Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School Tips for Artists

       Art College costs a lot of money! What else is new... We can't change that. What we can change is how to make the most out of it. And guess what is also tough, being a successful artist! Lots of wasted energy can go into your freshman year or any year for that matter. So here are a bunch of tips I read from an article a while ago I thought would be helpful to share. Hopefully it will help out some people! Its hard being a Freshman so read these tips and maybe write a few down ;) Good luck! 

If you can, double major. Do one that is practical and likely to get you a job! Seriously, putting your eggs all in one basket being an animator or a painter.. Don't do it! Its a huge risk! Thank me later. 

Sit in on your intended major’s upper-level classes. If they bore you, change your major. (For animator's with their eyes set on big studios TAKE A CG CLASS YOUR FIRST SEMESTER) 

Ask upperclassmen which professor challenged them and helped them understand the most important concepts to their major. Take the class from the professor that comes up the most. 

When you pick a major, find out if people usually take more schooling after graduating in that major. Sad story is, that most freshmen don't know that their art B.A. wont do anything for them in many fields.  

It’s never too early for internships. Or you will have regrets. Many people wait till their senior or junior year which is a big mistake. You can always return back to school, you can't always ask for that opportunity to internship once it passes.  Don’t let one of those big regrets be lack of experience because you started looking for internships after you graduated and need a job. 


If you don't like a class or you think you are being over worked. Drop a class! Or if you don gel with a teachers teaching style, switch! 

Do all your hard classes first. Or you WILL burn out.
Not every professor is great. Not every course is great. Sometimes you have to take the bad ones. The trick is not to let your good classes suffer because the bad ones caused you to burn out early. Prioritize your time ;) C's and D's get degrees!! (I heard that term from a friend in Berkeley haha)

If you’re in a major that has a lot of writing, take a class that teaches you how to write — not one of those waste-of-time freshman seminars that have a topic and tell you to write about it, but one that actually teaches rhetorical styles and how to think about writing. If you learn to write well and fast, A’s from all-nighters come easy, especially in upper-level classes that only have you submit a paper. Not so much related to art students but the concept is. You have a major that has a lot of drawing, LEARN HOW TO DRAW well. Don't take a walk in life drawing class, take one where the instructor actually cares and instructs. 

Ask your teachers questions often.

Ask your advisory what classes are required and fill fast? take those early. If not you might be in a situation where you have to graduate an extra semester later bc you couldn't get into a required class. 


If you don't exercise, try doing it the summer before you start school and try to keep it going through classes. You will be sitting and going through a lot of stress. Get your body ready and weather the storm as best you can!

SLEEP! 10 minute power naps will save your life. There comes a point where you will become unproductive, learn to recognize that and just go to sleep. wake up with energy and get back to the grind!

Ask for help if you are drowning. An adviser, a teacher, fellow students. You are not alone and we're all trying to get you to succeed.
NEWS FLASH! It’s O.K. to skip a class here and there. It’s O.K. to go to class in pajamas. It’s O.K. to go to class with a runny nose. Don’t worry about that one class you tried hard in but still earned only a D. It won’t matter in the long run. 


Get to know the people around you, even if you dont think you'll like them. everybody knows something you do not, find out what that is, and in the process you might learn to like them. Make your wolf pack squad that will get your back when you're sick and forward you your class assignments. Socialize with your professors and classmates, you never know when they'll come in handy.

LEARN HOW TO DO SMALL TALK FOR CHRIST SAKE! I don't care if it's awkward, practice it!! Its a basic skill that will cripple you if you don't have it when looking for a job.

Enjoy college, go PARTY, project X style! Go make friends, make mistakes, go to sporting events, get into trouble once in a while! Dont let life pass you by.

Do try to go to class. your professors are people too. Be kind and respectful. They are trying to teach you some good stuff.


I hope this helps you out, share it with fiends and remember to not under estimate college! Good luck to all you starting the school year.  If you want to read a better written version of these tips click here! James Yang wrote a much better article than  me :) 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why does Disney still have drawing classes?


(I read this really cool article a while back! Thought I'd summarize it here because it touched upon some important things students and new animators should keep in mind! Enjoy the post!)

The Disney Studios

"Disney makes movies with only computers now, nobody draws, CG is destroying the business, Remember when animation used to be good??"

      This is shit I read on the daily.. But it couldn't be further from the truth! Over here at Disney we draw, and are always learning. For about 82 years this studio has been developing and teaching artist behind the scenes through figure drawing classes and with lectures on classical drawing.

       As artist we are dealing with characters. Characters have bodies and we have to know how to move them believably! Other wise you get animation that looks like it came straight out of 'QWOP'

      In these drawing classes here at Disney, they don't just lock us in a room with "it's a small world" blaring from speakers as projectors flash the words: "MAGIC MAGIC MAGIC" over and over, lol. We actually have some pretty cool drawing masters lead the class and walk around as we draw the model. Sometimes as they will politely interrupt you and say, "Nice!" While other days they might sit down and give you a personal demo on how to nail that foreshortened knee.
      You can create an animated film with out knowing how to draw. But it's more about what drawing knowledge can add to your art. "You can't achieve dynamics with out bones and structure, and in order to have structure you need to study it. From there one can extend out in any direction towards any style." -Karl Gnass

      Check out this drawing by Glen Keane. Drawings like these influence how the characters are created and sculpted in computer animated films.

   On a more personal note, these drawing classes aren't to just have us in tip-top shape 24/7. They also serve as an escape. I know I go to these 2 1/2 hour classes during lunch to get away once in a while. Some people play Foosball, others sit and video chat with love ones. All day you are working on the directors vision and bringing it to life which is awesome! Though, getting some 'me' time to remind myself, 'hey I have ideas too' is also great. I get to do what ever I want in that class and have some fun creating something for no one other than me. That opportunity to do that in your work place is priceless!

      Who do we have to thank? Art Drawing classes started at Disney around 1932 thanks to Art Babbitt. It was uninstructed at first, but then Disney hired Don Graham, who taught at an art school in Los Angeles.

Figure Drawing back in the day

    Now to something relevant: You will see computer artist who are attending drawing classes with the sole intent to gain some secrets of how things move by studying anatomy and structure. They don't understand that its more than that. You have to not only understand why something is right but also how to create it from the inside out with feeling. (WOA DANNY, that was way tooo artsy. slow down there) All I'm saying is that you don't draw to become an animator or to work in animated films. You draw to help yourself become an artist. And that said, Artists can make the best animators.

Thanks for reading!
The original article is here so make sure to give it a look for it is much better written :) Original text

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Interviewing a Disney Animator

Hi everyone!

    I was going through some things and I found this interview I did a year or two ago. Thought it would be nice to post it for all to read. :)

     Right now I'm working on Zootopia, comes out spring 2015. We are in the middle of production, hours are long and the work is intense.. and I love it! I can't wait for all of you to check out the film when it comes out. in the mean while I'm trying to stay sane with some sort of work life balance (along with a few drinks here and there!) For all of you going through a tough crunch or about to start school, don't forget to have fun! hope you enjoy the post! 


Author: Canadian Diva
Daniel L. Gonzales is the epitome of where hard work, strong values  coupled with creativity can lead to one being successful at such a young age. He was the youngest intern at PIXAR Animation Studios which  receives over 2000 postgraduate applications a year and picks only a few for the job. After working 3 years at PIXAR, Mr. Gonzales then moved to Los Angeles, California to work at the Walt Disney Animation Studios where he continues his creative magic for all of us to see on the big screen.
This incredible, artistic prodigy was born in  San Diego, California in 1988. His interest and natural talent in  drawing, as well as painting, was noticed when he was a child. When he entered into college, he moved to Oakland and studied at the California College of the Arts, where his gift for animation was further encouraged into becoming his major.
Daniel Gonzales’  work has been seen on animated features such as, “Toy Story 3″, “Wreck-it-Ralph“, “FROZEN” and the upcoming Fall 2014 Theatrical Debut,  “Big Hero 6″.
DG Interview3

Mr. Gonzales is also a teacher for up and coming animators. He has a Blog with great tips for animators as well as other fascinating articles on being creative which also includes life-related articles pertaining to his experiences that you could read about here.
We are so excited to be interviewing Daniel Gonzales for Tips from the Disney Diva.

Hello Daniel, it is such a pleasure to do this interview with you. What a dream job you have! Could you give our readers a glimpse into the day in the life of a Walt Disney Studio’s Animator?
A day of a Disney Animator… Well I can’t speak for my co-workers but besides waking up and the morning commute, my day is pretty much filled up with problem solving! As an artist, you are solving problems all the time. You have a piece of art to create and a mission to find a solution that gives you the right composition, timing, poses, lines, rhythm, arcs and more. They all need to work together in a harmonious way that’s appealing to look at. We animators might make it look easy once it’s on the big screen, but it’s a lot of hard work! To be honest, at the end of the day it doesn’t feel like work when you are doing something you love.

