Category: AnimSchool student work Page 1 of 2

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Ricardo Puertas

We would like to introduce Ricardo Puertas. Ricardo, can you tell us a little about yourself and what animation experience you’ve had before AnimSchool?

For as long as I can remember, drawing, video games and films have fascinated me. So, when I had the opportunity, when I was 17, I started to study Illustration at an Art School.

I had never had drawing or art lessons before, so it was very difficult for me, but I was very grateful to learn. In school I learned much more than before, because in the past I had always taught myself. Those years, I learned so much about my passion of drawing, and I finally had the opportunity to start 2D animation.

After that, I had a course in Animation at the University of Balearic Islands. This gave to me the opportunity to better know the 3D world. In the course they taught us a bit about the process of creating an animation short, so we learned a bit of everything, modeling, rigging, and animation.  Then each of us focused on what we were interested in for our final project. Obviously, I decided to go into animation. My final project was selected for several national and international festivals, and I won some awards.

Thanks to that, I had several opportunities to begin my career as an animator, and I finally started to work in a little studio dedicated to making Films and TV Spots. I have been working and enjoying animation for about 7 years. In the last few years, I have mostly been working in video games. Most of time we animate the body, making cycles, transitions, etc. I felt that I needed to improve on the acting of my characters, I was a little rusty in that aspect.

For this reason, I was interested in learning from better professionals of the animation world. I know that this world is a continuous learning cycle. For this reason, I decided to apply to AnimSchool to improve my knowledge in animation hand in hand with great professionals of the animation industry.

Student Ricardo Puertes – Class 4 Body Acting from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

What inspired you to get into animation?

I remember one day when I was 5 years old, while I was having lunch with my grandmother, I saw the Woody Woodpecker show about how to make animation. I liked drawing so much, and this gave me the opportunity to see all these people drawing, and giving life to the characters who fascinated me. At that moment, I said to my grandmother: “Grandma, I want to be an animator.”

What stands out the most to you when you’re watching an animated film?

As an animator, I can’t avoid looking at animator’s timing, poses, etc. I’m always looking and focusing my attention on the character’s movement. I don’t know if this is the best, but I can’t avoid it. After that, when I have the opportunity, I always buy the movies. I can’t stop myself from watching some scenes hundreds of times. I go frame by frame to see how it’s done. I love it!

Student Ricardo Puertas – Class 6 Facial Performance from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

With every AnimSchool test comes new challenges. Out of all the tests you’ve done, which one has been the most challenging and why?

The most difficult part for me was my beginning with lip sync. In video games, most of time, we’re animating the body, making cycles, transitions etc. Some times we get to animate the face, but I never had the opportunity to go too far with facial animation in TV or film. So, when I started my facial assignment, I was really exited to learn and go further with my character.

Can you talk a little about your process for your Facial Performance class shot, from selecting the dialogue to polish?

It was a lot of fun. The most important thing to me at this time was to enjoy the assignment, so I wanted to select funny audio to work with to have fun all term.

All the pre-production was really fun: sketching, searching for and making video reference… this was crazy. But, the most important thing for me was to enjoy it. When I had my sketches, planning and references ready to start, all went easy.

To begin with the blocking, it is very important to have a clear idea. You have to keep in mind all key poses. In this aspect, I had it in my mind from the beginning. In this process I needed to make some changes and to adjust the timing, obviously. But once timed, I passed into splining and it was simple enough to fit and polish the rest.

It’s very important to spend your time in good planning. You can save a lot of work.

What is your favorite part to work on within your process, why?

Obviously, all the phases are a lot of fun. The searching of ideas, the first sketches, when you start the blocking and you can see how your character starts to become alive… But, I think that the best part is polishing your shot, because you can play around and add the little spark of life to your characters.

