Becoming an Animator – Learning What It Takes to be a Successful Pro

Animator at work

Unlike the rest of us, Toothless and Hiccup were not born in a day. Actually, this loveable duo from How to Train Your Dragon loved by many children around the world was amazingly designed by a group of talented animators facing their computer screens. While you may have seen them on cinemas, the adorable dragon and the determined young boy are simply a product of simultaneous still images intricately controlled in order to visualize an illusion of series of movements on the screen.

The army of animators doesn’t just work on your favourite children’s movies. They also play imperative roles in the making of action blockbusters such as The Lego movie, Transformers, high resolution video games, exquisite television commercials and many others! So, how would you like to become one of the people who make these exciting projects come true?

Also known as multimedia artists, animators create animation, special effects and other visual images using electronic tools and computers for creations or products. In such competitive field, it is essential for you to know that you have everything that it takes to pour your energy into career in animation. So, what does it mean to be a successful in the field?

Successful Animator – Defining the Character

If animation is your forte, you have to determine if you have to qualities to pour yourself into the profession. For instance, a successful animator knows when to be inquisitive and curious about the world around them. An animator sees the world a lot different than an average person.

Animators should be experts of the art of movement. This is the reason why big studios around the world consider an acting experience helpful in carrying out animation. For instance, Pixar Animation Studios like to stress the importance on how their candidates ensure they know how to show their character’s feelings through its motion.

The Technical Skills

So you have decided you are a natural animator and are ready to excel in your career. What about the technical skills needed?
Animators are artistic. They think outside the box. For them to give life to their ideas and visualize the dream they have in mind, they need to be analytical and creative. The mixture of being tech savvy and practical skills can be the perfect ingredient to foster in this field.

A lot of individuals also ask whether you need to know how to draw in order to become a good animator. Experts emphasize the importance of firm drawing skills. It is essential to have a vivid understanding of how a character is drawn and how the animator visualizes its movements. You, however, don’t have to draw like a famous painter but you need to know the fundamentals of drawing and art.

While some institution’s procedure of teaching animation varies from one to another, it is important for you to understand the skills of audio-video editing, color conjecture, web authoring and digital media production. Exposing yourself to advanced software such as 3D Studio Max, Adobe Flash and Mudbox is integral. These are the common skills you can get by getting an animation degree.

The Most Needed Experience

Apprenticeship plays a vital role in your career in animation. Why? The answer is simple. Not all institutions with animation courses can give you the most updated resolutions towards a modern animation product. You however, can obtain training through getting experience from entry-level jobs. Internships on animation studios are a good way to earn practice hands-on animation career. It provides you a good material for a professional portfolio that shows your artistic skills as an animator. Above all, it is your best chance to work with professional animators who can give worthy inputs.

Are you up for the challenge?

Bringing characters to life is a fun, challenging and exciting job. However, don’t expect animation career to be an easy path. Animators work long hours to beat deadlines. If you are passionate about your dreams and determined to do what you do best, this high-pressure field shouldn’t put you off a bit.

TOOL FOR SUCCESS

Each of us has goals in life. Being successful is what we want – in our careers, in our business ventures, our family life and relationships. One of the key to be successful is to have self-confidence but more importantly we also need to have self-belief in the areas we are striving to succeed.

 
Achieving a goal in life is like taking a road map for a trip in which you need to take time to plan, prioritize, and determine where you are going. Having a plan helps to focus on the destination and allows to have an early warning when we are deviating from the path.

 
Here are some tips that might help you to embark on that road to success:

 
1. Set the goals. One of the most important steps to achieve success in life is to set the goal that you want to aim. When you set your goals, you are also setting a direction where you want to go. It might be helpful if you will write down your goals too.
2. Learn to visualize the goals. Visualization is an essential personal development tool. It is a way to train your mind to see your future and your goals. Through that way, it can help you then to motivate and focus yourself to that goal.
3. Be positive in life. One of the best ways to be successful is to stay positive. Get rid of negative thoughts and be with positive people. Practice positive affirmation to help you feed your mind with positive thoughts every day. It is on how you see things that will help you stay positive and happy.
4. Seize opportunity. Opportunities in life may come and go and in reaching your goals, you need to grab opportunities that may come to you. Be open to new opportunities. It is also essential to give effort, time and resources to attain what you want.
5. Keep yourself physically fit. To be successful, it is important to keep your well-being physically fit. Doing an exercise or even a 15-minute walk every day, having a balanced and healthy diet and enough sleep are essential things. Having a physically fit body can help you to appreciate and enjoy life fully.
6. Be thankful and learn to share. It is in giving that you will receive more. Learn to thank the people who help us and give without expecting something in return. Through this way, life tends you to give more reasons to be grateful for.

