TEA Connect Blog

03 December 2021

ROBOTS, PERSPECTIVE AND NO FEAR: Drawing Days II with Judy Bradbury by Michael Libby

On November 9, aspiring artists and industry veterans alike logged on to a video conference - the second in a series of virtual workshops— Drawing Days: A Lunch and Learn Series.  Presented by the TEA Western Division Board and moderated by Sam Lieberstein (Thinkwell Group), this series is meant to teach lessons in visual communication via sketching, with each episode spotlighting a talented guest artist from one of TEA’s many talented organization members.

Lieberstein opened the session by stressing to the audience that basic sketching skills are an important tool for everyone in the industry.  “Whether you’re a veteran, whether you’re NextGen— it’s focused on every discipline whether you’re an engineer a business development person, a producer, a project manager, a coordinator, or even if you’re a master illustrator who just wants to get back to basics for a little bit,” Lieberstein said.

Then, Lieberstein introduced this episode’s talented guest artist, Judy Bradbury (American Scenic).  With over 25 years of experience in the themed entertainment industry, Bradbury has played an instrumental role in the development of some of the biggest projects in the industry including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Pandora: The World of Avatar, and the 2012 Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Bradbury started the session by demonstrating speed sketching and iteration for one of her favorite subjects to draw: ROBOTS!  Bradbury warmed up by ideating on robot designs using basic boxes, lines, and circles.  After this exercise, she moved on to demonstrate the importance of (and the difference between) front elevations, top/plan views, and section view drawings.  

“Just to get the idea out, I’ll do these quick, really rough front elevations first,” Bradbury said.  “Otherwise, if I start doing the perspective stuff I then start not having fun because I’m thinking more about the technical aspect than just the fun stuff.”

Throughout the session, Bradbury and Lieberstein echoed each other’s thoughts about the importance of basic visual communication in creative development for themed entertainment projects.  

“When you’re in a charrette or having drinks with a colleague, or you’re doing whatever and you just have an idea that you want to communicate better, we do like to use our words but it’s also better to have a visual communication aspect to it as well, especially in our industry where we’re making things real,” Bradbury said.

One of the more amusing moments of the session came when Lieberstein rattled off a list of the basic art supplies that audience members would need to participate.  His itemized list — which included basic items like a paper, a pen, a sharpie, a pencil, and an eraser — was quickly shortened by Bradbury, who insisted that paper and erasers be forbidden in order to emphasize the fact that mistakes are okay during early concept development.  “All of these sketches are not perfect at all but for me it convey[s] an idea even if it’s just for me and I use it to communicate with the team,” said Bradbury.

Continuing, Bradbury discussed how her background in architecture made the transition to rough, loose linework especially difficult.  “I would always get so perfect with my lines and elevation,” Bradbury said.  “Once you start, kind of just quickly get really simple and overshoot those lines.  Once I started doing that, your sketches start to come alive, really.”

“I was very shy to show any of my sketches at work or anywhere else because they weren’t like, you know, these illustrators that are amazing,” said Bradbury.  But then a big moment of inspiration came after witnessing a talk by one of her favorite artists, Pascal Campion.  Referencing the lecture, Bradbury said that “even if an artist comes in and it’s beautiful but it doesn’t convey a story or an emotion, and then you have this one single line that conveys something magical, that’s kind of where the magic is.”  

The webinar then transitioned into a collaborative work session between Lieberstein and Bradbury, in which the two attempted to recreate a plan-view sketch (by memory) of one of the more memorable scenes in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey that Bradbury worked on.  The moment, in which a dragon’s head bursts through a bridge and comes face-to-face with the audience, was borne out of a similar rough sketching exercise.  Recounting the moment when the idea first crystallized, Bradbury said “What am I doing here?!  I’m in this charrette and in my head, and I finally said you know what?  This is what I want to see.  This was one of the first sketches where the team said yeah, let’s do that!  How do we do that?”

After this crash course lesson in plan-view scene sketching, Bradbury wrapped up the session by offering some final words of wisdom to all attendees.  “There’s always fear,” said Bradbury.  Just run over your fear.  Fly through your fear.  Just do it.  Magic is on the other side of that fear.”

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Try your hand at drawing by joining us via our youtube video here!

To see all the fun drawings created during this session, go to our Facebook page link here!

Special thanks to TEA Western Division Communications Committee Members, Jackson Mancuso, EventBrite graphic,  Jon Bryan Salvador, pre-event social media graphics; Kevin Sanders, video editing; Western Division Board Member & Marketing-Communications Co-Chair  Lisa Jey Schanley, Social Media content writer & post-event social media graphic.

Posted by Morgan Lucchese

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