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

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:

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.

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.

24 thoughts on “Accepted to Sheridan Animation!

  1. Wow, what a post! Really inspiring! Your arguments for your decision, your art, your dedication… it makes me want to run to a drawing table and draw. Beautiful work and I love your characters design. Congratulations with entry to Sheridan Animation and good luck with this life path!

    1. Thank you for the kind words Joey! That’s great, I feel that inspiring others is part of the whole process too – really what art’s all about. Thanks again!

      1. Hello:) your portfolio is absolutely amazing!!right now I am in the process of finishing mine for sheridan and was wondering what size paper did you use for the animal and figure drawings and how did you present your over all portfolio on the evaluation day (was everything matted in a binder including personal work)I really need advice I don’t know how to present mine on the day of evaluation should I Matt everything in a binder including personal work???:$$$

  2. I love this! I too applied to Sheridan’s animation program and unfortunately didn’t make the cut, still debating whether I should continue to pursue an acceptance in the future, and I think you just convinced me to keep going! I have much learning to do, and much practice, but I also have a dream to be an animator at a big company like Disney or Pixar! Thanks for the motivation 🙂

    1. Thanks for the reply Marc! That’s okay, on portfolio day none of the student representatives I talked to got in on their first try – most did a year or two of art fundamentals or another program. Keep going at it, and remember you don’t need to be in animation school to start making animations, doing studies and meeting people. Good luck!

  3. Hi! I love your portfolio, its wonderful. You’re a true artist, congratulations on getting accepted into Sheridan.
    I was wondering how you prepared the portfolio. I’m a science student but I realised I wanted to do animation, and I’m not really sure of how to build a portfolio or where to start. Your advice would be helpful, thank you.

    1. Thanks Emma!

      Basically, to prepare for portfolio I looked at the requirements, found examples online of previous successful applicants to get a general feel, and then got to work! I took a look at art I already had (old sketchbooks, previous paintings) to see if anything could be used for the character designs or personal artwork part. I ended up making mostly new art because I had been doing illustration-type art all my life, not animation.

      To build a portfolio for animation, I’d suggest really buckling down and getting some anatomy and perspective drawing practice. If you take a look at the requirements of any animation school (not just Sheridan), a large proportion of drawings require anatomy knowledge (life drawing, animal drawing, character design etc). It’s not just animation – basically any art program involves some type of figure drawing. I’d suggest taking a look at some of these books:

      – ‘Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth” – Andrew Loomis
      – ‘Force Life Drawing for Animators” – Michael Mattesi
      – ‘Figure Drawing Design and Intervention” – Michael Hampton

      These three books provide a really good understanding of anatomy and figure drawing that should help you in all the portfolio pieces that involve anatomy. When I was preparing for portfolio I read all the anatomy books I could get a hold of, but in retrospect I found these three the most useful. Also, when using anatomy books it’s great to cross-reference them (read a bunch at the same time), that way you can understand the same problem from more than one point of view. Go to life drawing classes often (2-3 times a week at least) and apply the advice given in the books. I especially like Mattesi’s ‘force’ approach to figure drawing – it gives the figure a sense of life essential for animation.

      A note about life drawing for animation vs. illustration:

      Try to capture the ‘life force’ of the model as opposed to illustrating every anatomical detail in an photo-real way. Focus on proportion, balance and perspective, and draw the figure in an economical way (efficient, confident lines). Treat the model as a 3-D figure that exists in 3-D space.

      As for perspective, there are many resources out there on basic one-point and two-point perspective. It may seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. The important thing is to always keep perspective IN MIND. For example, when you’re drawing the figure, keep the horizon line, vanishing points etc. in mind while drawing. This gives your drawings a 3-dimensional feel.

      Hopefully that gives you a start, good luck with applications!

  4. Hi my friend sent me to this page and Im glad he did bc I really loved reading about your love for art and science. It’s immensely inspirational to read your story and I am really glad you found what you were looking for 🙂 You are incredibly driven and you have serious serious skill, I have no doubt you will go far in your field (and beyond) and I wish nothing but the absolute best for you in the future! 😀

  5. Thank you so much, that was very touching to read! What I found when reading artist biographies and listening to interviews last year was that there is this cycle of inspiration among artists – we are inspired by not only the works of the great artists before us, but their personal journeys too. What I found in the art community that was somewhat lacking in the science one was the energy generated by this inspiration – everyone was always eager to share a new art style they found, or a tutorial or new technique that really helped them. My experience with science was much more impersonal – everybody simply studied to pass an exam, then rinse and repeat. Thanks for the comment and I wish you the best in your future as well!