Student Ricardo Puertas – Class 7 Animating Appeal And Entertainment from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

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

First, I want to thank all my teachers, Anthea, Mike, Tim, Tony, Stewart and JP, and all the teachers and people who make AnimSchool possible. Especially Dave, for creating this fantastic school. Many people haven’t had the opportunity to learn animation in their city, and thanks to AnimSchool, they’re making their dreams come true. I want to give thanks to my wife too, for supporting me from the beginning in all of this, and my baby, for always being there laughing at his father while I’m recording video reference.

To me, applying to AnimSchool has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made recently. I’ve learned many things each term, but I think in the beginning, I learned a great important thing that I’ve used in every term. In Term 2, with Anthea Kerou, she taught us that the most important thing is that the character, as simple as it can be, has to always, always, always, have one story that motivates him to do what he does in the shot.

What advice would you give to students just starting out?

For the people who are starting in the world of animation, I would say to them that they should be persevering in their work, and go forward. Do not be afraid to show your work to other people, this is very useful. Sometimes you spend many hours working on a shot and it’s not possible for you to see some issues by yourself; other people can indicate those to you.

When someone gives you a critique, this isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite. It’s the best thing that can happen to you, because you always learn new things from your mistakes. Another thing is, you should keep your eyes open and look at the world with “animator eyes.” 😉

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:

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Camilo Guaman

AnimSchool would like to introduce Animation Program student, Camilo Guaman. Camilo, can you tell us a little about yourself and how much animation experience you’ve had before AnimSchool?

Well, I studied Graphic design and after I graduated, I started a small web design company with some friends. For 4 years we were doing great. We became a great influence in the country. But, at the same time, I was always a fan of the big websites that use 3D content in their work. So, I decided I would like to learn 3D to apply it in my web designs. In June 2008 I had the opportunity to go to the VFS School in Canada. I took their 6 month program where I learn how to model, rig and animate, that was a real challenge for me because I hadn’t done any animation, used Maya or any other 3D software before. As a result of the program, I did a short film called ” Heaven” and I had my first honor, I won the Renderman Teapot prize for best short film rendered with Renderman in the class 21.

After the program, I really wanted to stay in Canada and find a job but my visa didn’t allow me to do that, so I went back to my country to find a job. By that time, I had decided that I didn’t want to go back to web design. After searching for few month I got a job in Mexico, in a digital agency called Grupo W as a 3D artist. I worked there for almost a year and a half, but I wasn’t happy enough because I spent all that time modeling, rigging and animating hard surface stuff (cars, props, etc) nothing with character animation. At the same time the company was having financial problems too, so I decide to come back to my country where I found a job as a 3D animation instructor at a Graphic design Institute. I realized that in order to be competitive in the field, I needed to learn more animation. I started learning by myself, reading articles, and doing online tutorials, but soon I realized the necessity of a mentor, so I started searching for schools and I was really impressed with the AnimSchool characters and how the animation style was so appealing!!!

What inspired you to get into animation? What do you enjoy about animating the most?

Camilo’s Thumbnails for “Space Tourist”

I’ve always loved animated films, video games and cartoons, but I never realized that I could work on them someday. I remember being at the cinema watching Shrek 2 and saying to myself: “it would be nice to work on a 3D film.” It wasn’t about the Shrek movie, it was more about doing something that many people can enjoy.

At VFS I had to do everything by myself, so that was a great opportunity for me to test the flavor of each discipline and I found out that I really enjoyed the whole process, but animation was the most fun and challenging for me. I was stunned when I put animation on my “dead character” and got to see the result! Is like Dr Frankenstein said “its alive”….

To be honest, I’ve been asking myself this question over and over and I think here at AnimSchool I finally realize, the beauty of animation. I think what inspires me and what I enjoy the most about animation is the endless possibility you have to play with so many ideas, transition between key poses and personalities that you can try and experiment with.

Looking back at past 3D films, what character would you have loved to animate, why?

