Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Expanding the Burbank Program

Hello everyone.

I'm happy to report that the Academy's program will be changing in the New Year. For some time now we've been offering classes in a creative workshop environment held one evening per week in Burbank. This was a great place for class but was a temporary situation. Starting next semester on January 3, 2012, we'll be conducting our sessions in a dedicated classroom located in the same building as our administrative office.

Although the weekly workshop classes have been very beneficial and great fun, moving back to a dedicated classroom environment will enable us to schedule sessions whenever we want. We'll be having a different class each night of the week, Monday through Thursday evenings to start. Instead of dividing students into groups depending upon what they are studying, we'll be able to focus on each specific subject as we did before, making every course even more effective.

We'll also be able to set up our equipment for the venerable Character Animation class, which we weren't able to do before due to the limitations of the space we were working out of.

Also, students who would like to take more than one class at a time will be able to do so without a problem, as long as the prerequisite for the class is met.

I'm excited about this development and enthusiastically looking forward to the new setup. We'll be able to access and utilize our extensive educational archives much easier. We'll be working with smaller groups and really be able to concentrate on each individual student more effectively. We'll be able to supply each class with more material for creating, and we'll even be able to bring back our production internship program as well.

It's all very good news.

We're in the process of updating our homepage to reflect the change in our schedule. It'll be posted very soon. Meanwhile, if you have any questions or are interested in enrolling in our program, please feel free to contact the Academy by calling 818-848-6590. You can also reach us via email by visiting our website.

Thank you, and remember that everything is possible if you Keep Creating!

Charles Zembillas
President and Founder
The Animation Academy
Burbank, California

Monday, November 28, 2011

Estylo from Fernando Jimenez

A former student of the Academy has launched a new one of a kind product and a successful Kickstarter campaign to back it up.

Fernando Jimenez has come up with the Estylo 1.1, the first and only wooden stylus to work on capacitive touch screens such as the iPad. His goal was to create a completely eco friendly product that would inspire the imagination. Designed for artists seeking greater accuracy over their work, it can also be used for writing or simply navigating the Web. Estylo uses high quality conductive materials so no extra pressure is needed for it to be detected by the device. Estylo is in effect, a pencil for the iPad.

Fernando recently took the Estylo to Kickstarter.com in an effort to raise funding for the project. The campaign has been a tremendous success so far, with 538 backers and approaching 6 times the original funding level of $3500 he was originally shooting for as of this writing with 13 days left to the campaign.

To find out more about the Estylo 1.1 or to contribute to Fernando's launch for the Estylo product line, follow this link to his Kickstarter page.

Fernando has a company of his own to back this up. Go to Plai.tv to see what's happening.

Congratulations Fernando and good luck! You're helping many people expand their avenue for creativity with the Estylo. Looking forward to the many great things you'll be doing in the future.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joel Valdez BG Designs

Joel Valdez came to Burbank from Tucson, Arizona to embark upon his art education for animation at the Academy. He's a character centric artist until recently, when he progressed to Background Design and Perspective with his instructor, Robert Gold. Robert is an excellent teacher and does great things with our students. Joel had no experience to speak of regarding BG Design and took to the subject like a fish in water.

Here are his first series of concept sketches in perspective that he's created for the class recently. Keep in mind that he's never drawn backgrounds before and these are concept sketches from his imagination.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Andre Medina at Sony on Cloudy 2

Heard good news from former Academy student Andre Medina. He was previously at Disney Feature Animation as a Visual Development intern. Now he's found a home at Sony working as a Character Designer on the sequel to "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs". Andre regularly maintains his blog. Follow this link to see what he's up to. You can also view his online portfolio here. This is something Andre came up with while interning at Disney this year, which reflects key aspects of what our students delve into in Character Design I.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Einav Deri's progress

I first brought this emerging artist to the attention of the Academy's blog on November 15 of last year, then again on June 13 of this year. I'm happy to feature her once again as she continues to make big strides with her art. It was two years ago at this time that Einav Deri came here from Israel to begin her art education. She was a beginner who had a lot of dedicated determination to excel. After her time with us, she enrolled at the Israeli Animation College in Tel Aviv where she is currently a standout student. Here's am example of the work she's doing now that she is translating her 2D character design to 3D.

Einav has been interning for ARG! Cartoon Studio in the US for the past several months, with a project she helped storyboard scheduled to broadcast on Nickelodeon as a commercial on October 10. She is also the lead Character Designer for a project in development at a company creating animated Facebook apps. For more info on what's happening with Einav, check out the links to her sites.


