of each was to demonstrate the difference that a slight nuance can make in the emotion expressed by a character or a central figure within a composition, among other things. The girl on the left is communicating a mix of expressions and emotions even though it seems that she's not expressing anything at all. The figure on the right is using body language as well as eye contact and facial nuance. Notice the difference in the way the eyes were designed in each drawing. Click on the image for a better view.

These sketches were created using Col-erase blue pencils. A black broad tipped marker was used for the demo on the right. The marker was a little on the dry side which gave the sketch a unique quality.

More art from The Animation Academy is on the way. Thanks for making the Academy's blog a part of your online experience.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Larissa Marantz fools the eye

And now for something completely different. Larissa Marantz is another founding student of The Animation Academy. Larissa became a character designer for the popular "Rugrats" animated television series on Nickelodeon. She also illustrated a series of Rugrats childrens books for the Simon Schuster publishing company. Here's what she did recently that is unlike anything else she's done before.

This kind of painting is called "trompe l'oiel". The term is French for "fool the eye". The technique is used in homes to make it seem as if one is looking upon an actual scene when in fact it is a wall painting. The example above is something that Larissa did for a private residence. Everything from the grapevine to the stone window frame to the orchard beyond was painted by Larissa on a wall. The picture above is a photo of her work.

You can see the line of Rugrats books she illustrated by following this link to, a division of Simon Schuster, Inc.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Vince Bury's Flowriders

When the Academy first started back in 1998, we were fortunate to have Vince Bury as one of our original founding students. Vince is successful in another field but he still creates. Here's the first page of a comic book he's currently developing called "Flowriders".

Flowriders is a concept based upon a surfing community with a strong Southern California influence. Vince specialized in Background Design and Layout when he was with us and has also been working up his character designs to balance the art of the story. Vince mentored under Mark Lumer who was an instructor with us at the time.

Here's a link to Vince's upcoming Flowriders site. The comic is scheduled to debut this summer along with t-shirts and other stuff around the 4th of July.

Here's a link to Marc Lumer's website.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Luke Kruse - before and after

Here's another example of the kind of progress our students make when they apply what they learn at the Academy to their art. Luke Kruse is in our adult program while enrolled at a local university. We often have students in Luke's situation taking classes with us to supplement their education from another school.

The before drawing on the left is tentative. The artist isn't quite sure of the design direction, whether to take it towards the realistic or cartoony. The anatomy is off and there's a lot of small things that aren't coming together. In the after drawing on the right, there's a big difference. Luke's anatomy is much more solid, the direction of his design is clear, and he's confident enough in what he's doing to venture into a character rotation. The before and after drawings were created in the same semester, a few sessions apart from each other. Nice job, Luke!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ray Villalba - before and after

One of the ways in which we gauge and prefer to showcase the progress of our students is to compare their work at the beginning of their experience with The Animation Academy, with what they create after they've spent some time with us. Here's a sample from Ray Villalba (pronounced vee-ALL-ba) whose been enrolled in our adult program.

The drawing on the left is from early on. The drawing on the right is what he was doing later after attending to his comprehension of anatomy and focusing on his draughtsmanship and creativity. The after drawing is more dynamic, shows much more confidence, is more appealing stylistically and is overall a much better attempt than the before drawing.

Results like these are typical of Academy students.

Ray has his own blog if you'd like to visit and see what else he's been up to with his art.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Manny Aguilar's moonscape

Here's a whimsical compostion that Manny Aguilar came up with as a concept story sketch.

Manny is an adult student at the Academy who also assists in mentoring new students in our program. To create the scene, he used graphite pencils and focused on the tonal relationships between the different aspects of the composition. An exercise in controlling light, middle tone and dark scale values between the principle elements in a subject. He had some fun with this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More art from Kris Anka

Kris was featured at the beginning of the Academy's blog. Since then he's shared with us a few more samples of his work that we're happy to highlight. The following character designs were digitally colorized in Illustrator and Painter.

