Category: AnimSchool Spotlight

AnimSchool Interview: Jorge A. Martinez Teran

We’d like to welcome AnimSchool Graduate Jorge A. Martinez Teran. Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background? How did you get into character animation?

Growing up  I knew I wanted to have a job where I could create things for people to appreciate and enjoy. I tried traditional painting and some sculpting when I was a teenager, but eventually the thought of getting a bit more profit from my skills put me on the path to become a graphic designer, where I got a good foundation of Art and Design. 

As for how I got into animation, I think I would need to blame my parents. It was an unintentional indoctrination process. 
Every morning in order to get me ready  for school they would wake me up and put VHS tapes with cartoons to get my attention. From Disney movies to good old Looney Toons cartoons, and some crazy anime, most days would start with a cartoon. 

I’ve met  friends that have similar interests and love for animation, and we’ve always had the idea of  developing our own web cartoons, but it was more of a hobby back then. It has never occurred to me I could make a living out of it since there were not a lot of opportunities to work in animation in Mexico at that point.

One day at university walking through the halls, I saw a poster saying: “Get a career in Animation! Come study 3D Animation in Vancouver”. And BAM! It hit me right there. I had to give it a shot.  A year later, with the help of our families, my friends and I jumped on a plane to Vancouver to start our animation journey. 

After an intense year, I finished a short film that landed me some interviews and got screened at a small film festival in Oregon. From there on I had the chance to work in a couple more short films doing visual effects and character animation. I enrolled in the AnimSchool program to become a better artist and I landed  my first studio job right before starting on Class 7 at AnimSchool. 

Are you currently working in the animation industry? What is your job there? Tell us about it.

Yes I am! I work as a Senior Animator at a studio here in Vancouver called Nerd Corps where, if we are not fighting with nerf guns, we make TV shows for kids.

I’m currently working on the new Max Steel TV show.  From an animation point of view, That show provides great opportunities to try different styles of animation.  On a normal week I could go from working on emotional serious acting, to quirky comedic acting, to a full on fighting action sequence.  There is always something fun and interesting to work on. 

Before Joining Nerd Corps I had the opportunity to work as a freelancer doing some visual effects, motion design, and character animation on some fun independent short films like “Overboard: At The Helm Of An Animation Crew” and “Be The Snow” that have been hitting some Film Festivals here and there during their festival run. 


“Overboard: At The Helm Of An Animation Crew”

In what ways do you think AnimSchool has helped you to be a better animator? What was your journey like?

I enrolled on AnimSchool after a period  where I felt my animation skills got rusty and I reached a plateau. Even though because of my background I could have the chance to skip a class, I decided to take the full course and start from scratch, that would give me the opportunity to learn from more instructors during my journey through AnimSchool. And it was probably the best decision I could have made.   

It was during that year and a half at AnimSchool when I truly understood performance, appeal, and how to push myself creatively to find the best acting choices. This also helped me develop a good workflow and an eye for animation. The process also allowed me to get better at giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Any particular tip or advice from an instructor that particularly stuck with you?

“Animate within the pose”, That advice was mentioned a couple times during each term, and it’s something I try to live by now. It’s a common occurrence for starting animators to over-animate their shots and make the characters move all over the place all the time for fear that their shots might feel dead or too simple. It’s a hard thing to do, but once you do it, you find so many other subtle ways of keeping your characters alive. 

One more thing that got stuck is something that Rahul Dabholkar mentioned; he learned it from one of his colleagues at Disney. I don’t remember the exact words but it goes something like this: Every shot has a special moment that will make it shine, if you can find that moment and emphasize it, it will make the shot amazing.  

What’s the best part of online education?

Learning from industry experts from the best studios around the world is great and you learn so much, but I would have to say the best part of online education is the community.  You become part of a big family, and even if you haven’t met in person, you know every single one of them will do their best to help you grow as an animator, giving some feedback on personal shots,  and help you get opportunities in the industry. Or, you know, go out for a meal and talk about animation if you get the chance to meet them in person. 