 

Do not forget too that being happy will lead you to be successful in life. Be happy while working on your goals, this will help you do your best.

HIRING THE RIGHT EMPLOYEES TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT

Finding the right employees for a business is not always easy. In fact, there are so many applicants all over the world nowadays. One of the primary challenges that employers facing today is employee recruitment and retention.

 
Many employers receive hundreds of job applications. Among to these applications, we have to think which resume is suitable for the job position. The question goes: How to make hiring decisions that will help to hire the best employees? Of course, employers seek for applicants who are strong performers and engaged to their work. Let us help by giving some tips for hiring the right employees:

 
1. After receiving and reviewing a resume, the employer should have a list of all the job duties required in the job. While conducting an interview, employer need to speak about the job role and develop questions that will help you to understand whether the applicant have any of the experience listed. It will be better to conduct a behavioral type of interview to evaluate the candidate experiences and behavior. Through this, it can determine the candidate’s potential for success.
2. Determine the type of skills and education required for job. For example, does the candidate need a particular degree to perform the job or does the candidate have enough skills and experience suitable for job?  These questions will be answered by the employer itself. Let the candidate share the previous job experiences, skills performed, awards received and many more. Employers should see the awards or certificates that the applicant received.
3. Conduct a thorough background check. There are proper ways to find out the candidate’s working background such as talking to their previous employer or associates in order to get summary information about the candidate.
4. Provide a concise and clear job preview. The employer has to be sure that the job description and deliverable are explained in detail to the candidate. The candidate should not be left guessing about the job responsibilities. In that way, the chosen candidate will develop his/her ideas in the job roles.
5. When the employer found the right candidate, make the candidate hire! Make sure that salary range and offer letter has been discussed. Orient the new employee to the company and other members of the organization. Encourage the new employee appropriately and let the employee be comfortable.

 

Hiring the best employee will be possible if the employer understands what the employee needs before hiring them and supporting the employee to the job. Remember that the quality of people we hire is one of the key enablers of success in any business. This is similar to the quote from a German writer named Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, “A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.”

Middle East Talents Awards is announcing the winners

Middle East Talents Awards, together with Pixelhunters, 3D Artist, Chaos Group, CG Record and Stylus Copywriting, go hand in hand in bringing brightness to the world of undiscovered talents in Middle East. We hunt for individuals who have strong interest in showing their talents in digital arts. We would like to recognize that talent and give them the support they need as a budding artist by giving them the platform of learning, fun and sense of competition.

 

We were astonished by the hundreds of entries submitted for nine different categories from different individuals across the world. We are more than happy to see a lot of aspiring individuals trying to make a difference through their skills. We are overwhelmed with the number of people wanting to be somebody in the industry. Above all, we are so delighted to be a part of their humble beginnings as young professionals.

 

With an overwhelming 569 submissions, we decided to not just pick a winner for a particular category. We would also like to notice the talents across the entire section. Some of our artists have multiple artworks that show their uniqueness and skilful hands in different categories that is why we would like to award not just their single masterpiece but the artist himself as a whole. Since META is all about discovering talents, all awarded artists will be featured along with their best outputs.

 

Today, we announce the first winners of Middle East Talents Awards. May this be an encouragement to all individuals who have hopes of becoming an artist to continue showing the world that their talents can make a difference.

 

STATUETTES AWARDS

 

Category: Most Rated Artwork: 717 Rates Khaled Jalal-most rated

Artist: Khaled Jalal, Syria.

