See You At The Expo!

Tonight I’m flying to California for the CTN Animation Expo. Can’t wait! Before I leave I wanted to post a few items of interest:

1. Update on my freelancing presentation.
I’ll be giving a talk at the Expo on Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm, called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks”. In an earlier blog post I said the talk would be 30 minutes. It will actually be an hour and fifteen minutes. Tickets to my talk are sold out but I’m told that when my presentation is over I can move everyone over to another room in the building (not sure which one yet) for an ongoing Q&A. If you weren’t able to get a seat at my talk you can still catch the Q&A. Just wait around outside the Exec Boardoom at around 5:45pm so you can join us as we file out.

2. Check out Stephen Silver’s new “Posebook” app.
Speaking of the CTN Expo, the amazing character designer Stephen Silver will have a booth there again this year. He’s got a new project that I think is pretty neat: He’s creating a new series of iPhone/iPad app for artists called Posebook. It’s a collection of professional costumed models in over 2,000 full-body poses (no nudes), hands, and close-up facial expressions for sketching. There’s also 6 instructional videos included as well as 25 sketches from some top character designers in the biz. That’s a lot of goodies for $9.99.

The first volume, “Males”, has just been released on iTunes. The second volume, “Females”, is coming soon. I recently downloaded the app and can’t wait to give it a try. Once the dust settles around here I plan to post a review along with a sketch or two. But from what I can tell so far it’s a great product.

3. I’m being interviewed on “On The Box”.
Several years ago I illustrated a cartoon Gospel tract for the ministry of Living Waters which has consistently been one of their best sellers – over 5 million copies have been printed in English and it has been translated into 20 languages. Last year, with the help of some talented animators I produced an animated version of the tract which to date has had over 300,000 hits on YouTube.

While I’m in California Living Waters has graciously invited me  to do a short video interview on their webcast, “On The Box”. It will air live on Thursday, November 17 (11:30am Pacific) and then be uploaded to their YouTube channel for future viewing.

Gotta go pack my bags. I’ll be back in the studio on Monday, November 21.

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Only Three Spots Left In My Freelancing Workshop at the CTN Animation Expo

On Saturday, November 19 I’ll be giving a presentation at the CTN Animation Expo entitled “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks“.

I had assumed my workshop would be open to all attendees but I’ve recently been informed that my presentation is part of a limited series of workshops that are pre-pay only. Most of the seminars at the Expo are still free to attendees (and there are an awful lot of good ones to choose from) but the organizers have designated mine as one of a few for which seating is limited and there is an extra fee to get in.

In my case the fee is a very affordable $5. In case you are wondering, no this isn’t a scheme for me to make a few bucks. It wasn’t my decision and none of the money will make it into my pocket. Somehow I doubt the organizers are getting rich either. These events are massive undertakings and very complicated to organize. Considering the enormous time and effort they put in to make the Expo such a great event they deserve every penny they can make off of it.

I’m told that you’ll have to log back in to your registration account in order to sign up and pay for the extra workshops. I’d include the login URL but my computer just went through a complete wipe-and-reinstall of the entire operating system and at the moment I can’t find it in my backups. If you signed up for the Expo the organizers should have sent you a link. EDIT: According to CTN you log in to buy the tickets here.

I’ve also been told that there are only three open spots left for my workshop, so if you want to get in you’d better act fast! Hope to see you there!

Sketchbook Update: Sheriff

I’ve been trying to beef up my character design portfolio to get ready for the CTN Animation Expo next month. The other night I was up late noodling around on my Cintiq and this sheriff popped out. I liked how it was going so I thought I’d throw in some color.

Incidentally, if you are planning to go to the Expo I’ll be giving a talk on Freelancing called “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks“. My presentation will be Saturday, Nov. 19. at 4:30pm in the Exec Boardroom. More info here.

I’m Giving A Talk On Freelancing At The CTN Animation Expo

The CTN Animation Expo is without a doubt a “must-see” event for anyone interesting in working in the animation industry. On Nov. 18-20 hordes of animation lovers will once again be descending on the Burbank Marriott Convention Center for three days and nights of animation goodness. There’s still time to register if you’d like to attend.

It’s just been confirmed that I’ll be giving a presentation on freelancing on Saturday, Nov. 19. at 4:30pm in the Exec Boardroom. My talk is titled “Be Your Own Boss: Freelancing Tips and Tricks”. Here’s a summary:

In the current economy more and more companies are hiring artists as freelancers. Unfortunately many talented people wind up earning less than they could, or miss out on opportunities altogether, because they haven’t learned about the business side of being an artist.

Cedric Hohnstadt has owned an illustration studio for over fourteen years and has created work for end clients such as Hasbro, Disney, DreamWorks, Verizon, Best Buy and Target. After working on hundreds of client projects he’s learned a lot of tips and tricks the hard way, and now he’s here to pass on some of them on to you. He’ll discuss how to know if you are cut out for freelancing, how to promote yourself, how much you should charge, how to talk to clients about money, and look at different areas where an artist can find work outside of the animation industry.

As a freelance illustrator and character designer I draw a lot of inspiration from the animation industry. This talk is my humble way of giving a little back. If you’ll be attending the Expo and you have any specific questions about freelancing you’d like me to touch on, feel free to contact me and offer a suggestion. I’ll be happy to consider it as I prepare my talk.

You can register for the Expo or get more info at www.ctnanimationexpo.com.

EDIT: I’m told that my presentation is part of a limited series of workshops that are pre-pay only. Most of the seminars at the event are free to attendees but the organizers have designated mine as one of a few for which seating is limited and there is an extra fee to get in (in my case $5). I’m not sure but I guess you have to log back in to your registration account to sign up and pay for the workshops. I’ve also been told that there are only three open spots left for my workshop, so if you want to get in you’d better act fast.

Sketchbook Update: Creating A Character

Copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt 2011. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Cedric Hohnstadt 2011. All rights reserved.

Recently I’ve been trying to brush up on my character design skills. I’m planning to attend the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank this November and I’d like to walk through the doors with a beefed-up portfolio under my arm.

To get ready I’ve recently taken a character design workshop from Nate Wragg at the new CGMW online school, I’ve attended a lecture by character designer Chris Ayers, and I’ve been reviewing past critiques of my work from industry professionals. Over and over I keep hearing that in the animation industry it’s not enough to create a well-designed character if all you do is sketch him standing around in stiff and boring poses. Everything about your drawings – the pose, the costumes, the props and situations – needs to say clear things about who the character is and, ideally, tell a mini-story. As my friend Tom Bancroft says in his excellent book on character design, every pose should have a clear reason behind it. Animation studios don’t want someone who can just design a person or animal, they want someone who can create a character.

Chris Ayers has a really great trick that he uses to help him practice his character design skills. At his drawing table he has a ziploc bag full of little slips of paper. Written on each piece is a character type, a prop, an animal, or an attitude/expression. After he cracks open his sketchbook he reaches in and pulls out a few slips of paper and then challenges himself to create a character using that combination. For example, combining “rhino”, “lederhosen”, and “ready to fight” would probably result in a burly German rhino looking like he’ll knock your block off if you dare to snicker at his silly green outfit. If you purchase My Daily Zoo, Chris’s excellent drawing/activity book for children, he even has a batch of tear-off tabs in the back to get you started on your own ziploc bag of character ideas.

I loved that idea so much that I brainstormed my own list and now keep a similar bag near my desk. The other day I reached in and pulled out slips of paper reading “shark”, “charming”, and “southern gentleman”. I put those together to create the above sketch.

If all goes as planned I’ll be posting more sketches like this as the CTN Animation Expo gets closer.

CTN Animation Expo – Videos

I forgot to mention that you can view videos of a few of the seminars from last year’s Animation Expo on the official website. There are about twenty clips to watch and they only represent a small portion of what was available to attendees. You can also find a few more videos on Vimeo.com (just serach for “CTN Animation Expo”). Most of the videos are not very artwork-heavy which I imagine is due to legal copyright concerns. But there’s still a lot of great animation-related info to be enjoyed.

My understanding is that some videos from this year’s Expo will also be uploaded to the website soon so you might want to check back.

CTN Animation Expo 2010 Recap

This is long overdue but now that work has slowed down a bit I can finally get back to regular blogging.

Last month I attended the 2nd Annual CTN Animation Expo in Burbank. Once again it was a smashing success. Hundreds of animation artists converged in the Burbank Marriott to immerse themselves in everything animation. There were dozens of workshops and seminars given by top names in the biz, live drawing demos by industry legends (i.e. Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, etc.), portfolio reviews from top animation studios, free life drawing sessions with costumed models, and a show floor packed with artists and booksellers exhibiting their wares. As an extra bonus the event was bookended with special screenings of The Illusionist and Tangled.

I was given the honor of being one of the artists chosen to give a live drawing demo. I was also selected to interview for a freelance position with an established animation studio known for its work in television series and commercials. Too early to tell but overall I think it went well. At the very least I was able to get my toe into one more doorway in Hollywood.

One of the greatest benefits of a weekend like this is the flood of creative inspiration that washes over you. I packed light knowing that I’d be bringing back a suitcase full of books and DVDs to keep my creative juices flowing.

Live costumed models posed in the lobby throughout the weekend for impromptu drawing sessions.

Just one small portion of the jam-packed show floor.

Artist Sergio Pablos discussed his pitch for Despicable Me (the film was based on his original concept). Unfortunately I’m not allowed to show slides of his sketches but I can tell you his artwork is *amazing*.

How To Train Your Dragon co-directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders discussed the process of creating the film. Throughout the production they recorded their progress and insights using pocket video cameras and then edited the clips into a documentary called “Finding the Story”. As a bonus, attendees of the session were given free DVDs of the documentary. (I’m told you can also watch it on the How To Train Your Dragon blu-ray using the BD-Live feature.)

Master concept artist John Nevarez gave a live drawing demo using a Cintiq.

Disney lead animator Andreas Deja (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Hercules) gave a live drawing demo.

Peter de Seve and Carter Goodrich are accomplished illustrators-turned-character-designers. They showed slides and discussed their work on such films as Finding Nemo, Ice Age, Open Season, Ratatouille, and Despicable Me.

Another live model posed for an open drawing session.

Several of the seminars were attended by overflow crowds. This was my view standing in one such line—and there were more people behind me.

The CTN Expo is becoming a must-see event for the animation industry. Next year’s Expo is already being planned for Nov. 18-20, 2011. It’s not too early to pre-register and reserve your spot!