You and I have had similar upbringings, in which we both were raised by single mothers. How did growing up in a single parent environment fuel your career choices and motivate your drive to succeed?
Growing up was hard, but as a kid I didn’t know it was hard. When I was younger it was what it was and I loved it because  it was the only life I knew. When you have a single mom as a parent, you are raised pretty much by your whole family. Everyone has to help out and take care of you while your mom goes to work. So I got a lot of different perspectives growing up and I do think that helped me as an artist. I have all these different view points and angles of life to pull from and I am able to insert this into my work. Seeing my mom work hard for us made me want to work hard in something, and it just so happen to be art. 

There is often a stigma or stereotype of people in their 20’s. That they feel entitled and not willing to work from the bottom up. Could you comment on this, how you seem to break this stereotype at such a young age. And what steps do you feel young adults of your generation need to do to get ahead?

I think what we call stigma and the stereotype of 20 year olds is a mis-understanding and I’ll tell you why: It’s not that 20 yr olds feel entitled, it’s that they were raised in a time where hierarchy is no longer valued and treating everyone equal and the same makes more sense. This leads to one thinking they are equal to their boss and that everyone’s opinion is dumb and good at the same time and you can speak your mind freely. This, to people who were not raised as such,  might see this as cocky, brazen, or an entitlement complex that needs to be included in every conversation in the work space. The ‘not willing to work’ part is just that people underestimate how much work it takes to get things done, this is learnt overtime and with experience.
When I first started to work in my late teens, I was very green. Keeping your head down and taking licks was a concept I had never heard of growing up. In my neighborhood, respect was never given for free and if you thought something then you spoke your mind. But now looking back, I am so grateful for the friends I had working in the many places I have been at. They really helped me adjust and learn. I learned It is very important to be respectful to everyone, humility is a virtue and not a weakness. It is even more important to keep in mind that everyone knows at least one thing you don’t. You are always learning and there is so much one doesn’t know. When I see teenagers and 20 year olds with the mind set that they are going to change the world, that their way is the right way and everyone else is wrong and there is a new big fish in the pond, I smile. Not because I use to kind of be like that, but because I hope they are right. I hope they are the ones that change the world and teach us older people a thing or two. I hope that they challenge the status quo and butt heads against the current establishment and shake things up. I think the world needs this kind of push and pull between some of us who like the way things are and those who want to change it. I believe somewhere in the middle of those two camps is the answer.
I wouldn’t change anything about how this generation is doing things, let them find their own way and hopefully that way turns out better.

You worked on “Frozen” which has literally taken the world by (ice) storm! Did you and the team of over 600 artists, working on “Frozen”, ever imagine the blizzard proportions this would cause? Would you be able to tell us which component of the movie you were part of?
Some foresaw the success and others did not, but boy did it still surprise us all when it took off! I personally did not ever imagine the effect it was going to have on the world. I was a part of a team of about 70 animators. We all worked on all the characters together and animated them to life. I was a small piece in something much greater than me and I love that feeling. Everybody is a small piece, but together we create an awesome, unique team that wouldn’t exist otherwise without us.
DG Interview5

“Big Hero 6″ is the next Walt Disney Animated Feature coming to the big screen on November 7, 2014. There is so much anticipation and excitement about this film, could you tell us a bit about it?
I can tell you that I am proud of it and I can’t wait for everyone else to experience all the hard work my colleagues and I have put into it.

Disney Animators have literally become a household name with the “Disney Princess Animator’s Collection”. Who are the Disney Animators you admire and enjoy working with?
Like I mentioned above, I believe everyone knows something I don’t, so I am always ready to learn from anyone. This makes every single co-worker someone I respect and makes me eager to work with them. I learnt a lot from the animators who have come before me that are also very very talented. Animators such as Milt Kahl, Glen Keane, and Eric Goldberg are household names in the work place at any animation studio.

You are now a teacher and role model for future Animators, how does it feel like to be in this role and how do you approach being an important key to the future generations in your line of work? 
I don’t feel like a teacher, I just feel like another person fulfilling their role on a game of hot potato. I have all this insight and knowledge that is very hot and I can not wait to pass it on to someone who wants and needs it. I approach this role with the mindset of: just be myself, it’s the information that matters, not who is delivering it. The moment I take myself out of the equation I start to relax.

Most people do animation and painting as a hobby yet since you are able to do this as your main work, what are your hobbies and interest outside of your career?
I paint and draw all the time. I hang out with friends a lot as well. I think I do it so much it might as well be a hobby!

