Animation and Client Work Art and Illustration Sketches, Conceptual Art and Life Drawing Storyboards, Animatics and Client Work About the Artist Contact the Artist Cool Links Online Shop AmberDust Studios - The Art and Animation of Gemma Roberts
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do you use to create your art?

A: For traditional art, I use a range of materials; pencils, pens, watercolours, acrylics, pastel, charcoal etc... anything that can make a mark!

For digital art, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 (although previous and later versions are also suitable) and occassionally Corel Painter (Essentials or IX.5). I always use my Wacom Intuos3 tablet for digital drawing. I was formerly using an ancient PC for my work, but have now moved to a very dependable Mac Book Pro.

Q: How long does your art take to complete?

A: This can vary greatly depending on detail, artistic style and purpose. For sketches I only spend 5-20 minutes drawing quick figures; when it is my own personal work, detailed drawings and fully rendered paintings can take anywhere between 5-30 hours over a few or several days. When I work with a client, quick turnarounds are standard, so I vary techniques and paint solidly to get the work in on time.

Q: Where did you learn to draw?

A: Being home schooled as a child through to my mid-teens, I taught myself to draw and paint by copying from life and reading books on the subject. My family has some artistic roots, which of course isn't necessary to be good at art, but as such they supported my artistic development.

I took a National Diploma in Interactive Media and although there was not as much art involved as I would have liked, it certainly helped my observation skills and understanding of art. Currently, my degree in Animation is pushing my abilities far more than I was previously, as animation is not only representating forms but their movement as well and that's where observation is key.

Learning to paint and draw is something that takes time and practice to develop over the years as your understanding of how light and shade, perspective and anatomy starts to fall into place. I have been drawing and learning since I could pick up a pencil and will continue to do so for the rest of my life! Life is the first place to look. Study people around you, plants in the garden, household pets, crowds in city centres, your face in the mirror--anything. Everything you study will feed into your art and it's important to fill your world with inspiration.

Even if a person's draftmanship is not as good as others', it is also the concept and idea that gives art a purpose or feeling, so thinking thoroughly about what you want to express is arguably just as important as how you execute it.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Lots of things. My friends and family, travelling, looking at other work, watching films and listening to music. Getting a good catalogue of other art and animation you like is essential. I cover my walls with posters and save my favourite artwork to a 'screensaver' folder on my computer to constantly give myself inspiration.

Music is particularly important to me and I often have it blasting out while I draw. Favourites incude Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Kate Bush, Blue October, Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Weezer, Florence and the Machine and Arcade Fire...

Art websites like DeviantArt and video sites like Vimeo are a great place for browsing inspiring work. I was first inspired to paint digitally from the British magazine, ImagineFX--a monthly magazine especially for fantasy and sci-fi art, an essential source for all art lovers!

I was initially hooked by artists like Kuang Hong, John Howe, Linda Bergkvist, Dan LuVisi and Lois van Baarle!

Q: How do you animate?

A: At University I have been learning how to animate 2D characters in the traditional method of 'keying' and 'in-betweening' on hole-punched paper, a pegbar and a lightbox. It is a very long process as 12-24 drawings are required for every second! The process is made easier with a line tester, which is a camera pointing down onto a flat surface and connected to a computer that is running programs like 'Ernest' or 'Stop Motion Pro'. This allows you to test your work frame by frame, play it back and capture and export it when it is finished.

I prefer to work very rough in a combination of the 'key to key' and 'straight-ahead' animation methods. The former requires you to draw the key poses first and then in-between them. The latter means you anytime each frame in order and see what happens. There are several pros and cons to these methods (outlined in books such as Richard Williams' Animator's Survival Kit) so I like to work straight ahead and add in-betweens where I need them later.

I don't like to have the lightbox on when I work and only use it for precise in-betweening to reduce the 'stiffness' of predictable in-betweening. I always record footage of myself 'acting out' what I'm about to animate as visual reference to study. I don't trace the footage however, and make sure to add exaggeration and character where I can.

When happy with my drawings, I take it to the line tester and test and correct it over and over until it is complete. Asking for the opinion of others is vital at this stage so that you can get feedback on your work before it is finalised!

I also use Adobe Flash CS4 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 for animating, but find the programs rather constraining as opposed to drawing it on paper first. Flash is a good program for testing small animations but struggles on bigger projects. After Effects CS4 is the better program for compiling your work afterwards.

Q: Are you available for Commissions / Freelance / Full or Part-Time Work?

A: Yes, please contact me via my online contact form or by email for quotes/rates.

Q: Can I buy prints from you?

A: Yes, I have print services on DeviantArt and Redbubble where you can buy prints and canvases of my latest work. Not all fan art is available for printing however, due to copyright. I am looking into getting prints done myself so you can buy directly from my website or, so keep a lookout!

Contact me at if you have any unanswered questions!