My concept art post for Tangled was (surprisingly!) popular, so I figured I should go ahead and make on for Frozen as well. In the initial storyboards Elsa was going to be the evil Snow Queen who cursed the land with an eternal winter. There was also originally more of a Russian influence when it came to Anna’s character design than the Scandinavian that is present in the film.
Different concept art that was made for Rapunzel until they finally settled on what they wanted her to look like. It really makes me wish that they had used traditional animation for this film.
Adam And Dog
The oscar nominated short film by Minkyu Lee.
“The Disney animator (“Wreck-It Ralph”) made the exquisite hand-drawn work independently and out of his own pocket for about $25,000. It’s an artful riff on the Genesis story with Adam discovering the friendly canine companion in the Garden of Eden and complicating his relationship with Eve.”
Written and directed by Minkyu Lee
Heidi Jo Gilbert
Thomas Ethan harris
Adam and Dog (2012)
- Old Visual Development Portfolio based on Wicked - Part 2
Here is the second and last part of my visual development portfolio based on Wicked.
Here is the story surrounding the making of these storyboards. Randomly enough, this story got me selected as a finalist in the NFL’s Together We Make Football Story Contest! Please click on the link below to vote for my story and help me win! You can vote everyday until December 23rd. Thanks for all your support!"Not many people can relate to the obsessiveness that I watched 101 Dalmatians with as a child. I remember sitting on the couch in my jammies with my Pongo and Rolly plush, rewinding the VHS tape for the 226th time, when my mom asked me something that would change my life forever. She said, "Heidi, why don’t you be a Disney animator?" My whole world turned upside down. People drew those movies for a living!? I knew that’s what I had to do. like any ignorant 7 year old, I really thought I could do it. I wrote Disney to find out what I needed to do.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And I believed him. I took my sketchbook with me everywhere; I spent my life obsessing over getting better at drawing. I worked like cray. When it was time to go to college I went to the animation school that Walt Disney himself created: CalArts. I did an internship at Pixar, and, when I graduated, I got the job I had worked my whole life for at Disney.
So I totally wasn’t prepared when I was let go and it was taken away from me.
How do you move on when the one thing your life was built around is taken from you? When I lost it, I felt like a part of my life was over. I lost my dream and I lost my direction in my life. I went through this really dark time where I couldn’t even pick up a pencil, because all it did was bring back these memories of failure, and thoughts that no one believed in me or my abilities as an artist.
That darkness lasted over a year. I was stuck and I couldn’t get out of it if I couldn’t draw. Football kind of turned into my escape. I was a new fan of the NFL, and started watching the Patriots for the stupid girly reason that I liked their logo. My best friend was a Ravens fan and we’d watch both of our games every Sunday. It started out as a distraction. But it turned into something much more meaningful.
I spent the season watching Tom Brady slowly break records. At that time he had thrown 36 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions, posting the highest TD:INT ratio in NFL history at 9.0. He was the first player in league history to be voted as a unanimous MVP. He was slowly becoming (arguably) one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time.
So imagine my surprise when one night I turned on an interview with Tom and they read his scouting report for the 2000 NFL draft: “Lacks a really strong arm. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Can’t drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral.”
I couldn’t believe it. No one believed in him either.Tom was asked, “What do you think the scouts missed?” His response was, “I think they underestimated my competitiveness.” For whatever reason, that spoke to me that night. He didn’t say that the scouts were wrong in their criticism of him. He didn’t refute that he lacks mobility. He just kinda said that they didn’t know how much fight he had in him, and he fought his way to becoming one of the all time best. And for some reason that brought out the fight in me. Through Brady I was able to find my hope again. I picked up my pencil, and finally, I could try again.My fight took the form of a story reel for a project that I always wanted to see animated: the Broadway musical Wicked. I storyboarded a song from it like it was mine to direct. It was not easy for me. Not even because the drawings were hard, but because I had to conquer myself to get them out. I poured my heart into that thing and put it out into the world (via my blog) hoping someone, anyone, would see it and be convinced of my potential.
About six months went by with nothing but silence, when one day I got a text from a friend saying, “Heidi, I think I saw your Wicked video on Entertainment Weekly’s website!”…and then from another that it was on Broadway.com, and then another, and another. My little story reel had gone viral! The support was overwhelming. I felt like the whole world believed in me. With that as a portfolio piece, along with the amazing exposure, I was able to land a job at Dreamworks Animation. I never got to make Wicked into an animated movie, like I had hoped. But I did get the next best thing: I landed a job on a musical with the creator of Wicked with a director that I love, and a crew that believes in me.
Disney has always been known as the place where all your dreams come true. But of all things, it was football that helped me find the courage to be an artist again. It was football that gave me my life back. And for that, I’ll spend the rest of my life loving football.
Please click this link to vote for my story and help me win! Thank you so much for your support!
Check out one of my best friends, Minkyu Lee’s vis dev portfolio! It features all his design work for an animated Wicked! Minkyu was working on this just before I started storyboarding my own Defying Gravity sequence! His drawings were so beautiful. I used a lot of his work as inspiration when I was working on my boards. Check it out! They’re AMAAAAAZING.
My old student portfolio for Visual Development (Character Design) based on “Wicked”
Because I often receive questions about portfolios, I thought, well, maybe it would be helpful for some to share my own personal experience accompanied by some visuals. Namely, my own portfolio I submitted to transition from the Animation department to the Visual Development department of Disney Feature Animation.
Now one thing that I will mention here as a disclaimer, and something that will probably be reiterated through out this post is that this is only my personal experience, and there is definitely not any sort of “formula” to make a portfolio for the Disney’s Vis dev. Portfolios that look nothing like this, share no common element, is just as likely to get you into the vis dev department. The acceptance is made by a committee of people, and not just one person’s personal taste or criteria.
Way back in the summer of 2007, I was an artistic intern at Disney. (Mainly 2D character animation, but also some story and vis-dev on the side.)
I was having lunch with one of our mentors at that time, Claire Keane, in which she gave us some advice on structuring a visual development portfolio.
One of her suggestions that stuck to me was to take one story, and dedicate the entire portfolio to it, as if you were developing that into a feature film.
This idea sounded good to me, because it made sense. It’s a semi-simulation of the kind of things you would be doing as a professional artist at Disney anyway, (which gives the reviewers a much better, reliable idea of how you would perform as a contributor) but it also gives the spectator a slightly more immersive viewing experience, as they are taken through one continuous story, with characters they understand, rather than having to adjust to brand new content with the turn of each page.
The many times I have reviewed portfolios, I have also found it a slight handicap to have to ask the artist, “Now, what is this thing from?” 4 or 5 times in one portfolio.
So in 2008, while I was working on Princess and the Frog, (still as a full time student at Calarts), I started on this visual development portfolio. I chose my story to be Wicked, the musical, which I am sure many of you are familiar with.
Now one thing before I elaborate further…
If I thought sharing with you my Frozen artwork was uneasy, showing this portfolio (which is my student portfolio from many years ago)… I honestly cannot shake the embarrassment.
But, as Tarkovsky once said, artists are there to serve.. And for one thing, after years of deciding never to show this portfolio on a public platform, I came to the conclusion of this; that it was always rather difficult talking about the type of portfolio that gets you into the doors of the animation industry, and because portfolios are so visual, visual accompaniment just makes more sense.
And for another, I always liked to see other artist’s various stages of development. Obviously nothing here represents me currently, but more shows where I used to be in the past.
When I look back at this portfolio, obviously I see so many flaws in terms of draftsmanship, design choices, character choices, taste etc, and I want to fix them all. But again, the purpose of this post isn’t to show who I am as an artist right now, but to dig up my past and say “Well this is how it happened for me in the past.”
Here is part 1 of the portfolio. I know for some it may be frustrating to have this divided into 2, but the nature of tumblr posts seem to want things kept short. So I’ll try and post part 2 of the portfolio as soon as possible. I want to say within the next day or two, but there’s just never knowing with when I’ll get another free moment.
I think what is probably most important to show in your portfolio is a strong draftsmanship, a good taste in design choices, and a special intuition for characterization.(I’m speaking for my own criteria when I review portfolios, and I don’t claim to represent anyone else’s.)
As you can see I also tried to pay attention to the presentation of the portfolio, which is why I tried to design the layout of it with the theme of “drawer of a Shiz student”.
I’ll probably try to address some of those things that I mentioned in future posts perhaps.
I hope this old student portfolio of mine gave you a better idea on who to shape your own. One thing I would recommend is to not copy exactly the method I used to form a portfolio, but see it more as a solution that will hopefully help you come up with your own solution on how to structure a portfolio.
Next up is Part 2, with some development designs of Fiyero, the Wizard, the Flying monkeys etc
me to my child