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The Digital Den

When work is play and play is work The Digital Den

An Interview with Animator Ryan Woodward

Creativity comes in many forms be it song, dance, drama or in this instance, animation.  Ryan Woodward has been working as an animator since the mid 90’s having worked on storyboards for films like Cowboys & Aliens and Marvel’s The Avengers as well as successfully launching an animated graphic novel, Bottom of the Ninth. Learn more about Ryan Woodward’s creative influences and inspiration in this Q&A.

SeagateCreative: How did you get your start in animation?

Ryan Woodward: In 1995, I applied and was accepted into a new animation, training program at Warner Bros. Feature Animation.  After three months, they reviewed your work and decided whether or not you could go onto their first feature film, Space Jam.  I was fortunate enough to pass the training program, which was my launching pad for my entire career.  Back then technology, hadn’t caught up with the industry.  It was all about drawing, painting, design and no computer skills were necessary.

SC: Who would you cite as your artistic influences?

RW: Michel Gagne hands down.  He was my mentor and still is in a way.  Not only was his drawing and animating style but his passion for the art form as well.  He still continues to inspire me.

SC: You have a style that is distinctive yet commercially appealing to a vast audience. What made you choose this direction creatively?

RW: There was no choice.  I never consciously thought, “Hey, this style will work.”  I guess you could say that it was a natural evolution for me.

SC: As an artist, what are some of your favorite tools to use?

RW: I have a couple of Macs, a Cintiq and those are basically my tools, oh and my left hand (hehe) and a robust set of markers.  I don’t really have any favorite tools.  It all depends on what I am trying to accomplish.  I don’t have any bias.

If the shot require 3D, then I’ll use Maya.  If it’s compositing, after effects is my preference because I’ve been using it since the Iron Giant.

But the bottom line is, my preferred tool is the tool that I know that can get the job done fast and effective.  So on my off time is when I always experiment with software so I can hit the ground running when I start a new project.

SC: Do you have any particular habits to motivate you to draw like play music or watch TV while drawing?

RW: That is actually a really good question.  I’ve found that in order to be truly creative your mind has to be in a state of rest and peace.  For some people, listening to death metal will rest their minds and for others it’s classical.  Me, personally, I like Indy Pop Rocks on Soma FM, sometimes Metallica, and other times something softer like Alexi Murdoch.  It kind of depends on what I’m drawing or animating.

SC: When collaborating on a project, how much direction are you given as the artist, and how much direction do you give back either to the writer or even the inker, letterer, etc?

RW: In film, it all depends on the director and how he wants to work with storyboard artists.  Some directors like board artists to be very active from the idea stage in the beginning.  Others prefer more of a strict adherence to the script.  My preference, obviously, is the more creative input.

SC: What are some of your favorite things to illustrate?

RW: I like my art to evolve constantly.  So if I notice I have a preference and I’m drawing a lot in a particular way, then that’s my hint to change it up.  It’s just part of my personality, but I get really bored when I start to see repetitive design principles.

SC: What’s one piece of advice you’d give an aspiring artist to help them be creative or develop their ideas into art?

RW: I suppose it goes along with a lot of these questions, but the ability to be versatile in drawing, design, technology opens up a lot more doors than if you’re a one trick pony. It requires a lot more work (through the night and on weekends) but that’s the sacrifice that will help set you apart from others.

SC: What new projects are on the horizon we can look forward to?

RW: I’m animating a title sequence for a Brazilian Soap Opera.  It’s very much in the vein of Thought of You.

Be sure to check out Ryan’s work and download his most recent project Bottom of the Ninth on your iOS device. You can follow Ryan Woodward on these social channels:

Twitter
Facebook
YouTube
Official Site

Thought of You from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

 

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