Animation vs. Illustration
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    Animation vs. Illustration

    I need to assemble a pros & cons list.

    This is the dilemma:

    I'm currently an Art Fundamentals student at Sheridan College and it will soon be time to start preparing portfolios to apply for next year (for animation, illustration, art history, etc.)

    While I've decided that I want to apply to both animation and illustration, I cant decide which program i would prefer to go into should I be accepted to both.

    Basically, can anyone give me advice as to the pros and cons of each program or each as a career choice?

    Thanks!

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    Animation: Mabe try drawing 40/50/100 frames of the same thing now, and see if you can hack it...the reward can be good, but I honestly just dont have the patience to do that. I'm an illustrator, and I have freinds that are animators, we all love our jobs, I guess it depends on what you want to spend your time on. If you go into animation most likely you'll be animating other peoples characters, doing minimal concepting, but on the plus side there are more jobs in companies (dont quote me on this...thats more my impression, someone more knowlegeable feel freee to correct me) for animators vs illustration (which tends to be a solitary job (I work from home/dont usually get to see many real people all that much). Im not saying theyre arnt in-house illustration jobs (and concepting is a good example), but be prepaired to work your sweet ass off to get those jobs. I've tryed my hand at animation, and actually am doing a little for a job at the moment, but I personally like doing an image, making it look super pretty and moving on, animation is more the: slog at it for a good while, doing the same characters over and over, but at the end if the animation looks cool, thats your pay off. I guess it just depends what you want out of the work your gonna get into. Have fun whichever route you go down

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    Are you interested in making things move and acting? You need to go into animation if this what you want to do. If you're interested in doing story boards, character development, environments, etc. and you love to draw and paint, you should major in illustration.

    That's not to say that animators don't love drawing and painting.

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    Thanks for your help, guys.

    Personally I enjoy drawing the most (maybe because my current painting teacher is too critical and it's really turned me off of painting at the moment)
    But I've recently been using a wacom tablet and I'm really interested in developing my talent for digital art.

    Basically I can't see myself working on the same thing over and over and over again (as in animating a character) but I DO like the idea of 'bringing a character to life' and most importantly i like the idea of stability that animation gives. (i have a fear of not having a steady paycheck/steady work)

    So I guess Illustration would be my personal preference however, I'm just worried about the lack of financial stability in the long run.

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    Animation doesn't really give financial stability either. Many cg jobs for movie studios tend to be contract jobs. Which means after a set amount of time, you're hunting for a new place to work at. However it is relatively more stable than illustration. You need to be awesome, fast and have something unique to be really successful. The way I see it, there's tons and tons of great artists out there. You gotta have something that sets you apart. Whether it be storytelling skills or style or whatnot.

    I won't lie to you, animation can burn you out pretty quickly, especially in cg animation. There's a steep learning curve and there's less control over what kind of results you get. There's lots of trial and error, sometimes you just hope for happy accidents and you're not sure why they work. This usually leads to lots of hardware/software related headaches.

    However, if it's traditional animation, it feels a bit more relaxed and if you have good drawing skills, you can get the results you want much more easily. With all animation though, you have to be creative with your poses. It's less about acting and more about "being". You sorta have to assume the mindset of your character and become him/her/it. This is probably the hardest thing in animation to do. Making your character not go through poses but to live and breathe.

    "So now we have modeled something that will get us nowhere in life"
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    Quote Originally Posted by n.contemporary View Post
    (i have a fear of not having a steady paycheck/steady work)

    So I guess Illustration would be my personal preference however, I'm just worried about the lack of financial stability in the long run.
    Maybe you should look into a non art-related field. Seriously.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Don't you ever have anything nice to say?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeroth View Post
    Don't you ever have anything nice to say?
    Would you prefer nice words, or helpful words?

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Helpful words, but he should still at least try to be polite about it.

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    Whenever you close your eyes do you see mostly sill images or moving images?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CatHicks View Post
    Whenever you close your eyes do you see mostly sill images or moving images?
    Now that is an interesting question.

    Last edited by Elwell; October 18th, 2007 at 07:03 PM.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by n.contemporary View Post
    Thanks for your help, guys.
    (i have a fear of not having a steady paycheck/steady work)

    So I guess Illustration would be my personal preference however, I'm just worried about the lack of financial stability in the long run.
    Getting that single job won't end your fears of steady pay. If it's on your mind, you'll still get stressed out knowing that if you lose that job you have, you could be in big big trouble. At least with freelancing "getting fired" (i.e. losing a single client) isn't the end of the world, since you work for so many different people. James Bennett (amazing illustrator) said that he thought freelancing was actually more stable than 9-5 jobs for that same reason. I know several people who lost their steady jobs through simple impersonal corporate downsizing, so don't expect any job anywhere to be a golden ticket for ya.

