Month: February 2016

Critique time: Adding personality in loop animation

In this clip from Game animation program, Animschool’s instructor John Paul Rhinemiller talks about off sets and bringing personality in a game character even during loops.

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AnimSchool Graduate Spotlight – Katelyn Roland

Hi Katelyn! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your previous modeling experience?

     Sure! I grew up in southern California and always had a passion for cartoons and animation. I stayed close to home and attended a film school, hoping to study animation there. When I first started at the university, I was actually planning on being a 2D animator! I didn’t know anything about 3D, but that quickly changed. I took some basic Maya classes at my university and really fell in love with CG animation.
     Coming into AnimSchool, I had a decent understanding of Maya and modeling, but nothing too advanced. I had never even used Zbrush before! Which I always laugh about cause I can’t imagine not using Zbrush now.

Do you remember the moment you realized that this was what you wanted to do?

     Yes! It was actually thanks to AnimSchool that I realized what I really wanted to do. I originally entered the character program with the intent of focusing on character rigging. I had always enjoyed both character modeling and rigging, but had somehow gotten it into my head that it was much more difficult to get a job in modeling and that I couldn’t do it. Since I also enjoyed rigging, I decided to focus on that more instead. But after taking the intermediate modeling class at AnimSchool, I had so much fun making my model, and got such positive feedback, I realized I could succeed at modeling if I actually gave myself a chance!

Was there any time while learning 3D that you felt overwhelmed or wanted to give up? How did you overcome it?

     Well like I said in the last answer, I originally intended to be a character rigger. I don’t think rigging was ever my passion, but I was trying to force myself to do it anyway. So I definitely started feeling overwhelmed in the rigging classes. The interest wasn’t there and nothing was making sense to me after a certain point. I really wasn’t enjoying myself and I did feel like I just wanted to give up. So I did! I know that’s not the positive, never-give-up response people want to hear, but that’s what I decided to do! And I think it was for the best. I knew even after I finished the rigging classes, it wasn’t going to be something I pursued, so I saved myself some stress and gave up on the rigging classes. It gave me more time to focus on modeling, the thing that was my passion, and I was happier that way!

Is there a particular lesson you learned during your time at Animschool or advice that you’d like to share with people just starting out?

     Apart from actual modeling techniques, I think the thing that stuck with me the most is that you really have to put the time in! As with all art forms, no one gets better overnight. And you can’t always finish your homework assignments with just one all nighter either!

We can see from your beautiful 3D models that you’ve grown a lot since starting Animschool. How do you think you’ve improved as a modeler?

     I think I’ve improved in a lot of ways. I learned so much during my time at AnimSchool. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, I actually learned to use Zbrush for my models now! That alone has helped improve my models immensely. Also thanks to the modeling classes at AnimSchool, I learned a lot about appeal, which is arguably the most important thing for characters. I still have a lot to improve on, but AnimSchool helped me get up and going in the right direction!

Are there any particular artists or modelers in the industry who inspire you?

     My advanced modeling teacher, Dylan Ekren, is always inspiring! His models are gorgeous and I was very lucky to have him as a teacher. There are so many other modelers that inspire me, but I can’t remember the names of them all now. I really enjoy the work of Michael Defeo, Matt Thorup, Chad Stubblefield, and Brandon Lawless to name a few!

What have you been up to since you graduated? Any new projects that you’ve been working on?

     Not too much yet! After graduation I was mostly working on polishing up my reel and portfolio to start looking for jobs. Luckily a job found me! I started working at Ready at Dawn Studios at the beginning of this year, and that’s been keeping me pretty busy for the time being. 
     But I do have a personal project I want to work on! I’ve been talking about making a short film with some of the friends I made at AnimSchool for a while now. So maybe keep an eye out for that in the future! 😉

Where do you hope to end up from here? What’s the ultimate goal?

     Hmm. I’m not sure to be honest! Originally my goal was always to work in feature animation. Right now I work in games, which is something I wasn’t expecting, but I’m having a lot of fun doing! For my ultimate goal…I think I’d really like to work in television animation, but I know CG TV shows aren’t quite up to par. I’d like to get them there! I’d love to see more engaging and better quality animated CG shows.

Thanks for chatting with us Katelyn!
To see more of Katelyn’s beautiful work, check out her ArtStation: 
And her Demo Reel below:

Modeling Reel Summer 2015 from Katelyn Roland on Vimeo.

AnimSchool Graduate Spotlight: Jacob Van

Today, we’d like you to meet Jacob Van who is a recent graduate from Animschool Modeling Program. He is one of the most helpful, hard-working, down to earth and friendly artists that we have in our community who doesn’t mind going extra mile to help fellow artists. 

Jacob’s family
1: Hi Jacob. Tell us about yourself and your background.

I am 33 years old. I live in Long Beach, California, USA. I have been married for 11 years and have four crazy kids. When I first got married my wife was putting me through school. I was going to community college and my plan was to transfer to Cal State University of San Jose for Traditional Animation. 
I was just about to transfer when my wife told me she was pregnant. So, I quit school with just an AA and went to work full time. I got a job repairing machinery. I kept drawing on the side. I eventually participated in a 5 second animation contest and it rekindled my passion for this field. 

2: So how did your journey start in this medium?

After doing the 2D animation contest, I started doing quick little animations. They weren’t good, but I had a lot of fun. My friend told me to try 3D animation and he helped me getting started in that. I took some classes, but I think I lacked flavor. I wasn’t happy with my results.

Characters have such a strong pull on me. I moved onto modeling and started practicing Zbrush for a little bit.

3: Why did you decide to join AnimSchool’s modeling program?

After I had decided to learn how to model I started my search for online tutorials. There are a ton of tutorials out there for modeling a character or just objects in general. However, after following those tutorials, I quickly learned that everything was disjointed and I didn’t even know if the source of the tutorial was someone with experience in the industry or not. Sometimes, I would spend hours to find a credible working solution for some error I had encountered which made the whole process quite frustrating and time consuming.
One day I was looking at other modelers work and I stumbled upon Eyad Hussein’s website, a graduate of Animschool, I saw how appealing his work was and I decided that Animschool’s modeling program was worth looking into. 

4: Tell us about your workflow and how did instructors help you shape it.

My workflow between the intermediate modeling class and the advanced modeling class changed drastically. One of the main differences is that I started the model in Maya for the intermediate, and started the model in Zbrush for the advanced. 

The thought process is completely different in my mind. During the intermediate class I was constantly worried about topology and having things line up properly, I wasted a lot of time on that. In Zbrush I felt more free and focused on form first. You are always going to have topology changes along the way, so worrying about it is useless. 
At the end of my intermediate class, Brien Hindman really pushed me to take the Advanced Modeling course next. He said it would help my eye. I took his advice and had Dylan Ekren as my next instructor.


Form and appeal are Dylan’s strong points. He really tried to drive it home. He worked the whole body and head at the same time. Going from piece to piece to bring it to the next level. This process is the same as Animation-big to normal. Block things in and move on to the details. Get the blocking done really well and your details will go a lot smoother. 
I moved on to Juan Pablo Chen’s Environment modeling class and this idea really helped.  He really helped with organizing a scene with a lot of objects to prevent being overwhelmed. He is a solid modeller and a great teacher. He and Dylan put so much time into their classes. 

5: Tell us about you models.

The models I choose to do are based off of designs that make me want to model them. Models take so many hours and so much energy that you really need to pick something that inspires you. All of the designs I have chosen inspire me. I have always been a big fan of Disney’s art. So, when deciding on a design I try to find something that could fit in Disney’s world. Then while I am modeling I constantly compare my work to Disney’s art. 

6: Modeling is considered to be a very intricate job where you have to focus on all the details and capture all the nuances of a character design. Has knowing animation helped you in this process?

I actually thought knowing animation would help more, but it hasn’t helped much with capturing the design. I think it benefits you more on the rigging and topology side. You know, trying to predict whether the shape can be held when deformed. 

7: Are you currently doing a job in animation industry?

I don’t have a full time job in the industry. I currently work repairing machinery in the packaging industry. I am either in the office ordering parts and working on in house projects or out in customers’ warehouses to fix their machines. 
However, I just received a freelance job from Animschool. David requested a modern office setting for an animation. I had to model all of the pieces that would go in the scene and then place them around the animation sequence. It was a tight deadline, but really fun. I think it is really awesome that they feel that confident in their students, and graduates, that they would use them for work.

8: Modeling is also a very time consuming field for starters. How did you manage balancing your daily job and this program while also taking care of your family?

I have an excellent wife. Seriously, without her this would have been impossible. I spend most of my time at home trying to practice modeling or doing homework. A lot of times I feel guilty and ready to give up. But my wife would just say it’s only a year and a half for this program, just get through it and then you will have more time. Whether you are responsible for just yourself, or a whole family, you will need some support. I don’t think there is one artist, that I have talked to, that hasn’t been depressed about their work at some point. At that point is when we need someone the most. 
After a while I decided that at least one day a week I wouldn’t do modeling. I think I mostly stuck with that and that was the balance. To progress in anything requires sacrifice and learning modeling requires time. Without time you end up missing some of the polish and finalizing things on models. So, you have to be smart about your time and really rely on hot keys and your gut. One of the best things I can recommend is that people join their fellow students in a Google Hangout or some way of sharing the screen and motivate each other. Just having someone modeling on the other end of the computer helps you to do your work, even when you really do not want to. 
The good news is that the class does provide you with a lot of knowledge. Also, you can go back and watch the recordings and find a lot of things you missed the first time around. 

9: What is the best advice you received in your training?

The best advice is kind of funny. I heard multiple teachers say it. It is ugly until it is not, keep pushing it forward.
Basically, everything is ugly at first and you have to work to bring the right forms and volumes through model. It is a really simple thought, but it helps to know that your instructors aren’t satisfied with their work at the beginning too.

Great job AnimSchool student Jacob VanValkenburg! Personal project between terms.

Learn with us at:…

— AnimSchool (@AnimSchoolTweet) January 18, 2016

10: What is your advice for people who have a passion like you for arts but are doing job in other fields?

My advice would have to be the same as the instructors. It is ugly until it is not. Life will be hectic, there will be a lot of stress and a lot of times you just want to give up. Keep pushing through, eventually you will have the skills to move into the field and that is a fun and exciting time. 
This is an investment of both time and money into your future. If it is worth something to you, then these teachers are the ones to help you through it. They are working in the industry and top names too. I mean Dylan modeled Hiro and Fred from Big Hero 6. Juan Pablo Chen modeled a ton of the environment in Kung Fu Panda 3. You can never go wrong learning from them.
I am happy to be at the end of that particular journey, a little sad, but this is a new season to be excited for.

For more of Jacob’s work, please visit

Facial Expessions for Rigging with Niko Sanghrajka

In this clip from AnimSchool’s Advanced Rigging class, instructor Nico Sanghrajka shows us that it is just as important to study facial expressions for rigging as it is for animation.

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Class lecture on Timing by Ben Rush

In this lecture for Body Acting class of AnimSchool’s 3D animation program, Pixar animator Ben Rush touches the following important points regarding Timing::

a: Why the bouncing ball is crucial to understand timing.
b: How it helps bringing all the elements in a scene together. He gives example of an orchestra.
c: What does “floaty, swimmy animation” mean and how you can avoid it.
d: How crucial timing is to help deliver a comedic punch.

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Head Modeling with Adam McMahon

In a lecture from AnimSchool’s ZBrush Modeling class, Blue Sky Studios Modeler and our instructor Adam McMahon shows us his method of creating a base head model. 

While the fun may come later, it is very important to have a simple, accurate base to start from. Correctly blocking out the main forms early can eliminate the need for any major changes down the line.

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