art of blue sky studios

Art Internship experience at Blue Sky studios (2017)

Hey guys! Some of you have got in touch with me asking questions about the summer Internship I had with Blue sky, and I thought it would be helpful to write about my experience and also addressing some of the common questions I was asked.

I recently finished my 3rd year at Gobelins school of image in Paris and going back for my final year soon. Last summer, I did my internship in the design department at Blue sky studios for 2 months.
It had been my goal since the last 5-6 years to work for a company that makes feature films, and Blue sky was one of the companies that I was aiming for. During the last year I focused on preparing my portfolio to suit the design style of the studios that i was looking at. I did some research and found out some portfolio’s of students who got into these internship programs in the last 4-5 years and set them as a benchmark for my portfolio. Even though i believe in terms of level, I did not reach very close to most of them, i still think i wouldn’t have pushed myself if I did not have a specific target like this. Some of the artists student portfolio’s i looked at are - James woods, Assaf horrowitz, Ryan lang and a few more. My portfolio was mainly targeted towards visual development and character design. You can find it here - https://varunnairportfolio.tumblr.com/

Experience at Blue Sky -

Once I was selected for the program, I did some research about the studio i was going to work for. Even though I knew a bit about the studio I wanted to make sure that I at least knew the works of everyone in the art department. So I went through the credits of all their movies and checked out the works of every one of them. This got me really excited because I knew i was going to get to learn so much from them.
During the internship I was fortunate enough to have 2 amazing mentors - Nash Dunnigan (art director on peanuts) and Aidan Sugano (Lead character designer). First 3 weeks was with Nash working on some prop designs and color keys and the rest of the 7 weeks was spent doing character designs for the feature film ‘Nimona’ working with my mentor Aidan. I was really lucky that they trusted me with production work, because from what i was told, not many interns get to work on movies right away. Nash was super nice to me in sharing his experience from the industry, doing paintovers, taking me to art department meetings, and also to the other departments to show the pipeline of a feature film. With Aidan I learnt the intricacies of a character design, how to bring simplicity to your work (which is something i am still trying hard to get good at) fluidity of lines and how to strip unnecessary details that take the attention from the message that you are trying to convey through a drawing. Watching him draw over my characters was amazing, because I never had anyone who did that for me before. Apart from my mentors there were other amazing people in the art department who showed me their techniques and shared their knowledge. Tyler Carter, Mike lee, JM Oli and Jeff Turley to name a few.
This internship has been nothing short of a life changing experience and it has completely changed the way I think about a design. Most importantly the definition of what is ‘’Good Design’’ has changed for me and the bar is set really high. Which means i have some frustrating period ahead of me of not being satisfied with my work. But that’s okay, because I know that Im getting better each day and the more frustrated i get, the more I push myself to figure things out.
Be very specific with what your goal is and take decisions that help you reach closer to that. I hope some of the information here was helpful. Good luck! :)

Last year, I colored some storyboards for Ice Age 5. They gave the colorists a color script and character palette to follow but it was a rather big file that took up a big chunk of my desktop space. I made a blob chart for myself so I could keep it in the corner of Photoshop to quickly reference. It’s probably the most impressive thing I’ve ever drawn.

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Thanks for all the great emails and questions about putting a portfolio together. I’ve been getting a lot of the same questions and decided it would be a better use of my time to write it all out. I’ve derived the content from from my own experience and internships before having a full-time job. As you’ll read, a portfolio is the most important thing you’ll do when applying to a job. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible.

These are the first five pages in a series of posts about how to layout a portfolio, including content, images, size, material and everything in between. Part I is for the artist still deciding what to do for a discipline. I’ve catered the last three pages to a visual development portfolio for animation but the principles can be applied to any artistic presentation (illustration, design, even interior design).

These are my opinions and I realize there are many ideas out there which are also fantastic. What I have written are simple truths and tips I’ve learned along the way. This doesn’t represent a studio I work or will work for. I hope it is helpful and can provide some perspective into a competitive portfolio and help you land your next job!   

Growing up I was really into comics and it was one of the things that inspired me to pursue a career in art. So here’s a quick painting I did for fun of Iceman to kind of pay homage to my early inspirations. It’s not based off of anything in the movies or comics… just having fun!

Happy First Anniversary to the Peanuts Movie! By far one of my absolute favorite films to come out of Blue Sky Studios! I may not have worked on this film, but I can just FEEL the love, effort, and fear that was put into this film, and I adore it for that.

This picture was pretty difficult for me because I’m not used to drawing group shots. I can only draw like two people together. XD But I still pursued! Even if it didn’t come out QUITE as good as I had hoped it would. Especially how I drew Linus and Lucy, I’m cringing so bad! XD

But I hope you guys like it. Cause I’m certainly happy that I drew it. :D