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where the character driven industries meet

Josh Reed studied illustration and animation at Mt. San Antonio College, and animation and visual development at Laguna College of Art and Design. He worked as a concept artist in the animation industry for a couple of years, and then began an MFA program for fine arts at California State Fullerton.

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Josh has taught privately for many years and for the last three he has been teaching at a number of colleges in Southern California. When asked why he focuses on anatomy, he replied that his interest was first peaked because figure drawing had not come easy to him. During his studies he laid down the foundation for his teaching methodology, by breaking down what he was learning into easy to understand processes.  Over the years he also learned a great deal from some excellent instructors, distilling and adapting their wisdom for his own teaching.

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According to Josh, anatomy seems to be a turn off for some artists, because it is so technical. Despite this, he stresses it in his classes, convinced that a firm grounding in this discipline is important. He says that everything an artist tries to capture in the figure is basically an interaction between muscle and bone.  Anatomy is the foundation of any character based art, and It is very difficult to draw figuratively without a good understanding of it.  The actions of any figure, no matter how subtle they may be, are expressed through its anatomy.

The Eye and Ear

Josh's courses separate objective goals from subjective ones.  Fundamental principles such as anatomy and proportion are objective aspects, and they are either correct or not.  The subjective aspects are the motivations for making a work of art such as the ideas, intentions, or emotions the artist is trying to convey.  How well you manipulate the objective principles determines your ability to achieve your subjective goals, and to Josh this is the key to success.  "" focuses on the objective principles and the blog's teaching material comes straight out of Josh's lectures.  He hopes that these tools will enable people to make the art they have in their head and heart.

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Josh's blog is a resource of time honored tools that helps artists understand how to construct the figure from any angle, whether from life or the imagination. What made the old masters great were the solid foundations that gave them the ability to create figures and scenes from their minds, and "" follows in that teaching tradition.

"" is a complete figure drawing course.  In the coming weeks Josh also plans to do more specific anatomical breakdowns, discuss composition, and how to find a figure's balance point. The blog is usually updated once a week, and he encourages those interested in the figure to interact with it, by making requests. This will help Josh focus on the content that is most relevant to those who are using this useful educational resource.

Please check out "" here:
And you can find Josh's personal site here:

Character Topic

What makes a successful character? Which aspects, attributes, or abilities does a character need to become successful?

In response to these recent questions in our Linkedin group, an author and illustrator said that successful characters have to do more than just make money. He said that audiences want to see themselves in characters, in order to be interested in the story.

Three group members agreed with him and added that, in turn, a good story was of overriding importance for the relatability, likeability and longevity of characters.

A senior 3D artist then noted that a successful character is one that is memorable, irrespective of the medium it appears in. Managing to stay on the audience's mind, even after the curtain falls, is a success that can be built upon.

According to a 3D character animator, though, the thing that most successful characters have in common is that they that they are good money spinners and owned by the big media companies.

A product developer said that there was a reason for this. These big companies spend years developing the story, honing, polishing and changing the script until it is just right. Good money spinners are the results of great efforts, according to him.

The thing that is most important to the success of characters, as far as an animator and a CG generalist are concerned however, is being able to relate to them. Without the ability to connect to an audience on an emotional level, characters can never succeed.

Join our discussion and tell us what you think... here.


Characters Engage Showcase

Faye Hsu (Fei Xu)

Faye comes from a small city called LiuZhou in southern China. In 2009 she moved to San Francisco, where she enrolled in an MFA illustration course at the Academy of Art University.


Before moving to the USA, Faye earned a degree in information resource management, but once in the States, she decided to pursue an old dream. Ever since primary school she had loved to doodle. Faye would play pranks on her friends by drawing silly little creatures in their books, for example. To her drawing had always been so much fun, that it emboldened her to take such a difficult decision. Despite the fact that she had to learn everything from scratch, she tells us that she just had to change direction, because it's what she really loves.


Faye now focuses on visual development in her studies. On her recent project "Hansel & Gretel" she had a great time, from the early thumbnails to the final rendering. She loves the whole process. Since she is a permanent resident in the USA, Faye hopes to work as a VisDev artist in the American industry, once she has completed her course.


When we asked Faye about her style, she said that it had just developed naturally. Her instructor once told her not to worry about it and to simply keep drawing. The style would develop all by itself. "Characters Engage" thinks that he was right, and that along with the style came the kind of class that comes from being a great talent.


For more great artwork, please check out Faye's portfolio here:

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