Cel Activity


Times have changed for budding movie animators. These days a child can begin learning the craft as young as 9, and those who hang in and build an impressive portfolio of drawings can, by 18, find entry-level jobs with Valley companies.

Education and industry experts agree it’s never too early to begin developing a youth’s artistic and craft skills, so Burbank’s Creative Arts Center has begun offering animation classes. The next one, “Animation Cel Creation,” for ages 9-12, meets Saturday.

Valley kids should take advantage of the opportunity. In the past, if a child wanted to become a movie animator, there were so many barriers it was almost not worth thinking about. A young person couldn’t do much until he or she was out of high school.

If you lived anywhere but the East or West coasts, you had to leave home, as Walt Disney did 75 years ago. Or start your own company in your home city, which Disney also did while in Kansas City, where he went bankrupt just after reaching voting age.


Arts Center instructor Jacquie Reynolds is a no-nonsense taskmaster who also works in administration at the Disney Co. in Burbank. Her course will show kids how to make animation cels based on their favorite cartoon characters.

She says students will use a special ink pen to trace an image on a special sheet of transparent plastic. Then they turn over the cel and paint the character’s colors on the other side. While that dries, students paint a background image on a separate sheet of paper. The background image and the transparent cel can be framed together--creating an illusion of depth--and taken home.

Cels made in this manner are like those used in traditional animation. If a student does a careful job in her class, Reynolds says, the result might look as good as the cels animation-art collectors display on their walls. Reynolds says the class is “an easy and fun way to make a cel for little money.”

The Arts Center offers several animation classes, including some for adults. Reynolds’ next full season of animation classes for kids begins Sept. 26.


Following are other Valley sites where kids can learn animation techniques:

* Associates in Art, a private, industry-supported training school in Sherman Oaks, regularly offers free animation workshops conducted by working animators. Kids high-school age and sometimes younger may attend. The next event is Aug. 8, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (818) 986-1050.

* The International Animated Film Society’s Hollywood Chapter, based in Burbank, offers frequent lectures on animation, open to any age. Student membership is $20. Call (818) 842-8330.

* Youngsters nearing 18 and completion of high school can contact the American Animation Institute in North Hollywood, sponsored by the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists union, about a professional, fee-based, training program. Call (818) 766-0521.



“Animation Cel Creation,” animation instruction for kids, 9-12, Saturday 10 a.m.-noon, Burbank Creative Arts Center, 1100 W. Clark St. Fee, $20. Call (818) 238-5397 for reservations, which are required, and to receive a list of materials students must bring to class.