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Preview: Jess Morris Blog - Animator

Jess Morris Animator

Updated: 2018-03-07T14:42:28.048-08:00


Class Review: Dynamic Sketching 1 with Peter Han at CGMA


Earlier this year I took the Dynamic Sketching 1 Class at CGMA with Peter Han and would like to share my experience just in case anyone out there is looking to take the class too.Expectations for Class: Drawing was feeling rusty and was hesitating every time I would put my pencil to paper, so wanted a class to kick off better habits and overall just draw more confidently.Week 1 - warm up exercises for drawing and material introductionFirst class was all about the tools (pens), paper and learning how to use both. And NO pencils. I am used to drawing with pencil first and figure things out before inking, so I realized real quickly this class was going to challenge me in more ways than I had expected.First exercise was repetition of straight lines, circles, and curves to start to build muscle memory and get used to the pens.   Week 2 - study of organic forms, contour lines and texturesNext we practiced the same lines but by creating forms, both organic and rigid. Added interior lines to help define the volume of the shape and also learned to make the outer line thicker to help it stand out against surrounding shapes. Last part of this exercise was to slice the shape and use textures to help define how the inside looks.   Week 3 - analysis of geometric forms, basic perspective and shadow studiesPutting lines down started to feel a bit more comfortable at this point while we practiced perspective. Coming up with textures was really fun and really challenged my pen techniques. Also this week we were shown how to use a light gray marker to lay the ground work and then go over with the black pen. This was kind of replicating how I usually would use a pencil first, but still had to really think and visualize what I wanted to draw before putting down lines since still can't erase.     Week 4 - study of how previous five forms create and interrelationship to describe the subject matter with more line workThis is where everything we have done so far all started to come together. Organic forms, defined by texture/highlights and now started to add shadows to help it put in space.I especially liked this exercise! It was very therapeutic to add the textures to the shapes, and since it was just a blob and not a character made it easier to focus on getting the form right.  Week 5 - use of markers and additional materials to create better sense of depth, volume, and texturesNow out of our heads and back to real life -- time to draw plants! It was a great next step putting all of our new skills to use. Peter really stressed this week about thinking of our sketchbook pages as our thoughts; figuring things out, simplifying, writing notes, and the like.The process we went through for each drawing would go something like this:- What is the basic shape? (thinking about simplifying the overall shape and pushing it to be more appealing) These drawings would be smaller.- Once replicated the desired shape a bit larger with a gray tone marker, then would go in and start defining the plant. Is there an overall shape for the leaves or is it simple enough to do individual or bunches of leaves? How simply can things be defined without over complicating the plant? The goal is to communicate the idea of the plant, not render every detail.- Next step is further defining the shape with the textures. The leaves for example can be rendered in a way to help define the depth of the bunch of leaves. Front/mid/back all have a different way of being rendered that will help with depth. It was a great challenge to explore different ways to render the leaves and try to find the simplest way to accomplish the look and feel I wanted.- Heavier line around the outside to help define the shape and make it pop.- Add highlights to where the light is hitting it the hottest! Week 6 - drawing plants from observation at locationMore plants! Same exercise, but now bringing in some color in. This demo of Peter's stood out to me because I have never seen anyone use markers like he does.The idea of adding the colo[...]

Animating Quads


A couple years back I was Animating on Free Birds, and during that time I was the Quad Lead. I did some quad work on Cats & Dogs 2 and Twilight at Tippett Studio, so was excited to bring to the table what I learned from my friends over there. Along with that experience, there was a ton of research and discovery that went into figuring out how these four legged animals move, and I loved every minute of it!WalkStalk Trot  Flying Trot CanterGallopAnimating Quad TIPS!(There is a lot of great broad information out there on animating quads, so I don't want to re-say what's already been said - and so well! So here are some random tips I have come across while animating quads.)  - Reference Reference Reference! Find it, study it, use it! Making this stuff up might be faster, but its also the fast way street to unbelievable animation.  - If you use a cycle, bake it down, make the feet legit so they aren't sliding around - EVEN if there is grass covering them. YES sliding feet are felt even if you can't see them contacting the ground.- Dirty up the cycle so you get variation in the movements, so it doesn't FEEL like a cycle. This pass is a lot of fun, because its what makes the animal start to feel believable! Think about what the animal is doing and how its surroundings will affect its movement. - Simplify the anatomy and understand what is happening beneath all that fur! As a study, I suggest take some of your reference and draw the simplified skeleton over the animal in each frame. Once you hit play it should be more clear as to what is making the animal move and how.- Scapula's! I feel like this is the secret ingredient for some really impressive quad animation. This is also what will give the animal weight. So it is a necessary component to their movement, but often missed. Cat's scapula's push up the most, dogs some, horses don't break the silhouette, but you still want to animate them since you will feel them sliding beneath the surface. - Break the hips up from the chest so you don't get "sausage body". - Floppy ears will obviously have more overlap than pointy, but make sure on the pointy ears you aren't giving them too much overlap. There is cartilage going through them and wont feel believable if they are too floppy. Ears are another way to show thought process and personality! They can almost be like the brows, anticipating movements and showing internal thoughts.- When you can't easily see the far eye, generally you want to point the nose towards where the animal is looking.- The timing of the feet in the air versus on the ground. Roughly about 1/3. Most beginning animator key it 50/50. - Ryan Hood Some of those awesome resources I was talking about...- Animating Animals Pinterest - Eadweard Muybridge Studies- How to Draw Animals by Jack Ham - The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hulgren- Will Groebe Master Class: Animating Animals- Animating Animals with FORCE with Michael Mattesi -Real life!And if you have tips of your own, please do share! I love this stuff![...]

Schoolism: Stephen Silvers Character Design - Complete!


I just finished Stephen Silvers Character Design class through Schoolism! I learned a great amount from each of Stephen's lectures and especially from his draw-overs. It's amazing how he could make my design so much better with just a few alterations! I feel like my biggest improvements are my confidence in my line, drawing through the forms - making sure everything fits together, and pushing the shapes. I haven't gotten my final critique yet, so I'll find out soon what Stephen feels my biggest improvements are and what I should work on moving forward!Lesson 1 we drew a character based on a description we were provided with. And Lesson 9 was the same assignment, but applying everything we learned throughout the class. Here is the comparison:There are certain elements from the original I do still like, since it's more film type details, but I am really happy with the final character! He is definitely more solid and interesting... feels like he is actually leaning on the counter, has more character, pushed shapes - yeah! Much better!  I didn't spend as much time on his paint job as I wanted to, but I did the best I could with the time I had. I'll give more time to the next one!If you want to see the other Lessons leading up to the 9th, continue on!Lesson 2: Thinking, Looking, Doing.This week was all about design fundamentals and the importance of silhouettes. The thing that really stuck was even with doing silhouettes, its still important to get the gesture and form down. Once I treated even my little silhouettes as more of a gesture, my shapes began to unflatten.The long assignment of the class is designing a Jekyll and Hyde character. I decided to do a pig scientist that would turn into warthog. Here are the silhouettes I did exploring different design possibilities. Lesson 3: Construction/CaricatureThis week covered the importance of construction, what it means to avoid the ladder and tap into the realm of caricature. He gave great examples of design issues and how to avoid them. This was extremely helpful! So many things to think about and keep in mind that all make for a stronger design!One part of the assignment was figuring out the construction of a bunch of heads and also tracing over faces to see their proportions and what makes them look the way they do.Another part of the assignment this week was to do a drawing of this dude with an awesome stash and bowler hat.Then I had to put the picture and drawing away and do characters based on his essence. Also did a bunch of other caricatures...And finally continued on with our Jekyll and Hyde assignment by adding more character, clothing and personality. I first did some pig and warthog studies to get familiar with the animals.Lesson 4: The FeaturesStephen had many great tips on how to break down the features to make them simple to draw from all angles and also how to push them in a way that still makes the characters believable. This weeks assignment was all about studying. Lesson 5: Clean-UpThis week Stephen demoed several different ways to clean up a drawing while focusing on scale and proportion. The idea of continuing to draw over your drawings again, then again... then again and as many times as you can to further explore and push was a huge thing I learned this week. It's so easy to get locked down on an idea which often leads to stiff boring drawings.From this point we had to choose only Jekyll or Hyde to continue on with. I choose Dr. Jekyll, but I hope to finish off Hyde now that the class is over so I have the complete set.Lesson 6: TurnaroundsI learned a lot of tricks to keep a character consistent while turning it around. Still tough though...Lesson 7: Expressions and AttitudesStephen drew a range of expressions while focusing on rhythm, balance and flow. He also did a color demo that was extremely helpful. It's amazing how fast he can go from line art to a finished piece!And here is the final part of the Jekyll assignment! Lesson 8: Memory sketching and ho[...]