Submission: Self Portrait Concept Art

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/433

 

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Category: Short Film Made by a Single Person egg-factory-short-film

Artist: Vishwanatha, United Arab Emirates

Submission: Egg Factory

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/617

 

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Category: 2D Characters wrinkledterror2D

Subcategory: 2D Still:

Artist: RENJU.MV, India

Submission: Wrinkled Terror

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/613

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 Category: 2D Characters 2Dvideo

Subcategory: 2D Videos

Artist: Amaal Abdullah Alkhasheb, Yemen

Submission: The Government Line

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/602

 

 

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Category: 3D CharactersImage converted using ifftoany

Subcategory: 3D Characters Stills – Cartoon

Artist: Raorohith, United Arab Emirates

Submission: The Pussycat Dolls

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/662

 

 

 

 

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Category: 3D Characters3Dphotorealistic

Subcategory: 3D Characters Stills – Photorealistic

Artist: Rishi, United Arab Emirates

Submission: Monster Sculpt

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/191

 

 

 

 

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Category: 3D Characters3Dcharactersvideo

Subcategory: 3D Characters Videos

Artist: Alaa Aldeen Afifah, United Arab Emirates

Submission: Character Animation Demo Reel

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/458

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Catergoty: Interiorsinterior still

Subcategory: Interiors Stills

Artist: Muhammad Taher, Egypt

Submission: Maroccan Majlis

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/320

 

 

 

 

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Catergoty: Interiorsinteriorsvideo

Subcategory: Interiors Videos

Artist: Ahmad, Jordan

Submission: Art Class Movie

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/546

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Category: Exteriors exteriors2D

Subcategory: Exteriors Stills – 2D

Artist: Binu Rojers SP, India

Submission: Market

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/619

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Category: Exteriors exterior3Dstill

Subcategory: Exteriors Stills – 3D

Artist: Mohammad Yazdi Rad, Iran

Submission: Chaharbagh School

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/166

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Category: Exteriors exteriorsvideo

Subcategory: Exteriors Videos

Artist: Sherif Gazzar, United Arab Emirates

Submission: Bab Al Bahr

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/547

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 Category: Carscars

Subcategory: Cars Stills

Artist: Ajdin, Croatia

Submission: Trucks Caravana

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/479

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 Category: Carscarsvideo

Subcategory: Cars Videos

Artist: Fabien Vantroys, Qatar

Submission: Need for Skid

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/194

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Category: Motivationalmotivationalstill

Subcategory: Motivational Stills

Artist: Jones, Iran

Submission: Frantic Perception

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/80

 

 

 

 

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Category: Motivationalmotivationalvideo

Subcategory: Motivational Videos

Artist: Sreekumar Thottathil, Qatar

Submission: Show Reel Sreekumar

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/422

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Category: Innovationinnovationstill

Subcategory: Innovation Stills

Artist: Ehsan Sarahian, Iran

Submission: Desert Lucast Vehicle, Iran

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/291

 

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Category: Innovationinnovation-videos

Subcategory: Innovation Videos

Artist: Eyad Orabi, United Arab Emirates

Submission: Absract

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/611

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Category: Expo 2020

Artist: Vijay, India

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/610

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 *All Statuettes winners will receive also a Pixelhunters T-shirt

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V-RAY RENDERING TALENT AWARD

 

1ST PRIZE: 1 YEAR V-RAY ADV LICENSE FOR THE PLATFORM THAT THE WINNER USES

Artist: Mohammad Yazdi Rad, Iran

Submissions: CHAHARBAGH SCHOOL & CLASSIC BATH

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/166

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/601

exterior3Dstilllicensevray

 

 

 

 

 

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V-RAY RENDERING STUDENT AWARD

 

1ST PRIZE: 1 YEAR V-RAY EDU LICENSE FOR THE PLATFORM THAT THE WINNER USES

Artist: Raorohith, United Arab Emirates

RAOROHITH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Submissions: The Pussycat Dolls & Doll Beauty Salon

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/662

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/470

Image converted using ifftoany   edulicense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PIXELHUNTERS SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTIONS & PIXELHUNTERS T-SHIRTS

Alexandra Kavalova, Canada for her Baianas and The Romanovs submissions

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/361

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/366

baiamasromanovs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Denitsa, Bulgaria for her Elf Legolas and Fairy Forest submissions

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/123

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/124

legolasfairyforest

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Zdravko Barisic, Serbia and Montenegro, for his Architects Loft Daynight Time

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/382

zdravko

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rakan Jandali, United Arab Emirates for Mondrian Inspired Hotel Room and Split House Interior submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/654

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/655

mondian  rakan

 

 

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Eychenne Mickael, France, for Pirat town submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/311

pirat

 

 

 

 

 

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Veselin Gyurov, Bulgaria, for Veselin Georgiev Gyurov Showreel submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/297

vesko

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Shahriar Hosseini, Iran, For Ford GT 500 submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/215

ford

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Richard, South Africa, for 1955 BMW Isetta 300 submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/27

carcaroon

 

 

 

 

 

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Stephen M Rupia, South Africa, for Haunted Villa

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/571

hauntedvilla

 

 

 

 

 

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Huda Abdul-Razzak, United Arab Emirates, for he Portrait of a Woman submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/1 

portrait of woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kudzai Gumbo, United Arab Emirates, for his Queen submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/459

queen

 

 

 

 

 

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Salama Alhajeri, United Arab Emirates, for her Old woman submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/378

oldwoman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rozan Alsadi, United Arab Emirates, for his Old Man submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/349

old man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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V-RAY SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTIONS & V-RAY T-SHIRTS

Muhammad Taher, Egypt, for his Morrocan Majilis

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/320

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/321

interior still

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yones Bana and Mohammadreza Mohseni, Iran for Frantic Perception submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/80

motivationalstill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mohit, India, for Interior Bedroom Top View and Summer Hear submissions

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/429

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/450

mohit mohit2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rakan Jandali, United Arab Emirates for Split House Interior and Modern Apartment Dining Area submissions

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/655

rakanmoderndining

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zdravko Barisic, Serbia and Montenegro, for his Architects Loft Daynight Time

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/382

zdravko

 

 

 

 

 

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Pawel, Poland, for Public Space Submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/87

pawel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahmad, Jordan, for his Robot submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/523

robot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nitin.D.Mahale, United Arab Emirates for Court Space Submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/495

court space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rishi, United Arab Emirates for Monster Sculpt submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/191

3Dphotorealistic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Richard, South Africa, for 1955 BMW Isetta 300 submission

http://metalentsawards.com/en/contest/view/27

carcaroon

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this doesn’t end here. In fact, we are just beginning to discover what our future generation can offer.

 

Congratulations to All Winners! We are looking forward to see much more of your works.

Please email us at ani@pixelhunters.com to inform us about your latest address and telephone number.

 

 

Featured Story I – Mirror Images

Mirror Images

Be careful what you wish for as sometimes the consequences will bring you somewhere you don’t want to be.

Perhaps it is human nature to argue on different things or not be satisfied over the things that they have. People who know what they want have obviously have so much passion in their life’s work as well as mix in great amount of endeavours to everything they are involved with. However, for somebody who is far from reaching their point of interest, you can see that they are willing to do just everything in their power to get it. This is their means of achieving their dreams.

This story reminds us that some wishes may cost us everything. Instead of getting everything we wish for, we might actually end up with nothing. We hope you are with us as you read this. Here it is.

Mirror Images

Author: Shamma Humaid Obaid Humaid Al Mansoori

Illustrator: Noora Abdulrahman Abdulla Abdulrahman Al Shaikh

Mirror Images

Click to Read

About the Author

In order to give us more insight, and get to know the writer, we have interviewed the author Shamma Humaid Obaid Humaid Al Mansoori in regards to her story. It goes here:

1. How long have you been writing stories?
I started writing a few months before this project began.

 

2. If this is your first story, has the success of your first effort encouraged you to continue writing?
Yes these are my first stories.  I wrote “Mirror Images and Hamda’s Nightmare” for this edition of the Story Mile. Yes the publication of these stories has encouraged me to keep writing.

 

3. How did you come up with your story idea?
It all started with me sitting with my cousin and making up scary stories.

 

4. What was your objective as you plotted your story?
My goal was to recreate our “Emirati” traditional stories.

 

5. How do you think your stories can relate in today’s society?
“Mirror Images” is based on a true story.  This story and the other Story Mile tales were created to share important life lessons, not just to simply entertain.  I’ve found that some parents have a tendency to play favourites with their children and as a result jealousy grows and plays a big role in their lives. Parents shouldn’t divide their children, but guide them to do the right things in life, and understand that external beauty is not the answer to everything. 
My second story, Hamda’s Nightmare is designed to show the reader how toxic fear can be when we allow it to take over our lives.  I also wanted to promote the importance of mutual respect between life partners. 

 

6. How does it feel to be featured in a publication?
Exciting yet terrifying.

 

7. What is your message to your readers?
I go by the saying “Never judge a book by its cover.” It also talks about family, siblings and how the most love and support each other.

 

8. Why do you think the Story Mile or similar projects like this are important for the community?
The Story Mile helps us to spread our words and as I mentioned previously, it allows us to share life lessons passed down to us through the generations using these ancient characters from our past.

 

9. How does your family feel about your participation in the project?
They are very supportive and proud of my success.

 

10. Do you plan on making more heritage stories in the future?
I might think about it. 

 

 

 

 About the Illustrator

Every story can spark an imagination, especially when an illustration is included. It takes the ability to relate and the skills to come up with a creative output. Here’s Noora Abdulrahman Abdulla Abdulrahman Al Shaikh, the illustrator for Mirror Images.

1. How long have you been drawing?
I do not recall the exact date I started drawing, but I do believe I started drawing sometime in 2005.

 

2. Which mediums do you work in?
I work in traditional mediums as well as digital. For traditional mediums, I work with pencils, pens, markers, and sometimes watercolors. For digital Illustrations, I use my trusty Wacom Tablet Intous 4 and Adobe Photoshop. On occasion, I do experimental sculptures with wires and different types of clay.

 

3. If this is your first illustration in a book?
No, I have published a few illustrations in an illustration book prior to the Story Mile called Garden of Pearls, which was released for the Middle East Comic Con 2013.

 

4. If so, has the success of your first effort encouraged you to continue illustrating professionally?
Regardless of any success or failures for previous and coming publications, I will continue to draw and illustrate as it is my passion to do so.

 

5. How did you approach the illustration process?
First research, then look for as many references as I could possibly find then went about planning my layout, composition and designing the characters involved.

 

6. What was your objective as you sketched your illustration?
My approach for the illustration ‘Mirror images’ was to try to portray the story in one single image. Mahra was the twin adored by her parents and Mariam was the jealous twin, and of course, there was the wicked Um Al Heilan, I wanted to show Mahra’s calm expression, oblivious to her sisters plan, Mariam’s face twisted in jealousy and hatred, and finally Um Heilan’s evil eyes gazing upon them.

 

7. How important was it to match the narrative that was written?
In my opinion, if the illustration does not match the story, then the illustrations weren’t a success. The purpose of illustrations are to draw the readers’ attention to the story, make them curious as to what the story may be about and as to who are the characters that are shown.

 

8. How do you think your visual story can relate in today’s society?
In the case of Mirror Images, it is common for individuals to be blinded by their jealousy towards their kin and friends. But the importance lies in knowing to be thankful for what they have rather than causing harm to others, because who knows? If one harms the other, the mistreatment will eventually return to the doer.

 

9. How does it feel to be featured in a publication?
I feel happy to see my illustrations in print, there is something special in knowing that the work I’ve put into the illustrations has paid off and has a purpose.

 

10. What is your message to your readers?
I would like for the readers to get inspired and to enjoy doing what they like to do most whether it is reading, writing drawing or anything! 

 

11. Why do you think the Story Mile or similar projects like this are important for the community?
Projects that are like the Story Mile are important not only as a way to conserve heritage in a special way, but also as a source of entertainment to let individuals have fun in reading about the characters that make up the cultures almost forgotten folklore, and also come to love and remember them as well.

 

12. How does your family feel about your participation in the project?
I am thankful for my family’s constant support in what I like to do most, and I hope that they are proud of me. 

 

13. Do you plan on making more heritage art in the future?
I do not plan to stop at heritage art. I would like to explore other themes as well, whatever proves to be fun and challenging.

 

14. How would you like to see your art develop professionally?
Art changes constantly, therefore styles continue to develop and improve with constant practice. For the future, I plan to create more illustrative books and other works of art and further develop my style.

 

 

This is The Story Mile and Middle East Talents Awards first featured story. What do you think of the story? Is it something the younger generation can relate into? Let us know on comments and find out the next featured story soon!

Middle East Talents Awards and The Story Mile – Reliving the Heritage

An Initiative of Zayed University & Pixelhunters – together to stimulate and promote the Emirati storytelling traditions.

We have always loved to be around the youth. It makes us want to help them achieve a brighter future by encouraging them to do what they are most passionate about. In our contemporary world, it is undeniable to see a lot of children and younger adults going towards the wrong road. Being individuals who want to inspire others can be one of the most fulfilling jobs we’ve had. It allows us to express the things that we think of as well as the things that we want to extend to the youth. This includes our principles and philosophies of life. We want to share it with others. This is the reason why we came up with different ideas on how to train and motivate the youth around us. This is the reason why we came up with Middle East Talents Awards. Middle East Talents Awards enables the youth to mold their minds, direct them towards the right way and help them do the right thing. In lieu with this, we have recently opened an idea with Zayed University. We have always wanted to work with young minds when it comes to art and we think telling and creating stories is one of its traditional forms of expression through words. We are used to be exposure to skilful individuals who make use of paints and visual applications to express their interest in art. When we had the chance to hear and see these amazing stories that tell lessons, we were in awe. Words are indeed a mighty way of expression. The Story Mile is an exhibition by the students of Zayed University that reveals tales of historical figures and events in light boxes along the seafront path. With its partnership with our very own Middle East Talents Awards, we dare to help these young artists reach more people through the power of the internet. We will post their stories along with their maker’s insights. We will make it closer to you. The Storyteller Club is set to revive the country’s jinn characters with its series of Emirati fairy tales and fables called the ‘Story Mile’. The first book in a three volume series was published by Zayed University and H.H. Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan bint Khalifa Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Foundation and launched this year at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. In this modern society, we often forget our rich heritage and get lost with how modern fairy tales have been introduced to us since our childhood. Brionée LaThrop, Story Mile’s Program Manager got inspired to introduce the rich Emirati heritage to her students to bring back its memoirs and allow the younger generation to appreciate them once again. The project went to more than the four corners of their classroom as its initiative was commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation to yield more original stories for the Abu Dhabi Festival. Now, the Story Mile is more than a school drive. These tell tale stories of traditions reached the younger minds, allowing them to get to know more of their folklore. What is so special about these forms of arts is that the students are the creators of the stories, allowing them to express their modern form of art without losing touch with the old culture. Many times when people forget how we are molded by our ancestors, these kinds of stories tell them without leaving its readers bored. It tells a unique story with a simple lesson that can sometimes be forgotten in our modern age. This project by the Al Kharareef Storytelling Club aims to keep the city closer to its heritage and culture despite its continuous efforts to move forward in life. With our advocacy in Middle East Talents Awards and Pixelhunters, we dare to encourage everyone, not just the story creators but every dreamer to express themselves through art so that one day, no single young mind shall remain silent with their dreams sleeping. Support us in discovering the power of our youth!

Image from one8one.com

We have always loved to be around the youth. It makes us want to help them achieve a brighter future by encouraging them to do what they are most passionate about. In our contemporary world, it is undeniable to see a lot of children and younger adults going towards the wrong road. Being individuals who want to inspire others can be one of the most fulfilling jobs we’ve had. It allows us to express the things that we think of as well as the things that we want to extend to the youth. This includes our principles and philosophies of life. We want to share it with others. This is the reason why we came up with different ideas on how to train and motivate the youth around us. This is the reason why we came up with Middle East Talents Awards.

Middle East Talents Awards enables the youth to mold their minds, direct them towards the right way and help them do the right thing. In lieu with this, we have recently opened an idea with Zayed University. We have always wanted to work with young minds when it comes to art and we think telling and creating stories is one of its traditional forms of expression through words. We are used to be exposure to skilful individuals who make use of paints and visual applications to express their interest in art. When we had the chance to hear and see these amazing stories that tell lessons, we were in awe. Words are indeed a mighty way of expression.

The Story Mile is an exhibition by the students of Zayed University that reveals tales of historical figures and events in light boxes along the seafront path. With its partnership with our very own Middle East Talents Awards, we dare to help these young artists reach more people through the power of the internet. We will post their stories along with their maker’s insights. We will make it closer to you.

The Storyteller Club is set to revive the country’s jinn characters with its series of Emirati fairy tales and fables called the ‘Story Mile’. The first book in a three volume series was published by Zayed University and H.H. Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan bint Khalifa Al Nahyan’s ZOWD Foundation and launched this year at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

In this modern society, we often forget our rich heritage and get lost with how modern fairy tales have been introduced to us since our childhood. Brionée LaThrop, Story Mile’s Program Manager got inspired to introduce the rich Emirati heritage to her students to bring back its memoirs and allow the younger generation to appreciate them once again. The project went to more than the four corners of their classroom as its initiative was commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation to yield more original stories for the Abu Dhabi Festival.

