I am in the unique position of having taught in the Sheridan College Art Fundamental’s Program for over 10 years, worked on the original committee that developed the Sheridan College VCA Program, taught Life Drawing For Animation in the APW program and am currently the acting Administrative Director of the Animation Portfolio Workshop.
I would like to share my thoughts (based on my first hand experience) on what I understand to be the major differences between the Sheridan Art Fundamentals Program and the Animation Portfolio Workshop Program with respect to preparing an animation portfolio to get into the Sheridan Animation Program.
The first thing that needs to be stressed about making a comparison between these two programs is that they are not really comparable in the first place.
The Art Fundamentals Program at Sheridan College is an excellent beginner art survey course targeted towards the student who is interested in trying out a variety of subjects related to drawing, painting, 2D and 3D design. These classes total approximately 15 hours of classroom time per week, and when I was teaching in the program we were told to make sure that the students were given a least the same number of hours in homework to do every week. This adds up to a total of at least 30 hours of schoolwork per week minimum, and on many occasions throughout the school year, more time than this was required in order to keep up class attendance and adequately manage completion of all of the requisite weekly homework assignments.
The Art Fundamentals Life Drawing curriculum is also a general survey of techniques and exercises that familiarize the students with basic drawing concepts related to working with the human form.
Given all of the other types of worked work required of students wishing to pass the Sheridan Art Fundamentals Program, it is not possible to devote enough time to focus on the unique and specific observational drawing and drawing for animation concepts and practices required of a student trying to complete a high enough calibre animation portfolio worthy of acceptance into the Sheridan Animation Program. The sheer volume of hours required to gain fluency in the language of observational drawing that is put to use in making all of the required animation portfolio pieces for this endeavour are simply unavailable to a Sheridan Art Fundamentals student trying to matriculate successfully through ‘Art Fundi’s’. This doesn’t mean that some students have not managed to do the Art Fundamentals Program at Sheridan and make a portfolio that gets them into the Sheridan Animation school.…it does happen on occasion, but this is not a consistently predictable outcome due to having taken the Art Fundamentals course. The Art Fundamentals Program was never designed for the purpose of specifically training students to producing high calibre animation school portfolios: this is not within the course mandate. Sheridan Art Fundamentals is a visual arts survey course, designed to introduce students to a variety of beginner practices in different areas to help them decide what field of visual art they may wish top commit to. The Sheridan Art Fundamentals Program is good at doing this.
The Animation Portfolio Workshop Program delivers a much more focused and specific curriculum, centred on learning to draw for the purposes of making high calibre animation school portfolios. The program Directors, Gerard Sternik AOCA and Vince Peets founded APW 20 years ago when they left the Sheridan Classical Animation Program.
Having taught in the animation program at Sheridan through the 1990’s, Gerard and Vince were uniquely positioned to really be able to teach prospective animation school students exactly what was being required of them portfolio-wise.
The APW curriculum is all about learning the basics of observational drawing and drawing for animation.
APW students start at the very beginning and move through a unique series of drawing practises called the APW Method. Through practicing the APW Method, our students cultivate a keen ability to understand and execute drawings that seamlessly integrate gesture, contour, structure, anatomical, tonal and illustrative drawing methods with, visualization, character design, principles of animation, storyboarding and perspective systems. All of these are used in various combinations and in varying degrees to produce high quality material for animation portfolio preparation.
The two main goals of this program are:
- To learn solid drawing skills that will sustain APW grads throughout their animation school tenure and in a future career in animation
- Creating a top-level animation / visual art portfolio that can be used for admission to the best post-secondary animation, illustration or visual arts program.
Guest post by Bernadette Peets AOCA