The continuing foundational importance of DRAWING to Animation

“I want to do 3D /CGI animation, so do I really need to know how to DRAW ?”

It’s hard to believe that in 2013 I still get this question from some aspiring animation students (and surprisingly from some CURRENT animation students … who should know better by now)  .

The short answer is YES , you should know how to draw even if your major is 3D animation and the better you can draw the more versatile and employable you will be (Storyboarding jobs continue to be the most stable during downtimes when animators are experiencing layoffs).   And what studio , if given the choice between two candidates equally skilled at Computer animation wouldn’t choose the applicant who also shows strong drawing skills in their portfolio ?


But don’t take my word for it.    I was reminded of this question recently reading an interview with director Cal Brunker in a recent issue of Animation Magazine.

Cal Brunker has been a Storyboard Artist on movies such as Horton Hears A Who!, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Despicable Me .  Recently he directed the movie  Escape from Planet Earth .

Some excerpts from this interview :

Having background as a story artist is something Brunker believes was invaluable in making the leap to writing and directing.

Brunker’s approach underscores a key aspect of what he brought to Escape from Planet Earth—he’s a director who can draw.

“Nothing expresses a visual idea better than a drawing,” he asserts. “It was something I reached for all the time. . By drawing on the screen, the animators got the ideas right away.”

The director, who had studied hand-drawn animation at Canada’s renowned Sheridan College, is  a strong believer in the importance of being well versed in 2D.

“Young people trying to get into this business should not skip that part of their education. Because ultimately, we’re arranging things on a 2D plane and all the skills of drawing come through, even in 3D.”

“You’re trying to force the graphic nature of a 2D drawing into 3D characters,” Brunker remarks. “So we tried to push our character rigs and models into doing stuff graphically in this film.”


I could not agree more with what Cal Brunker is saying.     And I think I may have posted this before , but this excerpt from an interview with legendary designer/director Saul Bass says it all , though his reference point was to Graphic Design and Illustration students ,  not  CGI animation students , when he recorded this interview,  but the application to the present situation is self-evident :



‘Nuff said.