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Tell me a little bit about yourself, 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?
My name is Sébastien Rouxel, I am 31 years old, I was born and raised in Brittany, France. I have two brothers and one sister, my parents are farmers. I’ve started to draw in my early childhood, I just remember reading comic books as “Asterix”, “Gaston Lagaffe”, “Tintin” and tried to draw those characters. To be honest I never wondered what I would do later, my teachers always encouraged me to follow that path and take art lessons outside of school. I’m lucky to have parents who trusted and helped me persevere in the arts, in spite of the uncertainty in art circles.
After my A levels in science, I studied in an art school in Nantes, Pivaut School, where I received an academic training, I didn’t know if I would like to work in animation, I just wanted to make my living through art. I started animation classes in the last year, and I took a liking to traditional animation, I discovered the work of many artists and they left an impression on me. After I passed the exam for Gobelin’s school, this is where I spent much of my time animating in 2D, and trying to learn the Disney style. I just wanted to be an animator, at that moment in time. I met a lot of talented artists and friends which I continue to work with.
I think that motivation, perseverance, meeting and working with talented artists helped me progress. And to ask oneself questions on your work is important to progress.
How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
I’ve mainly worked as a 2D animator, it was my priority, I never considered myself a designer. But after working on several projects, side by side with designers, I started to be interested in character design, and I invested my time in design, much like I did with animation. So design is more recent for me, my approach to design is influenced by my animation background. It’s very important for me to know a lot about the subject before drawing, knowing about the essence of a character, gathering information, finding reference, understanding the anatomy, the walk, the behavior, the personality in order to create the right design.
Once I have an idea, I start to draw a lot of sketches, working on the shapes, the silhouette, accentuate different parts of the character according to the idea. Often the first designs are loose and light, so I draw a new set from them, reinforcing everything, and of course staying in tune with the style (realistic or cartoony). I draw a few attitude poses, facial expressions which will enrich the design in the right way. And try to clearly show the character’s personality.
But, I think most of the design is done with feeling, personal creativity, finding a good idea, and daring to bring a personal touch. I think there are no rules, it’s difficult to say why it’s a good design or not. It’s just a question of feeling. Even if I think I have found a good design, I try something else, just to see, modify the shape’s size, expression… and realize often that it’s better! I don’t hesitate to start from scratch if need be..
What I prefer above all in design is when a character has to be funny, the absurd side of things while keeping it credible. And also I try to be graphic, following rules, however the important thing is to have a good and expressive drawing.
I always work on the lines first. The colors come after, I try to keep things simple, and keep the colors of the design clean, and if need be I will then enrich them.
I think working in design helped me improve my animation style.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
It depends if I work as freelance from home or in studios, but I prefer to work in studios, to see people, work in a team, exchange ideas, to have quick feedback and learn from colleagues artistry. But sometimes I work as a freelancer from home, it’s nice to work in my flat, but I soon miss working with a team. I draw all day, and when I don't go out in the evening, I try to work on my personal work. I like to work at night.
I ‘ve always worked on 2D productions in Paris and London, so I am used to working with a lot draftsmen, and good designers and Animators. To work in a team is important for motivation, and progress and learning from each other.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
During my studies, I did an internship on the film “Persepolis” as assistant animator. My first job after Gobelin’s school was as 2D character animator on “the illusionist” in Paris, then on “Le Chat du Rabbin”, “Titeuf le Film”, “Zarafa” and on a musical clip for “Louise Attaque”(a French band). I worked in London on commercials, my first and very good experience outside of France. And I did animation tests on a TV show called “Muffin Jack”. Many different styles, not easy to get used to all of them but very rewarding. Since I have worked on commercials as a designer and animator.
Is there a design you have done that you are most happy with?
I think my favorite designs are the latest from my personal work, as I have all the freedom to do what I want (zebras, dinosaurs…) but I like to tell myself that I will do better and be more creative.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a commercial, and soon I will work on a feature movie “ Un Monde Truqué” in Paris, firstly as a designer and then as an animator. Beside that I have worked with two good friends on a short film (with a mummy and an explorer), in a cartoon style, it took time to do because everything had to be done after work, in the evening or week-ends. I really enjoyed this project, it was great fun to make.
Who are some of your favorite artists out there?
First of all, my influences are animators, Milt Kahl, Kristof Serrand, Glen Keane, Antoine Antin, Julien Bizat, James Baxter, Matt Williams, Sergio Pablos, in design Nicolas Marlet, Julien Le Rolland, Annette Marnat, Sylvain Marc, De’Von Stubblefield, Nate Wragg, Ronald Searle. There are a lot of artists who impressed me, such as Uderzo, Franquin, Pedrosa, Alberto Mielgo, Jeremy Mann, Norman Rockwell. And a lot of artists with whom I have worked.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
As I said previously, I stay very simple on the colors, I don’t start the colors before I am satisfied with the drawing, I don’t want to question the design or pose during the colors process. During my studies, I liked to paint with traditional methods, but since I’ve worked in animation I do everything in Photoshop, and recently on a cintiq Wacom. Now I do everything with these tools, animation (TV paint, flash) and design colors (Photoshop). Although I love to animate traditionally on paper, it’s faster on a Cintiq.
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most difficult?
It depends on the day’s creativity, when I know precisely what I want to do, everything is easier. Designing cartoon characters, whether it’s human or animal, is very fun for me even if it can be tricky, but we can have freedom on many things. I am not sure what part of designing is easier or more difficult, but drawing what I am used to is easier, I think what I find the most interesting is to explore, search, develop, and spend time in finding good designs. But often the problem is the time.
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
So many things, comic books, movies, watching people on the subway, in the street, museums, the real life situations can give me a lot of ideas. I don’t read a lot of novels, I should do.
I like to see what people do, to be curious and see fresh things, is important for me, to keep myself motivated, I love to be moved by all forms of expression, whether in animation or design, it pushes me to work harder.
What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?
I often see a lot of great designs on blogs, but my favorite are certainly Milt Kahl’s designs, there is so much to take from them, they still feel modern and continue to be good source of influence. Those of Nicolas Marlet, in particular on Kung Fu Panda, are very graphic and original. Otherwise the designs from Pixar’s film are really nice (Up, Monsters, Ratatouille).
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
I always draw characters, humans or animals, I have no preference, I love to draw the attitudes, expressions, the funnier the better. I love English humor, like the Aardman studio for example. And the other thing that I love is to draw in parks and museums; I just draw quick sketches, grab on people's situations, and just take the essentials with just few lines.
What inspired you to become an Artist?
I don’t come from an artistic background but maybe reading comic books (Asterix, Gaston Lagaffe, Lucky Luke) when I was young certainly helped me to go this way. Besides I always loved the art classes' atmosphere, it was my teachers who encourage me to continue to study and persist in art. And the desire to learn pushed me to go into animation because it’s the thing which impressed me the most in the art. To make a living from my passion is lucky, even if I worked hard for it.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
The main thing I learned in animation is to find the right and natural pose which expresses best your ideas. I spent a lot of time watching frame by frame, pencil tests from talented animators. I learned a lot working on cartoon projects, being daring, being confident with my drawing, being graphic and exploring all the possibilities in 2D.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
Draw, draw, it’s just the only way to progress, try to take the best from your influences. I think an artist’s progression does not depend only on the quantity of drawings done and the time spent on them, but mainly in what direction you want to go, choose the right path, train your eyes. Experience is important of course but you can to speed up your progress by using the best reference you can find. And don’t hesitate to ask questions to artists around you.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From my blog: http://rouxelseb.blogspot.fr
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
Not yet, it would be great to publish something in the future, maybe to illustrate books would be something I would like to do.