Kris has created powerful design images that are enhanced with his use of simple, flat color. The image at the upper left corner exhibits some of his rendering skills with a digital paintbrush. Clicking on the graphics will enlarge the image for a better view.

We'll be featuring more of Kris Anka's exciting art as the blog progresses as well as creative efforts from many individuals whose work defines The Animation Academy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Character designs by Andre Medina

One of the aspects of The Animation Academy that makes it a unique experience in art education is the mix of working professionals that we have attending our classes. It's not unusual for an artist employed at a local studio or someone with previous professional credentials to enroll in a class with us to improve their skills, learn something new or just keep their chops up.

Andre Medina has studied at the Academy before and returned recently under similar circumstances after working on a feature film that is scheduled for release this coming summer. Here's a few character design concept sketches he recently created while in class.

Andre's designs are simple yet effective and strong, inspired by a classical approach to character design with a contemporary touch. Good draftmanship, nice line quality and fun thematic characters wth some innovative design approaches. Happy to be presenting Andre's work here on the Academy's blog.

More great art to showcase on the way.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Jorge Becerra's Eclipse

Check out this impressive artwork. It was created in addition to the class assignment by Jorge Becerra, a 17 year old student enrolled in the Academy's Teen Program. Jorge has come up with a surreal image. A series of shape abstractions that cryptically contain the word "Eclipse" in a hyper graffiti style. Can you spot the word? Neither could I, but after awhile I started to make out a few letters. Jorge pointed it out when he was asked.

Eclipse was created with color pencils against pre-colored paper. The space surrounding the twisting image was enhanced with the use of spray paint. An innovative method for creating a nice piece of art. This is the first time that Jorge Becerra's work has been published. We'll be looking forward to more images of interest from this promising artist.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Featuring Kris Anka

At the Academy, fundamentals are everything as exemplified in the work of one of our students, Kris Anka. Kris started with our Teen Program when he was in junior high school. Today he's a young man of 17 years creating very impressive art for his age.

In the character designs below you can see the attention he pays to properly constructing his forms. Kris establishes a good foundation before he moves on to define his final design. Click on the image for a closer look.

Look for ways to challenge yourself creatively. That's what Kris has done with the following example. He designed a couple of splash pages and worked the composition through his use of positive and negative shapes, a variety of line densities, a clear distinction between areas of light and shadow as well as good basic draftsmanship. You can get a better view by clicking on the image.

Kris is a diversified talent as the following sample of his art shows. On the left are two background concept sketches and on the right a page from a graphic narrative exercise he created based upon a comic book layout. Kris is capable of creating fine finished artwork and compelling free form sketches. Clicking on the image will enlarge the art for a better view.

More artwork from the students of The Animation Academy in Burbank will be posted soon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tips on navigating content

If you're familiar with the way that content is published on a weblog format, then you're aware of the method of tracking posts. If you're not familiar with how content is presented through a blog format, here's how to follow the Academy's forthcoming presentations.

Blog technology publishes new content atop of previous posts. It's a little like reading backwards, or starting at the end of a book and working your way forward towards the front cover, chapter by chapter. To track content publication, scroll down the page. The first becomes last and the last first.

When content is presented it will become archived. Note at the right of the page, there's a heading labeled "Last 10 Posts" as well as "Archives". Content will be saved in the Archives area according to the month it was published on the blog. Content in the Last 10 Posts area is archived according to each individual publication in the order in which it was first published, the most recent post showing at the top of the list. As the heading suggests, only the last 10 posts to the blog will be featured here. You may view previous entries by either scrolling down the page or accessing the monthly Archives.

You can contact the Academy through our web page at

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Hello and welcome to the weblog of The Animation Academy in Burbank, California. It's my pleasure to present the Academy's blog and share with you the enthusiastic creativity that's come to define our community of students, instructors and the expectional people who define the Academy experience. We'll also be utilizing the blog for publishing periodic updates and notices on an ongoing basis, as well as educating friends about our school.

So please stop by often and check in to see what's happening here at The Animation Academy's blog. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Keep Creating!

Charles Zembillas
President and Founder
The Animation Academy
Burbank, California