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In style vs. substance, substance wins out

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

In style vs. substance, substance wins out

Postby Charles » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:33 am


From a short article I discovered earlier this evening.


On style vs. substance, reminds me of the first boxing match I ever went to. Dad, remember it? Maybe 15 years ago? We drove into San Francisco to watch the fight between my grade-school PE teacher and some other unlucky bastard.

When the announcer introduced the fighters the other dude came dancing, prancing and bouncing into the stadium with the glittery robe, pretty women, loud music and huge posse of other tough guys. LOTS of style.

When my gym class teacher was introduced he came walking into the stadium in a grey hoodie with one other guy. Maybe his trainer? No shadow boxing. No hopping and skipping. No loud music. I was afraid my teacher’s face was about to get punched in, given his lame entrance.

But then came the lesson in style vs. substance. My teacher whooped the other guy.


Reminds me also of a wrestling team I was aware of from a local high school in my home town. While other teams made grand entrances when they came out to the mats to warm up before a meet, this team entered in a very unassuming manner. They went through their routine quietly and with no fanfare. Then when the wresting match started, they'd knock the tar out of their opponents. They consistently won the regional championship year after year, and were always contenders for the state championship as well.

Today, through a couple of conversations, I discovered that students from a local school that teaches flashy illustration techniques were being turned away after their portfolios were reviewed by a local studio. They could render very well, but their drawing was flawed. Also, they were turning away character design candidates because they locked into the particular style of their teacher and in effect, had become clones. They could only represent their designs in this one particular manner and that manner wasn't suitable for the demands of the job which called for flexibility and being able to design in a variety of styles as needed per project.

On the flip side, I discovered almost simultaneously, that three more of my students had been hired recently, two of them at the same studio that had rejected the other candidates I referred to.

Why? What made the difference?


My students, although they didn't have the gloss of the high style artists looking for the same jobs, had something more desirable to their employer. They had their basic drawing skills down. They were well versed in design and composition, and they could do what the studio position called for.

High levels of proficiency in illustration techniques are great to know, but technique alone will not score with eagle eyed professionals who know what they're looking at. Illustration skills can't save a flawed drawing. That's a big reason why so many of my students succeed. They get fundamentally strong first in areas where it's most important.

Build a solid base at the beginning, and you'll stand a much better chance of scoring when the opportunity arises for you to break into the biz.

Daily Z

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Re: In style vs. substance, substance wins out

Postby Charles » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:46 pm

SizzleSteak.jpg (17.03 KiB) Viewed 221 times

There's an old adage that works well in advertising but has its limitations in the world of professional animation.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

When you're looking to break into the biz, some sizzle may work for you initially, but you'll need the beef to back it up.

Daily Z

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