    Andrew Murray
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeroth View Post
    Helpful words, but he should still at least try to be polite about it.
    I didn't sense any animosity or rudeness about it. Elwell's been a solid contributor here for years and has never struck me as someone who's abrasive for the sake of being abrasive.

    I understood completely what he was trying to say with his comment and I'd be inclined to agree. If one wants stability- illustration/ animation is most definitely not your field. It's not a knock on the person's talent but if one wants something and can't accept certain aspects of the field, it's time to look at an alternative.

    Like they say the only job with any kind of security is being a mortician...!

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    4 years ago I was stuck at the same spot. Illustration or Animation. So I went for Anim.

    Why? At the time it was something I felt could challenge me alot more than illustration. It was like a whole new world, not only could I be creative but also bring life to my creation, movement, stronger emotions.

    After 4 years, not only did I learn to animate but I also learned to appreciate it and discover what's so great about it. I guess I grew a love for it in general. Film making, short films, whatever you want really. Some people choose to take the stop motion route or CG. It's limitless.

    Now is it better than Illustration? I couldn't tell, but one thing I can garantee you is this! In animation you get to draw just as much as an illustrator, you also get to paint, shade and do all the things a normal illustrator would do. In those 4 years of animation I've improved my illustrative skills like never before.. why? simple, I analyzed my creation in movement and I had to draw it out into life/motion. So I ended up thinking more about the essence of my picture than just the quality of one single line. I can tell you this, I see ALOT more animators staying up late at school working their asses off and pulling out TONS of amazing concept works/life drawing/character design and animations every day than any illustrator. Doesn't mean anything perhaps, doesn't mean one program is better than the other...all it says is this. You're the one with the pencil, you're the one with the potential. In the end it's all about what you want to focus on. I just felt animation had much more to give back than Illustrate (which I already do in my spare time anyways..)

    So that's just my opinion. Everyone's different.

    I'm making an animated short film for my 4th year now and I've never had such excitement for a creative project in my entire life. It's more than "oh you have to draw a million identical frames it's so boring", it's giving back to the audience a creation full of life/form/movement/colour/sound/emotions like NO Illustration could ever achieve.

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words... how many words is an entire film worth you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeroth View Post
    Don't you ever have anything nice to say?
    But Elwell cracks me up all the time. :/

    As far as your question goes I had the same problem, but it came down to personal preference. I'm very nitpicky about good drawing and draftsmanship and decided to put that obsession to use in Illustration.

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    I chose Illustration over Animation (at Sheridan). Alxcote is right in many things he's stated about Animation, however from what I keep hearing from previous graduates and coordinators, the Animation program is -largely- focused on animating. For example there are tons of jobs in the Animation field, but that skill of making the character move is the focus; not say, texturing or modelling, etc. That's not to say they don't at times paint and do other things, I'm just stating the overall focus.

    Illustration however (I'm only first year mind you) focuses on conceptual work, illustrating (obiviously), and you'll learn some graphic design as well.

    Another thing I'll agree with is that, so far, it seems that most animators take life drawing and improving/learning new things more seriously than most illustration students. I will say though, that I like to think of myself as one who is trying very hard to learn many new things. I'm learning from Vilppu books, Force: Life Drawing for Animators, Henry Yan, etc. I want to be well-rounded, and I teach these things to myself in my spare time, at extra-life.

    Basically, the main difference to me is that there's more drawing in Animation, and more painting in Illustration. Regardless of which program you choose, you're going to have to push yourself to learn more. This may be moreso for Illustration, because it's very self-directed. (They both might be, I can't say for Animation, though I'm assuming you get out of it what you put in as well) You're shown how to do the basics, and you do with those what you will.

    I will also say this: Don't think that what you graduate in is what you have to do for the rest of your life. If you graduate from Illustration you will have a lot of skill in drawing and painting, and you could probably transfer those skills and learn how to animate, and branch into the animation field later. With animation the same thing applies. Many animators have done/are also doing illustration work in their spare time, and some even become full-time illustrators and branch themselves off from Animation completely.

    Just don't rule out Illustration completely because you're worried about financial stability. If you're worried about that, I would think very hard about continuing a career in any art field.

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    Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone.
    I think I'm leaning towards illustration but I'm glad to know that if I take animation I will still learn some fundamentals for illustration (such as painting/concept art, etc.) and vice versa.

    Any more input would be great, I love hearing everyone's opinions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by n.contemporary View Post
    I think I'm leaning towards illustration but I'm glad to know that if I take animation I will still learn some fundamentals for illustration (such as painting/concept art, etc.) and vice versa.
    Don't think just because you choose one major over another, you still can't take the other department's classes (or anything else that might float your boat) as elective credits now. Heck, I'd highly encourage it because it'll only make you a better artist in the long run.

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    I'm also at Sheridan, and in a similar position.
    I find myself leaning more and more towards illustration.
    However, I have it on good authority that it is 'easier' to transfer from Animaton into Illustration than to go the other way around.

    I guess i probably should worry about such things after i'm accepted, rather than before.. seems to me that there's a fair bit of competition to bypass..

    But anyway.. since you're at Sheridan, the ones you ought to be talking to are probably the other Sheridan users. You can find most of us in the Sheridan thread. My illustrative leanings are mostly a result of hanging out with Nic and Lindsay (SirGreenSock and Ryn on the forums).

    Ask around at the school, or in the pit, or at extra life drawing classes. Ask in the Sheridan thread.

    Keep in mind what Dave said above.. whatever you're being taught is just expanding your horizons as an artist. These courses are a means to an end, but not the end itself. You can mix and match, and if you think you landed in the wrong stream, give it your best, and switch at the end of the year. None of it will make you a worse artist. Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

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    I wouldn't be too worried about jobs :/ Seriously. If you have the skill, you can do anything. You can open up your own studio and be an art teacher, even!

    As for illustration or animation, I wouldn't really worry that much. Both programs offer a lot to the students~
    :/ I'm in animation, TBA, and I love it! But I feel that it's up to the individual to learn and make themselves better, and to do extra stuff outside of school.

    Good luck!

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    Thanks for your help everyone. Although I'm still so indecisive.


    What I was wondering is:


    For those of you in Illustration: What do you enjoy the most about it? What is the day in the life of an illustration student / professional? What do you like the least about illustration (as a program or practice)?

    and the same questions for those of you in animation.

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    I've only just started my first animation classes, but I can tell you that the most rewarding part of the process is seeing my drawings live. Really. There isn't anything better than that for me. It's easy to become frusterated, but after seeing everything come together and work, it's entrancing. I enjoy painting and drawing, too...but animation is just magic.

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    Thanks for the feedback, saint.
    If you dont mind my asking: which school do you attend?

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    Another Question:


    Basically, I would love to do concept art for video game / film companies and I know a lot of people would recommend studying illustration for this.

    However, I enjoy character design (rather than technical concept art ie: designing cars, sci-fi machinery/air crafts, etc.) and I know that at sheridan (where I will be studying) animation tends to focus a lot more on anatomy and storyboarding

    Perhaps an Illustrator or Animator could run me through 'a day in the life of . .' or someone could direct me where to find similar info?

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    We're going through this with some students struggling with which of the three streams we're offering at Max the Mutt (Animation, Illustration, and Concept Art). One of the best resources for making decisions of this sort is often just looking at the curriculum: choose the program that offers the deeper education in the sort of work you want to do on a day-to-day basis.

    That being said, I know working professionals who've wandered quite far from their initially trained skill base. Passion for a specific type of work usually ends up directing where you excell as an artist and can usually direct your career path as well.

    ~Richard

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    I can tell you this, I see ALOT more animators staying up late at school working their asses off and pulling out TONS of amazing concept works/life drawing/character design and animations every day than any illustrator.
    Nodody in illustration likes working late at the school because they turn the heat off in the labs we use. Before christmas during the all-nighters that I spent there I could literally see my breath at one point.

    Because alot of people in my program aspire to do freelance it's just their personality trait to be more comfortable working at home in their own space.

    Unlike animation we don't get our own desks until 4th year and by then most people are just accustomed to doing all their stuff at home.

    You guys (animation) just have better after-hours work spaces than we do. Does security kick you out of your computer labs after midnight? We do

    Plenty of people in my year pull all nighters and rediculous work hours -- although usually at home.


    Also -- not sure how our program compares to animation, creative arts, or photography, but I'd have to say that our work (especially from our main classes) NEVER gets exhibited around sheridan. The other programs would have no idea what we're doing (unless they come to the 4th year industry show in Toronto every april) and even then most of the work in that show is from the self directed class.

    I'm in the program and I barely get to see what people in the other two interpretive classes are doing.

    I always find it odd when people from other programs try and compare what they do to what happens in illustration -- because the life-drawings that go up in the hallway are from first year students ... most the painting that goes up in the hallway is all 2nd year (even in open house)

    Our hallways worth of display cases seem to be reserved for 1st year life-drawing and that's it. For some reason fundies and other programs take over the other display cases -- probably more of an administrative thing than a program thing, but still.

    Like... how could someone make the claim that animation does more?

    This week alone I have a huge painting due monday, a figure sketch assignment due tuesday, character designs and storyboard due wednesday morning, 2 final illustration linears due friday morning, with another final painting due that afternoon, and at minimum 3 8.5 x 11 finals for another program wide project due by the end of the day. -- and readings for the online breadth course.

    How many of this will actually be seen by other programs around the school? Probably nothing. Where are you guys getting your info? It sounds like you know more about my program than I do. hahahah

    Last edited by kennygeeze; January 19th, 2008 at 10:48 PM.
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    Kennygeeze has a very valid point.

    Just because one is seen at school doing more homework doesn't necessarily mean they're working harder or there is more work for them in their program. We happen to have a phenomenal glass program at the school where I teach; the kids in there in order to fulfill their assignments have to do their work on campus (I don't know of too many homes with their own glass furnaces where kids can do their homework).

    To claim one art program has more work than another is also very subjective. Think about any given assignment and how many times one can work and re-work it and it still won't have a sense of completion. Completion of artwork is subjective! Time spent on an assignment is by no means a fair judge of how good it is nor is it a fair comparison to how difficult it is.

    The talented students can breeze through an assignment whereas the less will struggle a little more- but by no means does it make the assignment any tougher or easier. It's perceived differently so to make a blanket statement of one program having a much more stringent and demanding assignments can be misconstrued as arrogance or ignorance.

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    I don't think I'm really concerned about the workload of either program since I know that regardless I would put my best effort into all of the work.

    What I'm more concerned about is the type of work/assignments and basically a 'day in the life' of an average illustration or animation program.

    But thanks for all of the feedback so far, everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kennygeeze View Post
    Nodody in illustration likes working late at the school because they turn the heat off in the labs we use. Before christmas during the all-nighters that I spent there I could literally see my breath at one point.

    Because alot of people in my program aspire to do freelance it's just their personality trait to be more comfortable working at home in their own space.

    Unlike animation we don't get our own desks until 4th year and by then most people are just accustomed to doing all their stuff at home.

    You guys (animation) just have better after-hours work spaces than we do. Does security kick you out of your computer labs after midnight? We do

    Plenty of people in my year pull all nighters and rediculous work hours -- although usually at home.


    Also -- not sure how our program compares to animation, creative arts, or photography, but I'd have to say that our work (especially from our main classes) NEVER gets exhibited around sheridan. The other programs would have no idea what we're doing (unless they come to the 4th year industry show in Toronto every april) and even then most of the work in that show is from the self directed class.

    I'm in the program and I barely get to see what people in the other two interpretive classes are doing.

    I always find it odd when people from other programs try and compare what they do to what happens in illustration -- because the life-drawings that go up in the hallway are from first year students ... most the painting that goes up in the hallway is all 2nd year (even in open house)

    Our hallways worth of display cases seem to be reserved for 1st year life-drawing and that's it. For some reason fundies and other programs take over the other display cases -- probably more of an administrative thing than a program thing, but still.

    Like... how could someone make the claim that animation does more?

    This week alone I have a huge painting due monday, a figure sketch assignment due tuesday, character designs and storyboard due wednesday morning, 2 final illustration linears due friday morning, with another final painting due that afternoon, and at minimum 3 8.5 x 11 finals for another program wide project due by the end of the day. -- and readings for the online breadth course.

    How many of this will actually be seen by other programs around the school? Probably nothing. Where are you guys getting your info? It sounds like you know more about my program than I do. hahahah
    I never said one program was better than the other. The point I was getting at with my original post was that students in Animation are often seen as pencil pushing robots on a light table when in fact alot of animators spend their time working on illustrative works as well and many other types of medium. Not only do they excell in animation but also other fields. I've never seen an illustrator at Sheridan showcase some personnal animation works. Don't get all worked up because I only stated some things I noticed in our school, what I see every day, what I see from various students in various programs. I have many friends in Illustration who work very hard and strive to become great artists as much as in Animation.

    I even specified how in the end it's all about the student and not the course. The TS asked about Pros/Cons and our opinion, I gave mine. That is all, amigo.

    (ps. we also get cold at night and get kicked out, and we also have first year life drawings on the walls. Not that it matters, because it never did.)



    Quote Originally Posted by n.contemporary View Post
    I don't think I'm really concerned about the workload of either program since I know that regardless I would put my best effort into all of the work.

    What I'm more concerned about is the type of work/assignments and basically a 'day in the life' of an average illustration or animation program.

    But thanks for all of the feedback so far, everyone.
    First and second year of animation is pretty much alot of technical courses and lots of life drawing. Classical animation/3D/2D, Painting Gouache/Digital(PS), Layout, Character Design, Life Drawing and sound editing. There's also a few electives on the side.

    Third year is a group project with few classes on the side. Most people have mixed feelings about that year because 1) you don't pick your group members 2) you have a mentor(teacher) who is somewhat of a "director". But you still have Life Drawing and Animation classes on the side and the electives. 3D Maya character animation/Rig/Texture and whatnot. Classical Animation still, more indepth.

    Fourth year is the bomb, you get to make your own film and you only have a lecture and a "mentor meeting" class + elective (so 3 i guess) classes a week. The rest of the time you spend making your final film. But it's alot of fun (and hard work). Then you get to show your film, what's more fun than see an audience see your own film in action.

    4 years can be very long. Animation is like 2 years of techinal madness, a 3rd year of making a group film and learning from your mistakes with people you don't necessarily like or have similar style and a 4th year of making something (potentially) amazing and having fun. That's how I see it. When you're really into your work and you're passionate then time goes by extremely fast. If you go through the 1st year and complain and don't feel like learning anymore than maybe it's not for you. People do drop out of animation from lack of motivation/passion. I'll always come back to the fact that it's up to the individual and what you're ready to accomplish.

    Alex

    Last edited by alxcote; January 21st, 2008 at 10:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alxcote View Post
    I never said one program was better than the other. The point I was getting at with my original post was that students in Animation are often seen as pencil pushing robots on a light table when in fact alot of animators spend their time working on illustrative works as well and many other types of medium. Not only do they excell in animation but also other fields. I've never seen an illustrator at Sheridan showcase some personnal animation works. Don't get all worked up because I only stated some things I noticed in our school, what I see every day, what I see from various students in various programs. I have many friends in Illustration who work very hard and strive to become great artists as much as in Animation.

    I even specified how in the end it's all about the student and not the course. The TS asked about Pros/Cons and our opinion, I gave mine. That is all, amigo.

    (ps. we also get cold at night and get kicked out, and we also have first year life drawings on the walls. Not that it matters, because it never did.)

    Alex
    I've never seen animators as "pencil pushing robots" and I enjoy looking at the work that goes up in the hallway from your program.

    You said ""I can tell you this, I see ALOT more animators staying up late at school working their asses off and pulling out TONS of amazing concept works/life drawing/character design and animations every day than any illustrator."

    Which is the only thing I had a problem with in the first place -- and I can't believe you didn't at least expect some sort of response to that.

    I've never seen an illustrator at Sheridan showcase some personnal animation works.
    There are actually. The industry show last april had a projector set up showcasing several students' short animations.

    I know of at least one student in my class who did an animated film for his interpretive illustration class... and currently one of our classes this semester is dedicated to creating a short animated film.

    We created animated spots back in 3rd year as well, and I know the same projects are being introduced in the earlier years these days so they can get a better handle on the software -- namely aftereffects and flash.

    ps. we also get cold at night and get kicked out, and we also have first year life drawings on the walls. Not that it matters, because it never did.)
    Sure it did. You're basing assumptions of what goes on in illustration on what little from our program gets showcased around the school. That was my point.

    You make it seem like since you don't see us working at the school late at night that we're not working.

    That's cool that you guys do illustration too. Is there a course in animation dedicated to those type of projects?

    Anyways, sorry if "I can tell you this, I see ALOT more animators staying up late at school working their asses off and pulling out TONS of amazing concept works/life drawing/character design and animations every day than any illustrator. " wasn't meant to sound hostile... but it honestly sounds to me like you look down on my program - and that's why I responded the way that I did.

    So I apologize if I went over the top or offended you at all.

    I look at your blog from time to time (i think somebody I link to links to you, but anyways...) and I reallllly like your paintings -- the alice and wonderland one is great.

    So, sorry if I came off as angry or stupid.

    Ken

    Last edited by kennygeeze; February 17th, 2008 at 01:49 AM.
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