Friday, October 28, 2005




Jasen is a freelance artist who works for such studios as Dreamworks, Universal studios, and Disney. Some of his past projects include The Prince of Egypt, Spirit-The Stallion of the Cimmaron, The Road to El Dorado, Madagascar, and Shark Tale. Jasen had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book, but had trouble finding one with a story he liked. Katiebug’s Adventure proved to be the one he knew he could bring to life, and he did. His creative illustrations and clever use of humor makes the book a true treasure for children and adults of all ages. Jasen does projects he believes will stand the test of time, and will continue to bring enjoyment for years to come.

Tell me a little bit about yourself Jasen, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

Well, like most artists out there I drew a lot when I was a youngster but didn’t know much about how to apply my art. I was thinking about being a courtroom artist or something like that. I stop drawing for a while in 1988-1994 while I was in the Army. When I got out I was kind of nervous about what to do with my life next. So I cold called one animator at Disney & asked him if I could come over on a lunch hour or something. That animator was Andreas Deja and that day triggered my artistic life. Andreas looked at my homely drawings without laughing and recommended the art school in Valencia Calif. Cal Arts.
I later that year was starting Cal Arts. I went 1 year and had offers from all the studios that I was interested in at that time. I chose to go to DreamWorks mostly cause it was there very first animated film and that was for me like saying that you worked on Snow White or something like that.
At that time (1995) animation was red hot after the wake of the Lion King. Most students were being nabbed left, right & center it was a crazy time.

How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

Well, I wanted to approach designing with offering hopefully something new. I get sort of annoyed at seeing animated characters that look like things out there already. So what I do is just scribble with a black pen, page after page, and let the scribble inspire itself. I really never know what is going to come through the scribble of black lines. It’s like a figure immerging out from a think fog or something. When I draw like this, in the beginning it’s most personal and I have trouble with people seeing me draw like this, because it looks like I might be having some kind of spazz attack. Only people that see this are very close co-workers that already know what’s going on in my pee-brain.
If a character starts appearing then I take it a drop the scribble in PhotoShop. There I shade what needs to be shaded and use the liquid tool to mush the drawing around. Then I print out this forming character or whatever it is & draw on top of that print 2-3 times as it gets cleaner with every pass. If all goes well, I’ll have a blue penciled in clean drawing that I use in Photoshop, layer 1 holds the original and layer 2 is where I should do the black line. When the character is done I convert to a Tiff or PCX & open it with Streamline that will convert the image into a vector there is also more fudging with the line, (this is as timely as you want it to be- thinner lines take more time. And then, I copy & paste THAT Streamline image into Flash where that is where the entire coloring is done. This takes about 2-5 minutes to color that way.

What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?

Anything in nature.

From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?

I was all eyeballs when students would crack open that bad boy – and think to myself, “Oh, out of all the portfolios hardly any had animals, few artists are working with color…” etc. Thankfully drawing animals is what I love to draw & hardly anyone gets offended. Except for “Cesar” a huge freaking gorilla @ the L.A. Zoo, he throws dirt at people that draw him. (I hope that is dirt…*sigh*)

What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)

I am currently working in the video game industry.
Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?
Working at home through e-mails/snail mail to various studios & anyone else that could use my artwork would be the best way for me. I got a small taste of this, working for about 8 months at home before getting a more stable gig. Working my own hours was amazing; taking naps when I wanted was one of the best perks. My brain was always rested and I think that it reflected in my work. The tricky part was getting a steady stream; keep clients from overlapping & sorting out the honest people… stuff like that. My 3 cats loved it too; they thought I was the coolest daddy ever, playing with them in the alley at 3am.

Who do you think are the top character designers out there?

I worked with Nico Marlet & Carlos Grangel at DW. As far as I’m concerned they are both cut from the same cloth & that’s just about as good as you can get as a character designer for animation IMO. Too many other great artists to name.
How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?
I color mostly in Flash or Photoshop. I like the clean crisp look of a good vector and it’s fast.

What type of things do you love to draw, and why?

Animals & gals.
Dogs are fun to watch because they really express emotions well. I love drawing a goofy expression on an animal.
And Gals because I love to draw round shapes (wink wink) also cause of the eyelashes & hair are fun to design.

What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

The fun part of character designing is, it’s at the beginning of a project and nobody outside can crap on it yet. The easy part is working with loose guidelines on a character. On my last gig, I was told to design, this & that. Then later I was told just to go nuts, “surprise me” with creatures and animals 10 each… THAT is really easy for me. Most hard is - putting that actor likeness in characters. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just putting the flavor of the month thing on my work is annoying that’s all.

What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?

Eh, Jungle Book pops first to my head on good design and Rug-Rats for bad designs. But that’s just my taste that’s all. (Rug-Rats people please don’t burn my house down)

What inspired you to become a Character Designer?

Seeing Nico’s & Carlos work hanging on the walls at Amblin. It was an animated 2-d film “Cats” it was never made. But I was completely knocked out by the work. I mean I was thinking of this stuff for weeks and weeks after seeing it. I was just a student back then.

What wisdom could you give us, about being a character designer? Do you have any tips you could give?

Draw what you like and the rest will fall into place. Only you know what motivates you. For me its movies, images, people on the subways, patterns on plants and this list goes on & on.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

I love hearing from people, there are times when things aren’t going well in the day and an e-mail, or AIM. Sparks me right up. Here’s my e-mail The name is Eyedrawtoons4u.
And my work is here…