I’ve never thought about this before. I have many favorite movies but I always like the characters from Toy Story and Monster Inc, so if  I had the chance I would love to animate Mike Wazowski. He has lots of energy, one eye, and is small in size, so it would be nice to play with that.

Student- Camilo Guaman – Class 4 Body Acting from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

You not only attend your scheduled classes, but we also
consistently see you in AnimSchool’s General Review critique sessions,
some have even been featured on the blog. Can you tell us a little about
your experience with this optional class and what motivates you to go
every week?

This all has to do with a decision I made
almost a year ago, I realized that this was my chance, this was my last
opportunity to study with professionals animators from the industry, so
with the support of my wife, I had to almost quit my job and work
only part time, sometimes rejecting  jobs offers, freelance work, etc.
As a result my financial situation has been really hard, but my goal was
to devote most of my time to school, with the hope that this can bring
me someday to my dream job.

Since General Reviews started, I’ve tried
to be there as much as possible. For me it was like a class time. I
remember for my class 4 assignment “Space Tourist,” Tony Bonilla was my
instructor, and he was at General Reviews too. So, I showed my work in
my critic time, then showed my fixes in General Reviews too. It was
almost like a was having extra classes.

One thing that
really motivates me is having fresh eyes on my work, pushing some ideas
and meeting new people from the industry, while having them take a look
at my work and give me some notes at same time. Isn’t that amazing to
have your shot constantly improving?

I can definitely say that
for me, the most successful assignments, are the ones I have been
bringing to General Reviews, giving me more notes to address.

Student Camilo Guaman – Class 5 Character Performance from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

With every AnimSchool tests comes new challenges. Out of all the tests you’ve completed, which one has been the most challenging and why?

You are completely right, with every new test comes new challenges. Definitely the most challenging and the one that I struggled the most with was my Character Performance shot “Drinking.” I think because it was the first real acting exercise that I did. Even at VFS we didn’t cover this in depth because of the short program, so this was an extremely challenging test. You can ask Tony how much I struggled with the assignment :S …. I think one of the most difficult things was animating the face. Lots of new concepts there, and the jump between a “low res rig” and a “feature quality one” gave me troubles. Later I realized that it’s better to start small.

Can you talk a little about your process of your dialogue test, “Night Club Singer?” From coming up with the background story, your video reference, to splining?

First, I wanted to thank my instructor Bobby Huth for his awesome class and critiques. From the first moment I wanted to do something completely different from last term, so I started looking for audio clips with a male and female voice on it. Since I’d never done any girl acting before, I decided to animate that type of character.

One thing I always had in mind was that “I wouldn’t make the same mistakes from last term.” So, from the beginning I started to plan it out, listening to the audio clips around a hundred times. I remembered Jeff Gabor saying to me in one of the General Review classes, that he recommend memorizing the dialogue before jumping in front of the camera. That was a key thing because I had little acting experience and memorizing the script was the first thing we would do before starting a performance or creating any character. So with that in mind, I started recording a lot of video reference, around 100 movie clips or more. After that, I wanted to give it a kind of vintage girl look.

In the blocking process I started posing and tried to lock down emotions and expressions, then tried to refine the poses. I used Dave Gallagher iteration advice and kept working with that in the blocking, plus I added more mouth shapes.

Once I had my blocking approved, I started splining. Trying to keep things tight, holding poses to avoid that “bad spliney look.” Really focusing on eyes, I watched Garrett and Tyler’s videos about eyes and blinking and just kept going with the polishing.

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

My experience here has been fantastic. I don’t have enough words to say to thank the school’s staff and my wife, who have supported me from the beginning. I’ve learned thousands of things here, but one of the most important things was to realize that not every shot was a “reel one.” Many of them have a learning purpose. For example, I remember when I was in Anthea’s class 2 and I was pretty happy with my walking assignment, but she made me think that a shot needs more than animation to make it look good. You need to entertain the audience, so that was an epiphany for me. Since then, I always think about the type of story that can entertain the audience, and of course myself. Also, the Mike Mattesi’s drawing classes help me a lot at the moment with posing.