What part of the animation process do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy every part of the animation process, planning a shot is always fun, exploring acting choices and shooting reference is a nice challenge. 
Blocking is where I put most of my time getting the  timing right and pushing my poses over and over. 
But, when I really get in the zone, is when I start polishing a shot. I can easily lose track of time bringing the characters to life.

What type of animation inspires you?

There are some amazing animated shows and movies out there that it would be impossible for me to choose just one type. From the jaw-dropping stop motion animation from the guys at Laika, with their beautiful and refreshing movies, going all the way to the hand drawn 2D fighting sequences from Avatar The Last Airbender and The legend of Korra. In 3D, I favour the cartoony style of Sony’s  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania, it’s so appealing and every shot looks like it would be a ton of fun to animate. Moving on to more realistic VFX animation, I love creature animation. Believable weight, power, and great physicality are things that I love to focus on, and hope to fully master as I keep animating. Pacific Rim and the new  Godzilla are two movies that keep coming to my mind every time I think about VFX animation.

How do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I definitely see myself animating on feature films, I don’t know if it will be an animated feature or doing some creature work on a live action movie. Right now I’m still undecided on what path I want to take. I love acting shots, but the challenge of nailing an action shot is so rewarding… I want it all!

I have also considered, after a couple more years of experience, that I would like to start teaching animation too.

Any hobbies, sports or other activities that you would like to share with us?

Scuba diving. It’s the closest thing I know to an out of this world experience. It’s relaxing and very exciting at the same time. A good way to stay in touch with nature.
Also, I recently started practicing bouldering with some friends from work. Great workout to strengthen your arms after working all week on the computer, my forearms have been feeling great after a couple of times. No more computer pain. Our goal is to do some outdoor climbing soon.

Any quote to get yourself motivated?

I really like the part when Dory is trying to cheer Marlin in Finding Nemo. After the mask fell into the deep and she says: “When life get you down you know what you got to do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”. That song comes to my mind every single time something goes wrong, and it always keep me going no matter what. 
What is your ultimate goal?

The more I get involved in the industry the more I keep thinking I want to be an Animation director one day.  Working with the directors at Nerd Corps has been great, I’m learning so much from them and the way they approach the shows. 

Also, every time I give feedback or I receive feedback from coworkers is a great and valuable opportunity to learn. Weather is learning something new about acting  and performance, an animation trick, or just simply better ways of communicating with people. Each one of those information exchanges is a learning experience that put me a bit closer and better prepared to reach my goal. 

There is still a long road to cover to get there and so much more to learn, but I believe I can get there if I keep working hard. 

Thank you so much for having me!

Check out Jorge’s Demo Reel:

AnimSchool Graduate Spotlight: Animator Mark Tan

We would like to welcome Mark Tan, one of our latest graduates from the 3D Animation Program.

Tell us a little about yourself, what’s your background? How did you get into animation?
Mark’s drawing at 5 years old.

Like many others, I grew up drawing what I saw.  I didn’t just like drawing figures, but telling a story.  My very first creations I made as a kid (around 5 years old) had a scene drawn along with a story written.
Despite these early beginnings, animation never dawned on me as a profession until a counselor at college brought it up.  Once I started, animation totally took over my focus.  We experimented with 2D, paper cut out animation, as well as claymation my freshman year.  In my second year of college, we eventually were taught Maya and all the technical facets of the program.

Along with learning animation, my interest in filmmaking blossomed during college as well.  I watched thousands of films (live action and animated), read screenwriting books, and started to make shorts/music videos.
I chose animation as a profession because I believe at the core of every well told story is a strong believable performance.  Animation gives us the ability to explore the personality of any character without the hinderance of our outward appearance.

What’s the best part of online education?

The best part of online education is having access to some of the most skilled in the industry today without having to travel at all.  I told myself before enrolling that if these guys can’t help me improve drastically, then I’m not trying hard enough!

