Workspace Tips

       It is week three at SAE and already my previously held artistic notions have been smashed. I used to have the misguided notion that drawing from reference was ‘cheating’. However, in my drawing class at SAE (which I mentioned in an earlier post and is now becoming my favorite art class I’ve taken) we’re encourage to draw from references to capture the form of everyday objects and break them down into simple shapes. Before this class I invested all my time into drawing characters from my imagination and neglected drawing objects and backgrounds for the characters to interact with.

My lack of instruction for still life drawing during high school, coupled with my interest solely for character design meant that my current still life drawings were poorly rendered and lacking substance.  Suddenly, I’ve found the need to optimize using reference in my work and the best place to implement the change was in my workspace.


The above image is my workspace at home. I’d have preferred a drafting table that could be angled at a slant for traditional drawing but I’m really happy with the set up I’ve got so far. It’s a little crowded but it has everything I need to get work done. It has my drawing supplies and digital drawing tools always within arm’s reach. The new revelation isn’t about the desk though. For years I ignored the enormous mirror that rests on the table, but now it’s my favorite part of my set up. After some thought the mirror reminded me of golden age animators that had small pocket mirrors to reference themselves for drawing expressions. From a quick search I found that they also used broad wall mirrors while drawing like mine. White (2009, p. 180) states that, “Animators of dialogue cannot work without a mirror to guide them.”



If it was relied upon for the masters of animation, certainly anyone one with an interest in drawing would gain something by using mirrors. I urge other aspiring animators to find a way to incorporate a mirror into their workspace because it’s been improving my life drawing skills and for drawing expressions. What’s interesting is that I wanted to improve my life drawing skills and found a way that also helps me with my interest in character animation.


Ken Harris [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2017, from

White, T. (2009). How to make animated films: Tony Whites complete masterclass on the traditional principles of animation: an animation apprenticeship – the way the pros used to do it! New York: Focal Press.


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