Student Camilo Guaman – Class 6 Facial Performance from AnimSchool on Vimeo.

What advice would you give other students that are just starting out at AnimSchool?

Never compare your work with other students! The only person you should be comparing to is yourself. In this type of environment full of people from different backgrounds and experience, it’s easy to get shocked by other people’s work. Try to learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again. Sounds pretty obvious, but I always have to remind myself of that. Also, try to find simple and interesting ideas for your assignments in order to always be motivated.

AnimSchool General Review: Min Hong by JP Sans

AnimSchool Instructor and DreamWorks Animator, JP Sans, reviews AnimSchool student Min Hong’s dialogue test from his Character Performance class. In this review, JP describes how to use the cheeks to help amplify a dialogue test.

This clip is from one of AnimSchool’s General Review sessions.
AnimSchool offers General Reviews for 3D modeling, rigging and animation
students several times a week, for those who would like an extra

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Lucas Ridley

We’d like to welcome AnimSchool student and 11 Second Club December winner, Lucas Ridley. Lucas, can you tell us a little about your background and what made you want to become an animator?

I began my career in animation a few years after I completed my undergraduate degree in forestry at The University of the South. Through high school and college I filmed sports that I was involved with, like rock climbing and after college I began making films about hang gliding. Some of these videos even won YouTube contests, like one from Hewlett-Packard. I did teach myself After Effects to help create these videos. At this same time, the job I had making ecological maps at a university ended as grant funding ran out. I moved into freelance film making full time and quickly realized I wanted some formal training in visual effects. I went to Vancouver Film School for that, but then fell in love with animation and switched to studying animation there. I’ve never considered it as a profession for me until then, which was only about two years ago. Now, I’ve been working in the industry for one year.

But, what made me want to become an animator, was the unlimited potential of the medium. It was when I was learning traditional animation, that I discovered, I enjoyed bringing something slowly to life that didn’t exist before I put my energy into it.

What is your favorite animated film from your childhood? What current animated film would you say is your favorite? What makes these films special to you?

When I think of animated films I watched in my childhood, I can always picture moments from The Sword and The Stone, Robin Hood, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and then later Toy Story and Jurassic Park. Currently, I really loved the animation in Tangled, I also enjoyed Toy Story 3, ParaNorman, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Rio (being a hang glider pilot it’s a must), and all of Miyazaki’s films are very imaginative too.

Those earlier Disney movies I mentioned, just had a very dreamy quality to them and I remember having a connection to the characters and feeling like I was being taken on a journey. The newer films all have a range of qualities that makes them appealing to me, now that I see them through the lens of an animator. For example, I really enjoyed the 8-bit character’s poppy animation in Wreck-It Ralph and before learning animation that might now have stood out to me.

What artists would you say inspire you the most?

Andy Goldsworthy, Giuseppe Penone, and Joe Downing (the painter) to name a few, there are also some great pencil tests that Andreas Deja posts on his blog that are very inspiring. I’m fortunate to work with many talented artists at Moonbot Studios right now too. We have weeklies where we can see all the work being done at the studio, even if we aren’t on those projects. It’s really inspiring to see what everyone is producing. We also have Sketch Tuesdays, that’s a weekly dose of awesome artwork. It doesn’t hurt that I can see Bill Joyce’s Cintiq from where I sit at work, so I just have to glance over to see what he’s working on to get inspired.

Congratulations on winning the 11 Second Club competition this month. What kind of planning did you do before animating your winning shot, “A Sour History”?

I took several days to let ideas simmer on how to interpret the audio. I didn’t sit down and brainstorm, but just thought about it on my drive to work and spare moments during the day. I didn’t actually do any thumbnails, although I know it would have helped clarify some ideas. I relied on shooting reference for my planning. I probably spent at least an hour with the audio on repeat, trying many different acting choices. I used the reference for my blocking pass and then once I moved into breakdowns and refining the animation, I left the reference behind.

