Monday, August 07, 2006


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 Jeffrey Thompson, and I was born in Toronto, Canada. I grew up and attended school in Newmarket, Ontario. I had always been interested in pursuing doodling as a career, but it wasn't until I heard about Sheridan College that it became a possibility. I attended Sheridan's Art Fundamentals program for 1 year, and was then accepted into their brand spankin new "Bachelor of Applied Arts Animation" degree program. I am currently finishing up my third year in the program, and I am looking forward to getting out into the "real world?"

How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

For the most part, I enjoy approaching every character I do differently, but when designing any character I try to learn as much about them as I can before I put anything down on paper. Who they are, what they do, where they are from, where they are now, likes/dislikes, bad habits, etc… The further you go into detail the richer the character becomes. When designing for animation especially, it is important that your character design is helping to better the story. Every detail should have a purpose.

What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?

Drawing from observation, from life, movies, television … everything. Keeping a regular sketchbook has helped me a lot. Doodling on a regular basis is what keeps me going. I always try to go back to that when designing a character. The best thing is to just stay loose and not be worried about making mistakes. I like to just play around trying to get appealing shapes before I get into details on the figure, really trying to capture the characters personality through the body shape.

From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?

From my experience, I would say if you already have a direction and know what you really want to do, then direct your portfolio towards that. I think it is best to avoid a generic portfolio which includes a little of everything, especially if you your applying for a specific job.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

I have had the pleasure of working on mostly animated short films. I spent last summer designing and animating on a soon to be released film called "Umbrella Boy", and have spent the last eight months doing much of the same for another short film (yet to be named) directed by Nick Thornborrow, which will be finishing up in the next couple weeks.

What are you working on now?

I am presently looking for work.

Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?

I would love to be at any studio that allows you the time to really experiment, and develop with character development/design. Right now, I am really driven to work on larger scale projects that allow you the time to do that, such as a feature films.

Who do you think are the top character designers out there?

I am heavily influenced by a wide range of illustrators and in no particular order, this is what I've been lookin at lately… Robin Joseph, Saud boksmati, Jon Todd, Alberto Mielgo, Uwe heidschoetter, Tony Fucile, Claire Wendling, Peter De Seve, James Jean, Lars Henkel, Jilian Tamaki, and Leah Hayes. There are far too many good designers to just name the top ones I think…but thats who is currently keeping me excited to draw.

How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?

Everything and anything. I love sticking to traditional mediums, and getting my hands dirty. It is way more fun that way. I usually use markers, nupastel, ballpoint pen, acrylic paints, or just regular coloured pencils. I also enjoy using the computer as well, but I find I have more fun if I do it traditionally, and then just touch it up digitally if it calls for it.

What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

Faces are always the most fun. I don't know why… there is just so much to them. I suppose the easier and harder aspects of designing a character will always vary depending on the character and the limitations of your project. Usually I find the hardest designs are the ones you know the least about. The more you learn about your subject, the easier your job becomes.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

People, I love drawing from life. The best characters are usually adapted from real life.

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Just to be confident in your work, and not get discouraged by criticism. What has helped me most has been surrounding myself with other people that are just as interested in growing as artists, and working off each other.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

I can be reached at
Or at my blog,

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?

I currently do not have anything up for sale, but anyone that might be interested in prints or anything is more than welcome to email me to arrange something.

Thanks again to Randall Sly for this opportunity. This blog is outstanding, and I am very grateful to be involved.

Best regards,
Jeffrey Thompson.