Jozef Szekeres is a very talented artist, cartoonist and animator. His credits include co-creating Wavedancers, as well as work on Joseph Michael Linsner’s Dawn, and Erik Larsen’s Dart miniseries.

Jozef spent many years as an animator and director for Walt Disney Animation in Australia.

He was a senior animator on several video features: Aladdin: King of Thieves, Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure, Peter Pan II: Return to Neverland, and Jungle Book II. Jozef also sculpted maquettes of the lead Disney characters for the studio.

He has a a very impressive list of conceptual design credits, and line of outstandingly gorgeous dolls. He’s also the artist for the upcoming Black Mermaid Productions comic Elf-Fin. Which is made of all kinds of gorgeous, and which you will want muchly when it comes out. It is a fully painted series about mermaids, written by his partner Julie Ditrich, who has also written guest blogs at A Distant Soil.

Here is their Facebook group page for more art and updates on Elf Fin.

Late last year, I was hired to do the conceptual designs for a television show co-created by Greatest American Hero actor William Katt. Don’t miss the chance to meet him at a convention; he’s an absolute delight!

Like many projects in development, this one is in the hands of the producers. So, I can’t show you any art.

However, I often show my work to very close pro friends for their opinion, and with Jozef’s kind permission, I present his letters of comment to me.

Some of the comments don’t really apply: Jozef was under the impression I was designing for animation. I’m not. But the observations are interesting, and you may find them of use. It’s great that he took the time to go over the work with me. I truly value his expertise.

I know some artists get testy and don’t want to discuss their work with others, but I love to learn. And since animation isn’t my forte, I learn a lot from Jozef. I hope you will, too.

Hi Colleen,

These are marvellous illustrations, what lovely designs. What is their usage? For live action costume designs or for animation models?

As character costume designs for live action film, they’re fantastic. As 2D modelsheet guides, they’re still about a step away from the construction instructiveness an animator would need to stay “on model”. If this was for animation, I’d say another in-house lead animator would reinterpret them for model-sheet readiness.

What the aim is when an illustrator is brought on board to design for 2D, is to get a sense of their personal style in their character design architecture/structure. The idea is to break down the style (the “how to” of it) so that the animator can recreate it to work within that style again and again for the project.

How you have presented them is great… however if you want to get closer to the animators’ model sheet, what you need to do is to have your linework and your construction volumes clearer and cleaner then currently presented. In illustration, the linework is what it’s all about really… it adds interest and random detail. However for animation, the linework is usually treated as the “edge of moving volume”, and though it makes it’s mark with form, it is lost against the volume of colour. Extra “fly away” linework that has no reasonable justifiable anchor will just float without purpose when in an animators’ hand.

The thing to keep in mind is… these models would need to be redrawn…again and again… 24 frames per second (in full Disney style 2D animation that can mean between 12-24 drawings per second…depending if there are doubles or singles in the movement). So… simple form fitting linework or linework that describes form work best.

Creases at elbow points and at the knees need to have construction form that can be moved in a 3d space… to turn the character around. One major rule of thumb for character design in animation is… If the line work is not anchored to the silhouette line, and is floating… it should be removed. Lines that float… like those random shapes around the knees, would be very difficult to animate. Also broken lines like the 2nd line down the pant-seems, and the collar detail would need to be “closed” otherwise “frying” would occur… when the lines would change length from drawing to drawing in a sequence because there is no “control” mechanism in the design to anchor consistency.

The random shape of your female character’s hair could be more deliberate and controlled, so the animator knows exactly what volumes/shapes move the hair from one pose to another. Currently I don’t see any specific grouping or volume/shape control in it, and it could be interpreted totally differently by each different animator’s hand. The concern is that the volume in her hair would fry…. Your younger male is better in the volume control, but is still a little messy in being deliberate in its volume shape. Your older male character has the best deliberate shape to follow… however, though the white detailing is differently shaped in volume from one side to the other… the information is clearly specified, and could animate/move well from one extreme angle to another.

I don’t know if what I said is as clear as mud or not… lol. This work you have done is brilliant, and I think the studio having the opportunity to work with you are very lucky.

Jozef x

Because some of the information in the original letter describes details of the project, I can’t publish sections of his correspondence. I’ve retained as much as I could without violating my client’s confidentiality.

I absolutely love your “pinuptightfinal” red planet comics artwork.

The sky/space background you have created is just beautiful. the galaxy… the planets the moon, all the colours and textures are brilliant.

OK, so here is where I start making my artistic observations that are my opinions and not necessarily reflective of where you were wanting to go with the artwork, but where I might have gone with it were this my own work…

Overall in value tonality the darkest element (when you squint your eyes looking at the artwork), is the sky background… and the dog. I think to have grounded the artwork, as this current tonality seems to make the art top heavy… I would have had darker colours at the base of the artwork, such as underfoot where the characters were standing. Also giving the sky so much detail, then allowing the ground to be only slightly suggestive of texture and solidity seems to make the characters float on the background. Grounding them on something solid and with texture that is greater then the sky in both detail and tone would anchor the artwork to the lower part of the painting. Currently I feel top heavy and upper anchored with this work. So therefore I feel floaty when looking at it.

(EDIT: The characters are actually supposed to be floating over the BG, so this critique doesn’t really apply. However, it’s good advice overall. Much was left with little detail to leave room for copy. – c)

…their facial designs and angles chosen might be different, and their eye-lines are also different, but they all show the same expression… a smile with cocky weight to one side, one downed eyebrow with the other eyebrow cocked… I may be right off the mark here… but it’s one of the first things that jumped out at me. Some variety of expression would have livened the group up somewhat. The expressions of – have unique expressions in the group, so they actually step forward with interest over the foreground characters.

So my comments aside, it’s a great artwork that works currently.

Jozef x