11 Second Club Reference from Lucas Ridley on Vimeo.

You created some nice contrast between your characters, both in appearance and personality. Can you tell us how you came up with these choices?

Luckily, these two rigs already had some great contrast built into their designs, which made me excited when I heard the clip because I had been planning on using them anyway. The first rig is my friend’s, Dylan VanWormer, and the second is AnimSchool’s infamous Malcolm rig. I did add the Little Rascals-style hat to him to emphasize his childishness. I wanted to play off the existing contrast in the audio and have the acting performance reflect the juxtaposition of their personalities. These guys are two childhood friends and the first has grown up to be an adult, but the second guy is still desperately holding onto childhood. I wanted their animation to reflect that.

In shooting reference, I discovered it would be good for the first guy to be handling a lemon, to allude to the punchline moment of the wider shot, and to give him something to sit down and let go of as he made his final decision to ‘move on.’ This was a representative of his inner monologue that he was physically letting go of the lemonade stand in his hand and in his life. I would not have found that moment without shooting reference.

When I shot the reference for the second guy, I tried to act as childish as possible. There are takes where I went way over the top to get in that mind frame and used the kind of childish attitude of “but I don’t wanna!” as a subtext for motivating his performance.

When you completed your 11 Second Club entry, did you believe you had a winning animation?

Not at all, I’m surprised I won. There are still several things I know I could do to improve the shot. The last time I entered I placed 15th, so my only goal was to improve on that and have a learning experience. One of the most appealing aspects of animation to me is that it’s an endless pursuit. There will always be something to learn and improve upon and I approach animation not to reach some end goal, but enjoy the journey of constantly trying to better myself in this craft.

You took Body Acting with us at AnimSchool. What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced while animating your shot, “The Suitcase”?

The biggest challenge was the actual pulling on the suitcase. I didn’t take great reference of myself for that section. I constrained the hands to the suitcase and then, animated the suitcase so I could make sure it would pivot correctly and then I wouldn’t have to counter-animate it, but it was kind of a puzzle to get those things to work together. I think that’s where I could improve that shot.

Tell us a little about your experience at AnimSchool.

I was taking the class while I had a full-time animation job and they really complimented one another. It was great to have a mentor continually look over my shot and give it one-on-one attention from broad animation choices to the little details, like Tony suggested to give him a hat to add some texture to the animation. It’s also a great community to be involved with, from the Facebook group, to the General Reviews, there’s always something going on. After finishing that class I really felt like I had taken a big step forward in my approach and my understanding of animation. That suitcase shot was scary to me and it was great to have the support and guidance of Tony to work through that, as well as seeing all my classmates work, was very encouraging.

There are many aspiring animators looking to improve their work. What advice would you have for them?

Well, I consider myself one of those aspiring animators too, but I think Carlos Baena said at Siggraph that we all have 200 bad shots in us and the sooner we get those out of us, the sooner we can start doing good animation (Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” mentions the 10,000 hours threshold). I ascribe to this idea of putting in massive amounts of work and started on this path with the understanding that it’s going to take time, I have to be patient about it and in time, I will improve. I think some people may be hesitant to tackle certain shots because they’re afraid of failing, but those are going to be the shots you learn from the most. When I was first learning animation, I did every assignment twice because I failed on my first attempt. That sounds like a burden, but it’s what really helped me overcome obstacles and gain a greater understanding of mechanics. So animate something that scares you, and don’t be afraid to do things like the 11 Second Club, it forces you to a deadline and gets your work out there.

To view more of Lucas’s work, visit his website:

AnimSchool General Review: Diego Collell by JP Sans

JP Sans reviews AnimSchool student, Diego Collell’s dialogue test from his Character Performance class. While going frame by frame, JP discusses the appropriate time to break joints in animation.

