is your Name, Age, and Job Title?
My name is Julia Lundman, age 33, and my job title is: Freelance
In terms of animation art, How did it all begin for you?
I was attending the American Academy of Art in Chicago, majoring in
Painting. A few weeks after I graduated, a friend of mine told me that a
local animation studio, Calabash Animation, was looking for cel painters.
After I interviewed, they took me on as a cel painter on their first Lucky
Charms cereal commercial. After the project ended, one of the owners of the
company asked me to stick around for the next project. She wanted me to paint
backgrounds for another commercial and then for a five minute film. Pretty
soon after those projects, I was painting all the backgrounds for Calabash's
commercials, which included traditionally animated spots for Trix cereal,
Lucky Charms, and the Keebler Elves.
What was your very first animation art project? was it a success?
My very first project was working for Calabash Animation as their
background painter on a 5 minute film called "Gina's Tooth Adventure" for the
American Dental Association. I didn't have any experience as a background
painter, so I had a lot to learn! In school I'd been painting from live
models every day. Using my memory and a few references to paint an imaginary
scene seemed daunting to me. After a while, I learned how to apply the same
laws of landscape painting and color theory to imaginary landscapes.
How long have you been in the animation industry and what is your current job?
I have been working in the animation industry since 1993, so almost 10
years now. I currently work on contract for The Learning Company for their cd
rom games, Celluloid Studios on animated commercials (Cap'n Crunch, Squirt),
and design collectible figurines for the Bradford Exchange.
What has been
your greatest accomplishment in your career?
is one piece of advice you would give to the aspiring
The greatest accomplishment of my career is work I did for a film that was
nominated for an Academy Award this year in the "Best Short Animated Film"
category, "Stubble Trouble", produced at Calabash Animation. It was made to
look like an animated cave painting. I designed the textures, lighting, and
came up with a line technique for the animation. It was a great chance to
experiment with new techniques for animation. Another short film Calabash
made but was never released on the Film Festival circuit was also great
called "Heads Will Roll." I painted all the backgrounds and designed the
character color. I love the style and look of it.
Of all of your
artwork, which piece is your personal favorite
My favorite painting is one I did at Calabash several years ago for a
Keebler Elves commercial. Its a shot with the elves sitting on a couch
watching television. I just loved the lighting and the atmosphere.
My advice to people looking to get into animation:
Make sure you know your basic principles of painting very well. The same
rules of atmospheric perspective and color theory apply. The more you
understand this, the better you will be able to make creative choices. Also,
make sure you know the programs needed to do the work. This is just a
necessity. Your chances of getting work are better if you know your stuff!
Some companies will train you, but I wouldn't count on it now that the market
is tough. Also, don't worry if you can't find work right away. It takes a lot
of time and patience to build a good portfolio and build experience.
What software program(s) if any, do you use for your work and why?
As far as software, I use Corel's Painter 6. I also use Photoshop. I don't
like to have too many layers going. I basically have just a line layer and a
paint layer. I feel this is the best approach that seems to mimic real
painting. I like to blend into adjacent objects a lot as it helps to create
distance and a certain softness to the scene. The texture work I did for the
Academy Award nominated film, "Stubble Trouble", was scanned and manipulated
in Photoshop, and the characters were painted in Commotion, a live action
digital retouch program.
What are you plans for the future?
My plans for the future include working on an animated short film called
"Going Nuts" for Flying Saucer Productions. I am also learning to apply 2D
textures to 3D forms in Maya. I've been quite busy working as a 2D background
artist these past 10 years, but on the horizon a lot of 3D animated films
will be made. I would like to move into matte painting and texture mapping
for film, so I'm in the process of learning the technical requirements to
make the jump.
Are you working on any projects currently?
If so, what are they?
The current work I'm doing is for The Learning Company. They make a cd
rom series of educational games called "Reader Rabbit." They recently asked
me to paint some drawings that a former Disney Imagineer, Marcelo Vignali,
did for Reader Rabbit's world. The drawings he did are so beautiful! It was
wonderful to add to them with my own color, rendering, and lighting. The
Learning Company also has a new product they will be releasing in July called
"Katie Cadet." I painted all the backgrounds on that project, too.
you give away one of your secrets to success?
My secret to success is really a combination of luck, really hard work,
and studying a lot. My first job was 'full time freelance' with no contract,
so I knew at any moment someone else who was better than me could walk in and
take my job! So I made sure that I was the best bargain around. I put in tons
of hours and worked very hard to improve my skills. I did more than was
expected of me and continue with that policy today. I also paint from life on
my own paintings, study film lighting and study Disney and Warner Brother's
Thank you very
much Julie for your time and we hope to see
more of your work soon.
For more information you can email Julie Lundman at