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>David Colman Recap

>David Colman came out and gave a great presentation on his work and his career. He showed us images from some of the projects he’s worked on, as well as images from his sketchbook and personal work.

He discussed the art of character design, and said that he thinks of psychology before shape when he’s beginning to develop a character. David said that it helps to put a voice to a character, or ask what actor would play this character. He stressed the importance of understanding your character before you design. Figure out who they are before what they are. And learn to ask good questions. Before beginning any character design project, David makes it a point to ask his director who the character is and what kind of shape language they are looking for. David also tries hard to stay away from cliches and ‘volume redundancy’ (making everything even in shape/volume). 

In terms of shape, he told us to have fun with it, push shapes as far as we can. Elaborate and exaggerate. Create characters that have gone too far first, because it’s always easier to bring it back. When pushing shape, it’s more efficient to hit the wall and then backtrack than it is to inch forward step by step. Take advantage of the fact that animation allows us to portray effects that could never happen in real life.

We also asked David what he felt was great character design. He answered that characters who are organic, have rhythm with grace, but also have structure and form are the most appealing. A great blend of these two things make for not just good, but great character design. David followed that up by showing examples of how flat character designs can be given 3d form through value and lighting. “Shape and form are independent and interdependent.”

For general advice, he told us to draw in our sketchbooks constantly–people, landscapes, animals. He said that it is essential that we understand our subject in order to make a cartoon out of it. He advised us to have an arsenal of styles, and to make sure that we have a good grasp on fundamentals. Some great advice was to reframe obstacles (i.e. how to draw hands, feet, faces, etc.) as questions that we’re going to answer rather than avoiding them. He advised us that if you avoid the obstacles now, you’re never going to overcome them.

He closed by telling us about the importance of believing in ourselves and knowing that we will evolve as artists. He said, “Honor your practice. Respect the process.” To really make it in this industry, he told us, “you have to want it more than your neighbor; almost more than yourself.” And not only that but to work hard for what you want. David said people who have adesire to do well AND a strong work ethic, coupled with some natural talent, are a very dangerous combination. It was an inspiring and informative presentation, filled with great advice and amazing work.

We’d like to congratulate Elsa Chang, who won the drawing contest with her submission for “Follow the Leader”. She got a signed copy of David’s sketchbook, “David Colman’s Doodles, Volume II.”

David giving suggestions on the drawing entries


Elsa holding her winning drawing for “follow the leader”
and David holding the prize, a copy of
“David Colman’s Doodles Vol 2”


Elsa Chang


Joshua Lee


Yuhki Demers

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