Tuesday, 12 May 2009

50 steps to success in animation school

What happened to me? So much I don't even remember half of it anymore...I worked on a group film for the whole year, spending inhuman amounts of time, effort and suffering on getting it done and trying to do a good job of it. In the end it worked out pretty well. Our film even took third place out of the ten films that were created by our year, so our group has a lot to be proud of. I did learn a lot this year. Not just about drawing and animation, but also about myself, and who I am and who I am not. More on that in a later post, but for now, I had an idea I meant to post for some time now.

I've been through a lot in this program and it made me think about what I've become after going through it for the last three years. I've survived so far and I'm grateful that I have, but I know that I made some mistakes along the way that prevented me from becoming a stronger artist, and even possibly a stronger person. I'd like to give some advice about how to succeed in this program based on what I've experienced. The only reason I'm giving it is because I've made some of these mistakes personally, and I'm sure that if I had avoided them, I would have found more of the success I was hoping for overall. So here we go - 50 steps to success in animation at Sheridan, though this may apply to other schools too:

1) Get everything you need to get your work done - animation paper, newsprint pads, pencils, gouache, pegbar, animation disc, etc.

2) Get a sketchbook or two or ten. Yes ten, because you'll probably be filling them up faster than you would imagine.

3) Draw. Whether it's homework or just practice, draw.

4) Draw some more.

5) Have fun!

6) Draw some more.

7) Sleep. You'll probably find yourself getting less and less of this as you continue your studies, but if you can budget your time well, you'll find that all-nighters may not be necessary at all.

8) Show up to class. How else are you going to know what to do for your assignments and how to do them?

9) Draw some more.

10) Don't give up.

11) Draw some more.

12) Have fun!

13) Draw some more.

14) Don't give up.

15) Make friends. They're your lifeline, and they'll be helping you with your studies when the teachers are not around.

16) Don't be afraid of criticism. You can't avoid it, and frankly, you learn the most from it. Like I mentioned earlier, it takes making mistakes sometimes to learn.

17) Draw some more.

18) Don't give up.

19) Draw some more.

20) Don't give up.

21) Look back at your progress once in a while. You'll think at first that you're not making any, but in reality you are, as long as you're working at it. There were times I felt like I throwing away all of my drawings, and when I looked back at the ones I did 6 months ago, I felt so much better after looking at the ones I just did.

22) Draw stuff that you like whenever you have the time and feel inspired to. Drawing should also be enjoyable, not just a job, otherwise you'll go nuts drawing stuff all the time that you don't really care for.

23) Draw some more.

24) Draw some more.

25) Don't give up.

26) Draw some more.

27) Don't give up.

28) Don't give up.

29) Watch some cool movies or TV shows, or play some games that inspire you. This is the stuff that you'll be working on once you graduate, so think about what gets you going when it comes to animation.

30) Draw some more.

31) Don't give up.

32) Relax. As much as you love drawing, there will come a time when you just want to put the pencil down for a while and get back to the things you had to put aside because of all that drawing. The mind and the hand both need some time out every now and then.

33) Pick that pencil back up and draw some more.

34) Draw some more.

35) Don't give up.

36) Draw some more.

37) Inspire yourself. This may sound repetitive, but I mean look around the web, or around the studio. You'll always find some great artists around that are enjoying the fruits of their labors and they're the ones that everyone aspires to be. Every artist needs a source of inspiration.

38) Draw some more.

39) Don't give up, please.

40) Check on your progress again. If you're still not happy with your progress, you're probably just being too hard on yourself. If you're completely happy with your work, you're probably being too easy on yourself.

41) Check around and see what studios you'd like to work for when you're done. Be realistic too, since almost everyone starts off at places they wouldn't call their dream job at first...although anything is still possible.

42) Draw some more.

43) Don't forget your friends. They're probably going to be working with you on that upcoming group film or you might have working relationships with them when you graduate, so keep healthy and happy relationships with your friends.

44) Draw some more.

45) Don't give up.

46) Maybe it's time to start thinking about what you want to focus your efforts on. Do you have a thing for animating? storyboarding? layout? character design? If you do, great! Make yourself a force to be reckoned with in the field. If not, relax. Many people graduate not being sure what their forte is.

47) Draw some more.

48) Get those last assignments done, as annoying as they may be. When they're done, you won't believe how wonderful it will feel.

49) Don't give up...you're almost there!

50) Now that you're done, celebrate, look back at your progress and be glad you made it this far.

This is by no means a guarantee of success, but it's the steps that I would have followed that would have most likely made me feel the best about myself, in terms of know that I gave it my absolute all. Meanwhile, how do I feel now about my progress?