Now for something Wonderful…

You may have heard of Comic Con, but have you heard of Wonder Con? If you want to go into animation, you will want to attend this event. This year it is being held in Los Angeles on March 25-27. Why should you want to go?

  • The Speakers: We’re talking Sergio Aragonés who does MAD magazine and Groo; Brian Michael Bendis, writer of the Invincible Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy; And how about Russell Dauterman, a comic book artist who is best known for his work on The Mighty Thor. And that’s just to name three.
  • The Comic Creator Connection is an event that helps writers and artists connect. Think of it as speed dating for creatives.
  • Exhibit Hall and Artist’s Alley – You can apply to display your own work or browse through to purchase materials and check out what other’s are doing in the field.

It costs about the same as Comic Con…$65 for three days, or about $40 a day.

If you are serious about getting into this line of work, attending one of these events should be in your future.

If getting to California in the next month is out of the question, there will be a Comic Con here in Florida in August at the Amalie Center in Tampa. This will certainly help you get your feet wet in terms of this type of event experience.

Let’s assume you know nothing…

I knew nothing when I started college. I just knew I wanted to draw things and I wanted to tell stories. I guess that meant I wanted to become an animator. So I could bring the stories to life.

So, let’s assume you are reading this blog because you know nothing. Except that you’re interested in animation and possibly, becoming an animator.

A good way to begin is to familiarize yourself with the verbiage or the lingo if you will, of animation. I’m talking words like storyboard, animatics, pre-visualization, and of course, all the names of the different types of software and programs you will want to use. I have started a vocabulary page to help you with this.


Iconic characters in animation

Animated characters can and do take on a life of their own. Why do some succeed in capturing our hearts and minds and others are largely forgettable? What attributes do these characters have in common that makes them so memorable and recognizable? Why do they have staying power?

Let’s start by looking at a few examples.

The Grinch – Dr. Seuss’s and his not so lovable green guy have replaced Charles Dickens and Scrooge for a whole new generation. He’s green, he’s bitter and full of revenge. In the end, due to an innocent and well-meaning child who reaches out to him, he has a change of heart and is redeemed.


Lightning McQueen and Tomater – These two become fast friends in the movie Cars. Lightning McQueen, a racecar, is the protagonist of the movie and he meets Mater, the towtruck, when he ends up in jail in a remote town. At first, he just wants to do whatever he has to to get back on the road. However, Mater is put in charge of him and shows Lightining the true nature of genuine friendship and that fun can be had even in a nowhere backwater of a town. Lightning is humbled and changed by his new relationships.


Woody and Buzz – Woody is the favorite toy until he’s place is usurped by Buzz Lightyear. Buzz quickly becomes his nemesis is every way. Woody causes Buzz to fall out of the upstairs bedroom window thus setting off a series of misadventures where the twosome find themselves getting into and out of one predicament after another. Finally, they are able to overcome their differences in their quest to get back to the little boy that owns them, and they become friends.


There are more we could look at, but there is enough pattern already establishing itself here for us to pause and look at the commonality. How are these characters alike?

  1. They encounter difficulty in their lives. Something comes about that causes them pain or discomfort.
  2. They are censored and/or judged by others.
  3. They are offered friendship and relationship.
  4. They change as a result of the new friendships.
  5. They find redemption.

An animator can do proficient, successful work in creating a character’s look and feel. Ultimately, the character’s staying power is dependent on much more than mere appearance. Only when the character faces hardship, encounters relationship and is changed for the better by all of it, will he or she endure.

What is not-so-new but still new in the world of animation?

Animated movies and shorts have for some time been moving away from realism and towards non-photorealistic imaging–NPR for short. Creative Bloq gave a great overview of the trend on their website last year.

Disney recently released new information on their latest tool called the Hyperion renderer. They used it to make Big Hero 6 and it will also be used in their latest project Zootopia. (If you want to know much more about the tech behind the animation advances, Disney has a whole page devoted to it on their animation site.)

So, what is NPR and why is it new but not-so-new?

The interest in non-photorealistic imaging came about because animators became too adept at reproducing illustrations that were so real as to be hardly indistinguishable from the real thing. If your only goal is to reproduce what is already there, you may as well just take a photo. Animation allows you to do so much more with the character, like jump off a building and not risk the actor getting hurt in the process.

The popular trend now is to create images that are realistic and yet, are stylistically unique, hence the development of NPR.  NPR also allows the animator to tweak a character’s appearance to make individual traits more or less prominent. For example, Disney has come under fire in recent years for giving its female characters stylistic body proportions that are realistically not possible for a real human female to attain.

Still, both Disney, Pixar and others will continue to push the frontiers of animation to create stylistically unique canvases and characters in their quest to attract the viewing public.