Saturday, August 26, 2006

THE INTERVIEW


Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

I went to Ricks College in Idaho for 2 years, then I came back to California to break into animation. I started in an internship/training program at Warner Bros. Feature Animation where I went on to animate for several films. It was a good run there at the WB. I had some real good times and I worked with some great people there and now that I look back on it, I feel really grateful to have worked on traditionally animated films before the 3d boom. There something different about that animation process, something that made me consistently try to do better. Probably because I was surrounded by such talent that I was always trying to reach there level. Later, I got my BFA at Brigham Young University and my MFA from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

It’s all about shapes. I try not to think about anatomy, or clothing, or eyelashes or anything like that when I first put the pencil to the paper. I try to only think about cool shapes. Being a traditional efx animator for several years really helped me to see design in how you put down simple shapes. There’s good looking smoke design and there’s bad looking smoke design. Yet it’s all just how the shapes are put together. I try to have a variety, big, med, and small shapes. I try to balance straights against curves and ultimately, I really try to put down free flowing intuitive strokes. Just like what we see in nature when we analyze clouds, trees, rocks etc. After I like the shapes, I put the character in there. I ad the body parts, clothing etc. I usually like to work in blue pencil up to this point. Slowly the character starts to come out and then I like to ink it.

What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?

Like I said before, mimicking the design of nature. I often wonder why we like certain drawings more than others, or certain shape combinations more than others. I really think that the ones we like the most, mimic nature in a way. Or at least, mimic the design elements of nature. So as I analyze nature, I believe it hones my design sense.

From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?

Don’t put in drawings of already established characters. No Mickey Mouses or Dragon Ball Z’s. Draw original characters with personality and attitude. I’d have a range of styles as well. This may be fighting words to some artists, but I believe that for an artist to have a “style” is really a manifestation that he/she can’t draw in any other way. Yeah, I know that’s harsh, but think about it, there is an element of truth there. So I’d suggest that in your portfolio, you have a wide variety of styles, demonstrating your ability to design to any art directors requests.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

Films: Space Jam, Quest for Camelot, The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, Spider-man 2, Spider-man 3, Where the Wild Things Are and a bunch more.
Books: The Invincible Ed, Decoy, Zendra, The Victorian, Captain Gravity, The Spackle King.

Is there a character design you have done that you are most proud of?

Probably the ones that I do for myself and not for a particular production. I guess it’s because I feel free to draw and design without the limitations of pre-determined characters. I just draw what feels right.


What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)

Working with Sandman Studios directing a short film for Penny Farthing Press.


Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?

My ultimate career goal is to do just one drawing, one storyboard, one scribble for Star Wars. That ship may have sailed, maybe not. After that, I’ll retire a happy man.


Who do you think are the top character designers out there?

Claire Wendling. There is no other like her.


How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?

Primarily digital tools now. Either Painter or Photoshop. I still dabble around with markers, but not that much. Only if I’m feeling artsy-fartsy.


What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

The fun part is the drawing. The hard part is satisfying the client. Sometimes the client has a whole different idea than I do, so I just have to bite the bullet, draw it his way, then take the money and run.


What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?

I really like what Disney is putting out these days on TV. Really fun 2d designs. I don’t like designs that dumb down my intelligence. There are many shows that intentionally draw poorly, so that we laugh more. Intentionally dumbing down and audience is not the show I want to be a part of. I really don’t like the designs for Rug Rats, King of the Hill, or Beavis and Butthead.


What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

Sci-Fi and fantasy. I also like to draw contemporary characters in a modern world as well. Those are the characters that we all relate to the most.


What inspired you to become an Artist?

I always wanted to. Ever since I can remember. I don’t know if there really was one thing that inspired me, I guess I just like to create characters, then create stories around them. I know that sounds juvenile, but I still go to my imaginary world all to frequently. Oh, the adventures I go on!


What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

I always experience two emotions when I see the work of a great artist. First, I am in total awe. I am inspired and humbled. Second, I get depressed because I wish I could create like that.


What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Keep a sketchbook and draw life around you. Get out of your normal daily world, visit a nearby city, a beach, or anything out of your normal and draw. A good character designer must have a good resource of experiences to draw from. Meeting people and finding out their life stories broadens your own life which is directly reflected in the types of characters you create. Let’s say you’ve been given a job to create a design for a Jamaican preacher. You’d be a much more effective designer if you’ve actually met a Jamaican preacher.


If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

Website: http://www.ryanwoodwardart.com
Email: rwoodward@mac.com


Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
I sell a Gesture Drawing book that I did a couple of years ago for $15.00. Email me if you want to buy one. I don’t know where any of my comics are at these days. Probably stuffed away in many garages around the country.