What do you like the most when animating?

I really enjoy shooting video reference prior to going on the computer.  There is something special about actually acting out your scene.  The possibilities seem endless.  There are also quirks and small details captured on video that can be helpful as well.  It is much easier to approach a shot when you have the majority of your movements and expressions locked down in a video edit.

What type of animation inspires you?

I can’t really say I favor any type of animation, but I can mention a few scenes/shorts that inspire me.

1.  Seeing the work of Min Hong, Alaa Abu Hanish, James Kim, and many others before and during Animschool fueled my motivation to improve.

2. I will always remember the shot in Finding Nemo where Dory tells Marlin that when she looks at him, she’s home.  It’s amazing how much is achieved with a character that’s basically a floating face with fins. 


3. Another scene I always enjoy watching is Presto.  The staccatto movements and upright poses of the magician purely give way to his whole personality in one shot.  There is a lot of fun animation in the whole short, but the held poses are what seem to be the funniest to me. 

4. I was really into the early works of Nick Park, Bill Plympton and Don Hertzfeldt when I started out college years ago.  I found shorts like “Creature Comforts”, “How to Kiss” and “Rejected Cartoons” to be very entertaining. 


You’ve done some great shots along the way at Animschool and some of them have been featured at the Student Showcase. Which one did you like the most? How was your workflow for this shot?

I think my most successful shot came out of class 6 with Melvin Tan.  He was the most picky and pushed me the hardest on my shot from start to finish.  I chose a very challenging audio clip after hours of searching, and that was just the beginning of the journey.

I approached the video reference like I always did, but I remember Melvin had very clear and distinct decisions on what didn’t work for him.  The main notes of the first reference was to make the performance more confrontational by breaking less eye contact in the beginning of the scene.  After about 50 total takes, I finally reached something close to begin animating with.

In what ways do you think Animschool has helped you to be a better animator?

Animschool’s animation program structure helped me sharpen my skills from the ground up.  

In Animating Characters, two major things I picked up was the idea of lead/follow, as well as how to balance the weight of your character in space.  

In Body Acting, texture was a big focus on how to break up the flow of the dancer in the subway to add more interest.  Also, the opening up of the face for eye direction, avoiding wall eyed positions of the irises, proper spacing/smear frames, and the importance of breaking down video reference better (and enhancing the appeal in your work).

The last three classes involved more complex characters and lip sync.  I learned a lot more about polish and all the little details that really make your shot shine.  The most important thing throughout this back end of the program was that I learned what it takes to finish a good shot.  

Any advice or tip that you remember from an instructor that you’ve had along the way?

Lead and follow has helped me a lot.  Choosing what to lead the action to another pose always helps to break up the animation and add a more natural feel.  Though I have gone too far sometimes, this concept is always on my mind. 

Are you currently working in the animation industry? Tell us about it.

I am currently trying to get work in feature films.  My last gig was animating Ninja Turtles for promotional and commercial spots for the movie.  Some of it was recently used in a music video for a song from the movie’s soundtrack.

How do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Right now I’m hoping to be making a living working in the movie industry.  I don’t know what 5 years in the future holds for me, but I’m going to put my effort in one day at a time and see where that takes me.

Any hobbies, sports or other activities that you would like to share with us?

I’m into weightlifting, play basketball regularly, and occasionally play tennis.  When not sitting at a computer, I try to stay as active as possible.

Any quote to get yourself motivated?

Save nothing for the swim back.

What are your plans now that you’ve graduated from Animschool?

As I stated earlier, I want to gain experience in the animated film industry.  I have worked on video game cinematics, video game animation, and television.  I have recently started the job hunt.  Wish me luck! 

Mark, thank you very much for this interview and all the best for your future outside Animschool!

Watch Mark’s demo reel:

Videography reel:

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Eyad Hussein

We’d like to introduce Eyad Hussein. Eyad, can you tell us a little about yourself and what 3D experience you’ve had before entering AnimSchool?

I’m twenty eight years old and I grew up in Amman, Jordan. Since my early childhood, I’ve had a passion for character drawing, and like most artists I started by drawing with pencils, because it was the cheapest and the most available medium. I was obsessed with writing short stories, and while in primary school I developed my first short story by the name of Narcissus and most of the characters for it. After graduating from high school, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at Yarmouk University. During my university years I started learning Maya and used it as a tool to continue developing the Narcissus characters.

 Career wise, I worked as a graphic artist in small studios until I got a job offer to work as a Photo Editor at Front Row, the pioneer publishing house in Jordan, where I was responsible in developing, creating and editing photos for six international and local magazines. Shortly after, I decided to focus more on animation, so I applied for a 3D Rigging Artist position at Rubicon Group Holding, the lead animation studio in the Middle East, and got accepted.

Sabine Heller, one of AnimSchool best instructors and a Character Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios, motivated me to join the school. Back in January 2012, when I was struggling with some advanced rigging issues, I got in touch with her and she encouraged me to join AnimSchool. In summer 2012 I got accepted in the 3D Character Program.

Which artists inspire you?

Most of the time, I get my inspiration from movies, video games and people who work in the industry. I love all of Disney and Pixar creations, Tangled (2010) and Brave (2012) are my favorite movies. Three months ago I was very lucky to visit Blue Sky Studios in Connecticut, US, where I met four of AnimSchool instructors who inspired me – Sabine Heller, Chris Pagoria, Ignacio Barrios and Dave Gallagher. I also met the talented people who are responsible for creating the amazing 3D movie Epic (2013).

I always buy books from “The Art of…” series and use them as reference. The last book I bought was The Art of Epic. I would like to say that it’s really amazing, very different from many other books. I like how it presents the character development stages from 2D concept to final 3D rendered character.
I like all of Tim Burton movies and how he develops the characters inside his works. I also like Capcom style, and especially Mega Man. Because I studied Fine Arts, I like to look back into the history of art. I get a lot of inspiration from Roman and Greek sculptures and paintings.

AnimSchool Introduction to Rigging assignments, by Eyad Hussein

How did you become interested in 3D Modeling and Rigging? What do you enjoy the most? Why?

I was fascinated by Final Fantasy VIII (1999) from Squaresoft and how amazing their 3D characters looked. One day I saw a “making of” for the game on the TV, where they mentioned that they used Maya to model and rig the characters, so I started learning Maya and translating my 2D characters into 3D space.

The thing I enjoy the most when I do modeling is making the character’s face, because the face is the most prominent part of a character’s body, it is where all the emotions show, the first thing people look at. The thing I enjoy the most in rigging is posing the character and making it look alive, which gives it a personality.

What did you find the most challenging about modeling the character, Jane from your Intermediate Modeling Class?

For me, the main challenge in 3D character modeling making the character look as appealing as its prototype in the 2D design sheet, so that for people it’s love at first sight! 2D artists often cheat in the proportions when they do the posed concept for the character, so another big challenge is to match the 3D model to the 2D concept, or at least give it the same look and feel of the concept. The mission is to put a soul inside the character, so you can feel the personality and the weight of a character when you pose it. You have to make people believe that it’s really alive, and not just a bunch of polygons.

To know more about my process of modeling 3D characters please visit “Winter 2013 Review” at my blog:

As a modeler, how much do you model in ZBrush vs Maya? Can you talk a little about your process using both programs?

Chel- El Dorado ZBrush sculpt, by Eyad Hussein

Before I start modeling, I like to gather some information about how the character would be used. What would be the purpose of developing this 3D model? Is it a demonstration of a character in 3D space for the movie director? Or is it for paint-over? Or is it going to be used in animation?

