Search form

Book Offers Design Basics for 3D Artists

Mindful that the competition for jobs in the 3D animation industry has never been greater, Geoffrey Kater merges the often disparate disciplines of design and computer animation in his new book, DESIGN FIRST FOR 3D ARTISTS (350 pages, $49.95, Wordware Publishing, available online and from major retailers), to teach emerging animators how to create their own personal design style. He offers to lay down exactly what it takes today to do good work and thrive in the animation market.

Kater, an award-winning director/designer and a partner in the successful Hollywood 3D animation boutique S4 Studios, hopes this will start a series that will launch DESIGN FIRST as a prominent educational brand. Kater returns to the basics to help young talents learn how to reach for their pencils before they reach for the keyboard. It includes a foreword by Dan Quarnstrom, creative director, Rhythm & Hues.

I decided to write this book because I wanted to share with beginning and experienced animators my own experience in using traditional drawing techniques to create characters, props, environments, color, lighting, composition and storyboards," said Kater. "As a studio owner, I am constantly meeting talented people who know how to animate, but who dont know how to design with individuality. In todays marketplace, thats just not enough.

Kater takes readers through a complete mock production, creating a robot character, Bleep, with a design style inspired by ancient Chinese architecture and armor, one of his favorite motifs. I demonstrate how to create the story, draw a character, break it down, model it and use every drawing you create along to way to keep the design accurate and consistent form 2D start to 3D finish. Kater also creates, from storyboard to completion, a fictional TV ad campaign for Nokia phones.

Beyond design basics, Kater also offers up advice for budding animators properly service a client. This book will teach people how to confidently present their own concepts, how to be open to serendipity and inspiration to create a personal vision, and how to gather reference material," he said. "There are a lot of harsh realities that job seekers will have to overcome, but in the end, they will greatly improve their chances of being hired.

Design First for 3D Artists also includes a CD-ROM that provides additional illustrations, a test animation and is linked to a support website,, with sample chapters, a merchandise store and a gallery. The book can also be purchased directly through the site.

I wanted to create a cross-platform book that was not married to any one kind of technology or style, Kater added. This is all about being the kind of problem solver that will make you a more complete animator and stand out from the crowd.

Kater is a futurist designer, art director, producer and director who studied Transportation Design at the Art Center of Design in Pasadena. He has worked with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on the design of a Pluto space vehicle, and his automotive design work has won awards from two National industrial design competitions. One of his spaceship designs currently hangs in the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. In TV, he has worked as a prop designer, production designer, 3D animator and illustrator for STREET SHARKS, THUMB WARS, THE AVENGERS and WHERE ON EARTH IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? He was the spaceship designer and 3D modeler/animator on Saban and Marvels SILVER SURFER series, faithfully adapting the legendary style of Jack Kirby into the 3D world.

He co-founded S4 Studios in 1999 with partners Dale Hendrickson and Larry Le Francis for the production of animation for commercials, trailers, TV shows and feature film VFX.

Rick DeMott's picture

Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks