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Mentor of the Day: Mike Yamada

MikeYamada_studyWe’re so very honored to have the wonderful Mike Yamada returning as a Spring 2016 mentor.

After about a 3 year hiatus with us, Mike returns now as Production Designer at Walt Disney Animation.  With a few new films such as Big Hero 6, Mike has continued to grow as an artist and share his wealth of knowledge.  Mike has even started a GumRoad page where you can download lots of fantastic items to learn from.

His past 2103 mentee, Jess Blankpicked to apply to Mike because she felt like they had some of the same visual language and it would be easier to communicate.  She wanted to learn about what it was like to work in the industry and wanted to see how to improve her work.

“The first several hangouts we talked about existing work and Mike gave me some demos and presentations on things that he and I discussed as my weaknesses. I worked on a painting to explore the ideas and methods Mike showed me, and we worked together to revise it and make it stronger. A little less than halfway in I landed on a story I wanted to visually develop, Grimm’s The Golden Bird. Mike and I talked about all the planning it takes to develop a whole story. The dialogue covered both broad concepts and how those concepts could be applied directly to my project. I started working on elements of the story and thumbnails of scenes from the story. I also started gathering reference, both practical and artistic. Mike and I talked a lot about where inspiration comes from and how to integrate disparate visual elements we were attracted to into one cohesive design. I worked on painting some of the ideas and we worked together to revise those while I also did smaller exercises, like color and shape studies, or technical studies, like creating custom photoshop brushes. I also created a working map of the story so I could start planning and tracking the rules I need to keep my story unified. I am currently working on creating more finished pieces for this story. We also had a couple of discussions about studio life, and what his daily work life is like.”

“The most important thing I learned from Mike was to remember to look at the whole. When working on one painting I need to step back and make sure it is working all together, and when working on several pieces in one narrative I learned planning strategies so that all those pieces would work together so that color, shape, direction, and composition would all be storytelling elements.”

Final words of advice from Jess  – “I would tell them that he is open, smart about work, and friendly, but to be prepared. The student is the driver and so you have to prepare what you want to talk about and what you want to learn. Mike was open to anything I wanted, but I had to ask first. And also to be patient, sometimes it feels like your emails get sucked into the ether, but he will respond and it’s worth the wait.”

 Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to apply and work with Mike!

Mentor of the Day: Ian Abando

IanAbando_posts_sketchz4Another mentor we’re pleased to welcome back this spring is Ian Abando!

This past Fall 2015, Ian’s mentee, Kevin Fleury,really enjoyed his time working with Ian.  Kevin says, “It was quite a journey for me since I needed to improve on every facet of storyboarding – shots, camera setups, story and shorthand. I was luckily able to produce a finished sequence with which I am happy with.”

Though it wasn’t his first time learning from Ian, (Kevin had taken lessons on storyboarding with Ian at CG Master Academy) but felt the mentorship was a whole new experience since it was one-on-one.   “What I really like about Ian is that he gets to the point whenever he critiques my work. He was very straightforward, letting me know what I needed to focus on, which I think is so important since it’s difficult to identify your own weaknesses sometimes or to even know how to improve on them.”

Take a look at some of the great work Kevin completed under Ian:

As for advice for Ian’s next mentee, “If I had to give advice for upcoming mentees, I would suggest organization and time management – I had a difficult time since I was juggling a job and school while working on my mentorship. I think the most important thing to focus on when dealing with so many other obligations is to plan ahead and prioritize – know what is most important to work on. I fell into traps of doing busywork with my storyboards – trying to make finished thumbnails/beatboards – while not focusing on camera setups and boarding out the whole story. But, overall, it was an amazing experience and I learned so much and am so thankful for it.​”

To find out more about what Ian’s preferences are for a mentee, please be sure to check out his profile here.

Mentor of the Day: Frederic Durand

Frederic_harrypotterWe’re very pleased and fortunate to invite Frederic Durand back as a mentor this spring.  Frederic Durand is a well accomplished lighter in the animation industry with a wealth of experience under his belt.  Frederic would be the ideal mentor for anyone interested in learning CG lighting.

Eric Pagtaconan, Frederic’s Fall 2015 mentee, applied to Frederic hoping to improve his 3d lighting and rendering. “I enjoyed being able to learn lighting. Lighting is a subject that is usually not taught at most universities. It’s one of those skills that fall to the wayside of 3d, such as modeling and textures. Personally, I was not taught lighting during university and I had to learn once I started working at my current employment, Buck Design. There were gaps with my knowledge and confidence when it came to lighting, but being able to be open about the things I lacked with CG lighting without the pressure of a studio deadline was very comforting.”

“The most important thing I learned was the roots of lighting as a storytelling element. Going through the history of how early movies were influenced by old painting masters, the theater, and the circus, it helped me understand what can be achieved in today’s industry. Another facet of going back to the painting roots is that cinematic lighting is supposed to “feel” better than real life. It is not just enough to emulate the real world lighting, but as artist we must add care into how we compose with lights.”

In terms of projects, Eric worked on various daily and weekly projects to hone his skills. Though he did not have a completed “project,” Eric did feel that the studies offered more to his learning than just a project might.  Check out what he accomplished below:

Advice for any future mentees?

“I would recommend that anyone who is not afraid to humble themselves in regards to their work. Huge egos would not prevail, but rather a person with the desire and commitment to their craft would be excellent for this mentorship…Be prepared to be humbled, because Frederic has a well of knowledge and experience that he wants to share for those with open minds. He is one of the most wisest and thoughtful teachers I’ve had, so do not be afraid to be forward with questions/comments with the intricacies of the cg pipeline and how it can apply to your discipline.”

Thanks for all the words of wisdom Eric!

Mentor of the Day: Ben Juwono

BenJuwono_sample-04Don’t let his Masters in Physics fool you! Ben Juwono has made a name for himself as a Director and Storyboard Artist at DreamWorks Animation TV.  He is currently Directing on the DreamWorks & Netflix series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”. We are so excited to have him on board as a Mentor at Motivarti this Spring 2016 term, fresh off of his double Annie Awards nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Storyboarding!

If you are genuinely serious about pursuing the path of Storyboarding as a career, Ben Juwono is the perfect Mentor for you! He is direct and honest when he reviews a portfolio, but he is also excellent at knowing what each individual student should focus on in order to improve their work, and take a step closer to their dream job. He has recently taught at Concept Design Academy to enormous success, and greatly enjoys taking the time to help out a student that is ready to accept criticism and put in the pencil mileage. The great thing about this Mentorship is that you can have one-on-one attention each week to work on your personal portfolio or other projects. A Mentorship with Ben is a fantastic opportunity you must not pass up! Check out some of Ben’s storyboard work below!

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Ben is extremely dedicated to his craft, but for fun he likes to wake up early in the morning to watch his favorite team, Manchester United. He also likes to attempt to make latte art, but he will probably never succeed as a barista.  For more artistic inspiration, check out some of Ben’s amazing Puss in Boots animatics on his website!

Mentor of the Day: Garrett Hanna

GarrettHanna_5If your dream is to develop crazy amazing game concept art for a living, you should probably consider applying for a Mentorship under Garrett Hanna. Garrett is a popular freelance illustrator, character designer, concept artist, and all around great Mentor! He has constantly been offering his knowledge as a digital painting teacher, and this is your opportunity to learn from him one on one.

Nicolas Hammond, Garrett’s Fall 2015 mentee was most interested in learning about the industry, aside from learning different techniques.  What was the most important thing he took away?  “It’s hard to give a specific thing but I did learn a general sense of how to approach a new piece, “says Nicolas.

Garrett is looking for three artists from anywhere in the world! He wants to work with Mentees that are truly excited about art, and ready to soak in knowledge like a sponge. He is looking for artists that are excited to paint and draw every day, in fact they should already have it as part of their regular routine! For some inspiration, check out some of Garrett’s art below!

According to Garrett’s website, he is also available for pizza parties! Be sure to check out more of his work on his facebook art page!