If it’s for the director, I mainly use ZBrush, it’s the fastest way to get a result. The director want to see shapes, volumes and the character personality in a pose, so you don’t have to worry about the technical details at all. I used to sketch the character in three days: a day for the head, a day for the body and a day for polishing.

If it’s for animation, it’s almost fifty-fifty.  Most of the time I switch between Maya and ZBrush – I sketch up a quick volume in ZBrush, do retopology in 3D Coat, take the model to Maya and start cleaning the mesh, and then I send the model back to ZBrush to give it the final touches.

What have you found the most challenging in the Rigging process? How did you work through the challenges? Did you discover any tips/tricks?

AnimSchool Introduction to Rigging assignment, by Eyad Hussein

The rigging itself is very enjoyable if you understand the concept, the challenge is always “Efficiency vs. Time”. I think rigging is the art of finding an efficient solution for a specific problem in a period of time.

I get through challenges by following a few important steps. First of all, you have to understand the problem – a problem well stated is a problem half solved, as they say. Second, you have to do a research, which is collecting information to solve this problem. After that, you should try different solutions and pick the most efficient solution for this particular problem. Finally test it! Let other people test it too, so you get feedback.
My advice is “Understand, research, try and test!”

To know more about my process of rigging 3D characters please visit “Fall 2012 Review” at my blog:


How has your experience been at AnimSchool? What is your favorite thing you’ve learned?

The AnimSchool experience is amazing, especially because the most talented people in the industry are teaching you all of the secrets for creating successful animated movies. I’ve been self-learning Maya for long time, but the amount of knowledge that I got from one year at AnimSchool is almost equal to what I have learned in many years of self-study, so it’s without any doubt a shortcut.

Self-learning is great, but the problem is that there’s nobody to evaluate and criticize your work, so you don’t improve much and eventually bump into a dead end. But as a student in AnimSchool, you receive a lot of constructive criticism from the instructors, which inevitably moves your work to the next level. This is my favorite thing at AnimSchool.

What advice would you give to other artists that want to get into a 3D Character Program?

My advice is to focus on the two sides, modeling and rigging, at the same time because they are so related to each other. To do good appealing rigs, you should be a good modeler. Never give up, keep trying and always share your work with others.

To view more of Eyad Hussein’s work visit:

Photography Gallery:

Come join all the students learning online at AnimSchool!
Summer Term begins July 1st 

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Ernesto Ruiz Velasco

We would like to introduce Ernesto Ruiz Velasco. Ernesto, can you tell us a little about yourself and what 3D experience you’ve had before entering AnimSchool? 

 I began to get interested in animation and VFX really early in my childhood, and started to do 3D by myself when I was 15 years old. In 2007, as a graduated from a very technical High School, I won a Scholarship to study Animation and Digital Arts at ITESM, Guadalajara with my portfolio work.

 Later, in 2009 I entered an internship in a small mexican advertising VFX studio. I worked there for about 2 and a half years, first as a Technical Artist and later, in 2011, as a Technical Director. I worked there in almost every part in the 3D pipeline, both technical and artistic, as a generalist. I did Hardware/Software support, Modeling, Rigging, FX, Lighting and Rendering, I even did some crowd simulations with Massive, but I never had the chance to do character development. That was the reason I quit the company a few months before I graduated from ITESM.

In March 2012 I got a job as a Tools Dev. and RnD Lead in a 3D Animation Studio in Guadalajara, México. Quickly, I got promoted to CG Supervisor having the opportunity to finally  focus in Character Development. There on, in my spare time, I started to learn more about character rigging, FX and modeling, wishing to find some specialized courses online. Then, in october of 2012 I was able to enter into Animschool’s Character Program.

Do you have any artists who inspire you?

Concept Art by Elsa Chang

I’m really bad at remembering names, but I have a wide range of references when I’m working. I admire all the people who are able to finish their work with amazing quality, and whom like to share their knowledge. I’m a really technical person, but I also have some artistic skills, that’s why I admire not only artists, but technical guys as well.

