This is the second of a three-part interview with artist and animator Kim Slate. The interview in it’s entirety can be found throughout the month of May in the Featured Artist link to the right.
Señor © Kim Slate
In addition to the medium of animation, you have done quite a lot of two-dimensional work, can you tell us a bit about that?
I have always really loved drawing and painting, mostly just creating work for fun or to give away. I carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go to draw out ideas for sculptures or illustrations. Lately I have been mostly working in fine point pen and gouache. I have done a few series of miniature paintings recently and am planning to do more.
Pufferfish © Kim Slate
Please tell us a bit about your general work process.
At Laika I work in the Facial Animation department. We plan out all of the facial acting for every character in every shot in CG, sort of like a pre-visualization. Then the stop motion animator animates the puppet on set, using 3D printed replacement faces that pop on and off of the puppet’s head like a mask. These replacement faces each have a unique expression, allowing the character to talk and emote. The animator has to change the puppet’s face up to 24 times to create one second of film.
As far as my own work goes… When I am sculpting a piece, I usually start with a rough pen drawing of a character. Then I create an aluminium wire frame that blocks in the basic shapes and volumes. From there I build up the character with Super Sculpey, baking it several times throughout the process. Once it is completely sculpted and baked, I hit it with super fine sandpaper, then do a lot of dry-brushing with gouache. I do all of my artwork in the living room – my apartment is pretty much like one big art studio.
Robot Love © Kim Slate
What about your work do you enjoy most? Dislike most?
Working at Laika, I am surrounded by cool stuff and super talented people, and I am always amazed when I see the beautiful work that is created. It’s inspiring to see people pushing the limits of what has been done before in animation. It’s also nice to be a part of something as big as a feature film. I guess I dislike that working at a studio takes time away from doing my own artwork, but I really enjoy the social aspect of it. I think it would be hard to be creating at home on my own every day.
Acrobats © Kim Slate
Kim Slate’s work can be found at: