Schoolism Toronto Workshop

I attended the Schoolism Live Workshop this weekend, and met Nathan Fowkes and Bobby Chiu! They are two of the artists who have influenced me the most – artistically and personally. I absolutely love their art, especially Nathan’s work in charcoal and watercolour. What I find the most inspiring is their work ethic and drive – Nathan still does daily studies even though he has had wide success, and Bobby’s story of perseverance in his book “The Perfect Bait” proves difficult challenges are surmountable. In the book he discusses how his computer hard drive failed the day he decided to work on his designs full-time.

Nathan_Fowkes_Schoolism

Accepted to Sheridan Animation!

Two days ago, I was accepted to Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Animation program! Last October I officially decided to pursue art my whole life, and these past six months have been filled with crazy life drawing and anatomy study, and essentially learning everything I can about the animation and game industries. I’m glad and relieved to say it paid off!

Four years of intense art study, here I come.

Here’s my entrance portfolio for 2014:

Life Drawing:

In October I began going to drop-in life drawing sessions in the city 2-3 times a week. There were many anatomy and figure drawing instruction books I studied, including

  • “Figure Drawing Design and Intervention” by Michael Hampton
  • “Force Life Drawing for the Animator” by Michael Mattesi
  • “Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth” by Andrew Loomis
  • “Constructive Anatomy” by George Bridgeman
  • Many anatomy tutorials on Tumblr, including http://artist-refs.tumblr.com

Character Design:

The concept is a rooster-based character who lives in the rice paddies in Asia, who must defend his village against mysterious creatures and spirits hidden in the vegetation. The character designs, especially the expression sheet, were my favourite part! I just love faces and really look forward to the character design classes at Sheridan.

Here’s my first attempt at character design:

Sheridan_Animation_Portfolio_Ruby_Xia_Character_Pig

The second design is much simpler, and the character works better in silhouette. I think I’ll keep the first character to develop for assignments though – layers of fat were pretty fun to draw.

Sheridan_Animation_Portfolio_Ruby_Xia_Character_Poses_Silhouette

Storyboard, room drawing and objects:

I really enjoyed the object drawing and storyboard because of the humour I could inject into the situation. The object drawing seems to be a precursor to drawing special effects – explosions, water and movement. Can’t wait to do more at school!

Personal pieces:

Update: my portfolio scored 3.88/4. Score sheet here. 

End of portfolio, beginning of a lifetime of art.

Last year I had a dilemma. Having grown up pursuing both art and biology simultaneously, when it came time to decide what to dedicate my life to, the answer was not immediately evident.  I asked myself which is more important to humanity, and in which field I could make a greater contribution. Science is technology, innovation and progress. Art is culture, history and meaning. Humans are a curious species in that we need the latter to survive – a world without imagery, music, symbols or beauty is a bleak one indeed. I had thought that I would become a surgeon and do art on the side, but after speaking to medical students, surgeons and observing a day in the life of a doctor, I quickly realized that to do one job successfully I would have to sacrifice the other.

Uncomfortable with this realization, I researched everything I could about the animation and game industries, hoping that somewhere, somehow I could marry these two fields in a career that was not simply medical illustration. Ultimately, I wanted to create emotion that moves an audience through art, but I did not want to stop learning about and understanding the world through science. Reading countless artist blogs, websites and forums, I found that art and science are not radically different fields after all, and that if I chose art, I would not have to forgo science. In fact, knowledge about biology, chemistry and physics only help me in creating worlds and and characters from the imagination! To draw a convincing figure we must understand anatomy, to animate it we must understand biology and physics, and to create alien worlds we must understand chemistry and the interaction of different elements in the atmosphere.

It seemed too good to be true – If I pursued animation, I would not lose science; in fact, I would have to study it in depth! Watching concept art videos by Feng Zhu and listening to his explanation of how science is applied to make the unreal believable, I was convinced that this assumption was correct.

I can’t wait to go to animation school. The artist is fundamentally an observer of the entire world, and in animation or games, we can create our world and share it with an audience. That to me is the most powerful method of communication. I think every child has probably read the Harry Potter series at some stage, wanting, just wishing so badly for the world of magic to be real. To be able to point a wand and to create anything out of nothing. Animation and games are the closest thing to magic, in my opinion. The pencil is our wand, and when we put pencil to paper, we can literally create anything. We can create epic vistas of unknown, magical worlds and the bizarre creatures that inhabit them. Within these worlds we can create stories that move people to tears. At Hogwarts, students can summon creatures, create explosions, fly and blow fire among other things. The animation student can do the same thing – we live through the characters we create.

It’s not simply the art itself that appeals to me – it’s the predicament of being an artist. It’s the innate and insuppressible urge for the refinement of one’s craft. It’s the journey that this artistic development takes us on, and the experiences we share with others along the way. Since going to university and exploring the world on my own, I’ve already met many artists of different ages and backgrounds and who have very different art. Talking to older artists at open life drawing and seeing how they spoke about their work so passionately, confirmed that art is really something I could pursue for a lifetime.

Getting into Sheridan Animation is one step closer. Here I come.