Updated Demo Reel


I had a lot of fun reworking my reel this weekend with new shots from Free Birds -- thanks for viewing! src="//" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>

Jess Morris Demo Reel 2013 from Jess Morris on Vimeo.

Schoolism: Stephen Silvers Character Design - Lesson 1


Last week I started an online Character Design class taught by Stephen Silver -- designer of cartoons such as Kim Possible and Clerks. He is a super nice guy and talented artists and I am very excited to be learning from him!

The first lesson is for him to see where I am at and how I draw. He gave us this description and here is what I got!

NAME: Walter Chipwitther
WHO: wealthy entrepreneur
AGE: in his 60's
WHERE: London, 2011
PERSONALITY: jolly, full of laughter, enthusiastic man happy to be alive and well.
CLOTHING: Wears a bow tie, smoking jacket and monocle
LOOK: Heavy set, around 5'6

Free Birds!


About a year and a half ago Louie and I picked up and moved to Dallas to work on Free Birds at Reel FX. Though everyone was excited for us, quite a few thought we were crazy... and trust me, I wasn't sure we weren't. Well, I can tell you with certainty it was a good decision! We miss Cali and our friends/family there more than they'll ever know, but moving to Dallas brought us so much more than we ever imagined! It was such a unique experience working first hand with director, Jimmy Hayward, and producer, Scott Mosier! We learned tons from their experience's and talent (both super awesome and down to earth guys too!)! Opportunities presented themselves that never have before, challenging us in a way that gave us no choice but to grow and get better. Louie and I are surrounded by so many talented artists that inspire us everyday and we feel lucky we can call many of them friends. And today... finally... after all of our hard work and dedication... Free Birds hits the big screen!

This is Reel FX's first feature, most of the artists first feature and many artists first film EVER! Pretty special!

We hope you and your kids enjoy this silly holiday movie!

(This is a still from one of my shots! I'll post up my reel soon so you can see what other shots I did on this film!)



I haven't used physical mediums in a very. long. time. So this was a lot of fun and reminded me how much I love to paint! Started with water color, with some gouache touch ups. About 4x3 in.


Frog Sketches


Penguin Sketch


FINALLY got around to sketching again, work took up all my time for a while... penguins are a fun way to get back into it! Drawaholics.

Happy Holidays 2012!


Gesture Drawing Class, Week 6: Story


The final week of this drawing class we focused on story. This was a really fun exercise since it brings together everything we have been practicing week to week and giving it story.

The first round we were given five poses and based on the mood or idea of the pose, we had to come up with a story idea. I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to come up with ideas. Made me realize I have to practice this exercise a lot more...

 We then had to do the same thing, but find our own poses:

 I also did some draw over fixes of my bear drawings from last week:

Gesture Drawing Class, Week 6: Extrapolation


This week, we had to take the poses from our model and extrapolate the idea, in to an animal. This forces you to try and convey a similar feeling with completely different anatomical limitations. It was extremely challenging, but also gave me an exercise I plan on continuing on doing!



Raiders of the Lost Arc was in theaters around these parts last week and it was AMAZING to see it on the big screen! This is what I got...

Gesture Drawing Class, Week 5: Exaggeration


This week's focus was exaggeration and getting the feeling of the pose across, rather then worrying about anatomy. We also had to pick an animal to do studies for to help us prepare for our assignment next week... have no clue what that's going to be!

Showreel Updates!


I have been working on some awesome shows and I would like to share some of the shots I animated! (click the titles to see showreel)

I think we all were swearing more than usual after working on this show, ha! And not because we were angry, but because Ted is contagious! This show was a blast to work on and I am so glad for the response it is getting!

Breaking Dawn Part 1
Wolves are one of my favorite animals, so I had a blast studding up on them and trying to make them look realistic as possible in my shots.

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
I only got to work on this show for a little over a month after Pirates, but it was a lot of fun!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The mermaids brought on a whole new challenge that I hadn't encountered before.

See my other showreels in my Animation section. Thanks for checking my work out!

Gesture Drawing Class, Week 4 - Space


This week was all about space and making sure the figure isn't on one plane. BUT that's not it, I had to do a session all with my LEFT hand! Talk about painful.

Gesture Drawing Class, Week 3 - Silhouettes


This weeks lesson was Silhouettes! I still had to start with the line of action and while keeping shape in mind, build a silhouette while keeping the IDEA of the pose clear. That was something that stuck with me from the lecture and that I think is a really important point: What is the idea of the pose and what is the best way to represent that idea? I found that I started with a silhouette that was fairly close to the model, but only pushed a little. So I pushed some poses even further and in some cases even changed the angle of the pose. Lots of fun and challenging!

I carried a watermelon!


This is one of my favorite moments in one of my favorite 80s movies. Know which one??

Another owl...


Started a drawing class...


My boyfriend, Louie, and I started an online Gesture Drawing class through Schoolism, taught by Alex Woo and Louis Gonzales. We just finished week two and its been a lot of fun! Week 1 was all about the line of action, getting the main idea of the pose in one stroke. Week 2 was about capturing the pose in a simple, almost graphic, shape. Here is a page I did for that:
I did my best to push the poses further then what the model was doing, but I feel like I could have pushed some of them even further. If I have time I would like to pick a few to do so! OR I'll just keep that in mind for this week :P

barn owl.


Another Drawaholics post: Favorite Bird. Lately I have been loving owls. Barn owl's aren't necessarily my favorite owl, but I wanted to do a line up of different owls and started with this one since it was at the top of my alphabetically organized list of different kinds. I got caught up with pushing the design in different directions, so did a few versions, and might so some more this week if I find make the time.



It's been a while since I have done an 'Update' post and this one was due a couple months ago. But things have been crazy Y'ALL. YEEHAAW... that was a little foreshadowing to my news.:PEarlier this year, Louie and I both accepted positions at Reel FX in Dallas TX to help the studio develop their first animated feature film TURKEYS. This was a very bittersweet decision, but we're incredibly excited about it and that we get to do it together! It was hard to leave Tippett (again).. the place that took a chance on me when no one else would... The place that taught me so much not only about how to animate better and more efficiently, but how to be a good animator to work with... The place where I met the love of my life...  The place that taught me how to continue working after downing four pints of beer at lunch. I owe these guys for a lot of great memories and helping be become the person I am. Those guys will always feel like family to Louie and I, no matter where we are. After dealing with uptight movers, a nonstop 30 hour drive with two cats and a dog, fear of our car breaking down in the desert, fear of our moving truck getting swept away in a tornado... we made it! And Reel FX has done an amazing job welcoming us into their family! Everyone has been extremely helpful with things around the studio and also things in the area. It's been a lot of fun getting to know the animation team and also working with other fellow bay area animators that moved down here for the same project... one of who actually told us about this opportunity (thanks Travis!)! The excitement and energy in this studio is contagious and its been amazing being a part of the early stages of a project. We have been doing rig testing, and also character tests - different tests showing how a character might act or do something in certain situations. I absolutely love it! Character and emotion is what drove me to animation when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It feels so good to be exploring these area's more with my work again. And yes, its fun to make a turkey act!We got down here at the perfect time!  Our first week at work yielded a pretty awesome surprise for anyone in the animation world - Glen Keane was in town to be presented with the Tex Avery Animation Award, AND give a talk at the studio on his career and approach to animation, AND give a Q&A joined with an anniversary screening of Aladdin AAAAAANNND invited the Reel FX animation team to a small sit down lunch/conversation. I still can't believe this happened! He is very inspiring to listen to and meet, and we can't wait to see what is next in store for him.Dallas has been great to us so far - a lot different that we were expecting (barely any cowboy hats/boots). We live in Deep Ellum; where there are a lot of restaurants, shops and music venues. Not enough cafe's though! Great thing is we are an eight minute walk to work which has been wonderful! Except.. its getting HOT here. We'll adapt though. And by adapt I mean run from one air conditioned place to the next :P We are really close to being fully unpacked and settled and can finally get back to things like drawing and staring at my guitar wishing I could play it better.  Thanks for taking the time to read my update! [...]

Drawaholics Challenge: Baby Monster


Another Drawaholics challenge!
(if not recognizable, Creature from the Black Lagoon) 

Drawaholics Challenge: Be Inspired by a pic...


...of a polar bear with a penguin mask on. Not too much time this week, so this is what I got: