Carlos Huante is a character designer who has been working in film for over 30 years. Today he spoke to us about his experience working in film, and how different it was compared to what our experience will be.
One of the main differences between our experiences is that Carlos never went to university to study the field, instead he just winged it. He knew from high school he wanted to work in film or animation but he didn’t know how or in what way, he mainly wanted to be able to draw weird shit well.
The first step for him was going to life drawing, he learned anatomy from a guy who had worked on He-Man, and became friendly with him, which eventually led to him getting a job as his runner. From this he got a job animating on Alvin and the Chipmunks. This is where Carlos discovered that character design was a job, and he got a chance to work on Ghostbusters Animated. He never looked back from there. Most of the jobs Carlos has had he got through friends and meeting people, so he could not stress enough the importance of networking.
Keeping on top of the market is key:
- Remember North Cali is dead now, everything’s happening in Washington and LA
- Move with the times, keep learning constantly and work with where the market is heading.
- Make sure you are always getting your face and your work seen: you never now how long you’re going to be with a company.
Before beginning to design something:
- Think about the script and characters roles, how are they going to interact with others and how will their design influence the telling of the story?
- Research lore: it is one of the best sources of inspiration.
- Give yourself some limits and structure: designing from random doesn’t work, you need something you can abstract from.
- Get used to restrictions: it can be hard, but they will help you focus.
- Be Brave: the whole point of character design is to create something new, a lot of the time this will be rejected but it’s better to put yourself out there rather than be boring.
Industry professionals will presume that if you are a designer, you are also a modeller, this doesn’t have to be the case.
- A lot of designers are sculptors, not modellers: sculpts topology can be a train wreck.
- If you want to stand out: learn how to draw, sculpt and model with good topology.
- Do not settle for being average: design is a gift but you can really push yourself to improve and learn.
Care about what you do, and prepare to be disappointed
- You will work all night on briefs, don’t force yourself to do something you don’t care about.
- Specialise: Faces or places?
- Sometimes things you work hard on creating won’t turn out how you want, or will be scrapped. Learn to accept this.
- Invest in your own work: make time to draw and create for yourself, learn from the process. Mix up the mediums you work in.
Allow yourself to be inspired:
- Read anything and everything you can.
- Study both human and animal anatomy: once you have an understanding of these you will be able to implement it in your designs to create more believable things.
- Look at nature: There is a lot of weird shit out there, fill your mind with it, focus on tiny parts of it and see how you can manipulate it to create something new.
- Look at the people who inspire you, who inspires them? How did they get to where they are today?