DreamWorks animator Jamaal Bradley has been a long-time aficionado of pencil tests, and his website Pencil Test Depot has evolved into the place for collecting and sharing pencil tests. Encompassing animators from the Golden Age of animation through today’s heavyweights Bradley’s website is a valued resource for both aspiring animators and professionals in the field.
The pencil test, though rarely seen by anybody outside of a film’s production, reveal one of the most intimate views into an animator’s thought process. It is the lifeblood of the hand-drawn animation pipeline; it is through the pencil test that an animator evolves a character’s personality and fine-tunes the movement and staging of a performance before it’s passed down the line to the assistant animators.
But in a CG world, what has become of the pencil test and drawing in general? Cartoon Brew spoke with Jamaal Bradley about his site Pencil Test Depot, the role of drawing in CG, as well as his own animation career and work as a teacher. The New Jersey-born artist currently works at DreamWorks Animation’s Glendale studio as a Senior Animator on The Croods. Bradley other credits include Disney’s Tangled and Sony Picture Imageworks’ Open Season and Monster House. Although all of his recent projects have been CG animation, he’s kept his hand-drawn animation skills sharp by relying on it for some of his preliminary scene thumbnails as well as his work as a teacher at iAnimate.
Chris Arrant: PencilTestDepot.com has become a hit in the student animation community. What led you do create Pencil Test Depot, and did you know it would make such a big impact on animation students?
Jamaal Bradley: Pencil Test Depot was around for a while before it went public. I love animation and the beauty of looking at a well crafted pencil test makes me smile externally and internally. It probably sounds corny but that’s what it does for me; like food for the soul. I had a personal site with pencil tests on it and I had tests I received from friends, stuff I shot myself, and things I was finding on the web. I initially created it for personal growth and didn’t think about maintaining it as a blog. Only one other person had access to it and he convinced me to open it to the public.
” …Jamaal if you make it public and ask for people to donate works, you will surely get more pencil tests and I bet people would appreciate seeing the stuff you have also…”
It made perfect sense and it worked. I am very happy people enjoy the site and support it. I didn’t think it would be a big hit, I just wanted to see what pencil tests were out there. It has been amazing to have fantastic animators like Glen Keane, Bruce Smith, James Baxter, Kristof Serrand, Sergio Pablos, Sandro Cleuzo, Pedro Daniel Garcia, Rune Bennicke, Mike Surrey, and more showing great support for Pencil Test Depot. I used to collect figures and maquettes. I like collecting pencil tests now!
Chris: When you were studying animation, I assume you were being inspired by pencil tests of traditional animation like the ones you post on the site. Was it disappointing that the industry changed so rapidly and that you’re not animating more penciAdd a Comment