Pumpkin Coach

Pumpkin Coach drawn on Autodesk Sketchbook

I’m baaaack! Here’s a pumpkin coach I drew with Autodesk Sketchbook for my Coursera Graphic Design course. The assignment was connotative images and I chose to use the imagery of a pumpkin in association with the story of Cinderella.

Just thought I would share it with you!

A Digital Flower Cross for an Unusual Easter

Digital Flower Cross

This is an unusual Easter in so many ways. Usually, I would be donning a beautiful new Easter outfit and dashing out the door to get to Church in time. As a long-standing member of my church’s choir, I would be part of the service. So, I would need to get there early.

Not this year. Because of the COVID-19 situation, my church had to move their service to an online format. Instead of wearing a new Easter dress and going to church, I’ll be watching an online service; possibly in my Star Wars pajamas. Instead of singing with my choir, I’ll be singing at home over the Shetland Sheepdog who barks if anyone sings higher than a middle C.

But there’s another way Easter will be different for me this year. This is the first Easter I’ve been truly excited to celebrate. Over the past eighteen months, I’ve been on an interesting journey in terms of my faith. I’ve faced my questions and doubts. After doing my research, I’ve come out with a deeper understanding of what I believe. My faith has become so much stronger on this journey. A few months ago marked the first time I could honestly say I loved God since I was a teenager. (More on this in future posts!)

So, while I was a little disappointed not to celebrate Easter on the grand scale I usually do, maybe it’s for the better. Maybe it’s good to celebrate the Resurrection of my Savior without getting caught up in the typical whirlwind Easter ends up being every year. This year, I can really focus on the true meaning of Easter. The fact that Jesus beat death so we could live if we accept His gift of forgiveness and grace.

My church did a flower cross for a couple of Easters. I decided to do one of my own this year in a digital form.

Even though services have been cancelled, it’s still Easter.

Christ has risen. He has risen, indeed!


Cats Wrecking Christmas Printable Gift Tags

Happy Monday! Ok, let’s be honest, those two words do NOT belong in the same sentence! But, hey, at least it’s almost Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, if you’re doing any last-minute gift wrapping, or you’re like me and put it off, I made some free Cats Wrecking Christmas Printable Gift Tags to help expedite things. They feature some of my Kawaii artwork in the top right corner.

This is the first time I used Prismacolor Markers in my artwork. I highly recommend them for any color drawing!

5 Things I wish I’d Known Before I Decided to Be a Professional Animator

By training, I’m a 3D Animator. I graduated with a degree in Digital Animation six years ago. But, I had difficulty getting traction in the job market. Not only was that the dreaded year the bottom fell out of our economy, but I didn’t fully understand what I signed up for. I got discouraged and for five years I tried graphic, and even web design. I also occupied a few day jobs while trying to make it in these areas. I finally decided to return to animation when I was struggling as a receptionist. Let’s just say as a generally shy person, answering phones and collecting on unpaid invoices didn’t go so well.

Recently, I had one of the youth in our church pull me aside and state he was interested in becoming an animator. He asked if I had any pointers. I was on the spot, so I just gave him some practical advice. But there was so much more I wish I’d said. In fact, it’s far more than can be shared in passing in the church hallway. Here’s everything I wish I had said, not only to him, but to myself ten years ago when I decided I wanted to take this crazy road to an animation career.

Dynamic Figure Drawing is Immensely Important

Since most animation is done digitally, I figured the ability to draw wouldn’t be necessary. All I had to do was sit down and pose a digital figure, right? Kinda… While that is essentially what you do, it’s also important to understand body mechanics if you want your character to look like she’s moving in a realistic way.

Also, it’s not enough to just pose realistically, it has to be interesting. If your posing isn’t dynamic and interesting, your animation will just look flat, stiff, and boring. You have to take into account composition, balance, and staging while posing and keyframing. If you don’t, your animation won’t look nearly as appealing.

It’s Not Enough just to know the Tech

I’ve got a knack with technology. Give me five or ten minutes with a gadget, and I’ll have figured out how to operate it, and maybe a bit more. With this gifting, I figured learning Maya wouldn’t be terribly difficult, and I would have it made in the animation world. I was wrong again.

Maya was a beast I wasn’t ready for. It was far more complicated than I imagined, and while I was able to learn enough to muddle through, there were still a lot of facets of the program I had issues with. Also, it seems like every other week I discover a new quirk that is somehow solved by restarting the program. Technology is weird…

However, even with Maya figured out, for a long time I was still missing something. Yes, I knew how to move objects and rigs and set keyframes, but that didn’t cut it. I needed to know how to make my objects and characters move in a way that wasn’t rigid and robotic. You need to take what happens between keyframes into consideration, so it’s not just a mechanical key-to-key movement. Never underestimate the importance of arcs and timing.

Also, it doesn’t cut it just to make something move in a realistic way. An animator needs to be able embellish and exaggerate in a way that not only makes her shot more interesting, but doesn’t diminish the integrity of the movement. For example, once the character’s walk is animated, she must add subtle nuances to make it appealing, like head movement, or a swing in the arm. All the while receiving guidance from her animation supervisor.

A Degree Doesn’t Guarantee A Job

But... I have a degree!

All my high school career, I believed a college degree was a “Get into a Well-Paying Job Free” card. That may have been true twenty years ago, and a degree certainly helps, but it’s not that easy. Especially in art-related fields like animation.

Honestly, animation studios don’t care about degrees, they’ll be looking at your demo reel more than your diploma. I knew this, so I had my stuff from classes I could show, but I also had a degree. I figured I was all set. This wasn’t necessarily the case. You need more than class work to show for yourself. What I should have done was create things for my reel other than what I made in class. It would’ve given me more content as well as practice.

Another thing that would’ve helped me was going through a graduate program, or art school after college. Not only would it have looked better on paper, but it would’ve better equipped me. It took me until recently to realize this and take that step. I went through Animsquad, who I highly recommend. Animation Mentor is also good, and CGTarian.

It’s Very Competitive

As a result of the popularity of animated films such as How to Train Your Dragon(my personal favorite), Frozen, and The Lion King, animation is glamorized as an awesome career. Rightfully so. However, as a result, there are more animators than there are jobs. So, it’s not uncommon for even the best animators to struggle for a while before they find work.

Also, animation is one of those things that if it’s done badly, people notice and turn away. If it’s mediocre, no one takes a second look at it. The only real way it holds the attention of anyone older than six is if it’s done really well.

That’s why your work has to be better than top of the line to stand out to a studio and get a callback. Studios can’t afford to have anything less than the best. The only way they’ll want you to work for them is if they know you can deliver quality work.

It’s a Lot of Hard Worksayitloud.png


Say it again, louder for the people in the back: IT’S A LOT OF HARD WORK!!!

I can’t stress this one enough. Between producing decent work, practicing your skills, searching for work, making connections, and more than likely a day job, you have to work pretty hard to get anywhere as an animator. Not only do you need a superb demo reel, but it helps your chances if you have an online portfolio of other art such as traditional art and graphic design. In fact, one of the reasons I started blogging was to put an online portfolio out to show employers.

Also, you have to be diligent to pursue potential work. It’s not enough just to comb job ads, you have to find the studios you want to work for and send your resume and reel to them. In fact, many studios will have a spot to submit such things on their site even if they aren’t hiring. Once you have your name on their radar, it’s a good idea to like their page on Facebook and follow their blog. Once you have done that, like their stuff and make genuine comments. Find any way possible to engage them.

In Conclusion

So, there it is. 5 things I wish I’d known before I decided to become a professional animator. There aren’t as many illustrations with this one. It was hard to come up with an interesting visual for each point.

Would these factors have influenced my choice? Maybe. I still haven’t made my break in animation yet. As I mentioned before, I had all but given up for a while. I still wonder at times if it’s worth the pursuit. But as I’ve scoped my other career options and, as a Christian sought guidance through prayer and scripture, this is what I believe I have been called to do.

So, if you’re like me and animation is your calling, I urge you not to let the things I mentioned daunt you. But know the cost, and allow that to help you be wise in how you go about it.

6 Obstacles Artists Face and Tips for Overcoming Them

From the time you could hold a pencil, you’ve cluttered your parents’ fridge with pictures you’ve drawn. You’ve sketched all over your notes in school. Come to think of it, your notebook has more stories and poems than actual notes. You’re an artist, and you’re good at it. So, you buy an actual sketchbook and art pencils…and they’re never used… or, if they are, all you have are a few unfinished sketches to show for yourself. What happened? It’s not that you lack talent, or even want-to. You just encountered a few personal obstacles. Let’s look at six common ones.



Ironically, you need a healthy dose of it to be a half decent artist. You can’t just throw stuff onto paper and expect it to look good. You need to make committed strokes and edit them to make them look right. The trouble is becoming so fixated on making it perfect, you become paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Also, you can get so caught up in making one aspect of your art perfect, you never get to anything else. You know you struggle with hands, so you spend so much time on them you forget to finish the face. Either case is detrimental to getting anywhere as an artist.

The best countermeasure is to plan out your art before you commit to it. Start in light pencil with the general shapes, then refine your shapes into finer details. When you’re satisfied with your sketch, you can go in with darker pencil or pen. In the case of a writer, start with a general outline of what happens, or what you want to say. Make a list of scenes, then flesh them out from there. If you’re still worried about mistakes, remember you’re your own worst critic and it’s probably better than you think it is. Chances are if you’re satisfied with it, it’s ok.

Even if it is lousy, worst case scenario you have to start over. You hear it all the time but it’s still true, no one is perfect. Not to use this as a crutch, though. Don’t just overlook your mistakes, learn from them and resolve to avoid repeating them in the future. It helps to know you will get better with practice.


Harsh, I know. But let’s face it. As much fun as art is, it’s work. You have to put in effort to make your drawings look right. You have to practice every day to refine your skill. You have to plan your story’s world and develop your characters in order to write anything worth reading. If your brain registers art as something hard, it can be hard to move past that and make yourself pick up your pencil or sit down to your computer and do it.

When you feel yourself wimping out, just remind yourself of the end result of your efforts. You’ll have an awesome drawing, or your story/idea will be in a form you can communicate to another person without skipping around as much. Furthermore, there’s kind of a euphoria that comes from putting in the effort to create something, as opposed to the lethargic crummy feeling you get from laying on the couch eating snacks all afternoon. If this doesn’t help, you can go online and look at other people’s art for inspiration. Although this can backfire.(More on this further down.) Seeing the results of others’ hard work can inspire you to do the same.


You sit down to draw, paint, write, animate, etc. and the next thing you know you’ve been on Pinterest for 2 hours pinning cat pictures, or playing mobile games until you have a callous on your finger. (not saying I’ve done that… ok I have… In fact, I’m struggling with this one even now!) This one is huge, and it’s the deadly little sister of Laziness. It’s human nature to try to take the easiest path. To your brain it sounds more fun, and like less effort, to browse Facebook than to put our ideas in a tangible, communicable form. We can see artwork as a daunting task, and our distraction of choice is an escape.

The most obvious way to counter this one is to remove the weapon of mass distraction. Disable the internet on your computer while you’re working. Put your phone or tablet out of your arm’s reach so you’re less likely to reach for it. In some cases, this isn’t an option, like if you need to do research, look up reference material, you’re using your mobile device for music, or you could be like me and figure it’s better to just soldier through the distraction. In this case, ask yourself before you turn to social media if you will be glad you spent the time that way. Would you rather have refined your art skills, or gazed at pictures of your celebrity/fictional crush for hours on end. What will you have to show for yourself that you will be proud of?

Time/Priority Issues

Time is precious. It’s hard to find time between work, school, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. to sit down and get any idea out in a communicable form. Yet ironically enough, we still have time to check Facebook, and watch TV.

One thing that helps is to treat time like you would treat money. Unless you’re a really compulsive buyer, you won’t spend your whole paycheck on frivolities. You’ll buy a few here and there. But for the most part, you will save your money for the things you really need and value. You should view time the same way. View everything as having a time “price tag” on it and ask yourself if it’s worth the cost. If it’s not, don’t do it. If you do this and still don’t have time to create, you either have too much to do, or you need to find those short dead times like riding the subway or waiting on your kids to get out of school, or even just 30 minutes before bed to pursue your creative endeavors.

Comparing to Other Artists

I can look at my own work and think it’s decent. But then I can look at my sister-in-law’s drawings or my classmates’ animation and feel like I may as well quit trying because my work pales in comparison to theirs. No matter how great you are, you’ll always find someone better. This is true of even the best artists out there.

The key is to resist the urge to compare yourself just on the basis of the art itself. In the case of myself and my sister-in-law, she has been seriously pursuing art for years, whereas I was a bit more casual about it, and let myself get discouraged when it didn’t turn out like I hoped. So, of course hers looked a bit better because she had practiced more. The same was true of my animation classmates. I was trying to get back into it after 5 years out of the industry. They had worked on shows or had just graduated from art school. Naturally, they knew more what they were doing and it showed.

So, rather than comparing and letting yourself get discouraged, let those you consider ‘better’ inspire you to strive to do your best and be constantly looking for ways to improve yourself. Don’t give up. You’ll get there!

Lack of Ideas/Inspiration

I often find myself staring at a blank page or a blank Open Office document with my head equally empty. It can be hard to motivate yourself to any sort of artistic expression when you don’t feel you have anything to express. It can make you succumb to all the obstacles previously listed. Then, one hour later, the page is still empty.

Honestly, this is a tricky one. The best advice I have to offer is, just start drawing or writing! Draw what you like. For me it was cats. I filled pages with cat drawings. Then I started drawing the characters that formed in my head that I didn’t know where to use. If that doesn’t help, find an art prompt site or app. One resource I’ve found helpful is Another thing you can do is think of something you want to get better at drawing, and draw that. I struggle with hands, so I try to draw something that will push me to improve my hand drawing.

It helped my writing to write the fanfiction I had in my head. Although I don’t intend to post it anywhere mostly for legal reasons, it helped get my creative juices flowing. It also gave me some practice writing, which is always a good thing. Often once you start drawing/writing, the levee breaks, and ideas flow out. They key is starting!

Hopefully this little list helped you identify some things that keep you from reaching your creative potential. I know it’s challenged me to write this post because I struggle with all six of these. I’ll try to take my own advice, and I hope you find it helpful, too. All that’s left now is to get off the internet and DO IT!