It’s been a week since I attended my first CTNX and I’m still processing everything. What an amazing weekend that was. There is so much stuff to talk about, so let’s get started.
Let’s start with what was my primary motivation for going: portfolio feedback!
I had about a dozen people take a look at my stuff, including Randy Bishop, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Jose Lopez, Francisco Herrera, Chris Oatley, Steven Silver, Sara Morino, Ravinder Kundi, Brett Bean and a rep from Dreamworks Animation. In short, a lot of REALLY awesome people.
What was interesting was how varied the feedback was. Some people advised to work with established, classic characters rather than my own original stuff. Others advised against that and fan art, encouraging creating a portfolio that told a story. Some said to include more technical drawings, like turn arounds and expression sheets, focusing on the “design” aspect of it, while others said to do full illustrations that made clear the “character” aspect.
The division, I later realized, came from TV vs film. Designers starting in TV are likely to start by taking other designs and doing the turns/expression sheets. I had one person encourage me to push more with my prop design work, saying that it can be a way to break in, then transition to character design. Film, on the other hand, seems to be more focused on the overall visual development, and want to hire artists who aren’t just character focused, but can do prop, environment, etc.
Some things, I can fix just by rearranging the pages. Others, by just having less art per page and let images take up the full page.
In regards to my technical skill...I am surprised but happy to say that it was mostly really positive. Sean Galloway said that he’s seen my art before and likes it. That’s a O_O moment for me! Everyone agreed that my line art is a big strength and painting, while not bad, needed improvement. I was encouraged to vary my brushes more in photoshop and to keep experimenting with color pallets.
I did get some direction with what to improve in my drawing skills, and that’s mostly my posing. Ravinder Kundi put it really well: my faces are really strong with a lot of character, but that goes away very quickly as it goes down the body. And I’ve felt that this has been a weakness in my drawing for a while but I wasn’t certain how to improve. Ravinder gave me some good advice and encouraged me to do more live drawing. That evening, I attended the After Hours drawing session hosted by David Pimentel. He took a look at our work afterwards and noted the improvement from the start of the class to the end. So definitely more of that!
So, overall, I came out of CTNX actually feeling pretty good on my work. Chris Oatley, who has always been awesome and encouraging of me, said that 2016 will be my year and, the way things have been going, I think he might be right. I have actionable feedback and I’ve already begun!
There were other amazing aspects about CTNX. In addition to all the artists listed above, I got to meet a bunch of other great artists. First thing when the doors opened, I went to Cory Loftis’ booth. He’s one of my favorite artists so I bought as much swag as I could! I would have asked him to look at my work but he works for Disney and he couldn’t review portfolios unless it was in an official Disney capacity (this was confirmed to me by someone else).
I also got to meet Brynn Methaney, who I’ve been a huge fan of for a while. She ended up liking my work a ton, especially my dinosaur stuff. She got one of my sketch cards and gave me a sketch in the sketchbook I bought.
I also discovered a new artist named Shawn Boyels, who is a really cool guy and does some great work. Between him and Brynn, I think I made a couple friends!
Speaking of friends, I got to meet some guys I’ve been online buddies with for a while, Nate Taylor and Lucas Elliott. Awesome artists and it was so cool to meet them and hang out with them. Between them and the Oatley Academy crew, I always had someone to hang with (when my introvertedness didn’t take over and I had to go be away from people).
Oh, I also got to meet Rachel Doda, a 2D animator from Rooster Teeth. I didn’t even realize she was there until I saw here tweet about swag she had got. She’s an awesome artist and it was great to meet her.
That was the majority of my CTNX experience. I learned a lot, attended as many workshops as I could, although not many with limited seating. The “fast pass” system they set up this year was...not very efficient to say the least. In fact, it was pretty much crap. You had to wait in line for 2 hours to try to get into a panel and VIPs always went in first. I did get into two panels, Character Design at Disney and Storyboarding at Disney and they were awesome.
Speaking of Disney, I was one of the lucky few who go to visit Walt Disney Studios Sunday evening for the Close the Show with Disney screening. We got to see some Pickle and Peanut (a wonderfully weird show), some of the new Mickey Mouse shorts, several scenes from Zootopia (including the full version of the Sloth DMV scene seen in the most recent trailer) and a test clip from Moana.
So, CTNX was amazing, I can’t wait to go again. Probably not next year but we will see. I think RTX will probably be the priority next but we shall see.
Love you guys!