Ric Holland's Blog

Cindy Bower interview



Traditional cell animator now using Flash and Toon Boom


Ric          Hi Cindy, welcome to The Art of Making Marks.

Cindy      Thank you.

Ric          Please introduce yourself and tell us about what who you are and what you do.

Cindy      My name’s Cindy Bower and I’ve been working in animation all my working life really, which is now probably 22 years.  Animation has gone through a lot of changes since then. I work for a production studio at the moment and I also teach animation at a computer graphics college.

Ric          How long have you been using Wacom tablets in your workflow?

Cindy      I would think it would be now probably be about six years. As I said 2D frame by frame or ‘cell’ animation has changed a lot in the last ten years.  I used to do a lot of pencil on paper and we still do, but a lot of the stages of animation are cut out now so it’s really handy to just work straight into the computer.

Ric          So when you first started using tablets was a period where you would work semi traditionally.

Cindy      Yep. Scanning in and then cleaning up lots of frames. Not so long ago we were still scanning in drawings that were already cleaned up on paper as well but it wasn’t as good as some of the drawing programs today.

Ric          So now it’s a completely digital process, drawing directly in the software.

Cindy      Just about, yeah.

Ric          And what applications are you using go directly in.

Cindy      The main one that I use at the moment is Flash but we’ve also started to use Toon Boom for log format animation. Flash is a fantastic drawing program I find and not just for animation but just for actually drawing.  It’s got drawing tools like the pen tool which you can get exact drawings as well as it’s got a wonderful freehand brush tool with brushes.

Ric          And they’re all pressure sensitive?

Cindy      Yes.  I really enjoy using it as a drawing program.  And so therefore, with things like cleaning up characters for animation, it’s a good program to use with a Wacom tablet.

Ric          Please just tell us more about your work?

Cindy      I gave my Wacom a great workout at the end of last year, I was employed to do a pilot in Flash for Nickelodeon which was a three minute pilot.  There’s a lot of different ways to draw in Flash, but the style that I had to do was very loose.  So that’s where I got very familiar with Flash as a drawing program and so the Nickelodeon pilot that we did ended up having a lovely half traditional animation look.  A lot of things that are animated in Flash look like they’re animated in Flash because they look very shape driven and built. But this was a lovely, free-flowing and experimental, I was glued to the Wacom. At first we didn’t know if we could do it quite like that, but I found it a really good approach and linked still to the way I would do it traditionally. One of the other ways that I use the Wacom is with the Painter program and you feel like you’re really holding the utensil, like the brush or the pencil or pen or whatever it is, the tool that you’re using in the program, and I’ve been experimenting a lot and doing a lot of illustrations.

Ric          Fantastic.

Cindy      Which is completely different from my animation.

Ric          If you could ask for anything from Wacom, some new feature or some area that you felt specifically that you’d like, have you got any thoughts on that

Cindy      Well I haven’t had an opportunity to use the one where you’re drawing straight on the screen so I think that would be interesting. I’m used to how it is where you look up at the screen and not look down at your hands on the tablet.  I’m so used to that I can’t imagine what else I might need.

Ric          Well it looks like you’re all very busy here today, so I don’t want to get in the way of a deadline. Your work is wonderful and it’s been such a pleasure to have you on the Art of Making Marks.

Cindy      Thank you.