i'm an incoming senior in high school. calarts has been my top school of choice for a few years now as i am very interested in everything having to do with animation, character development, et cetera. since i will have to begin application in the upcoming months i am curious what i can do to put my best foot forward. i have heard a lot about life drawing but that is about it. so;
1) what do i need to start doing NOW in order to better prepare myself for making the best portfolio possible?
2) what advice have you received/heard about from others involving what the people at calarts want to see in a portfolio?
3) is it plausible for someone who began drawing with fanart to want to and attempt to pursue this path?
i have experimented in animation with flash and the pencil program before, and though it was grueling work, i enjoyed every second of it. i have the ambition to do this and the drive to push myself, but i'm afraid i will be in over my head.
Hey there! I'm also an incoming senior so here's some senior-to-senior advice:
I totally recommend getting started a.s.a.p.! It takes a while to get the hang of life drawing (and your first few probably won't be included in your portfolio for this reason), so get yourself into drawing mode and draw draw draw!
1.) Life drawing is a huuuge component of the Calarts character animation portfolio. Life drawing IS crucial to animation, after all! I recommend getting yourself signed up for some life drawing classes or finding local open studio sessions. I'd say 2-3 days a week is a good amount of life drawing! You'll need to be determined and willing to work hard! I'm doing life drawing twice a week and it's helped immensely. Totally recommend getting a head start on this. Aim for gestures and get loose! ALSO grab yourself a sketchbook and get doodling. The portfolio requirements are on the Calarts website, but as an fyi a completed sketchbook is one of the requirements (this is also really important).
2.) There's tons of advice all over the forums here on this, and also all over the interwebs, but in sum they really want to see your own artistic voice and your ability to draw the human body. The Calarts website says that they look for "strong, creative life drawing skills, artistic originality, and the potential to tell stories and develop characters using sequential imagery", which seems pretty vague, but if you look at accepted portfolios you'll understand what they mean. They really like uniqueness though, so strive for that for sure.
3.) A lot of cartoonists start out drawing fan art actually. I don't know one person in animation that hasn't. Really your goal should be to eventually ditch the fan art and do your own thing. After all, when you're in animation, you won't be drawing fan art for a living!
Also, a side note: I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest not including any fan art in your portfolio. Art schools want to see your OWN artistic vision, not somebody else's style or characters. Nearly all art schools will strictly say to not include any fan art in your portfolio, so just a heads up.
Also also, my own two cents: Think about creating your portfolio beyond just an acceptance to Calarts. Think about it as your own artistic development as an artist or animator and your eventual career in animation. If you limit yourself to just thinking in terms of what CalArts wants, you're losing sight of the goal you're after! Everyone thinks they're in over their heads in animation at one point, but if you think you really have what it takes, keep your eyes on the prize. School is just one path to getting there (: Nobody can really tell you if animation is for you but yourself.
P.S. here's a book to get you started with life drawing if you haven't already!
Good luck, fellow applicant!
1. Start a sketchbook and really focus on making it unique and appealing. Draw every day. Go to coffeeshops, malls, colleges, whatever and draw from life. When not doing that, make illustrations and studies. It's also never too soon to start making actual pieces of art, like paintings. It will give you something to put in your CalArts portfolio in December.
2. A lot of people say experiment in your life drawing, but I'll put my personal take on it. Do not look at other people's accepted portfolios and try to emulate their style in an attempt in tricking admissions into accepting you. I did this last year and I feel it completely bit me in the ass. Instead of actually focusing on my own style and improving, I spent 90% of my time drawing in a style that wasn't completely me. I was so worried about showing CalArts what a "free spirit" I was, I wasn't actually making good drawings. So, experiment, but in your own way. When doing life drawings do not even think about the "CalArts style". Just draw.
3. Of course. Although, if you mainly draw fanart, I would say (no offense but) stop drawing fanart immediately. Unless you're taking fanart and making it into your own style, showing tons of Disney characters or anime or video game characters comes across as unoriginal and sometimes kinda creepy. You should instead draw original stuff, and not fanart.