This clip is from one of AnimSchool’s General Review sessions. AnimSchool offers General Reviews for 3D modeling, rigging and animation students several times a week, for those who would like an extra critique. This term we’re excited to add Supervising Animator, Hans Dastrup to our list of reviewers.

Come join all the students learning online at AnimSchool:

AnimSchool Student Spotlight: Dustin Han

AnimSchool would like to introduce Dustin Han, an AnimSchool student in our Character Program focusing on rigging. Dustin, can you tell us a little about yourself and what 3D experience you had before entering AnimSchool?

recently graduated from a 4 year college before coming to AnimSchool. I
studied Computer Engineering with a minor in Studio Art. I did some
Flash development work at a start-up social gaming company before
deciding to pursue my interest in 3D. I actually had very little
experience with anything 3D or CG related before entering AnimSchool.
The only experience I had coming into AnimSchool was a single class I
took at my university that covered the very basics of using Maya.
However, because I was a student studying computer engineering and
studio art, I did have a good foundation in both programming and fine
arts which has been a tremendous help during my time learning to rig and
model characters at AnimSchool.

Are there any artists that inspire you?

don’t necessarily have a list of artists in my mind that I can just
start talking about especially because there are so many inspirational
artists out there that it would make it difficult for me to pick a few.
In general, the artists who inspire me most are those who love doing
what they do and clearly show this through their work and dedication.
This pretty much goes for anyone I come across, artist or not. Also,
artists who started from a dream and made it into a reality through hard
work and perseverance are great inspirations to me as I hope to one day
have similar success.

What did you find the most challenging about modeling your character?
was definitely challenging to convert a 2D image into a 3D model
especially when you only have one reference picture to look at. A lot of
the character was left to my imagination such as what his back side
might look like, but this challenging aspect provided a great learning
experience and just made the modeling process more rewarding. Also,
being my first full character model, it was definitely challenging just
to get the model to look appealing and match the artwork. I found it
difficult to get the sharp corners found in the character design into my
3D model especially when trying to keep the topology reasonably low. I
went to one of the general reviews provided by AnimSchool near the end
of the term which definitely helped and looking back I wish I could have
attended more to improve my model. So future students, I definitely
suggest you guys attend these review sessions as you can never have too
many people critique your work.
You have your character posed out. Did you model him
in a T pose and then pose your character or pose your character out and
then transfer him into the neutral pose? Is there anything you would change about the process you did for the next character you model?
Character design by Cory Loftis
We first blocked out our characters in pose with
basic low poly primitive shapes such as cylinders, cubes, and spheres in
order to have a reference later when putting it back into pose. From
there, we moved the model into T-pose and began modeling it from there.
This made it easier to get proportions right and to mirror over left and
right sides. After finishing the model we used our blocked pose as
reference to get it back into pose and apply final touches such as
wrinkles on clothes and accessories such as my character’s hammer and
I really enjoyed the process we took into creating
our models so I’m not sure I would change too much. Although, because we
modeled with the intention of basically just creating a statue, for my
next model I will probably pay more attention to modeling with the needs
of rigging in mind beyond what was covered in class. This includes
things such as providing enough topology for deformations and making
sure the model is easily skinned since the model I made in the
intermediate class is made up of several meshes in order to make it
easier to pose the character. My model actually has no torso or legs
under his clothing. As I continue to study rigging and creating more
rigs, I believe I will start to understand more of what the needs are
for future models I make.

How did you become interested in becoming a Rigger?

I did not realize rigging even existed when I first became interested
in 3D and animated films. All I knew was I wanted to be a part of making
the amazing films I was seeing in the theater.  It was only natural for
me to want to become an animator at first since the animations were
what I was seeing at the top layer of the films I was watching. I did
not realize there was so much more happening underneath. Because of this
mindset, I often pushed aside my dreams of becoming an animator due to
my technical degree in computer engineering and not wanting to put it to
waste. I figured I could maybe land a job as a software engineer at a
video game or film company.

However, as time went on, I began to realize I could not simply
ignore my interest in the creative and artistic aspects of things
because it was just a big part of who I was. With that, I began to
research and found that there were positions in game and film companies
called Technical Directors/Aritsts where both (although varying between
positions) technical and artistic skills are used. It kind of just
opened my eyes to the industry and helped me to continue pursuing my
dream. I decided to focus on learning to rig because I really enjoy
characters in films and would love to work directly with them.
Eventually though, I would love to delve into other aspects of the

Now that you’ve had a couple of rigging classes at AnimSchool, do
you view 3D films differently? What do you notice now, that you didn’t

Character provided by AnimSchool

The classes have definitely opened my eyes to the amount
of work it takes to create a feature level rig. There are just a ton of
things to take into consideration when designing a rig for animation.
Now when I watch animated films I’m even more amazed by what I see as I
now have a better appreciation of how much effort goes into developing
these rigs. Coming into a rigging class with no prior knowledge, I
naively thought it was just placing bones into a character to allow them
to move and be animated, but there are just several more layers of
complexity on top of that including creating clean deformations,
understanding relationships between the different parts of the rig, and
taking advantage of these relationships to provide a flexible and
intuitive rig for animators to use with ease.

Looking back at past films, what character would you have loved to model or rig? Why does this character interest you?

am a big fan of the Toy Story films so I would have loved to rig Woody
or Buzz. It’s amazing how much emotion and character can be brought out
from a toy through animation. I can only imagine how challenging it was
to rig a toy in order for it to come to life yet retain its toy-like
qualities during the animation process.

How has your experience been at AnimSchool? Do you have a favorite process or tip that you’ve learned?

experience at AnimSchool has been great. I have learned so much in the 4
terms I have been here. Just being taught by industry professionals who
have worked on some of my favorite films is an amazing experience as
you can be confident in knowing that what you are being taught is
relevant to what companies want to see. The AnimSchool community is
great and everyone is so supportive of one another. It’s just a great
feeling to learn with people sharing similar goals. I’ve become much
more confident in general after producing work I never could have
imagined before entering the program.

I have learned so many great things from AnimSchool that it’s
difficult to pick a favorite, but just because it’s fresh off my mind
from this past term of intermediate rigging, I really enjoyed my
instructor’s (Ignacio Barrios) approach to creating IK FK Switches (or
any kind of space switch) with the use of Maya’s blend color nodes where
you simply blend the transformation values of the IK and FK joints
together to provide the values for the driver joints as opposed to using
constraints. It was just a great example of how there isn’t just one
way to solve a rigging problem.

AnimSchool General Review: Camilo Guaman by JP Sans

JP Sans reviews AnimSchool student, Camilo Guaman’s, dialogue test from his Character Performance Class.
By analyzing frame by frame, JP goes over details of the character’s eyes, and head tilts, to help relay what the character is feeling.

This clip is from AnimSchool’s General Review session. AnimSchool offers General Reviews for 3D modeling, rigging and animation students every week for those who can’t
attend their normal class review, or for those who would like an extra

Come join all the students learning online at AnimSchool:

AnimSchool General Review: Jorge Feres by JP Sans

JP Sans reviews AnimSchool student Jorge Feres’s character walk from his Animating Characters class.
Here JP goes over fundamentals and how to push poses to help create contrast in a shot.

AnimSchool offers General Reviews for 3D modeling, rigging and animation students every week for those who can’t
attend their normal class review, or for those who would like an extra

AnimSchool Spotlight Student: Angel Antelo

AnimSchool would like to introduce Angel Antelo. Before AnimSchool, did you have any other experience with animation?

I actually had no experience in animation.I just had a slight prior idea of how Maya software worked due to some online tutorials I could find at that time. Also some books like the well known “Survival Kit” began to guide me through this world and not much more. So everything has been new for me.

Why do you want to become an animator?

