Kelisha Pitts, AKA Lady of Mae, is a 2D animator and illustrator from Georgia, USA. She loves video games and webcomics. Her main focus in art is character-centric visual storytelling.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I create 2d flash animation. I also draw storyboards, comics, and illustrations. My work primarily focus on character-centric visual storytelling. My favourite projects are storyboards, as I love screen design.
I got into art around middle school, when I picked up Yotsuba&! Manga and was inspired to draw. In high school, Krome Studios made think about working in the creative field professionally. I’ve now been working as an animator and illustrator for 5 years, since I started at art school.
What do you think clients need to know about animation and illustration?
You should take hours and standard pay rates of artists into account when setting a quote. Animation software is expensive, especially since most software is subscription based now. Maya for 3D animation and modelling is over 100 dollars a month. Adobe software packages cost around 50 dollars a month. The work is also time consuming. It is not just the animation itself but also the research, planning and prep work that goes before an animation and the compositing and editing that goes afterwards. It’s the the same for illustration to a degree, art board and six to eight dollars per tube of paint can add up.
People don’t realise the time it takes to make a well done animation. It takes me about 4 hours for a rough 16 frame walk cycle. It’s even more to do the cleanup and colouring. Quality story boards take more than 8 hours to do.
A fully coloured and rendered comic can take over sixteen hours per page. There’s a lot involved – blocking out panels, researching reference materials, pencils, inks, rendering, and lettering.
It’s helpful for clients to include a detailed script or shot list in a brief. Model sheets and turn arounds of characters will save time, and if not provided a written description should be. For illustration, you need to give a detailed description of your concept.
My best experience with clients is when they’re is pleased with the work and I get paid. The absolute worst is finishing a piece but no payment is received. From what I’ve learned, communication is everything. Keep your clients up to date on your progress. Don’t charge too low.
Can you tell me a bit about your creative process?
I get my ideas from everyday life. I also reference from photos.
For animation, the first step is a written one page concept and mood boards. Next, I write a script and create character designs and expressions. I’ll also work on environmental sketches. Then I make a shot by shot break down of the script, followed by storyboards.
After the boards are done animation will begin. First I make a rough pass of key frames. Then I’ll add break downs and inbetween. Then there’s clean-up, colouring and rendering the background elements. The final step is compositing and editing.
For comics, the script is broken down by pages and panels. I’ll block panels and page designs and research reference materials. The art is then drawn in pencils, and then inks are added, along with spotting in blacks. Later there is flatting in colours, rendering shadows and highlights and finally, lettering.
For illustration, the first steps are researching references and drawing up sketches. I have a minimum of 3 sketch until I get to a final sketch. Then I do pencils , inks and rending. I’ll render the background and finish the foreground, before finally cleaning up the lines.
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