Sunday, November 20, 2011

Character Designer

Yesterday at the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank, California, I had the privilege of sharing the demo stage with character designer John Nevarez. John designs for DisneyToons, where he worked on Tinkerbell and Kronk’s New Groove.

Both of us were supposed to demonstrate what we do in front of live cameras. The only problem was that there was only one drawing table, and somehow I was signed up to do a digital demo. That would have been a laugh. 

So I asked John if he would take the drawing table and let me set up alongside him and draw him at work.

It was a real pleasure to watch John draw. He was completely absorbed in the world of his imagination. He drew figure after figure cascading from the page, just rolling straight out of his head, full of action and expression.

Thanks, John, and thanks to everyone who hung out with us and asked great questions while we drew pictures.

If you’re interested in animation, character design, storyboarding, or concept art, I recommend this expo. It’s a relatively small gathering, but all the insiders from the industry are here. It’s a great place to meet like-minded people.

By the way, I’ve met current and former students here from a lot of the art schools I’ve visited recently: SJSU, LAAFA, CSUF, LCAD, ACCD, A.of A.SF, CCAD, IMC, RIT, RMCAD, Art Institute, Watts, Korpus, 3Kicks, Ringling, Otis, CalArts, and Hartford. (Links take you to my blog posts about those visits.) A shout-out to the students back at those schools: you’ll be creating the next great animated films.

For those here at CTN, I’ll be doing a signing today at noon. And I'll be on a creature design panel at 2:30 with William Stout, Terryl Whitlatch, Greg Baldwin and Dave Thomas from Creature Box, and Sue Nichols.
John Nevarez's blog
Interview with John on Character Design


Andrey Koval said...

fun :)

Aaron said...

Sounds like it was a blast, maybe I will try to make it out next year, Burbank is a long way from Virginia, (not that that is an excuse, it's just as far from New York). Johns work definitely captures that wonderful movement Disney is known for. As much as I love Pixar and the like, I really miss the high quality hand-drawn movies Disney used to do.

Aaron said...

I also thought I'd post a link, reading about John's work reminded me of an acquaintance of mine, named Saul Blinkoff, who worked on Kronk's New Groove. His website has a lot of nice animation work and clips he's done. It's

arturoquimico said...

James... First of all thanks for a great blog where all the art "happenings" are communicated! I visit a portrait studio once weekly with a mix of hobbyists, retires, and recent art school grads... everyone complains about there being no market... can't make money, etc. I just tell them if they are really serious... go on Gurney Journey blogspot... he knows where it's happening...

Aaron said...

Art, I can say that I do know how some of them feel, I have been trying to move into full-time illustration since July, and so far zero calls, e-mails, or hints of interest. I'm keeping the faith but it does seem awfully thin, and like you said finding a blog you like, networking, etc. that's a great help. I planned on going to Illuxcon this year and ended up sick, so it's on my list for next year.

Tom Hart said...

Another really intersting post. If only I could have looked over both of your shoulders!

I'm familiar with the practice of using two pencil colors, espcially in animation figure design, but I'm not sure exactly why it's done, and that makes me wonder about the use of same in John's drawings. James, can you shed any light on that? Thanks!

James Gurney said...

Great question, Tom. I'm sure some animators can shed further light on this, but basically, animators like to use the Col-Erase erasable blue or red pencils to rough out poses, and then refine the lines with a black pencil. That way they can stay loose and experimental while starting the drawing.

Then in the tracing and cleanup stages, traditionally done by other people, only the important lines register. I used to use those blue pencils in pre-digital graphics because they were invisible to the copy camera.

Tom Hart said...

Thanks James. That makes perfect sense. I've often thought that practice might be helpful in my regular (or irregular) figure drawing practice...or maybe I just want to pretend to be an animator :^)...

John's blog is very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing that.

Nam Nguyen said...

Thank you James for coming to CTN this weekend. It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for signing my book. I also followed up on your recommendation on getting Rockwell on Rockwell. I found it at the local library and I'm reading through it. It's surprising how similar his techniques are part of your recommendations in Imaginative Realism.

Roca said...

I agree! Thank you so much for coming to CTN! It was a pleasure to meet you, and especially to make all of my art friends jealous. :D Here is the cartoonist I mentioned that sketched the New York Marathon. There are several news articles on it also which you can google.

Thanks again! I hope to meet you again sometime!

-Meredith Randazzo

Chris Oatley said...

JG! I never got a chance to meet you at CTNX and that is my only regret from the weekend! GAH! I had a booth of my own and it was just nutty - and awesome.

John Nevarez and I worked together about 6 or so years ago at DTS. He actually works at Pixar now. He is one of the most talented artists and one of the nicest guys I have ever met in my life.

And yes, actual non-photo blue pencils are like the vampires of drawing tools - they don't show up on camera. But as time goes by and technology advances that's less and less consistent - non-photo blue pencils show up lots of places where they previously didn't.

As a side note, vampires seem to have evolved in a similar way. Maybe even more so. Seems like any time anybody points a camera anything these days it ends up being a vampire. ...maybe now that they've found a way to show up on camera they're making up for lost time?

And a lot of artists in the animation industry (at least a lot of the ones I know) still use the non-photo blue pencils - not for the camera-proof bit but because it's old school and awesome. ...and also, it's just a light color.

admin said...

Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us at CTNx. It was a pleasure having you.