Now for some FUN Disney Questions…
Favorite Disney Theme Park?
My favorite spot to check out is Disneyland in Anaheim. Specifically Adventureland!

Favorite Disney Attraction and Why?
I like riding Splash Mountain, on repeat, right before the park closes at midnight because the line is literally nonexistent. When you’re with the right crowd and have a lot of energy it is the best way to end the night.  I’ve had so many good times with my brother, cousins and friends posing for the camera when they take your picture on the last fall.

We Have a Lot of Foodies on Our Writing Team As Well As Our Readers Who Love Food… What is Your Favorite Disney Snack or Meal?
There are so many choices to choose from because Disney does food so well. What would I choose?? The ice cream spot on Main Street USA in Disneyland, The Dole-whip Pineapple Float right outside the Tiki-room, Or the tasty drinks at Trader Sam’s Bar inside the Disneyland Hotel and Resort. But HANDS DOWN, if I had to choose one thing it would be the SPICY CORN DOG in California Adventure. Only one spot has it and it’s near Goofy’s Flight School. Sometimes I just go for the corn dog and not the rides, it’s that satisfying.

Any Favorite Disney Themed Restaurants?
Trader Sam’s has an awesome atmosphere and I love grabbing an appetizer because the vibe is so good.
Favorite Disney Movie Growing Up?
The “Lion King” was a favorite of my younger brother, so I would watch it everyday with him after school. I know that movie by heart,  but personally I liked “Bambi”. In my opinion, it’s a very artsy film and I like what they did with colors and the music throughout the film!

Favorite Disney Character You Enjoyed Working On?
I enjoyed working on Olaf. He was so appealing and there was never a boring moment animating him!
How Did You Show Your #DisneySide
I post a lot of Disney jokes on twitter..

Disney Villains Are All the Rage Now…Who is Your Favorite? 
HANS from “FROZEN”  is by far my favorite. I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s because he seems like a sociopath and he pretended to be a good guy for most of the film. The fact that he doesn’t have any magical powers and had to rely on his smarts is very cool for me.

With the excitement building of “Big Hero 6″ out in November 2014 – being a Marvel/Disney collaboration, who is your ultimate, favourite Marvel Character?
I enjoy “Spider-man”. His comics are always well done and I love how artists have been drawing him. One thing that makes “Spider-man” special for me, is that before he became Spider-man, he let a robber get away for selfish reasons. That same robber ended up killing his guardian Uncle Ben. This story line really made it clear to me that,  your choices have consequences which could come back to hurt you. I know other Super Hero’s also have those kind of moments but “Spider-man’s” story illustrated it distinctly for me.
Which Disney character are you most like?  And which Disney character inspires you?
I never thought of what character I was most like before. People have told me when my hair is messy I look like Aladdin in a good way or Prince Eric.But a memory of mine did pop up right now that I would of never remembered if it wasn’t for this question! It’s of me when I was younger watching ‘A GOOFY MOVIE’ and relating to the main character. I think his name was Max. Max was in school and had a crush he wanted to impress so bad that he was willing to compromise his family vacation! Now, I never ruined a family vacation but I’m  sure almost everyone can relate to doing stupid things to try to impress or get someone’s attention when they were younger.
I don’t know what character I am most like, maybe that’s a question for my girlfriend, she knows me better than I do sometimes!
In regards what inspires me: I am inspired by how Roger in ‘101 Dalmatians’is animated.
If you were to meet Mr. Walter Elias Disney (Walt Disney) in another life, or in a future heaven, what would you like to say to him?
I would ask him what was his hardest moment, physically and/or emotionally (like hitting rock bottom). What was going through his mind at that time and how he got through it. You can learn a lot about a person when you see them at their worst, but you can learn even more when you see them persevere.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Millenial Rebuttal

(I saw a nice video shared around the interwebs so I thought I'd like to share its message.) Millenials are of people born in the late 1900s who are growing up during the 2000's

      The Me Me Me generation. "Millinennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents." "They'll save us all" They say we are the selfie generation, and that we are lazy with no work ethics. Apathetic and willfully ignorant. They say we are too attached to our technology. Yet we see this technology doing remarking things the past generations couldn't dream of. Apperently we're all easily distracted by the next best thing.

We're consumed by our shallow social lives, yet we share great ideas faster than ever before by shooting links through facebook and twitter.

      They say we put no value on human connection and always taking pictures of our food.

     We can't put down our phones. (Even though the media gets a good heads up to big stories to cover thanks to cell phone coverage) 

      They say we think the world revolves around us and we're disconnected from our loved ones. They say we're never content and don't agree with everything the older generation say. 

My favorite reaction from  people are:

      Some are quick to shoot down communicating and living on the internet. "Go outside and do something!" we hear. "Go talk to someone face to face. have a real conversation. You can't fall in love over the internet. make a real connection." When I hear this my mind immediately goes back in time and wonders, ..what would they say that someone in the 1600's who fell in love over correspondence and love letters. Sending love notes back and forth over and over for years with out meeting! Would they say THAT isn't real love? That their bond is less than someone who actually has a face to face conversation like today?

      I think people are just afraid of change. Plato said that writing would make people dumber. If people learned to write that they will less incline to remember things. Why remember knowledge when you can write it down for later. Maybe he just didn't understand how great writing would be for us down the line..

      So for who ever gets put down for listening to "trash" and hovering over their phone all day, don't worry about it. It is proven time and time again that when people don't understand something, they attack it and or fear it. Say to them, "Get over it. You left us with a shit world, so we will do what we want with it." :)

We understand you care..

We care too..

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Animation 101: REACTIONS


Reactions should be communicated with CLARITY
      Anticipation is the one of the most important animation principles that plays a main
role in bringing life to a character. In general we use the term to express a waiting of the next move. I would like to bring to attention a less talked about term: the 'reaction'. This might not be a technical foundation of animation but it is essential to an entertaining performance. In the 'reaction' of a character is where the personality of a character can show. A well rounded animator must not only learn how to prepare the audience for an action, but also to relieve them with a reaction.  

      Your animated characters reaction to an action that follows an anticipation will let your audience know how to react. You can notice characters in cartoons using extreme anticipation to engage into a powerful action, such as a sudden run, or hitting with an axe, or playing golf. And then contrast the action with a subdued reaction usually drawing laughter from the crowd. Droopy was one such character whos personality was a superb contrast to over exaggerated actions. Exaggeration is a common factor incorporated in anticipation and reaction. The same can be said with underplaying an anticipation and reaction. Being aware of your characters reaction is essential to creating believable performances in animation which is appealing and enchanting to the viewers eye. 

"Danny we already know this!"

Great, then I go move on to my point. CLEAR REACTIONS! A piece of work lives and dies with the viewer. One will notice pieces of art live longer when they are clear. While the viewer quickly grows uninterested with the messier unclear ones. Clear reactions can resonate with your viewer and leave a lasting impression. A good example of clear poses that relate to the viewers are memes. They are universal and easily recognizable no matter how specific the emotion being depicted is. Take a look at a small collection I have gathered here from the internet. You might recognize some of them.

      These are some awesome expressions that have been shared around the internet hundreds of thousands of times. if you are ever in need of a specific expression look no further! Memes are here to save the day! I mean it, I often reference memes if I'm ever in a bind or need inspiration. 

(quick tip: never go look for help from something generally accepted from the art world, Look for things that resonate with thousands of people on the internet. There will be something about it that makes it connect better. Its up to you to figure out what that x-factor is and use it to your advantage!)

Below I found some memes that can maybe be considered anticipation to something the character might say. They are clear and sometimes exaggerated! (such as the table flip ...which I'm afraid I'm guilty of doing here and there



This post is a grossly simplified overview of reactions, but I hope it plants a seed so that you can start to see this concept in a new light. I hope you all enjoyed it and I look forward to doing more posts. Continue to draw, continue to learn!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Disney Characters in Real Life


     I came across these images a while ago and I have tried to search for the artist with out success. (EDIT: found him! Harry Mcnally ) I thought these are too interesting to not share so here you go! When you look at them just don't think, "That's nice.." but try to figure out why you like the photos (if you even do like them)

      Is it that the B&W make the colors pop, is it the contrast of flat characters in 3D backgrounds, is it that their expressions are so well drawn that we accept them in a realistic setting.. all of the above? Or is this artist a Photoshop hack that was just looking for quick attention? What ever your opinion or thought, its all right. I'm just asking you to have one :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Animator Doodles


    Well Big Hero 6 came and went and it was definitely an adventure, That would make it.. my 3rd Disney film under my belt. Now I'm working on Disney's ZOOTOPIA which is looking very promising. And as if I already didn't have enough on my plate I'm also teaching at CalArts 2D animation which is a lot of fun.
         I though I'd make a post and show you a window into my day to day life. It's not a crazy insight unless you are really fascinated with an animator's day to day doodles and the humor I have developed on my Snapchat. Enjoy the pictures and always keep in mind, every situation have entertainment value!