By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

While the “short” we are sharing with you is not animated this week,  it does pack a considerable amount of artistic inspiration from the artists at Dreamworks. As book publishers, we think it’s even better that this inspiration is also in book form.  We get all sorts of excited when we see the unification of the printed project with the visual representation of film.  Yeah, we know, we are a little dorky about content.  Don’t get us started on how great we think book trailers are or the development of apps for our books.

Alexis Wanneroy and Christophe Lautrette have beautifully directed a wonderful short about DreamWorks’ first personal art publication, Moonshine.  Much less a book trailer and more artistic insight, the book was conceived as an opportunity to highlight the breath of artistic talent at Dreamworks. While this may come across as incredible self-serving of a major animation studio,  it’s actually quite endearing and inspiring to see the personal sketchbooks,  artistic processes and that the real life moments that capture the imagination of Dreamworks artists.  The short features artists Sam Michalp, Nicolas Weis, Christian Schellewald, Paul Duncan, Marcos Mateu, Nathan Fowkes with a special appearance from Jeffrey Katzenberg.

 Moonshine was published by Design Studio Press and edited by Christophe Lautrette & Pierre-Olivier Vincent.

Moonshine : Artists after dark from alexis wanneroy on Vimeo.

 Posted by Katy, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Animation and 3D.  Interested in writing for Focal Press, reviewing a proposal or just chatting about all things animation?  Visit Katy’s Linked-In page.

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By: Lauren                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

This method of “cheating” the perspective change is very similar to a magician’s sleight-of-hand trick, where you distract the audience by moving something in front of them to get their attention while you’re hiding the card or coin in your pocket. In animation

by changing the background you accomplish the same thing. Using two separate backgrounds that are changed one for the other while the overlay fills the screen will give you the illusion of a perspective change.

With these tricks it’s very important to know the timing of the scene. You’ll have to adjust the artwork to match the speed of the scene. There’s always been controversy with the term “cheat.” Some use the term to discount their lack of knowledge, and others use the term to correct perspective elements that are drawn in correct perspective but might not look right or pleasing to the eye.

When working in animation it’s easy to change perspective on objects that move, but it’s much more likely that a perspective mistake or oddity will be seen on backgrounds and still objects, simply because they are on the screen throughout the entire scene. A “cheat” doesn’t mean you disregard all basics and put whatever you want in a scene in any position. The horizon will always be an anchor point, but there can be multiple vanishing points and horizons depending on how complicated you make the composition.

A “cheat” gone wrong is when two vanishing points are too close to one another on the horizon, which will warp the lines closest to the picture plane or, as said before, placing objects on the horizon. These usually appear in the “Z” plane as it is known in 3-D terms. The “Z” plane starts at the picture plane and vanishes at the horizon. Lines on the “Z” plane are perpendicular to the horizon.

In the 2-D world you can “cheat” the size of objects to create a sense of foreshortening or making objects appear larger than they really should be to accentuate scale. In live-action and 3-D animation you can use different lenses or focal lengths to accomplish the same thing. When pushing the scale in 2-D animation you will have to give the animator an accurate grid combining the two scale changes.

Excerpted from Layout and Composition by Ed Ghertner, © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

Ed Ghertner is a renowned Layout Artist and Character Layout Artist who has spent over thirty years in film and animation. He has worked at Disney Studios and Disney TV. He has worked on some of the great Disney classics including “The Fox and the Hound”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Lion King”, and the “Huntchback of Notre Dame” and “Mulan.”

Buy Layout and Composition for Animation at Focal Press today!

Want to see more material from the book? Go to the companion website!

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @FocaLauren.

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By: Cedric                Categories: General

We are really appreciating the student work lately – some great talent is rising through the ranks! Today, we bring you “Last Fall”, directed by Andreas Thomsen from The Animation Workshop. It’s a heart tugging story of a father’s love. After a tragic accident, our hero ventures into a industrial futuristic afterlife in search of his beloved daughter.

The short quickly reminds you that 2D style animations are not a lost art form. The slick but moody visuals quickly engage you in the well-being of our father and daughter duo as they scramble through a fantastic world – which appears to be modeled after a future more appropriate for the short’s era. Thanks to the solid story line, this short could easily be adapted to a longer feature. I’d gladly invest another hour or two of my life to join the protagonists in their adventure.

Last Fall from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.


Posted by Cedric, Marketing Manager, Animation, Gaming, and Web.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

Focal Press is proud to announce the publication of Tony White’s new book, The Animator’s Notebook.

  • Look into the private notebook of a master animator
  • Learn essential classical techniques in this beautiful handbook
  • Visit the website ( to see the book’s principles in action

Apprentice yourself to a master of classical animation techniques with this beautiful handbook of insider tips and techniques. Apply age-old techniques to create flawless animations, whether you’re working with pencil and animation paper or a 3D application. Author Tony White starts with the basics, and expands his discussion to more advanced topics, like how to animate quadrupeds, working with fluidity and flexibility, and dialogue. White brings years of production experience and even more time as an instructor to the book, ensuring that his Animator’s Notebook will serve as your mentor in a book. The art from the book comes to life in the clips available on the book’s web site.

Praise for The Animator’s Notebook

“Tony lays out the nuts and bolts of the craft in one of the most readable, accessible, and smart books on movement and animation that I’ve seen in a long while.”  —Don Hahn, producer, Walt Disney Animation Studios (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, et al.)

“Presented as an intimate personal set of reminders in a lifelong animator’s scrapbook, The Animator’s Notebook will be essential reading for all animators.”  —Tomm Moore, co-founder, Cartoon Saloon, and director of Academy Award-nominated The Secret of Kells

“Kudos to Tony White! He has done an exemplary job of analyzing and explaining the core principles of animated movement.”   —Ruben Aquino, supervising animator, Walt Disney Animation Studios (The Little Mermaid (Ursula), The Lion King (Adult Simba))

The Animator’s Notebook is part of the Focal Press Animation Masters series.

Learn from the Animation Masters.

Apply years of animation expertise to your own projects.  Become a part of the new generation shaping the future of the art form.

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @FocaLauren.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspiration

Nelson Boles, a CalArts Student, presents the challenging voyage of a little boat in the aptly named “Little Boat”  animated short.  With an animation style that shifts from minimalist to dynamic and engaging,  I almost didn’t give this wayward craft a moment of my time but I’m so glad I stopped to look.

There is something so charming and simplistic but also endearing and perservering about this little boat.  In the same vein of the “Little Engine that Could, ” you are hoping the boat will navigate through snow, ice and even war torn waters to reach it’s ultimate destination. Expressing a depth that is rarely seen without facial expression, the soundtrack only enhances the emotive qualities and really lends itself to the dramatic build-up.  One of my favorite scenes is the rough water scene with the lack of sound weighing heavy on the viewer.  Also, the end offers a fun possibilities and insight into the boat and it’s adventure. 

Enjoy the rough and smooth sailing folks!  Happy Friday!


Little Boat from nelson boles on Vimeo.

 Posted by Katy, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Animation and 3D.  Interested in writing for Focal Press, reviewing a proposal or just chatting about all things animation?  Visit Katy’s Linked-In page.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksInspiration

Hello. I’m a Gesture. It is my purpose in life to get drawn in a way that brings out not only the basic “ story point, ” but also the subtle nuances of the pose. All my acting ability goes into my poses. It is relatively easy. First I think of what I want to do, then almost like magic my body just moves into the pose. All the parts of my body know instinctively what to do. It is, of course, a contrived pose, that is, I am not really doing it — I’m just “play-acting.” Nevertheless, I sum up all the necessary forces to pull it off.

I realize that when an artist is drawing me, the pen or pencil does not automatically or involuntarily assume the gesture like my body does. The artist has to fi gure out how my body accomplished the gesture, you might say, intellectually. He has to see (mentally) how I am balanced; the angles various parts of my body have taken; the squashes and stretches; the opposing forces, etc. This is so he can feel those forces I am making use of in expressing the gesture, so that he can guide his pen or pencil correspondingly.

When I first strike a pose, the newness of it is very vivid in my mind and body — it is clear, definite, and well-defined. I usually caricature it enough so there will be no mistake about the story behind it. It s odd that after a while I lose the newness of the feeling, and have to remind myself of the original concept. I realize that the artist has the same problem. When he fi rst looks at my pose he sees the gesture in a sparkle of clarity. He immediately sums it up and forms a “fi rst impression. ” As he proceeds, he often begins to get involved in drawing problems, and that first impression — which was so crystalline clear-cut, so obvious, so apparent — begins to slip away. So the artist has to constantly renew that first impression in his mind, too.

With me, it’s easy to strike a gesture, because I am it. But the artist has to re-create it on paper. I don’t envy his task, so I try to make it as easy for him as I can. I can’t help it if my clothes don’t always cooperate and act as drapery ought to. All too often they don’t fully explain what is going on underneath—that is one thing the artist has more control over than I do. And drapery is an important factor in gesture drawing. Here’s a pose where I was acting like I was pushing a boat or raft along with a long pole. The student’s drawing (on the left) shows that he did not feel the weight of my body as it pressed down on the pole, and that I was leaning into the “push.” The instructor’s suggestion (on the right) at least captures some of my efforts.

Here’s another pose, where I feel kinda ’ slighted in the student’s drawing. I’m hitchhiking, and it’s as if a car just went by without stopping for me. My looking off to stage left suggests that. The instructor’s drawing has me following the car with my whole upper body as it passes. It hints of a contemptuous backwash of wind as it passes, or perhaps that I leaned toward it to voice some unfriendly comment.

There might even be a suggestion of the middle finger replacing the thumb …

Whenever I pose, I use the space around me to do it in. I form different perimeters that help define the gesture. For instance, if I spread my arms apart, I am increasing the space between them. A good way to think of the tension thus created, is to imagine I am stretching a rubber band — the farther apart my hands — the more tension is suggested. That is what I did in this next pose. I spread the newspaper open and then positioned my head a little closer to the right hand, because I was looking over to the left side of the paper. I had to turn my head (face) toward that page to appear to be reading it. That created a nice tension between my face and the page, just like the outstretched hands. I, the Gesture, used a body to manifest myself, but the body is not me. Likewise the instructor ignored the details of the figure as he went for the essence of the gesture.

There has to be a certain amount of attention paid to the body (anatomy) in acting out a gesture or in drawing one. One student had become frustrated with his attempt to capture this pose. The instructor saw that the student had lost control because he had been copying some of the lines that appeared on the model’s body rather than the gesture of the body itself, to express the pose. His suggestion was to draw the torso fi rst, making it easy to see where the arms, legs, and neck are connected. The torso, in effect, becomes the nucleus, or the foundation for drawing.

I hope I haven’t bored you with all this analysis, but I feel strongly about having my efforts depicted with all the integrity due a gesture.

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @focalauren

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By: admin                Categories: General

When’s the last time you were in a food fight, Focal-ites?

Today we bring you “Food Fight,” a great short by Stefan Nadelman about the history of American-centric warfare told through the foods of the countries in conflict.
Are you a little rusty on your history? Consult the cheat sheet( to see which foods come from where!

Enjoy some serious cheeseburger/falafel aggression, folks.

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @FocaLauren. It will be the single best thing you ever do in your life. You love my pizza costume.

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