Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Art Education: The Dreyfus Model

Hello everyone I’m Taber, Vice President of Animation Resources. I’m going to be making a series of posts focused on the more academic side of artistic instruction and learning in general. This sort of information can be helpful to both teachers and students as you push yourself to improve and practice your discipline.

Preston Blair instruction

As a beginning artist it can often be difficult to objectively judge your own progress or the quality of your own work. Being able to place yourself in an accurate position of skillfulness can help you to recognize your past growth and current deficiencies so you can better target areas for improvement. But what if you can’t tell exactly what the differences are between your work and the work of more highly skilled artists?

The Dreyfus model focuses on work practices and approaches as a measure of skill acquisition. This can be helpful to both students and instructors as it tends to be entirely non-judgmental and easy to identify objectively. The model uses four qualities to determine work habits:

  • Recollection (non-situational or situational)
  • Recognition (decomposed or holistic)
  • Decision (analytical or intuitive)
  • Awareness (monitoring or absorbed)

These attributes stack one at a time to provide a framework for evaluation:

dreyfus_chart

(click image to enlarge)

For an accurate measurement, ask yourself these questions regarding the above attributes. Because some of these attributes can flip between a more advanced and a less advanced state, I recommend relying on the lower state. For an example if you were trying to decide if you are an intuitive decision maker, or a rational decision maker but you do both part of the time, put yourself down as rational as a rule of thumb.

  1. When you recall knowledge about the subject, is it always in a related context with other information, or is it sometimes rote memorization?
  2. While thinking about an aspect of the subject, can you clearly distinguish between relevant and irrelevant aspects of the work, or is it sometimes difficult to tell what’s important?
  3. When planning your own work, do you need to carefully and analytically lay out the steps beforehand or can you see the entire project as a whole task?
  4. When making decisions in your work, do you have to do any problem solving, or do the answers come to you intuitively, without effort most of the time?

Once you’ve answered these four questions, find the lowest tier which corresponds to your answers, even if you choose an attribute from a higher tier. Read the Needs column from the above chart and try to focus your learning on the types of practice listed in that section. Don’t cheat yourself by practicing projects which are too complex or unstructured! That sort of practice is really only for very highly skillful artists.

This system is similar to the surface to core concept illustrated by Scott McCloud in his book Understanding Comics which I highly recommend! In the book, McCloud describes how a person who is initially drawn to be a fan of an art-form must undertake a journey to the core of that medium before being able to master and thus give back to that medium.mccloud_understanding_comics

Additionally, this same artist’s journey from surface to core is echoed in much of the advice and instructional material given to artists throughout time, from Zim to Richard Williams. In essence, this is what an “old masters” approach is. This struggle is ultimately the best way to gain skill in an artistic medium, however it is difficult and it does take time.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -Ira Glass

I have some personal theories about the types of artistic practice activities which benefit artists the most when trying to improve aspects of their work, and I’ll be talking about that next time!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Animation Students: Do you know about THE BIG LIE?

The Big Lie

ANIMATION STUDENTS: Do You Know About The Big Lie?

You’ve chosen a good school to go to. You’re doing well in your classes… Once you graduate, you’ll get a job and be started on your career in animation. Can you spot the huge error in these simple statements? If you’re an animation professional, I bet you can! If you’re an animation student and you don’t see it, read on…

The biggest misconception most animation students have is that school is preparing them for a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can go to the best animation school in the world and graduate with honors and still not have what it takes to walk into an animation studio, sit down at a desk and go to work. It just isn’t possible in a school situation to teach students everything it takes to be a functioning professional in four short years.

Many students think of college the same way they thought about grade school. You sit at your desk and you do the assignments and your work is graded. But there’s a big difference between grade school and college. In grade school, if you are an A student, you can get into a good college. In college, grades are meaningless. A potential employer doesn’t care what grades you got on your assignments. Odds are the employer doesn’t even care if you graduated from college. All the employer cares about is whether can you do the job in a timely manner with quality results.

If an employer doesn’t care if you went to school or not, what is the point of going to school?

Now we’re getting to the heart of this issue… What is school for? School isn’t a place that spoon feeds you training to get a job. It’s a FORUM FOR LEARNING. A good animation school can do two things… It can put you in an environment where you are surrounded by educators who know their subject, and you’re part of a large group of students who all have similar goals. This is a very supportive environment to learn in. Secondly, school can provide you with resources that may be more difficult to get access to in the “real world”. University libraries are packed with books on important subjects. Colleges host uninstructed life drawing sessions, screenings and film festivals and lectures by top professionals. These extra curricular activities may not be accessible to you after you graduate. You need to take advantage of them while you can.

The Big Lie

Schools provide a rich environment for learning. But it’s up to you to GET AN EDUCATION.

There just isn’t time in four years to go over everything you need to know. There are skills that need nurturing and developing, and there is a level of experience and awareness you need to gain to widen your frame of reference and get your creative juices flowing. Animation schools expect you to do these things on your own time. Instructors may encourage their classes to study and work on their own skills outside of class time, but many of the students are still stuck in grade school thinking- if it isn’t being graded, it doesn’t count. The truth is the work you do outside of classes is MORE important than what you do in class.