Now, the Story Mile is more than a school drive. These tell tale stories of traditions reached the younger minds, allowing them to get to know more of their folklore. What is so special about these forms of arts is that the students are the creators of the stories, allowing them to express their modern form of art without losing touch with the old culture. Many times when people forget how we are molded by our ancestors, these kinds of stories tell them without leaving its readers bored. It tells a unique story with a simple lesson that can sometimes be forgotten in our modern age. This project by the Al Kharareef Storytelling Club aims to keep the city closer to its heritage and culture despite its continuous efforts to move forward in life.

With our advocacy in Middle East Talents Awards and Pixelhunters, we dare to encourage everyone, not just the story creators but every dreamer to express themselves through art so that one day, no single young mind shall remain silent with their dreams sleeping.

‘Story Mile’ project puts a fresh new spin on traditional Emirati tales

Mzraat Salama copy 2A host of Emirati folklore characters have been given a new lease of life through imaginative stories written and illustrated by students from Zayed University’s female campus. 

Members of the university’s Kharareef (Storyteller) Club have revived the country’s forgotten djinn characters with a series of Emirati fairy tales entitled ‘Story Mile’, which is set to be published this year by Zayed University.

Brione LaThrop, Story Mile’s Programme Manager, was inspired to re-introduce her students at the university to their rich Emirati heritage of storytelling after finding out how little her students appreciated them.

“Whenever I asked my students who their favourite characters from childhood were, they almost always responded with Disney characters,” she said. “When I asked them why traditional Emirati characters weren’t their favourite they looked at me in shock, saying ‘Why on earth would they ever be our favourite characters? Our parents told us they would kill us and eat us!’ That was always their reaction.”

Brione’s project became so successful that it expanded from a classroom initiative and led to a commission from Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation (ADMAF) to create original stories for the Abu Dhabi Festival.

After being displayed in the form of storyboards in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Park last month, the stories will be available in book form for the very first time at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which opens on Wednesday at ADNEC.

“We had always planned to develop the Story Mile into books. It was a natural transition for the preservation of these tales and just another vehicle to allow us to re-introduce these cultural icons that make up the Story Mile back into Emirati storytelling tradition,” said Brione.

The university students were presented with 24 traditional Emirati characters and 42 themes. “As they only knew a handful of the characters, everyone wanted the same ones at first,” said Brione.

A definitive list of characters was compiled with the help of local historian and Master Storyteller Abdul Aziz Al Mussallam, who has been researching Emirati folklore characters for years and travels from emirate to emirate collecting oral stories. The characters were also authenticated as genuinely Emirati by the Department of Culture, Heritage and Information.

Umm Duwais, a female djinn character, is one of the most well known characters in Emirati folklore. She is described as a temptress with an enchanting scent and captivating beauty who lures cheating men to their death with bladed hands. Her terrifying character has been used in fables for years in Emirati culture as a warning to unfaithful men, as well as a threat to misbehaving kids. “I’ve never met an Emirati that hasn’t heard of Umm Duwais,” said Brione. “She is definitely the most iconic of them all.”

Despite the scary nature of many of the characters, Brione and her students were determined to show a different side to them with this project. “One of the reasons why the characters have died out over the years is because they were so terrifying,” said Brione.  “We all knew that in order for this project to be successful we would have to introduce different aspects to the characters.”

Students used different themes to create their own interpretations of their assigned characters. For example, one student chose to portray Umm Duwais as the guardian of Emirati love, while another portrayed her as an orphan protector who saves children from an abusive uncle.

“While the characters themselves have been around for hundreds of years, the stories are totally original,” said Brione. “We used themes to bring out different sides of the characters, like respect, integrity, selflessness, courage – universal themes that apply to every culture.”

Abu Ras, another well-known traditional Emirati character, is a guardian of the souq who traditionally catches thieves but becomes a defender of human rights for one of the stories.

Abu Ras punishes a man who abuses his servant by taking him back in time and making him work as a labourer, and the man eventually apologizes to his servant after spending time in his shoes.

“The moral of that story is nobody deserves to be mistreated,” said Brione. “We want the stories to have an impact.”

The book keeps alive stories in danger of being lost in the modern world, and Brione says: “I wanted my students to look at these characters as guardians that are here to safeguard Emirati values and heritage.” reem@7days.ae

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