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Cartoon Network Storyboard Artist, Recent Grad Shows Off Personality

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'Frog Knight.' Illustration by Mark Galez.

Cartoon Network storyboard artist Mark Galez said he didn’t really know anything about the art niche until he talked to Shaun Featherstone, storyboard coordinator for the School of Animation & Visual Effects at Academy of Art University. “He explained that it was basically like animating except you draw out the whole story. That sounded awesome,” Galez said. “So I tried it out and instantly loved the whole process and felt that storyboarding is what I should pursue. From then on, I did everything I could to understand more about storyboarding and it eventually led to where I am today.”

Currently, Galez is a storyboard artist for the animated television series Clarence. He graduated from the Academy this past spring and although he says he went to school intending to study 2-D animation, he would still love to work for Disney or Pixar, but it has always been a dream of his to work at Cartoon Network. 

“Mainly the job of the storyboard artist is to take a script that was written by a team of writers and translate those words into images and sequences,” Galez said. “Think of it like the blue print of a cartoon, the storyboards are drawn out to give an idea of what the story and the episode would look like before they ship it out for animation.”

Storyboarding is one of the earliest steps within the whole animation process and storyboard artists work closely with the directors and writers to improve the story in the script as well as coming up with funny gag ideas to put in the episodes.

“When I am working on an episode it takes a total four to five weeks to make a complete storyboarded episode. The first week, my board partner and I read through the script. Each episode is 11 minutes long, so we decide where we want to split the script,” he said. “Once we decided that, we talk about what the episode is mainly about and what characters are we focusing on, what kind of funny ideas we can [include] and how we can make the script more entertaining.”

Then the two begin to rough out the major events that take place in the story and they pitch them on the board to the directors and writers for feedback.

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Mark Galez. Courtesy of Mark Galez.

“The second week, we fix up some panels and start implementing acting poses into the boards and make any changes that the directors gave us from the previous week, then we pitch again for final feedback,” Galez said. “The third and fourth week is spent putting in the final notes the director gives us, cleaning up the boards and making them presentable for the final pitch to the whole Clarence production crew. After that, it’s taken down the pipeline and shipped out overseas for animation.”

Galez shared that the Academy helped him understand the importance of deadlines, taught him the fundamentals of drawing that are needed for the job and the ability to network with other professionals. 

“If you miss a deadline, people in the industry will remember that and then you will be known as the person that isn’t able to get their work done on time. I’ve never missed a deadline and an artist should always have that mentality,” Galez said. “When I first came to the school, I wasn’t the most amazing artist but just like anything, if you take the time to learn something eventually you’ll be able to do it well and if you worked hard, it can be done professionally.”

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'Wizard Kid.' Illustration by Mark Galez.

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Illustration by Mark Galez.

Junior story artist Jon Feria, a former roommate of Galez’s and colleague at Blue Sky Studios, shared that Galez is a very open person, which is what’s great about working with him.

“No matter what you give him, he will try his best to envelop it, whether it’s like a style or certain theme, he finds a way to do so,” Feria said. “I think that’s the greatest thing about his art … you can see his personality right away.”

Feria says he doesn’t really see that in many artists often.

“He’s just a very laid-back dude who sees the positives in life and just wants everyone to be happy so that he can be happy and we can all enjoy this cool little moment.”