Tuesday, December 31, 2013


...was a long, long road.

It was full of all-nighters. All night working on storyboards, designs, studying for exams, film editing, or having fun. 2013 was overall, a pretty productive year for me.

Earlier this year, I landed an internship with DreamWorks/PDI in Redwood City, California. 

 Overall it was the best experience. I met a ton of passionate, hardworking and great people who were all very nice about answering the intern minions' questions. haha

Got to see behind the scenes on quite a few of upcoming movies from DWA & they are all cool!
I had a lot of people to thank & I hope they all got my thank you cards!

Commuting was exhausting though. Luckily I had a few great carpool buddies :)

Here's the Spring 2013 DWA interns at the Glendale Campus. Us RWC interns photo-bombed it in true RWC intern fashion.

My last semester at Cal went out with a bang. CNM190 was a class I took with the awesome people in this photo. Together we made 2 short films, HorsePower & Paper Magician. (Even though I was technically on HP, I couldn't help but create designs for PM) 
In the end, we toured our films around to DreamWorks, ILM, Telltale Games and anyone else who would watch. It won laurels at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November too!

So I graduated from UC Berkeley...thank God. It was fun, but I'm glad to be done with traditional school and start focusing on specifically becoming a better artist. It's kind of freeing to think that now I can learn, draw, do whatever I want and not worry about grades! 
Summer came and I was officially an adult...so I did what every "real" adult does. I went camping in Mt. Lassen Volcanic Park with a few friends. 

Then, I got a 'real' job. Full-time graphic designer at the Blum Center. 

I also bought a home with my hubby too!

It's pretty nice. Has a great view. The backyard is really pretty, but kind of wet.

Started working on an interactive children's book for the iPad. This is possibly my dream project. I've been thoroughly enjoying it.  It's titled, Not so Big or Bad Coyote, a Southwestern Style Lil Red Riding Hood. Here's a preview of my process:

More Lil' Red stuff here. I'll be posting more as we go along. We expect to be done soonish! 

Went to Missouri for a week with my Grandmother. That was an adventure.

Cell phone service isn't really a thing there. Corn's big though. And bugs, barns and cows. Lots of cows.
(Not sure where I got this photo, but I didn't take it. I just drew on it.)

Fall came and I decided I'd finally take a character design class with the fantastic, Chris Sasaki. (More on that here & here.)

Then there was APE & CTNX.

So I wrapped up 2013 in a big way... saw the Searle Exhibit, visited Pixar with the AnimC Classmates, landed a gig Freelancing for TV Animation, celebrated my birthday, Christmas and fireworks tonight!

Happy New Year's Eve Everyone!

Hope 2014 brings on more creative wonderfulness!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sleepy Hollow - Headless Horseman

"Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow." - Washington Irving

I started off the challenge of designing the Headless Horseman with great enthusiasm. I started off very experimental, using inks, watercolor, permanent marker, paper towels and paper cutouts. I honestly didn't know where to start, so I just jumped in head first. I focused on what Ichabod Crane would be scared of - spiders, ghosts, ghoulish soldiers, zombies, skeletons, etc.


 I drew this piece while waiting for my laundry to dry at Washingtown. I really liked the idea of the jack-o-lantern being his face and being able to show his emotion. It was kinda crazy and had a lot of gag potential. But...it was kind of obvious. It's been done before.

Also, the overall shape was pretty similar to my vision for Ichabod. Tall, spider-like limbs. When put together, there's no contrast...back to the drawing board.
 "Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called him. - Washington Irving

So I went back to the ghoulish soldier idea - the galloping Hessian soldier. I started drawing him rounder, more barrel-chested. I liked that. that is a shape I could contrast against the tall, thin Ichabod.

But my Headless horseman still didn't have a personality. Ichabod would be scared of him, yes, but who was he?
 Then I started exploring what he was like when he was alive, before/during the American Revolutionary War. I landed on this design and saw some potential for a boisterous, short, round, Danny Devito type character.
 I gave him 2 flaws - an affinity for booze & bar maids.

Part of the Headless Horseman's character is his horse. You can't forget the horse!
His horse is his best friend.
 In the end, I decided my Headless Horseman still had a head...well, a detachable head. His head would be like a hair piece. Everyone knows it's all an act.

 Headless Horseman and Horse shenangigans.

Part of my Headless Horse Character Model Packet - expression chart and turn arounds before/after he was headless.

I'd recommend the Advanced Character Design Workshop at Animation Collaborative with Chris Sasaki to anyone who wants to get better at designing well rounded characters. 

*It's important to say that you get out what you put into it...and boy, did I put in some pencil mileage!

A big thanks to Chris for all the help, encouragement & draw overs! 

Check out a few of my classmates' work:

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Ichabod Crane

Here's a sampling of the work I did at Animation Collaborative in the Advanced Character Design Workshop with Chris Sasaki. 

 I realized pretty quickly how tight my drawings are when I'm using a pencil or a tablet, so I started experimenting with an ink well, a paintbrush and a skewer. The results weren't bad at all :)

I started with film studies of characters like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, and Ryan Stiles from Whose Line is it Anyway? I looked to Gene Wilder and Woody Allen for hairstyling and quirks.

In the end, I settled on an Ichabod Crane who is controlling, selfish, and a self-proclaimed know-it-all without any real-life experience.
I did a lot of experimenting and Sasaki really helped me hone in on a solid character.
Next post will be about my Headless Horseman character :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sleepy Hollow

A few of my in progress character designs for the Sleepy Hollow project I've been working on.

This project is part of a character design class I'm taking at Animation Collaborative with Chris Sasaki.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ctn Portfolio Reviews

Photo copyright Stuart Ng.

At Ctn I saw some great portfolios. I have a few notes about getting your stuff reviewed there:

"You are as good as you are right now." Words of wisdom told to me by the talented Tang Heng, DreamWorks Art Director. He explained that it doesn't mean you're not going to get better, it means that you have to accept that as an artist you are always working on your craft. You're better today than you were a year ago and in a year you'll be better than you were today. I met quite a few people who were scared to show their work because it wasn't good enough to show at Ctn. Listen to Tang.

Be upfront with your portfolio. If you are a student, say so. What do you want feedback on? When you are able to give the reviewer specific direction on what you want feedback on it helps both of you. You have a character turnaround? See a character designer. Have color keys? Go see an artist who's great at color. Ask them specifically about that. Have storyboards? You know what to do now. Ask them specific questions about those pieces.
Take everything with a grain of salt. Consider the artist's background and how it informs how they interpret visual media. Everything is an opinion because art is subjective.

Everyone's exhausted by Sunday. It's better to get fresh Friday eyes. (From personal experience, I was tuckered out on Sunday and I'm sure my feedback was better on Friday. Saturday was a madhouse and Sunday all I could think of was taking nap. haha)
If you happen to get your portfolio reviewed by me, send it back to me in 6 months - 1 year. I'd love to give you feedback again.
Also, I have a graphic design background and whole heartedly assume there are better artists you could get artistic direction from. So I tried to focus my feedback on the best way for you to showcase the artwork you've got using layout and design. So if you did get reviewed by me & are confused, or just want to clarify, shoot me an email/fb message. I don't bite :)

Last note, keep working and improving as an artist. You can only get better! And at the next Ctn, you can follow up with people you met last year and show them how you've improved and get more feedback. It's a cycle, but it should help.

Monday, November 18, 2013

CTNX 5 Recap

Had the most-amazing-fun-exhausting-art overloaded weekend ever at CTN in Burbank this year. I shared my table with the uber talented Matt Doering, and made some new friends at the table next to us - If you haven't seen Matt DoeringWouter Tulp and Edwin Schwep's work, you are missing out!

Also, I want to thank everyone who stopped by our table & said hi, tested our interactive storybook demo, bought prints and whatnot. Very encouraging!

Here's some photos from the weekend. Apologies for the bad phone quality. Didn't have enough room to pack our good camera. I will be updating more soon when I have a few days to recuperate :)

 Sherry is the very definition of a back end engineer. For most of Friday and Saturday, she hung out behind the display doing "computer stuff" as I call it.
Thanks to the help of my husband, I was able to sneak away from my table long enough to watch Alina Chau demonstrate her watercolor painting techniques and sit in on a talk about storytelling through color with Jill Daniels and Lorelay Bove.

 Saw some friends, sold some art, bought some art and finished it off with a much needed champagne toast! Can't wait until next year!

The lovely people on my left & right are Andrea and Peter, both great artists that I've had the pleasure of taking Chris Sasaki's character workshop class at Animation Collaborative with.