Saturday, 29 November 2014

Mathilda - a New Free Rig for Maya Animators!

Mathilda, courtesy of SCAD
Mathilda is here! This new free rig, now available for use by Maya animators, has just been released by SCAD - The Savannah College of Art and Design.

It's a great rig - with a really nice range of facial expressions.  Mathilda looks very attractive, well designed, and we're excited to see what our students can do with this latest addition to the now very wide range of freeware available to those learning to animate in Maya.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Phil Loeffler Talks Freelance Graphic Design and Illustration

Artwork by Phil Loeffler
Phil Loeffler is a talented designer, artist and animator, who came to Animation Apprentice to broaden his range of artistic skills and master the art of character and creature animation. Before he began studying with us, he had already established a successful career as a freelance graphic designer. We asked him to talk a little about his work, and what is involved in making a living in such a fascinating but competitive field.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Animation Apprentice Becomes Official Autodesk Partner

Animation Apprentice has recently become an official Autodesk Academic Partner. That means we are now formally authorized by Autodesk - the makers of animation software Maya (and much else besides) to teach their software. We are proud to be partnering with the leading industry software for digital animation, and delighted that Autodesk have accepted us as an official partner.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Giuseppe Candido 3D Artist at Cityscape Digital

Cityscape Digital
Giuseppe Candido is now a freelance 3D Artist at Cityscape Digital, a leading architectural visualisation company. Giuseppe is a talented animator and 3D artist, who developed a killer demo reel after studying with us at Animation Apprentice.

Cityscape Digital is a London-based company that describes itself as "a creative visual company providing architectural visualisation, simulation and animation for architects and developers in the property sector." Giuseppe's blend of animation talent and all-round 3D skills makes him a perfect candidate for this kind of highly technical work. Congratulations to Giuseppe on his new job!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Animation Apprentice Founder Alex Williams Talks About His Design Work on Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear comes to the big screen in November
Animation Apprentice Founder Alex Williams was an early contributor of design work for Paddington, the new feature film about the much-loved bear created over 50 years ago by author Michael Bond. We asked Alex to talk about what he did on the film, which will be released in theatres on November 28, and how he managed to work on a major motion picture while teaching at Animation Apprentice.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Two weeks to go until Cartoon Business

Cartoon Business
Cartoon Business is the finance and business counterpart to Cartoon Movie and Cartoon Forum. If you are interested in the business side of producing animation, but don't know how to assemble, package and sell an animated TV series or feature film, then Cartoon Business is the place to learn. Supported by MEDIA, the EU fund for the creative industries, and backed by the French Government, Cartoon Business will walk you through all the steps needed to bring your ideas to the market. And you don't even need to speak French - the event is conducted in English, the international language of media and animation.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Animation Apprentice Goes to Blue GFX

Blue GFX

Last week Animation Apprentice went to the Blue GFX Expo in London – a massive annual visual effects event sponsored by Autodesk, and a great opportunity to find out about the latest developments in our industry. There were presentations about Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, a chance to try out the latest Cintique tablets, and best of all a talk by Framestore about the work they did on Gravity, a film that looks and feels like a live action movie, but is entirely animated. OK, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock were real – but the rest is CG magic.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

How to Create a Great Animation Pitch

Learning to pitch is an important skill for any artist. Sooner or later you will be called on to persuade a client that you have a great idea to sell their product, or perhaps try to sell your own idea for a TV series or feature film to a network or production company. Either way, you're going to need to learn how to pitch your ideas. Pitching is not just about standing up and delivering a persuasive summary of your awesome idea, it's also about what should go into it in the first place. How much character work and design do you need to do? How well thought out does your story need to be?  In this excellent blog post, Disney designer Chris Oatley explains what goes into a great animation pitch and bible.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Assets at Animation Apprentice - What Rigs Do We Use On Our Course?

Morpheus - endlessly flexible
We do not design and build our own rigs here at Animation Apprentice - there are just too many excellent free rigs and sets provided by Maya enthusiasts for student use. This helps keep our costs down - savings which we pass on to our students. We point our Apprentices to the very best freeware rigs from the web and show you where to find them. In the end though, it is up to our students to find the rigs that they most enjoy animating with. There are so many; all have their strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of some of the best, and where to find them.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Should Freelance Animators Operate as Sole Traders or Set Up a Limited Company?

