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Advice appreciated for my sophomore "wanna be" animator

moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
hello all! I got some great advice on another thread in the parents forum over the summer, but it was suggested I post here for specific questions. I would love some help in a timeline of "what to do". A little history for those of you who didn't read the other thread. I have 2 in college already, went a very academic route. Both did very well. D3, is very talented artistically and musically. She loves to draw, draws every day, has a digital art program, but not an animation program, mainly because I'm ignorant on what to get her. Hoping she'll go to a camp this summer for some experience. I have 2 in college, so price is an issue on that. I've found nothing at local art colleges that offer a camp for this. She's in art 2 at school, she was chosen "artist of the 1st semester" and has her art on display at school, so that's cool. She's taking art classes, and learning oil painting and figures right now... Something she's never done. I know we are going to have to visit lot more schools than I did with my older 2. She's going to a portfolio day with a senior friend next month for the experience. What else should I be doing?
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Replies to: Advice appreciated for my sophomore "wanna be" animator

  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,076 Senior Member
    edited October 2014
    Hey, I'm back! Posted on your other thread too!
    Great that she is exploring her art! It may not be computer animation she wants in the end but no one will know until it's all tried. Good to test it all out and just keep drawing.

    For CA:
    1) Focus is on real life drawing (no photos), quick sketch that shows action and perspective. Which of course are good for any portfolio. Oil painting and still life put you in the illustration realm no matter how many awards you have won (at least that was our experience from portfolio day feedback--I listened in a lot...). Action is king for CA.. No anime, no fantasy.
    Look up Vilppu--master of the quick sketch. Get the video if possible.

    2) Do a pre-college experience for CA to see if you can imagine it on a daily level. Sitting at a computer in the dark doesn't appeal to everybody. Better to know upfront before you spend time and money. Past the initial stages of art classes you will be at a computer 24/7 as the program evolves. You really need to love it. And I mean love it. (My D LOVED it 24/7 but her friend who wanted to do CA discovered she just plain hated the real experience of computer art vs pen and paper and opted for illustration.). CA is not traditional art. There is a reason "computer" is in the title.
    A good program will build your portfolio. Look for figure drawing classes at a local college.
    (My D went to Ringling--the pre-college program counted for college credit).

    3) You need to be computer savvy--but you don't have to know any particular program. You must have the ability to learn to use a system. Being interested in different programs and self-learn is a plus. In college most of the programs are too expensive for individual users. Most of the industry systems are proprietary so you won't know it anyways no matter your school. As you know they change/update continually. It's the ability to learn and say "yes, I can do that (and mean it)" that is important.

    The main thing for her right now is to look toward building a good portfolio and get feedback. Research schools and their programs. Draw. Study perspective. Try sculpture (plaster, clay, wire). Figure draw

  • honestmomhonestmom Registered User Posts: 428 Member
    Not much, really. Most college animation programs do not expect an incoming freshman to have any animation experience. A few do (Laguna, Ringling.) The colleges teach the most current and sophisticated programs which you would not want to buy for home use anyway. Best thing to do is take as many regular art classes in school as she can, digital art if possible. Summer camps are not necessary, but a good "portfolio boot camp" at the nearest college would be a good idea if you can afford it. Most art colleges want a portfolio of 10-20 recent pieces. The camp will give her the opportunity to draw from real life (i.e. nude models) and get help from a real college art teacher. If you are going to a NPD you will see what kinds of drawings and paintings students will have. I will warn you that a NPD is NOT a college fair, many colleges will not have general admissions people there or even have view books or information. They assume that if you are there you know which schools you are interested in and are just there to show them your portfolio and find out if it is good enough to get you admitted. It can be a little intimidating for a younger artist. There are college fairs specifically for performing and visual arts, and one of those might be a better place to start this year for you. Go to www.nacac.net and you can find out where those fairs are and which colleges are attending them. Some of them are music schools but there are plenty of art schools too.

    My D (a senior) is looking at a huge list of colleges and art schools for animation/visual effects. She did not even decide on art as a major until last year and took no art classes as a sophomore. As a junior she took digital imaging, Art 2 and 3, and drawing/painting. This year she is taking Art 3 and 4 and photography. This past summer she did a one-week animation workshop at SCAD-Savannah and a two-week portfolio boot camp at Temple (we live near Philly so this was inexpensive for us and she got a small scholarship to it from her high school.) Almost all of the students at these summer programs are rising seniors.