I guess it’s the simple dream of a child. It’s something that captured my attention since I was just a little boy. I remember watching some Disney movies back in the day: Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King… I remember how much I enjoyed them and how they sparked my interest in drawing. They created a hobby and a passion that I still carry with me today.

One of the things I remember was when they showed the “making of” from one of these movies on TV; I loved to watch how they made those drawings, animations, visual effects… I recorded it on a video tape and watched it over and over again. I liked to watch how they carried out all that work, which tools were used. I would just watch all that super-complex stuff on the screen of their computers which I couldn’t understand. I was fascinated. It was something that I was delighted to see, and loved. To get a glimpse of that creative environment, the people whose jobs were to create different worlds that we could enjoy later. I just remember watching all that and thinking to myself: One day I want to be part of that.

 Angel Antelo’s test from AnimSchool’s Class 4, Body Acting

What inspires you to work hard towards your career goals?

It’s related with the previous answer. It is doing everything in your power to reach that goal. That dream.

It’s not easy. The knowledge you need isn’t going to reach your brain by a magical lightning that hits your head. You have to spend a lot of time, long hours in front of the computer and sometimes manage to find the time to do that thing they call sleeping at night (it’s ok until you start seeing pink punk cows in your room. Then you know you need to stop). You really have to like it to avoid getting tired of it and to stay motivated. My start was  a little “late” in this field if I compare myself to others that started much younger, but it came to a point in my life that it was like “now or never”. I had the chance and I made the decision, I brushed my hair, I joined AnimSchool and I decided to spend my time and energy on it. I think it’s one of the best decisions in my life ever. It almost seemed unreachable and impossible for me to start studying and getting prepared for what I always liked. So if I could, anyone can…

The goals are still far away. Someday being able  to do something that could captivate, excite, thrill or just make someone laugh. Create something that people can enjoy. I still have a lot to learn to get even close to that point.

What is your favorite animated film from your childhood, and what is your favorite film now that you’re an adult? What do you think makes these films special?

The Lion King, Aladdin.. all these great classics that will last forever, are kept in a special corner in my heart for being those which lit up that little spark in my head. Then came films like Toy Story that left us all with our mouths wide open and a new world of possibilities opened up right in front of our eyes. Ratatouille seems perfect to me. script, animation, characters… Rio was a nice surprise, I also have to say that thanks to AnimSchool I’ve had the pleasure to meeting some of the people who had actually worked on it. It makes me appreciate it more, if that was even possible….

What do you enjoy about animation the most?

Maybe it’s a bit hard to answer or explain. It’s like “creating life” from scratch. At first you find that character, on your screen,and it seems like a toy with nothing inside, staring lifelessly into the distance, as if he had just seen Death wearing high heels and eating tacos. It’s like when you’re drawing, it’s a blank canvas. You have countless possibilities where the limit is a road sign with “no limit” graven with fire on it; it’s where the imagination (and your current knowledge, of course) takes you.

It surprises me every day with new things I find out and

learn. Even right now, answering these questions amazes me; about 18 months ago I learned that the little red stick is a “keyframe” for example… I’ve barely begun this journey. If I’m sure of one thing, then it’s that I cannot express how happy I am with this experience.

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

AnimSchool is great!!! I cannot say otherwise. I have nothing but good things to say. Almost always at the beginning of each new assignment I get that little fear and I start doubting myself and whether I can do it or not. But since teachers get involved in your work, your progress, motivate you and really care about your shots, I find all the fear and doubt disappearing. These professionals show you their workflows, critique your assignments to make sure you get a better result, they share with us the little tricks they’ve learned over the years. I’m really grateful for everything they taught us…

But probably one of the best things, beside the great teachers, beside the assignments, beside the awesome rigs provided, is all the amazing people you meet from all over the world. People who like and love the same as you do. It has created a little atmosphere that makes you feel at home and supported in this great adventure. They become your friends… and that’s priceless.

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