A tradesman may learn how to use his tools and then be ready to work on a job, but being an artist requires disiplined thinking and creativity forever. Your current level of skills and experience may get you that first job, but if you want to move up to greater responsibility, you’ll need to work on developing the skills that are required to advance. You might be comfortable creating in a specific style, but if you want a job, you have to draw in the style of the show, not your own style. Even if you do get a job on a show that happens to match your particular artistic sensibilities, times change and styles change. Five or ten years down the road, the look of animation will be different and employers will be looking for something current. You have to be able to reinvent yourself creatively if you want to survive. Ask anyone who has worked in animation a decade or more if they have had to reinvent themselves in their career. They’ll tell you.

OK, the bubble is burst. You now know about the Big Lie. You’re on your own to deal with it. Say you re going to animation school right now… It’s a lot better to be told all this BEFORE you graduate than to find it out the hard way afterwards.

What can you do in school to be as prepared as you can for a job in animation?

You need to LEARN TO LEARN- learn to set your own goals, determine a curriculum for yourself, buckle down and work to improve your skills, push the envelope of your creativity by exposing yourself to different ways of thinking about your art, learn to GROW. Look at what the college is offering you, talk to professionals and ask them what you should be learning, supplement your college work with SELF STUDY. Don’t just do what you want to do. Do what you NEED TO DO. It’s very hard and very time consuming to gather together the skills and frame of reference you need to be a professional. But it’s a lot easier to devote time to that while you’re in school. If you wait until you graduate, self study is going to have to compete with paying your bills and fulfilling your responsibilities as an adult. Your college years are a WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY to learn to learn. Don’t waste it!

But that’s not all… Learning doesn’t end when you graduate from college. It’s a life-long responsibility for artists. Get in the habit now of pushing yourself to better yourself. It will be the most important lesson you learn from college.

The Big Lie

Where do you look for resources to help you in your SELF STUDY PROGRAM?

Every one will need to create their own curriculum to open their mind creatively and build their skill set. Every student is different. Every school is different. There are a million online courses and books to study from. But even those aren’t enough. The world of creativity is wider than you can possibly imagine. Animation Resources has gone to successful animation professionals like Ralph Bakshi, Will Finn and Sherm Cohen and has asked them what resources have been useful to them in their work. Every other month, Animation Resources publishes a downloadable reference pack filled with the material these advisors recommend. This Reference Pack will help you with your self study program and open your mind to possibilities you didn’t know existed.

But you have to be a member of Animation Resources.

During the month of September, Animation Resources is helping students studying animation, cartooning and illustration by lowering the dues for Student Membership. For $50 a year, students can receive full benefits of membership- the same benefits that professional members receive. $50 a year is less than $5 a month. Of course you can afford it. Don’t expect your parents to pay your dues. Do it for yourself. You’re spending a great deal of money on tuition, books and supplies and student loans to get your degree. But now you know about THE BIG LIE and that knowledge is worth a lot more than just $50. The truth is that your degree is only HALF of your education. Don’t cheap out on the half that matters- the half that will be continuing for the rest of your life.

JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES TODAY… https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/,

You’ll thank us for it on the first day of your new job in the animation business.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Education: W L Evans Cartooning Course

W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure

In the teens and twenties, cartooning was a burgeoning field. Every newspaper and magazine employed a crew of artists to fill their pages with topical one panel cartoons and comic strips. Schools were not yet teaching the trade, so several artists took it upon themselves to create mail order cartooning courses.

Here a promotional brochure advertising the W. L. Evans Course in Caricature and Cartooning. Shaped like a miniature artist’s portfolio, and packed with great vintage cartoons and sales information, this brochure outlines why students should take up the noble art of cartooning.

THE W. L. EVANS COURSE (1913)
Promotional Brochure

W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure

A cartoonist is a power. His audience is the boundless public. He is talked about. His work is admired in society. He meets the most prominent people, and becomes personally acquainted with them. He is a critic of the world’s happenings.

And he receives a large salary for his work.

W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure
W L Evans Cartooning Course Brochure

W L Evans Cartooning Course

In 1913, Elzie Segar, aged 18 began a correspondence course headed up by the Cleveland Leader cartoonist, W. L. Evans. The course cost a dollar per lesson and it took Segar a year and a half to complete the 20 lessons. By 1917, he had landed a job penning the "Charlie Chaplin Comic Capers" and "Looping the Loop" strips. In the ad above, Segar is quoted as saying, "I’m getting along fine, and it’s all your fault."

W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning CourseDecades later, Segar made mention of his early education in his strip, Thimble Theater. In 1934, his character, Sappo took the W. L. Evans Cartooning Course and delighted readers with cartoon drawings made from letters of the alphabet. Segar wasn’t the only cartoonist who got his start with this course. Chester Gould of Dick Tracy fame was a graduate of the W. L. Evans course, as was Dennis the Menace creator, Hank Ketcham.

Here are the first two lessons that got these great cartoonists started on their career path. If there is interest, I will post more of this landmark course.

W L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning CourseW L Evans Cartooning Course

THE PLATES
W L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning Course
W L Evans Cartooning Course

THE W. L. EVANS COURSE (1916)
Lesson Two

W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson TwoW L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson TwoW L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson TwoW L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson TwoW L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two
W L Evans Cartooning Course Lesson Two

STUDENTS: Print this stuff out and USE IT!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather