Monthly Archives: April 2012

Research Post 2: An overview on the 3 main sources of Inspiration

In one of my previous posts;  Research Post: An Introduction to Finding Inspiration, I introduce inspiration as part of the scientific process in art and animation, and I also talk about the 3 main sources of inspiration. Today, I would like to expound upon those 3 key sources of inspiration and give examples of how successful artists have used them in their professional lives.


music is probably my personally most used source of inspiration. One of my favorite Artist, Alex pardee is an example of how musical inspiration can inspire art. Alex pardee is known for his graphic and colorful paintings of abstract monsters and creatures and cites horror films and Gangster Rap Music as inspiration for his grotesquely beautiful paintings(Harvey, 2011). Ann Edwards also describes music as has having the power to achieve a certain mood in art as well as a tool to use pop culture imagery associated with a certain genre of music to appeal to a certain audience(Edwards, 2009).

Life experiences

Life experiences can provide an excellent source of inspiration as we draw and create our visionary stories. Mike Weaver addresses life experiences as a way to find your passion in life and gives 3 ways to actively seek out inspiration from life experiences(Weaver, 2011). Life experiences can help mold the stories that we tell and in my own experience, I have found that I have used life experiences subconsciously to write and tell stories.

Personal Philosophies

In the past, artists have traditionally been the visionaries of society(Bax). It is no secret that many artists have used their own personal philosophies and understanding to draw inspiration for their artwork. Personal philosophies can give artists a certain setting or theme to draw from. Although considered a work of art at the hands of countless animators, CG artists and concept designers, James Cameron AVATAR film that came out in 2009 gives an example of personal philosophies being used to create art as the story of AVATAR expounds upon the injustices of the past, specifically the mistreatment of Indians and Africans by “invading” or “slave driving” Europeans(Hiscock, 2009). Personal philosophies should always be something to take into consideration as it gives our art and stories something profound and deeper than aesthetics.


Pardee, A. (n.d.).

Harvey, L.  (2011, March 3). Retrieved from (2012,April 25). Inside the artist studio presents: Alex pardee

Edwards, A. (2009, 5 10). Drawing inspiration from music. Retrieved from

Weaver, M. (2011, December 2). How to find your passion through life experiences

Bax, M. (n.d.).

Hiscock, J. (2009, December 03). James cameron interview for avatar. Retrieved from



Types of Animation-Kevin Dominquez

Hello, my names Kevin and I am here guest blogging for a fellow colleague, Larry. Today I want to talk about the different types of animation. There are numerous but I would like to mention the ones that I feel stand out and help gain popularity for the field of animation. They are as follows:

  • Rotoscoping
  • Stop Motion
  • Clay animation
  • Graphic Animation
  • 2D
  • 3D


Rotoscoping– Animation that has every scene traced over by hand frame by frame. Some examples include A Scanner Darkly and The Lord of the Rings.

Stop Motion– Simply put, the recording of the movement of objects and capturing frame by frame and then and then sped up to create a moving image.

Clay animation– Clay animation is part of stop animation except with figures and objects that are made up of clay. One movie that comes to mind is some of my favorite child hood movies such as Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. Most people see clay animation as dead but I feel that’s not the case. A film made using clay animation is coming out in the near future called The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

Graphic Animation– The manipulation of graphics like photos and recording of movement. A good example of this animation is the show South Park.

2D– Here Simple images are put into a computer and edited by software. My favorite type of animation, mainly because I grew up with cartoons that were made in 2D.

3D– Animators create images and figures on a computer and put them through a process that ends in a amazing piece of work. In this modern day and age 3D animation is dominant and can be used to make great animated movies, mainly targeted for kids. Some notable 3D animation movies are Toy Story, A bug’s Life, and Shrek.

interview with an artist: Sarah Toby and Bruce Barnes

Interview with Sarah Toby

Sarah Toby is an astonishing digital painter and ATEC undergrad at the University of Texas at Dallas. I had the pleasure to talk to Sarah about some of her experiences with Art and how her process went as well as what she hoped to tdo in the future. Sarah gave me some valuable information on  how she digitally paints, and I’m sure this will help many artists out there with a new technique

Sarah Toby’s artwork can be viewed at


A: How long have you been drawing and what got you your start?

B:I’ve been doing art since I was little, but I got a head start in digital art since I got my first tablet in middle school. I was involved in a lot of communities that dealt with character design.

A: Typically what kind of art do you like to do?What is your basic process like? How do you go about designing your characters?

I like to do a lot of character design, and digital painting.When I start out I usually do a combination of lines and silhouetting. I then carve out in white the negative space. I would say it’s a subtractive technique. I really like silhouetting because I’m able to get a good flow and make it very dynamic. Another trick that I also use is flipping the image to make sure it’s a centered composition. The eye dropper tool in photoshop is also one of my favorite tools because it allows me to select color very efficiently.

How did you develop your personal skills? Were there any hurdles that you had to overcome?

I was involved in art communities from early on and I always strived to improve my art and focus on getting better. I have the toughest time drawing men. I have a better sense of the female anatomy because I am a female. But I’ve realized they  just are made of a smaller series of circles to create muscle mass and get that block texture.

And finally, what do you hope to do when you graduate?

As an ATEC grad, I hope to become either a modeling or texture artist. I’m also minoring in bio because I might go into medical illustration.Ideally I want to get a job in Pre-pro. That’s my goal and that’s the dream. If not, then I’ll probably go to Grad school for medical illustration.



Interview with Bruce Barnes

Bruce Barnes is a Pre-production professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and has worked for Disney as well as various other animation production companies. I got a chance to talk to Bruce about working in the industry and his tips for prospective digital artists.


How was your early experience as an artist working for Disney?

The beginning of it was filling up boxes and boxes of drawings. I believe that drawing is still relevant and will give people jobs in CG. It will make a person a better animator even if they are a CG artist.  A lot of people think about animation studios as a kind of castle in the sky and it’s really just a regular job. Almost everybody you work with are really nice and good people. You’ll get to a point in the industry where everyone knows everyone and no one wants to work with someone who’s going to be difficult. They want good talent, hard work and ability but they also want to know if you’re going to fit into the family. When you go in for your interview just be yourself and relax, because if they expect you to be somebody you’re not, you’re not going to be happy.

Do you still do art?

I haven’t done much in a while but I’m getting back into the industry. I’m starting up my own online comic, and I’m going to write some friends from Disney and talk to them. I want to consider some options. There is a part of me that’s kind of like the old fire house dog, so maybe I’ll run again.

And lastly, what are some basic ideas you try to instill in your students with conceptual design and how does it go in the professional field?

My students have to get a sketchbook, and then I put them through sketch book exercises that hopefully they take to character creation. Then they do research and save out a multitude of thumbnails and ruff versions of character details. The final versions are cleaned up then colored. I train them to go out and start with the actual and then depending on the audience you can define your ratings what audience age will it affect. I also have them do a variety of different things such as going from horror themed characters to very cutesy child-like characters. I have them do sci-fi, goth, and just try to stretch on each genre. I believe if someone wants to do this kind of work they have to have different views to shift in and out of.  That’s called job security. You have to be prepared for anything.

Research Post: An Introduction to Finding Inspiration

Inspiration is one of those things that is very self-explanatory if not innate, but some find it hard finding inspiration. Inspiration can be drawn from an unlimited amount of sources. A few of the main sources are;

  • Music
  • life experiences
  • personal philosophies

From the early centuries, most artists had muses that inspired them.Picasso had Marie-Therese; Italian epic poet Dante Alighieri had Beatrice Portinari(Stavrinou, 2012). In current times, artists have a variety of sources of inspiration to chooses from. Our probably most convenient source of inspiration comes from our imagination which “makes our sensory experience meaningful, enabling us to interpret and make sense of it, whether from a conventional perspective or from a fresh, original, individual one”(Thomas, 25/0). Today we have access to an unlimited, omnipitent source of inspiration which in none other than the internet. websites like Flickr, deviantart and even google images provide a vast amount of images that provides inspiration(Minichip, 2011). As a digital artists, it’s useful to use these tools as you’ll find they come in handy when trying to get inspiration. Six Revisions article : 10 unusual places to get design inspiration written by Kayla Knight is an excellent article that gives artists some inspirational choices they might have not thought of otherwise.


Stavrinou, G. (2012, March 30). Inspiration from music, film, art & media. Retrieved from

Thomas, N. J. (25/0). Imaginationsite. Retrieved from

Minichip, M. (2011, April 14)]. Retrieved from

Chandra, M. (2007, September 11). Flickr. Retrieved from

highaltitudes. (2011, April 22). Deviantart. Retrieved from (2012, April 13). Retrieved from

Knight, K. (2009, June 23).



realism is a form of art that is mastered through extensive observation of our surroundings and how matter and objects art perceived by the visual eye. It is very important for artists to get some kind of understanding in realism and also in photorealistic art. The reason being is that, most creative art is always backed by a visual concept that we recognize in the real world. By being able to reproduce realistic ideas, we then gain the ability to manipulate these ideas to our choosing, thus becoming uninhibited in our boundaries as artists.

Abstract Realism

The goal when mastering realism is to be able to effectively use the concept as a tool when designing our work. One example, would be  from the Wachowski brothers hit science fiction film “The Matrix” in which killer machines called sentinels roam the apocalyptic landscapes of the movie. The sentinels. although robotic in nature have frightening features that can be defined as insectoid and squid-like in nature. By combining varying characteristics of animals in the real world, the concept artists creativity, and a mechanical element, the artist was able to produce these complex looking creatures. This demonstrates that utilizing design based in nature and the real world effectively helps us to design our creatures and settings.

Getting to Realism: Life Drawing

Life drawing is the fundamental basis to becoming skilled in realistic art. Using reference books helps tremendously when beginning life drawing studies. “Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artist” is an excellent reference book  by Mark Simmons. Carrying a sketch pad and pencil also helps when starting life drawing studies as you are able to draw anytime and anywhere. In the next few  chapters, I will discuss life drawing in further detail.


Resources (n.d.). Retrieved from (n.d.).




Conceptualizing Theory

Conceptual design can be a hard thing to tackle when you have no clue as to where to start.  Here are a few scientific art theories in the subject that will help you get your conceptual design out of your mind, and on to your paper.


A stereotype is just what it sounds like, something cliché and relatable to what most people instantly think of when judging a particular person in the real world.The only difference in the way that we use a stereotype is that we work from the meaning to design the character. The stereotype can be picked from the characters character, and thus will give a basis when deciding ethnicity, clothing, facial features ect. This can also help when dealing with personification in animals, in-human, or in-animate characters. For example, if you are personifying a snake, you can think of characteristics that are associated with snakes. Most people tend to think of Adam and Eve and immediately associate the snake with something deceptive and evil. Stereotyping is extremely effective because it makes our characters and scenes understandable as well as gives us something to work with when starting our designs.

Aesthetic Brain Storming

Aesthetic brainstorming is basically making a multitude of different models that correspond with your general character idea. Think of it as playing dress up with your characters and settings.  Your director may love one design or many, and they may even pick different things from each design to incorporate into one. However the case, you become one step closer to that finished design.

Mutual Design Conceptualization

In this stage of conceptual design, we compare and contrast our work with our other designs in the same project, or with our co-workers work in a professional field. This helps to deliver an overall consistent design concept of the whole project. It also allows us to make necessary changes in the design  in order to achieve a desirable goal.

By following these 3 steps,  you will be able to increase your efficiency in your personal work and in collaborative work, and simplify the process of conceptual design.

Crossing Artistic Boundaries

As artists, we tend to remain inside our own artistic boundaries, and while there is nothing wrong with this, we have to expand our skill set if we wish to pursue a professional career. The first step in scientific theory of art is breaking out of our mold and learning how to be versatile in;

  • Style
  • Genre
  • Medium

A professional artist should be able to make something interesting, even if it may contradict their own familiar artistic style. This is a necessity if we wish to work in animation particularly, because you may get a story or character that you may feel very distant from in your own unique artistic sensibilities.


When working in a professional setting or collaborating, there has to be a consistency with style. maybe the style of a series is very Warner Bros. Cartoony, or maybe you’re animating photo realistic drawings. In any case, you  have to be versatile as an artist and be able to adapt to different styles. The best means to do this is through mastery which requires lots of practice of different styles of drawing to get a universal understanding of style.


As an artist, you may have a passion for working on more horror themed works, and while your creative ability to draw monsters may be stunning and land you that job, you must be able to be versatile in any genre. What if your company puts you on a comedy based animated series, or maybe you’re hired to work on a NASCAR game? These are situations that we must think about when planning our professional careers as artists.


Being versatile in a variety of creative tools is extremely important, especially in today’s technological age where there are so many to choice from. Researching industry standard equipment and programs will give you a good idea of what to expect when you’re preparing to start a job.

Expanding your Horizon helps you to become a more efficient and versatile artists as you have more to contribute to the professional world of animation and to your own work as an independent artist.

A Brief History of Animation

The history of animation collectively spans almost 200 years in total from its beginning roots in 1824 when Peter Roget presented his paper ‘The persistence of vision with regard to moving objects’ to the British Royal Society(Mosley, 2010). While many believed Walt Disney was the first pioneer in animated cartoons, J. Stuart Blackton made the first animated film which he called “Humorous phases of funny faces in 1906(Mosley, 2010). In 1923 Walt Disney revolutionized the cartoon industry forever with the establishment of Disney Cartoon Studios(Mosley, 2010). With advance techniques such as combining 2-d animation and live action in “Alice and Wonderland”, and his use of synchronized sound in “Steam Boat Willy”, Disney became the leading pioneer in the animation industry and his legacy carries on today(Mosley, 2010). After years of development of new and improved animation techniques, and various other projects and studies administered by Universities and companies alike, “Tron” was released in 1982(Mosley, 2010). The film was considered one of the first movies to use CG based special effects, and helped to launch major 3D modeling and CG based industries and studies(Mosley, 2010).With the launch of Disney’s Pixar 3D animation company, Toy Story became the first full-length CG feature film in 1995(Mosley, 2010). Since CG’s rise in popular culture and film, traditional animation has taken a fall from popularity on the big screen(Mosley,2010).

Japan and the Rise of Anime

Today, Japanese animation has conquered the animation industry and has created a unique and diverse sub-culture of people. Anime as it is called has had a huge impact on American animation culture and live-action film,and has brought visually captivating features such as “The Matrix” to life which was inspired from the genre.Animators  such as Osamu Tezuka creator of “Astro Boy” and Hayao Miyazaki, considered Japan’s version of Walt Disney, were the first pioneers of anime and manga(Zagzoug, 2001).


Mosley, J. (2010, Novenmber 11). Joshuamosley. Retrieved from

Zagzoug, A. (2001, April). Retrieved from

The Artist’s Life Cycle: From Birth to Mastery in Skill

From the first picture we’ve ever drawn in Elementary school to the detailed portraits and complicated conceptual designs we commit to in our jobs, becoming an artist is a life process. And while there is no specific order of maturity that an artist goes through, there exists a basic order in which skill is gained in the life of an artists.

Stages of the Artist’s Life Cycle


Whenever we first begin drawing as artist, we typically draw what is popular at the time. This can be thought of as the childhood or adolescence stage.  This stage of the artist life cycle is thought of as the adolescence period because the artist can be very impressionable, especially when it comes to peers and popular culture.

First Stage of Maturity

The actual process of formulating our own ideas usually come later on in our lives as we begin to mature as artists. This can be considered as the first stage of maturity. In this stage, the artist begins to explore their own creativity while holding on to those basic adolescent concepts of artistic expression. As a result, the artist may also unintentionally copyright professional works and others material as they struggle to find their own voice.

Second Stage of Maturity

During the second stage of maturity, we finally begin to start thinking as professionals as we wish to pursue a career in our respective fields. For animators, and those who wish to work in contemporary mediums such as technology, we as artist begin to come to the understanding that we need to be flexible in as many different genres of art as possible. Working out of our element contributes to the most success of this stage as we expand our skill set and artistic understanding.


In the final stage of artistic development, the artist has become adaptable to most artistic genres and can now work as a professional and use their wide range of skills as a masterful artist.


Each stage of the artist life cycle contributes to our own personal artistic understanding, but by looking at the cycle as a whole, those who wish to pursue professionalism in art can automatically understand where they need to put their focus at.