  6. Hi! I would really like to apply for Sheridan animation, I really really loved your page, it was so inspiring! I was just wondering how long it took you to prepare your whole portfolio and how long it took them to give you your result. Your art was really really cool! Good luck in your first year!

    1. Thanks Angie! I started preparing in November (4 months before portfolio day) – going to life drawing sessions, reading blogs and learning about the animation industry. I made a few of the required pieces in November and December but ended up redrawing them later. Most of the required drawings were done in the weeks prior to the due date. I was doing many studies from November to February and so when it came time to actually create the required pieces, the process was faster and I didn’t have as many frustrations. The paintings in my ‘personal pieces’ section were mostly from high school grades 11 and 12, and the rest of the personal pieces were quick studies. Good luck on applications!

  7. Hi Ruby
    Wow. Are you me? from the future?!
    You’ve described my exact situation in this post! Ive just finished a honours degree in biology but have been grappling with what I really want to do. Recently decided to pursue animation (for the exact reasons you state) but I was still questioning the idea.
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts… its comforting to know there are other science nerds out there also changing it up, and it re-enforces the idea that I don’t have to ‘give up’ science- that it might in fact help me bring something different and innovative to the work.
    I’m glad I stumbled on your blog . Best of luck with your career and future. The work you’ve shared here is beautiful and inspiring- thankyou
    Bec x

    1. Hey Beck!

      Wow, that’s amazing! I started animation school this week and I have met a few others on this boat with us – people have studied all kinds of things from science to literature before deciding on animation. Though we might not have as many years of animation practice, I’d like to think it makes us better-rounded artists. We have a wider knowledge base to extract from, whether it be for characters, environments or stories. At least for myself, I am hungrier (in terms of work ethic). I do feel the need to ‘catch up’ to the others who’ve spent their whole lives focused on just art. Working harder = more improvement = better art! Best of luck!

      Ruby Xia

  8. Hi i really like your artworks… it really inspire and kinda scared me a bit lol… im also planning of applying sheridan for their animation… i just wanna ask if i have to leave the guidelines on the drawings and are those ALL of the drawings u have submitted?

    1. Thank you Harris! What do you mean by guidelines? For the storyboard, you have to draw on the sheet provided, everything else you can organize it however you think is best.

  9. Congrats on getting in! I applied for the animation program for fall 2014 as well. Didn’t make it 😦 but I’m gonna try again

  10. Hey there!
    You have a beautiful portfolio.
    I have a question concerning life drawing and personal work:
    Did you photocopy or scan any of your work then re-sized it to fit in a certain portfolio book? Because i know when doing life drawing it’s quite large.
    Thank you!

  11. Hey Nicole!

    Thanks for the nice comments! My portfolio was 9″x12″ and every piece of artwork that was larger than that I scanned and printed to fit in the portfolio. You could arrange your portfolio any way – some people had huge 18″x24″ cases to fit their life drawing papers, and others had 8″x11″. The size doesn’t really matter, mostly the content inside. Just make your presentation easy to access and the pages easy to flip. The profs have many portfolios to look through!

    Good luck on applications! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions!

  12. Hi Ruby
    your works are so inspiring! I am planning to apply fall 2016. I have a few question, it would be great if you could answer them. Did you do digital drawing or did you just hand draw? How did you achieve that cleanness of lines? and How did you do different layers(blue and black)? Thank you so much! !

    p.s. You mentioned everyone who attended portfolio day tried at least twice, that worries me so much 🙂 Did you try only once? You are amazing!

  13. Hello, I really love what you have posted here, so inspiring. I’m about to apply for animation at Sheridan too and I’d like know your general overview on the types of drawings to submit as personal artwork

  14. I love your portfolio and ive followed you on tumblr for a while now aswell, but i do have a few questions regarding sheridan, do i have to make my portfolio Before i apply to sheridan, or do i have to apply first and Then they tell me what to do? or how does that system actually work in its entirety

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