The names that I recall, whose work I really enjoy are: Rafael Grassetti, Jon Troy Nickel, Andrew Hickinbottom, Michael Defeo, Elsa Chang, Lou Romano, Josh Carey, Vincent E. Sousa, Pedro Conti. The people who have taught me: Todd Widup, Judd Simantov, Brien Hindman, Ignacio Barrios, Dave Gallagher. The people who I work with also inspire me day to day.

What did you find the most challenging about modeling your character from your Intermediate Modeling class?

I think the most difficult part was to set up the Elsa Chang’s character for a three dimensional world. Having only a side-view of the design, I was getting lost in little details. Thanks to Brien Hindman from the Intermediate Modeling Class and Dave Gallagher with the General Reviews, I was able to be objective in getting the 2D drawing to the 3D model, without losing the artistic appeal. I’m really satisfied with the final result.

After having a couple rigging classes at AnimSchool, has your thought process behind 3D modeling changed, how?

Yes, I had taken other rigging courses before. But, in AnimSchool I learned not only how to rig, but also the way to prepare the characters so you can do a quicker and better job, focusing in the appeal of the character and not losing time solving technical problems.

What I really liked about the workflow I leaned here is that, if you keep everything modular, not only for the different parts of the rig but also for the different parts of the process, you can go back and forward in the rigging changing things without any problems. So, you’ll always be able to put new controllers or features into the rig or even change some modeling without any major problems.

How did you become interested in becoming a Character TD? What do you enjoy the most about rigging?

consider myself to be a technical artist, and I took advantage of

technical side to grow professionally. However, I’ve always wanted to do
characters, to be a modeler or a concept artist, but I ended up doing
technical stuff like simulations or scripting each time.

reason why I’m so interested in characters is because what I enjoy the
most about animation is the story and the way a movie can immerse you in
different worlds. I think the way a character’s personality changes
throughout the story, alongside the story itself, is the secret to
compelling work.

I think a Character TD have that
perfect balance between the technical and artistic side that I’m looking
for, and nowadays It’s what I enjoy the most. It combines modeling,
rigging and scripting skills as also the knowledge on how to automate
processes. Besides, I love to solve problems and propose new ways to do
it, rigging gives me the opportunity to do so.

What have you found the most challenging in the Rigging process? Did you discover any tricks/tips to help with these challenges?

Everything, I think rigging it’s challenging by itself, but particularly maintaining the quality and keeping everything well structured. Sometimes it can get hard to keep adding features to the rig without breaking it. Ignacio Barrios was very helpful with that. He made us understand the common problems and solutions instead of giving us a series of steps to get the rigging done. He taught us the logic inside a rig.

How has your experience been at AnimSchool? What do you find most beneficial about the program?

At AnimSchool I felt really close to the Animation Industry, thanks to the wonderful teachers I’ve had. They do not only teach about their classes, but answer pretty much all the questions we have and help with anything they can. In Mexico it’s quite hard to find this type of professional feedback.

The people at AnimSchool gave me a lot of pro tips and tricks and now I feel more confident, even to make the Guadalajara CG industry grow in quality. For a long time I was wishing to find an online school focused in characters, but there were none about rigging and modeling, only Animation. That’s why I’m really glad to be studying at AnimSchool!

Do you have any advice you would give other students interested in learning modeling or rigging?

Show your work to others, so you can have quick feedback (the sooner, the better). Constantly try to ask yourself how can you do it better. Always get the most references you can before starting, and keep looking for them while you are working, to never lose focus. Also, practice as much as you can, the more you practice the faster you’ll get.

To achieve the same quality and functionality in everything you do, try to go from the overall figure to the particular details (It applies to both, modeling and rigging).

Additionally, If you want to focus on modeling or rigging it’s good to know a little from other areas, especially the inputs and outputs of the department you are focusing (animation, concept art and rigging) and of course, always do your best!

To view more of Ernesto Ruiz Velasco’s work visit: