Hey duder, real question time! My impression is that your work is very improvisational and in the moment. Or is that just your super chill vibe? What is your process like in developing / planning / creating something like a short film that can't be completed in one or two sittings? Do you outline, storyboard, write stuff? Is the process wildly different depending on your mood? What's the deal?! Thanks, Joe
Hi Joe. thanks for the thoughtful question. First off I want to say, if you’re looking for advice, my main tip is to ignore any rules you might have been taught and focus on what works for you. There is no right or wrong way to animate. So do whatever you want to get sweet results.
Yeah you guessed it. I mostly just animate off the top of my head. I’m not big into pre production. I never make animatics for my own stuff. I only do rough animation if its a complicated shot that i might fail at. Otherwise i just go straight into final clean animation. I’m not saying that’s the best way to do things, but its best for me. I do make storyboards for longer stuff. They’re super sketchy and loose. Mostly just make them to quickly reference what happens next and to keep the big picture in mind. This is the storyboard I used when making The Jump.
You’ll notice I cut some stuff out and didn’t bother planning out the ghost memory stuff. I think if story meant a lot to me I might be more into planning. But it doesn’t, so I’m not.
hello! I am a big fan of your animations (films, gifs, etc). I was just wondering how you go about doing work for clients. Do you approach them or do they approach you? Also what is your take on working freelance versus working for a specific studio or company?
They usually approach me. If my freelance game was more on point I’d probably have sent out notifiers or something. I dunno, just never thought about it much. Freelancing is cool, you get a lot of freedom being your own boss. But getting a steady pay check from being employed also sounds cool. I don’t really know, I’ve only ever freelanced in the art/animation world.
when do you think you really started getting a hang drawing and animation? was there a specific routine you had for improving?
I got serious about drawing at a very early age. Even went to school for it. But after graduating I lost interest in drawing. Almost never draw for its own sake anymore. I got into animation after getting a wacom tablet in late 2009 ish. Learned to animate by reading about the basics and trying it out. Making gifs and failing at making films a whole lot. In this past year or two is when I started feeling comfortable with my animating abilities. If you are starting out, don’t get discouraged. Nobody is born good at animation. You get what you put into it, and if you love it, you can be great.
Not joking here Charles. What is your day animating like? Do you have a bunch of GIFs in progress? Do you drop everything and start/finish a GIF in a single sitting? What is your balance between personal and client work in a single day? How do you stay focused?
this is just a pitty ask! hah, but ill answer it anyway. I used to do gifs all in one sitting. but now that the gif limits are bigger ill start various things and finish them some other day. If i’m on a job ill just focus on that. put in an 8 hour day. And then not animate my own stuff unless for whatever reason i’m feeling the inspiration. I stay focused by remembering that we are all gonna die some day and hopefully my art will live on, so it better be good!
Hi Charles, I visited the animafest in Zagreb the last week, together with some friends. We wondered why no LNWC films where shown. So I checked the selection of Annecy, but only found phantom limb. So I asked myself if only Alex Grigg submitted or if the selection committee just got some worser taste, than I expected.
Alex might have been the only one to submit to annecy, I honestly don’t know. I can only speak for myself. I don’t really get the whole festival thing. Going to them and meeting fellow animators is cool, but I couldn’t care less about showing my stuff in a theater. However, Pictoplasma has always been very friendly and supportive of me, I try to submit to that one if I have something. Also I submitted to Ottawa this year, but yeah, mostly just interested in seeing my LNWC friends again. Don’t tell Ottawa I said that.
Dear Charles, I have a question in regards to working remotely and dealing with loneliness. I am currently working on my drawing skills in the hopes of becoming a 2d animator. I live in a city where the animation culture is absent and I recall that you live in a city that is not a hub for animation either. I was wondering the following: how do you manage to surround yourself with other animators? And how do you find working in 2d animation? Is it your only job? Thank you :)
Hmm, surrounded by animators? That’s kind of a stretch. It’s true though, I don’t live in or near a big city like LA or NYC. For me, it was just natural to connect with other artists online because it was either that or nothing. But I think if you limit yourself to a certain social area you’ll miss out on a lot of good shit. The animation community is smaller than you’d think. Seems like everyone gets to know each other eventually, so long as you’re open to it that is. Independent animation can be a very lonely practice, so i think we’re just naturally drawn to connecting with other people who believe it’s worth it.
Yup, I’m a full time freelancer. There are ups and downs, but over all it’s a positive I think. Although to be completely honest, I can see myself craving stability more in the future and sometimes think about leaving freelance behind for an office job. Or maybe some kind of off the grid wild man that lives in a tree.
Hi Charles, I absolutely love your work! I'm an animation student myself and I was wondering what software do you use for your vector-looking 2D work. I'm familiar with flash and after effects but your line quality seems like you could have also been using a more advanced software like tvpaint. is that true? or do you just draw frame by frame on photoshop? :P
What kind of brush do you use for most of your animations? It's rough but has the nicest amount of definition :3
in photoshop i mostly use the regular round flat brush/pencil. in flash i also use the regular round one, but with smoothing at 0. for the stuff with a textued edge, i just use one of the stock organic looking photoshop brushes with angle jitter turned up.