Congratulations Einav! This is just the beginning for you. Everyone at The Animation Academy in Burbank says hello and wishes you continued success with your career.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gabriel Carson - Before & After

I think this makes a great testament as to the effectiveness of the Academy's online version of our Character Design class. This is the work of Gabriel Carson, a student from Michigan who's been enrolled with us since last month. Here's his first class assignment submitted on August 17. Click on the image for an enhanced view.

And here's Gabriel's latest assignment, submitted yesterday on September 14, less than a month from his previous work above.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and yes, that is indeed the very same artist. Even though there's still a few minor issues that need to be addressed in his work, the extraordinary improvement you see in Gabriel's skill is not uncommon for students attending our sessions in Burbank, but it's even more remarkable when you consider that this student has been studying with us through the Internet. Our online program is very effective and depending upon the effort a student puts into their assignments and their art, the results can oftentimes be nothing less than amazing.

Congrats to you, Gabriel! You've contributed significantly to the legacy of the Academy by virtue of your excellence.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marietta Semardjyan's latest work

An emerging talent in our Teen Program, Marietta Semardjyan is creating some very nice art through her most recent Visual Development assignments. Focusing on tonal relationships and texture, she came up with these thematic designs. They both exhibit strong fundamental rendering skills and confidence in her application of the medium.

At only 15 years of age, Marietta is yet another promising Academy student whose creative endeavors we can look forward to seeing more of in the future.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Kevin Smith's Characters

Another standout student we've had with us recently is Kevin Smith. Like many of our students both past and present, Kevin is actually a professional in the animation industry who attends the Academy to further develop his skills in areas that he doesn't necessarily work in as far as his job goes. In this case, it's his character design skills.

Kevin is a strong artist who's gotten even better as a result of his time with us. Take a look at some of the work he's done as part of his class assignment in Character Design 1. Clicking on the image will give you a better view.

Regardless as to whether you're at a professional level or not, The Animation Academy can help you build a solid foundation that will pay off for you in many areas of your art. If you already have previous art training or are working in the business, we can help you develop to an even higher level of excellence.

We conduct face to face classes in Burbank and can arrange for online training as well. Contact the school and we'll be happy to discuss your particular art education needs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Online Program Reviews

Last week we wrapped up the first semester of the Academy's Online Program. We fielded two live sessions of Character Design 1 on Wednesday evenings Pacific Time in the US. Shortly afterwards we received our first review, an unsolicited message from one of our students.


Subject: Thank you for everything!

It was honestly the best course I've ever attended. Even better than my college courses. I'm really glad that I got the opportunity to take a course at this great academy! It has filled many gaps I wanted to fix in my work generally.

Thank you so much again! And looking forward to Character Design II ^^

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


We received this message from another of our online students...


I have been wanting to improve my drawing skills for a long time and I haven't been able to successfully draw for animation. I had to struggle for a little while at the beginning of the class, but I found myself enjoying a new excitement for drawing. Charles is very good at finding and harnessing each students' unique talent. Even when I felt my drawing was not good, he always found many good points in my work and gave me very helpful advice to improve and continue. Charles reminds me of how fun and interesting it is to draw with my imagination. The class was very inspiring. Having a knowledgeable artist teaching an online class like this is very convenient and valuable. I learned so much.

Thank you very much, Charles!

Santa Maria, California


Reviews like these are greatly appreciated, but for me, the best confirmation of the success of our class is the artistic improvement our students exhibit as a result of the course. In the case of our first online classes, I'm happy to say that this group did a great job in furthering the Academy's legacy.

We're starting up another group in Character Design 1 next week, beginning August 3. If you interested in joining us, contact the Academy.

For more info click here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Richard Gaines Expressions

On March 24, the entry for the Academy's blog was a character rotation by Richard Gaines, a new student who relocated from Florida to Burbank to pursue his education in animation and to further develop his burgeoning career.

Here's the rotation he did for the character he created as part of his class assignment.

Once the design of the character had been fully established, Richard embarked on the next phase of the class, bringing the character to life through a series of facial expressions. Here's the drawings that Richard created as part of this assignment.

Facial expressions are important in fully developing the character, and are also a significant aspect of character based production development in animation. They challenge the character designer to explore the nature of the character through its personality and enhance one's acting abilities as it relates to the art.

Richard is a very talented artist who has become even better since he enrolled at the Academy. Good things are happening for him career wise as a result.

If you're looking to develop your own abilities regarding character design and your art skills in general, The Animation Academy can help you take a big leap forward. With our expanding Online Program, we can help you grow artistically no matter where you may be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's easy as...

A couple of class demos I've done recently provided a good opportunity to feature this work in an educational context as well as a promotional one for the Academy.

Both of these demonstrations were created in Photoshop, using a Cintiq. The first image was sketched directly in the computer while the second was scanned from a black line drawing on paper.

Clicking on the images will provide a full size view.

In this Visual Development lesson, I went from the concept sketch to color, and followed up with lighting, shadow and additional color highlights.

In this lesson, I established some basic shadows on the initial sketch, went into grayscale tonal rendering, then finished the art with a series of color tints.

Both methods to rendering are effective and can produce nice results. Simple ways of approaching the color enhancement of your art that help create a strong visual impact.

We'll be introducing an online version of Visual Development as a continuation of the Character Design 1 class soon. Our first semester of CD1 is currently underway as we are fielding two sessions per week at the moment, and both are proceeding exceptionally well.

Local students may also study Visual Development as a continuation of Character Design 1 at our classes in Burbank.

For more info please feel free to contact the Academy by calling 818-848-6590 or by emailing us through the contact tab on the school's website.

Click here to contact the Academy via email.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Einav Deri B&A Revisited

A few months ago on November 15, 2010 I featured the Before & After work of Einav Deri. We had the pleasure of hearing from her again as she shared this great new design.

On the left is the very first drawing she ever did as an enrolled student at the Academy. On the right, her latest character oriented work.

Einav's progress is indicative of the advances our students make. In the case of an artist as dedicated and focused as Einav is, that progress becomes even more apparent.

Einav came all the way from Israel to study Character Design with us. Today she's a standout student at the Israeli Animation College in Tel Aviv and gives the Academy credit for big strides she made with her art.

You're welcome to follow her blog.

The Academy welcomes students from the world over to join us now that we've launched our Online Program. Live classes and great mentorship through the Academy's Learning Management System.

Contact us for details. Call our office at 818-848-6590 or email us at info([at])theanimationacademy.com and we'll be happy to discuss enrollment with you.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Character Design I Online

If you've been waiting for the opportunity to get involved with The Animation Academy's Online Program, here's your chance to enroll.

We'll be offering our first class to enrolled students this coming Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

We have two sessions set up so far. One at 5 PM Pacific Time (8 PM Eastern USA, 7 PM Central), and a late evening class that starts at 10 PM Pacific Time (morning of June 9) for students who are in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This later session is also open to enrollment for students in the US.

Our first online class will be Character Design I, which I'll be teaching live.

For more info follow this link to the AnimationNation Forums:


You must contact the school in order to enroll.

Looking forward to great things from the online program and from the great creative community that will emerge.

Charles Zembillas
President & Founder
The Animation Academy
Burbank, CA


Monday, May 23, 2011

Patrick Morgan at AN Night - May 31 '11

For the past two years, on the last Tuesday of the month, the Academy has sponsored AnimationNation Night. It's a free social and educational event in Burbank open to the public. AN Night is associated with the industry forums at AnimationNation.com.

We've had a great deal of success with AN Night, and we always get a big crowd of great people. Sometimes we host special guests, sometimes we coordinate screenings, sometimes we simply get together and draw. In the past we've had legendary personalities such as Don Bluth, Paul Felix, Don Hahn, Peter Chung, Dean Yeagle, Jose Lopez, Max Howard and many more illuminaries from the animation world.

This month, we'll be hosting Academy alumni Patrick Morgan, an outstanding character designer who's currently working at Nickelodeon on "Fanboy and Chum Chum".

For more information, please follow this link to the AnimationNation Forums:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Online Program Update

We reached another milestone with the Academy's online software and successfully tested it for the first time from our offices last night.

The live video and audio stream was solid and flawless in its initial broadcast from our studio location. Everything is working great and we're at the point of actually conducting live online sessions of the foundation class for our program, Character Design I.

Our developers are going to add a few more controls for the instructors and some additional features to enhance the class experience, but as it stands, we're ready to rock and roll.

This is going to be a great new assett for the Academy!

I'll be lead instructor for flagship class of Character Design I Online. We're looking to get the course started by next month in May for students looking to enroll in the Academy's Online Program. If you're an artist who's ready to make a big leap forward with your skills, especially as they apply to the subject of character design, get in touch with us and we'll engage in the process of bringing you on board.

Charles Zembillas
The Animation Academy
Burbank, CA



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Richard Gaines turns it on

Recently relocating to Burbank from his home in Florida to further pursue a career in animation, Richard Gaines enrolled at the Academy and has gotten off to a good start.

He's a strong talent who's disciplining his approach to character design and basic drawing. Richard was quick to grasp upon the fundamental principles we impress, and as such was able to complete his first five pose character rotation in grand style.

Click on the image for a better view.

Expect to see exciting things from this arist in days ahead.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Online System Test Successful

Yesterday evening, March 17, 2011, we initiated the first session of Beta Class One to test the capabilities of the online learning management system we've been developing at the Academy. 

I'm happy to report that it was a very successful trial run. We pushed the software to its limits and everything functioned extremely well. 

The class we're running with is Intro to Digital Painting with our Photoshop instructor Glen Moyes. Glen and his team are the ones who are developing the system. The class consists of several of our instructors and a few of our advanced students. We're currently training our instructors on the system through the first Beta Class.

We're all very excited about what this means for the future of our program. The learning management system we're developing has features that will enable us to interact with our online students in unique and effective ways. I don't think there's anything else quite like it.

We're getting closer to our goal of offering a comprehensive online educational experience for prospective Academy students. I'm confident that we'll soon be at the point where we can bring in those students and establish an online community for the Academy through the classes we'll be fielding.

No matter where you are, if you're interested in The Animation Academy, you'll soon have the opportunity to be a part of it all.

Charles Zembillas
The Animation Academy
Burbank, CA

Friday, March 04, 2011

Andre Medina at Disney Features

Happy to report that former Academy student Andre Medina has been accepted in a six month training program at Disney Feature Animation in Burbank. He was previously at Disney Features in an internship capacity. Now he's being invited to officially train with the studio.

Andre was a student of ours in Character Design and Visual Development. An exceptional student and outstanding artist, he followed his studies at Cal Arts.

Andre is on our roster of instructors for our upcoming Online Program.

To experience his work, please follow the link below:


Congratulations, Andre! We're very excited for you. Looking forward to great things.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Academy promo with Chance Raspberry

While experimenting with video in preparation for the Academy's upcoming online educational presence, Chance Raspberry stopped by. Perfect opportunity for some fun with a screen test.

The man's a natural. In one 20 second improvised take he nailed it.

Even though it was intended to be a test I thought it good enough to upload and share his performance and a smile with everyone.

Thank you Chance!

And yes, that custom tailored jacket is indeed from Memphis, Tennessee. The man has style and grace as well as awesome talent.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gary Trousdale at the Academy

This is how we celebrated the 13th anniversary of The Animation Academy.

On January 18, 2011, we had the great honor of hosting Gary Trousdale, the co-director of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Atlantis".

He is currently at DreamWorks, where he is developing new projects.

I've uploaded photos from the evening on the AnimationNation Forums. You're welcome to click on the link below and learn more about this very special and historic event we had the pelasure of sponsoring last week in Burbank.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Academy is 13 years old

Hi everybody.

We had a great celebration last night to honor the 13th anniversary of the founding of the school.

Actually, the school was founded in December, 1997 but we had our first class on January 19, 1998. Started with 20 students in the back of the Coral Cafe in Burbank and we've been going strong and steady ever since.

I'll return soon with photos from the special celebration.

Meanwhile, a huge thanks going out to all of our students both past and present, our instructors both past and present, our associates, friends, colleagues and supporters of the school, for the great legacy that's developed over all these years.

Let's keep it up and let's Keep Creating! Many more good things to look forward to.

Charles Zembillas
President and Founder
The Animation Academy
Burbank, CA

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Another National Scholarship Winner

In 2007, the year of the very first Warner Bros Hanna Barbera Scholarship it was Kris Anka.

In 2008, the year of the second Hanna Barbera Scholarship, it was Nelson Boles.

In 2010 / 2011, it's Margot Akopov, the winner of the Hank Aaron Chasing The Dream Scholarship!

This is a national scholarship awarded by Major League Baseball.

I first met Margo in 2009 at the Burbank Boys and Girls Club. She was a winner for a contest that Cartoon Network sponsored. Through the Club, she applied for this scholarship so she could study at the Academy.

I found out on Monday that she won!

She'll be attending classes at the Academy for a year.

We have another emerging superstar in Margot, and another Grand Slam.

Congratulations Margot, and thank you Major League Baseball and The Boys and Girls Club for your support of kids and the pursuit of their dreams.

Keep Creating!