A freelancer
Part of our job at Animation Apprentice is to teach our students to be working professionals, which includes not only the ability to do excellent work at a high level of professional skill,  but also the ability to run a small business and tackle freelance work.

Almost all digital artists take on freelance work of one kind or another, and we help our students out by bringing in small commercial projects at our virtual online studio at, giving our students paid experience on live briefs.

Being a freelancer involves learning a lot of new business skills, and one of the most common questions asked by students is: "Do I Need to Set Up a Company before I become a freelancer?" The short answer is "no", but it's not quite as simple as that - it all depends on your personal circumstances.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

How Does an Animator Become a Character Designer?

BoxTrolls - designs by Luis Grane

How do animators break into character design? Character design is one of the most fun and the most desirable jobs on an animated film, entitling the artist to give free rein to their imagination, come up with great ideas - and even get paid to do it. We asked Luis Grane, an animator and character designer whose work can be seen on dozens of animated films including Prince of EqyptHotel Transylvania, Ratatouille, and Open Season, to talk about this work and how he broke into the industry. Most recently Luis did character design work for The Box Trolls, recently released worldwide in theatres. So what is involved in working as a character designer at a big studio - and how do you get there in the first place?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

How to Use Audio Files in Maya - A Guide for Animators

Maya is a wonderful piece of software but its audio tools are not especially sophisticated. You only get one audio track, and it will only accept certain kinds of audio files (wavs and iffs).

So, how exactly should an animator approach the use of audio files in Maya? Below is our handy guide which answers most of the vital questions.

Friday, 7 November 2014

How Does Animation Apprentice Work?

What's Under The Hood? Image: Wikipedia
What, exactly, is in our course at Animation Apprentice? The full 30 week Course (plus a free bonus week!) includes 5 Modules, each of which builds on the one before, gradually improving your skills as you grow in confidence as an animator. The idea is that learning should be incremental, and that at the end of each exercise you should have a "eureka" moment that takes your work to the next level. By the end of the 31 weeks, our animators should have the skill and confidence to tackle any animation challenge.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sign Up Now For Our Free Newsletter!

Sign up now - it's free!
You can now sign up for our free Animation Apprentice newsletter by following this link and entering your email address - you will receive our fortnightly mailshot in your inbox without having to check here at the blog for updates. We'll keep you posted on our next classes, the latest free rigs available online, jobs we think are worth applying for - in short anything and everything you need to know to kick-start your career as an animator. Our newsletter is completely free, and you can opt in or out at any time.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Animation Masterclass at the BFI on Nov 22 - for just £6!

The British Film Institute (BFI) is running a session on animation titled "Raw Shorts" for aspiring animators and film-makers, on Saturday November 22nd in London, at 12.30pm. There will be lectures, workshops and Q&A panels on all aspects of animation production. We highly recommend that our students attend - at just £6 per head this is the perfect way to learn about the industry and maybe even meet some movers and shakers in the business.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

How to Animate with the Morpheus Rig - Problems and Solutions

There are plenty of free rigs available these days for the use of students. One of the best is Morpheus, created by the very talented Josh Burton. It is used extensively by student animators hoping to polish their skills and get better at their craft.

Morpheus is an excellent rig but, like most rigs, it does have a few quirks. Below is a guide for animators to some of the main problems that we have come across, and how to fix them.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Escape Studios VFX Festival on January 28th 2015

Escape Studios VFX Festival 2015
Escape Studios are running their latest VFX Festival on January 28th at the VUE Cinema in London's Shepherd's Bush. To find out more, and sign up, follow this link. The event is an excellent way to find out about careers in animation and visual effects, what jobs are out here and how to break in to the industry. The secret to finding work is to have a great demo reel, and to be available when studios are hiring. The best time to apply is when a big new operation is crewing up - and that means keeping your ear to the ground, and being prepared to move to where the jobs are.