There’s an Ira Glass quote that I’m quite fond of (which I have previously posted about on this very blog, actually). It’s something that I’ve struggled with growing up; the desire to do something well, and then struggling with the road that takes you from not doing it well, through to actually succeeding at something. There are a lot of relative quotes that you could bring up – the “ten thousand drawings” one is a good example, that you have ten thousand bad drawings inside you and underneath all those are the good ones – so every time you do a bad drawing, that’s just another one of the stack. Put it aside, crack on with the next one. You could say the same thing about the Ira Glass quote. Just do a lot of stuff.

But it’s good to have a path to follow sometimes.

Which is where Ctrl+Paint comes in. This is a website that was put together by Matt Kohr, concept artist and illustrator, who has been slaving away over the last couple of years putting together a load of really fantastic videos about digital painting – but even better than that, some basic drawing videos as well. These are proper instructional videos with homework for you to do, and fall into place as part of a course to get you drawing (and more importantly, thinking and looking properly).

As someone who missed out on basic art training, they are fantastic.

Apart from my time at Animation Mentor, I feel like I’ve never really done ‘proper’ art training. My Contemporary Art degree was really more about my writing than anything else (the art course amounted to trying to teach you to ‘think’ differently about art). As far as traditional skills go, I feel like I’m sorely lacking, and local art courses are essentially non-existent (the ones I have signed up for have been cancelled due to lack of interest). I’ve created digital art in the past, but it’s been without any solid foundation in understanding things like composition. I’ve just gone on instinct. So having these videos, with Matt’s instruction, and a roadmap of exercises to run through, is fantastic.

I’ll be diving into the videos over the next few weeks, with the intent of doing one a day (video plus homework assignment), and will be posting some WIP as I go along. I’ll be starting with the basic drawing lessons, and then move forward into the other digital painting videos as I go forward. The beautiful thing about learning traditional skills is they all feedback into the work (and journey) of animating – as Andrew Stanton put it, to be worthy of the name ‘animator’.

Check out Ctrl+Paint and have a look through the videos; if you’re looking to develop digital painting skills, or simply to start drawing better than you currently do, they are well worth a watch.

Then get a pencil and get drawing. Ten thousand bad drawings to go.

Animation Mentor Graduation Speech

… from Andrew Stanton no less. My commencement speech when graduating from Animation Mentor was done by Lee Unkrich, and was fantastic.

Animation Mentor Commencement Speech

There are a couple of things that he mentioned that really struck home – the idea of answering simply “I animate” rather than titling myself as an animator, that the title is something you earn through work not something that you can bestow upon yourself. Also, I just love Stanton’s delivery, he’s a great public speaker, and here’s his TED talk which I also think was fantastic, and well worth taking the time to watch.