Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

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.

Animation Resources is helping students studying animation, cartooning and illustration by offering a discounted dues rate for student and educators. For $60 a year, students can receive full benefits of membership- the same benefits that professional members receive. $60 a year is just $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 $60. 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.


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

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Monday, January 8th, 2018

Art Education: Practice Types

Last time we talked about how to objectively judge a person’s current ability within a discipline using the Dreyfus Model. Today I’ll be giving my personal theory about what types of practice are best for students and professionals of various levels, and how to determine what type of practice is right for you.

I formed this theory by combining my own experiences learning sports, art, music, and mathematics with advice given by notable teachers of animation and art. My litmus test has been that I must be able to apply these practice methods to any subject a person might want to learn, although practicing skills is this system’s focus, not academic memorization.

The five categories I’ve identified are listed below with a short description of each and an example of the type of activity you might engage in if your goal was to learn how to draw. Remember that these are broad categories however, and may be applied to any skill or discipline.

Willy Pogany’s Life Drawing Lessons


When first approaching a subject, the concepts and working methods are all completely new, therefore the first and most basic type of practice is the type which is most widely used in the classroom: Academic practice. This would include all newly introduced or researched information which comes from an authoritative source such as a textbook, tutorial, lecture, or guide.

This type of practice is most helpful right at the beginning of a student’s study. If you find that general knowledge about the way your discipline works is absent, or that parts of the working methods of your skill are hazy or poorly understood, this is the type of practice you should engage in first. However, as soon as a workable understanding of the concepts is obtained Academic practice should be abandoned in favor of a different type to allow the student to internalize what they’ve learned.

In drawing this would be the equivalent of learning body proportions and anatomy. These are very critical and useful areas of study, but if that’s all you practice, your work can only ever look like a textbook illustration.

Public Sketching – Gordon Grant


In order to become a confident and skillful practitioner, a student must commit to hours of practical application. In sports all minute aspects of the game are drilled endlessly until each action becomes as natural as breathing. In music, scales and rhythm exercises are used as warm-ups even by highly accomplished musicians so that they become second nature. Drilling is any task which you already know how to do, and can perform repeatedly in small rapid bursts.

This type of practice is the next most common type of activity employed by students and professionals. In essence, the purpose of drilling is to gain confidence and familiarity with your working methods. A pleasant byproduct of drilling is an increase in speed and a decrease in error making. Many professionals if not most of them continue using drilling throughout their careers as a way to keep sharp.

Drilling in illustration would represent public sketching, thumb-nailing compositions, or plein air painting just to name a few.

William Lee Hankey

Quality Test

At the point where a student believes they have learned enough to become competent, it may be time to put all of their acquired skills into practice by attempting to perform their discipline to the best of their ability. In sports, this would be game day, in music it would be the concert or recital, and in art, this would represent a single piece of artwork meant to  showcase the artist’s talents.

Art made for a quality test should be made carefully, slowly and deliberately. No time limit should be imposed and the artist should be as thorough and careful as they can possibly be in order to push the limits of their ability to the extreme.

Performing work of this type may often have humbling results, revealing exactly what shortcomings the student has yet to overcome. As a diagnostic tool, this type of practice is invaluable, and also provides milestones for the student as they progress so that they can compare their current work to their past work.

Quality illustrations should  make up much of a student’s portfolio along with life drawings.

Gustaf Tenggren Comparison


After mastering the basics through the use of Academic and Drilling practice, it becomes necessary for a student to explore their own preferred methods and to attempt to expand their ability beyond what can be taught to them explicitly. Experimental practice is done to attempt to create a new work method or a unique result which is entirely the student’s own. It is important to note that this type of practice is most useful in the hands of an already skilled practitioner of their craft, but it may be useful to novices as well, as a method of discovery.

In my opinion, this is where many graduate students and professionals fail to expand their abilities. It’s very easy to copy and reproduce from textbooks, instructors, and tutorials, but it’s a very different and altogether more frightening thing to try to create a new method of working, or a new way of seeing the world.

In illustration and art in general, those artist who are synonymous with a particular style or artistic movement likely owe their success at least partially to experimental practice. The need to perform this type of practice need not be that grand however, as even small modifications to an artist’s working methods help to personalize and internalize their craft.

Albert Hurter


The last form of practice is the free and non-structured kind which children indulge in. Although non-academic and not strictly intended to improve a practitioner’s ability, freeform practice serves as a crucial way for the student to enjoy themselves with their chosen craft. Although it may seem unnecessary to list it here, I believe that maintaining a fun and creative attitude toward your work is at least as important as academic study, if not more so.

Work of this type has one goal: to make you happy. After all, why are you putting in all of this time becoming skillful if not to use that skill in a way which pleases you? Very often unfortunately it seems that the mark of a professional artist is that they draw at work but not at home, having long since ceased to enjoy what it is they do for a living. Don’t fall into the trap of slowly choking the life out of your art, have a little fun now and then!

I hope these practice methods are helpful to you or your students. Next time I’ll be talking about motivation and forming a practice habit!

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Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Cartooning: Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning Part Four

Earl Oliver Hurst
Thanks to Clarke Snyder for this great Hurst ad.

We continue our series of posts on Gene Byrnes’ Complete Guide To Cartooning with the section dealing with…

Introduction by Charles D. Rice

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Perry Barlow worked along side a star-studded group of cartoonists at The New Yorker which included, among others, James Thurber, Peter Arno, Gardner Rea, Charles Addams, Whitney Darrow Jr, Sam Cobean and William Steig. From its inception, The New Yorker was, as its founding editor Harold Ross described it, "a reflection in the word and picture of metropolitan life". The images were equal with the words, and this magazine contributed greatly to the development of cartooning. Here, Barlow discusses his ideating process for a Halloween cover.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Von Riegen was featured in our previous post from this book, Part Three: Sketching. His gesture drawings were greatly admired.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Earl Oliver Hurst

Earl Oliver Hurst has been profiled extensively at Shane Glines’ excellent Cartoon Retro site. Hurst was primarily a "pretty girl" cartoonist whose work appeared in Colliers, True and American Weekly. His ads for Jantzen are particularly popular among current cartoonists. If you would like to see more, there is a great book on Hurst at Amazon… The Art Of Earl Oliver Hurst

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Earl Oliver Hurst
Earl Oliver Hurst


H. Kurt Stoessel was born in 1909 in Germany, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was an illustrator and art director for several national magazines including The Atlantic. He lived and worked in Boulder, Colorado his entire career, and passed away on this day in 1984.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


You may not know the name of Fred Cooper but you certainly have seen his work. He was a letterer, poster designer, illustrator, cartoonist, writer and teacher. Leslie Cabarga describes him as the original "clip art" artist- his "big head" cartoon characters were seen in dozens of magazines of the teens and twenties, and continue to be in use to this day. For more on this influential cartoonist, see Allan Holtz’s tribute in Strippers, and Cabarga’s book The Lettering and Graphic Design of F.G. Cooper

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


We mentioned Gluyas Williams was one of the most prolific and influential cartoonists of the 1920s. His work appeared in The New Yorker, Colliers and Life. Robert Benchley wrote, "I believe that Williams’ drawings will be preserved for expert contemplation both as data on the manners and customs of our day, and as graceful and important examples of its art." For more great work by cartoonist Gluyas Williams, see David King’s

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Robert Osborn was a cartoonist whose style influenced the UPA artists greatly. He worked with John Hubley on the film, Flat Hatting. He also did a great deal of illustration for the War Department, which we will be featuring in an upcoming post.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Bartoli’s ink drawings appeared on the covers of quite a few issues of Holiday magazine in the late 40s and 50s. I haven’t been able to find out much information about him. Perhaps someone out there knows and will post some biographic info on him to the comments below.

Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Byrnes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Michael Berry contributed pretty girl cartoons to Pictorial Review, Esquire, Liberty and The New Yorker.

Magazine Illustration by Michael Berry
Magazine Illustration by Michael Berry
Magazine Illustration by Michael Berry


John Ruge’s elegant girl drawings appeared in Colliers in the late 40s and Playboy in the early 50s. His comic about an Irish Setter named Clancy was also popular.

Magazine Illustration by John Ruge
Magazine Illustration by John Ruge


Ralph Stein was the author of a collection of pinup girl art titled The Pinup From 1852 to Now. He wrote the Popeye newspaper comic in the 1950s, and was an avid classic car enthuiast. Stan Hunt was a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He attended the New York School of Art and apprenticed under Willard Mullin. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 77.

Magazine Illustration by Ralph Stein
Magazine Illustration by Stan Hunt


Richard Sargent contributed images to Pictorial Review and The Saturday Evening Post.

Magazine Illustration by Richard Sargent
Magazine Illustration by Richard Sargent


Magazine Illustration by Jan Balet
Magazine Illustration by Jan Balet
(See Lief Peng’s Flickr set for more images by Jan Balet.

Jan Balet was a childrens book illustrator who also did artwork for several women’s magazines.

Magazine Illustration by Jan Balet
Magazine Illustration by Jan Balet


Richard Taylor was a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Playboy. Frank Owen was a cartoonist for The Saturday Evening Post He was the one who came up with the original story idea for the Disney’s cartoon, Morris, the Midget Moose.

Magazine Illustration by Richard Taylor and Frank Owen

By Don Herold

Magazine Illustration by Don Herold


Gyne Brynes Complete Guide To Cartooning
Gyne Brynes Complete Guide To Cartooning


Roy Doty

Over the past half century, Roy Doty has been a cartoonist and illustrator with over 60 children’s books to his credit. He was awarded a Reuben by the National Cartoonist Society in 2006. See to see what he’s up to lately.

Magazine Illustration by Roy Doty and Jan Balet
Magazine Illustration by Roy Doty and Jan Balet
Magazine Illustration by Roy Doty and Jan Balet

Many thanks to Marc Crisafulli and David King for sharing this great book with us.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.

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