Anomaly Approved

Blogs of people I admire and follow and who I heartily approve that you follow too.

Anomaly Approved: Amy Mebberson

It’s been a while since the last one, but things have been busy and this type of post takes a wee bit longer than normal to accomplish. Anyways, today’s recommendation is Amy Mebberson. Who is she? Well, she’s an animation artist who has a lot of passion for all things Disney (and Pixar) and who currently gets to draw Pixar comics, how cool is that?

Amy likes to draw (a lot) and a quick check of her Flickr stream reveals a wide variety of works. There are plenty of work creations, but she is not shy about putting up her personal art either, be it from her sketchbook or her submittals to the Girls Drawing Girls blog.

While some out there will only be familiar with her Disney pin-ups collection, Amy is capable of so much more. It is safe to say that she has an exquisite eye for both character composure and design. While some artists are content to use similar poses over and over again, in contrast, Amy uses the opportunity to explore new and exciting poses that bring out the best possible expression in the character.

The vast majority of Amy’s works are what I would term cute. The characters are almost always smiling and look like they are in a good mood. Which, unless you’re a troll living under a bridge, will undoubtedly brighten your day.

Like most creative folks, Amy does plenty of doodling. Even though these are drawn quickly, with scant regard for perfectness, they still exhibit a great attention to detail and a dedication to excellent design. Since these are done in a relatively short space of time, there are plenty to be found over on Amy’s art blog, My Blue Sky. Even more of her stuff can be found in her deviantArt gallery.

Now I’m no great critic, but I know what I like when it comes to art. It is clear that Amy displays a true passion for her profession that shines through in the quality, calibre and variety of her creations. So what are you waiting, go check out her stuff!

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Anomaly Approved: Ben Camberos

I follow a heck of a lot of blogs (c. 300 at present) and a heck of a lot of those blogs are artists, illustrators or animators. The vst majority of said blogs put out exceptionally good work. The rest also put out exceptionally good work, if only they would update more often! Ben, on the other hand, posts fairly regularly over on his blog.

Ben happens to be one of my favourites, mainly because his creations are totally consistent in their quality. He posts a wide variety of stuff, from sketches, works in progress, completed works and the odd photo or two thrown in for good measure.

His style is pretty unique, relying on strong lines, bright colours and physical features that I guess form a trademark of sorts of his work. He sure does make plenty of pin-ups though, and damned good ones at that. Some are perhaps slightly risque, but that should not detract you from checking out his gallery. His composure is superb and it is clear that he puts plenty of effort and attention into his work. Overall, he compares quite favourably to Messrs. Glines and Timm in terms of quality.

Besides those, ben also indulges his geeky side with plenty of action heroes, comic characters and anime(?) which add a good dose of variety to his work. It is clear to see that his experience serves him well in that regard.

Camberos keeps good company as the links part of his excellent website will attest to, with not one, but two artists already Anomaly Approved.

I would highly recommend checking out his website and blog. He is also currently taking commissions, which means that you too, could own your very own piece of Ben Camberos artwork.

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Anomaly Approved: Asterisk Animation

Blogging, it’s a tough thing to get right at the best of times, heck, I screw it up on a fairly regular basis. There are a chosen few however that excel at the practise. Richard O’Connor is one of them.

Emanating from my favourite city in the whole wide world (New York), Richard writes for the Asterisk Animation blog. In case you didn’t already know, Asterisk is a studio based in New York that turns out many projects for private clients but also undertakes larger stuff, like the superb work they completed for PBS’ film, The Buddha (featuring the handiwork of everyone’s favourite Australian, Elliot Cowan).

Regular readers will note that Richard is not the sole animator blogger in New York, he’s not even the sole daily animator blogger in New York. He shares that distinction with Michael Sporn, a most unique animator whom I recommended just last month!

That is where the similarities end however. There are many differences between the two that serve to provide some fantastic variety in the New York animation scene. For one, Richards focuses much more on the practicalities of animation.

What I mean by this is that we get some original class notes from Tissa David! That is not all however, Richard also posts plenty of tips and tricks on how to create good animation, not just who we should look up to in the industry. Besides that, there are numerous posts filled with seasoned advice that can only come from someone who has been in the industry and has seen it all. Indeed, a series of posts has been posted on the correct way to cost a project. That is advice that can be hard to come by at the best of times and here it is being given away freely!

Richard also posts recaps from various events held in New York. Seeing as one person cannot make them all, it is nice to have a few blogs from where to read how events went. For those of us who don’t live in the Big Apple, these are a blessing.

Being the blog of an animation studio, it would be a crime if there weren’t plenty of posts about goings on in the place. Richard excels at posting about the ins and outs of working and running a studio. Besides that, he gives boatloads of background on many of the projects the studio works on. Although times are slowly changing, it is still rare to see first hand information about the nuts and bolts of a studio coming out on a regular basis.

An interesting aspect of the Asterisk blog is the numerous posts devoted to The Animator, the former newsletter of the trade union in the city. These offer a fascinating insight to the industry as it was many years ago and serve as a great reminder of how much things have changed. They are well worth a read if you have the time to spare.

Of course it wouldn’t be a blog if there weren’t a few personal posts here and there. Richard supplies the goods with posts on varying topics of interest. A notable pair of posts was centred on anime and how it came to be in this country.

As I said at the start, blogging is hard to do right. Doing it every day and getting it right is even harder. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Asterisk Animation blog is Anomaly Approved.

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Anomaly Approved: Michael Sporn

Michael Sporn is a great man. The reason? Not only is a gifted animator who has run his own, indpendent studio for well over 20 years, he also has a blog, affectionately known as his Splog, where he posts every single day.

To say that his knowledge of animation is extensive would almost be an insult. The man knows an awful lot about the artform and not-coincidentally also happens to know a heck of a lot of people in the industry. This is relevant for two reasons: lots of animation folks read his Splog and a few help contribute to it by way of personal collections and stuff kept from the old days.

In this, Michael’s posts fall into a few main categories:

  1. Mechanics posts
  2. Creative posts
  3. Event posts
  4. Review posts
  5. Photo posts

The mechanics posts are basically ones based on the nuts and bolts of animation. Timing, animating, characters, walk cycles, storyboards and so forth. These are really interesting to read as an outsider as the explanations and advice given is simple and straightforward. I may never use it, but you can never learn too much.

The creative posts look at animation design, things like backgrounds, layouts, character design (as opposed to drawing) etc. These posts are even better because they provide the reader with some fantastic art to look at. Michael doesn’t just stick to animation, he also posts about books, illustrations and the odd naughty cartoon thrown in for good measure.

The event posts are pretty straightforward. As a pillar within the animation community, Michael often attends events and he thankfully posts short recaps on most of them. Living in Baltimore, I really appreciate posts like this as I can find out what went on and how things went, even if I attend the event myself!

Michael’s review posts are often some of the best I can find for animated films. He is very objectionable and I highly commend him for this as it is so easy to become a cynical film critic. As an example, check out his reviews for Ponyo on the Cliffs by the Sea and The Secret of Kells (the same showing I went to).

Last but certainly not least, are his photo posts. Normally reserved for Sunday, these posts focus on life in New York city and the various eccentricities that one notices from living there. The photograph posts provide a break in the posting schedule and also mark the end of one week and the beginning of a new one.

With posts stretching back over 4 years (that’s every day for 4 years) the Splog itself is now a treasure-trove of information that can offer assistance even now. I have personally posted about stuff here on topics that Michael covered ages ago and who’s posts have been of enormous benefit to me.

With such an excellent repertoire of posts and his unique and thorough knowledge, I can safely say that Michael Sporn and his Splog are Anomaly Approved. 🙂

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Anomaly Approved: Steve Lambe

I tend to like character designers, I’m not sure why though, but it probably boils down to the vast variety of designs they normally put out, often drawing many different characters in the same show. Some have a speciality for envisioning characters that are the creations of others (Bill Morrison of Futurama and Bongo Comics springs to mind here) others can pull designs out of mid-air with the greatest of ease.

Today though, it’s a shout out to Steve Lambe, who has worked on the Nickelodeon/Frederator co-production, Fanboy & ChumChum as well as the Ricky Gervais Show on HBO. Steve is much more than a character designer though, he’s also done numerous title cards for the former and has a bit of a flair for illustrations too.

With mainstream TV animation there is the danger that character designs can get bogged down in repetitiveness (just look at the Simpsons for proof). That being said, most cartoons being put out on cable are interesting enough for the designer to engage in a bit of exploration or experimentation. One need only look at some of the character designs being put out for Adventure Time to see the superb work that can be done.

Steve is clearly adept to different styles. Take for example the difference between the designs for El Tigre and Fanboy & ChumChum.

Besides his work for Nickelodeon (and currently, Disney), Steve engages in some freelance stuff as well. I love seeing people’s freelance stuff mainly because it is much closer to their personal tastes than studio work. Below is a fun design of a sailor frog. Goodness knows where he got that idea from!

Steve also has a great passion for illustration, as is clear in his fondness for Little Golden Books. I have him to thank for posting about an exhibition on said books that was going on right here in Baltimore without me even knowing it! It was fantastic and truly memorable to see the actual art used in many of the books I read as a kid. Thanks Steve!

Like an good artist, Steve has some of his stuff available for sale over in Lambey’s Lot. Why not wander over and pick up this fascinatingly quirky take on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about the Swinging Belles?

Although he doesn’t update too regularly, I always relish seeing what it is Steve has to post. I thereby certify him Anomaly Approved.

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Anomaly Approved: Katie Rice

And now for something a wee bit different. Today kicks off a new feature here on the Aninomablog (still working on what the blog itself is called, suggestions always welcome in the comments). With the vast, vast, vast number or blogs I follow, vast, I figured it would be exceedingly selfish of me if I kept them for myself. So, starting today and running on a most likely erratic schedule, I will highlight the blog of people I follow and hopefully cajole persuade you into following them too.

The person with the honour of being the first in what will hopefully be a long line of blogs made famous by being feature here is: Katie Rice!

Posting on her personal blog, Funny Cute, Katie forms part of an unofficial group of people I follow of a certain style that I will refer to later when I get around to some more of them.

Astrid from How To Train Your Dragon

Katie posts a wide range of stuff ranging from doodles to full-on illustration. Seeing that a fair amount of said stuff is either funny or cute or both, you can see why I follow here (I like funny and cute stuff). Katie’s style is fantastic, she certainly has an eye for excellent illustration.

Katie’s illustrations display influence from the John K. school with curvaceous bodies and large eyes. Her attention to detail is superb, in the characters and the emotions they display.

Part of Katie's sbumission for Craig Yoe's Jetta book.

Besides here personal art, she has also treated readers to various samples of her animation work. Most recently this has been her storyboards for Nickelodeon’s The Might B! I always appreciate artists posting their studio stuff on their blog as it displays confidence that they always create good art.

Katie Rice is therefore absolutely worthy of being “Anomaly Approved” and she should be “you” approved to. Follow her blog and give her some love.

If you know a blog I should be following, please add it in the comments. 🙂

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