    In Philly there are several art schools that also offer weekend workshops for high school students that are pretty good and inexpensive. You might want to look into those too.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,076 Senior Member
    Ringling does not expect incoming freshmen to have animation experience.
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Thanks all!! @gouf78‌ very very helpful
  • mom2asamom2asa Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    gouf78 was spot on with their answer. My son went to Ringling pre-college program also. We wanted to make sure that he really could handle the 24/7 commitment to computer animation before we invested a lot of money in a college program. He loved it and is now an animation major at SCAD. Like you our older two kids went with very traditional majors at state schools so we had to do a lot of research for the computer animation degree. In high school he spent a lot of time drawing, taking art classes, was involved in computer classes and heavily involved in theater. In hindsight, the one thing he could have spent more time on in high school was working on his formal portfolio.
  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo Registered User Posts: 1,969 Senior Member
    @moonpie,
    My S uses Adobe Flash for his animations. They have it on their school computers. Maybe it's on your kid's school computers where she can just play around on it for a while.
  • amar654amar654 Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Maya has a free program for students, im currently using it as I prep to transfer to a animation program. There is a list of free rigs she can use here;http://www.bloopanimation.com/best-free-maya-rigs/. Maya is usually the industry standard. Figure drawing is a great start and will really help her.

    There are many routes in the animation field as well, from storyboarding, lighting and texturing, sound and animation. If you want to animate 3D you need to learn movement and learn it well. "The Animators Survival Kit" is a must have book. If she wants to animate 3D models, then tell her to take or join some theater or acting class as an elective in HS. Pixar usually looks for some kind of acting experience from its animators for a reason.
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    For animation programs, make yourself familiar with educational software sites. You can get "educational" versions of expensive software for a fraction of the cost. They will require proof that you are a student (e.g., an ID). We used creationengine.com, but there are others out there. When on the site, search for "animation." 3DSMax and Maya are pro-level programs, but have a steep learning curve. I recommend researching Toon Boon or Animation Master. My son, now a working vfx artist, started with Animation Master (but that was more than 10 years ago). Looks like it is still a good tool.
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Thanks, all!!! She's on bloopanimation.com right now!
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    We toured SCAD Atlanta over winter break. She drooled at the equipment. Small campus in a big city. It was a nice first visit. We are going to Memphis College of art over spring break, just knock off in-state schools. She's taking private art class, art in school and has also started a side business painting people's pets... someone posted a pic on FB of their dogs she painted, and now she has 7 commissions lined up! She also had a person ask for her to paint her daughter or have a cartoon drawn of her. That's pretty cool. She completed her first oil painting and I think it's great. Now, I'm trying to decide if a tech camp is worth it this summer. There is an IDtech camp at Vanderbilt this summer and it has an animation program. It's a week long, and it's pricey, but we are local and can avoid the overnight fee. Has anyone done this? It seems the reviews of the camp come from younger kids (gaming camps). There's a a camp for 13-18 and one for the younger ones.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,076 Senior Member
    If she drooled over SCAD, go visit Ringling. Ringling is still number one for 3D computer animation if that is still her goal. And their career service department is great. Not so great for merit always but there is some.
    The SCAD campus is spread all over the town in different buildings. Has that changed?
    The pre-college program is very pricey at Ringling but you do receive college credit (pass/fail) if you decide to go to Ringling. It is an intensive 4 week residential program vs a one week "taste". It's college level and meant to challenge (great fun but art is always fun to those who live and breathe art.) And a great portfolio builder. Just saying the pre-college experience can differ greatly among programs. Ringling's for example is limited to 10 grade and up.
    Good luck in your continuing search! Love to hear about your experiences.
  • MadaboutxMadaboutx Registered User Posts: 1,592 Senior Member
    I'd recommend a BFA over a BA program. An art school is an immersive environment and important for her development as an artist. Get portfolio advice early from respected artists so she can start devising it. Constantly learn art and art skills. She should be in classes Almost year round of one sort or another for her art. The better she does academically, the more money an art school will give even though portfolio and potential are big criteria on which scholarships are based.

    Finally, develop a thicker skin. My son has had difficulty dealing with tough crits but that's part of the business. Going from the best artist into an environment where the kids were all once the best artists In school can take some wind out of her sails. We found that we have to keep our son on track sometimes emotionally to not doubt himself.
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Thanks, @Madaboutx‌ ! She's in art 2 in school, and private art lessons. She draws EVERY day for at least a couple of hours. Her grades are great... she has a 4.0 and takes honors and AP classes (so far... she's finishing up her sophomore year). I'm hoping to get her to a NPD this year as a prep to prepare her actual portfolio. I have no idea what she should have in there. LOL. My other 2 are in college, but went a very different academic route. She's also very accomplished musician (only sophomore in her school to make it to All-state). I really think she would miss singing and playing if she went to an art school as opposed to a BFA at a liberal arts or state uni. It's such a different route than my others than I really need advice and expertise from people who have been there, done that!
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,076 Senior Member
    It's important to have that thick skin and be very open to the suggestions being made about your work. The critiques are hard (after all you've worked SO hard on a project and now it's getting literally shredded!). But that's how you learn. If you don't try to make the changes then you don't progress. You have to pick up all that shredded project and piece it back together in a new improved way.
    My D used to say everyone would crawl back to their rooms after critiques, mope a bit, lick their wounds and then go back to work.
  • moonpiemoonpie Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    @gouf78‌ I would love for her to do an intensive program, but there's no way we can afford it! Maybe now that one is graduating? I'm hoping to do some local stuff this year, and maybe something more intense next summer as we hone in on actual programs to apply to.
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