Patience. For Sonnye Lim, an artist and animator at FableVision Studios, it took creative persistence to develop as an artist with a clear point of view. All that hard work has paid off, and she now brings beauty, polish and a unique signature style to all her projects at the Studio. She uses that same grit and composure when tackling every project FableVision throws her way.
In creative work, every project is its own journey, from concept to completion. Sonnye has plenty of experience on the creative path, and every once in awhile the destination isn’t what you’d expect.
“I work best with making things cute, so it can be an interesting challenge to design something that’s outside of that sphere,” Sonnye says, referencing the process of designing monsters for an upcoming project.
A natural collaborator devoted to improving her craft, Sonnye describes the team at FableVision as “small, friendly, and tightly knit,” so artistic challenges allow her to continually flex and expand beyond her artistic skills.
We sat down recently with Sonnye to talk about the process of creating characters from scratch, the value of making mistakes, and a bit about her side passion (and fashion) projects.
We ask everyone this, and you’re no exception. What’s your journey to FableVision story?
I heard about FableVision and had the chance to freelance there. I loved it – working on educational projects makes me feel like I’m doing a lot of good for the world. I was ecstatic when I found out I got the full-time position.
What drew you to animation originally and what keeps you hooked?
Getting to animate my favorite shows was what I originally dreamed about. But after college my view of animation broadened and I learned about short, independent animation films. Watching shorts animated and directed by such talented artists keeps me motivated to work hard on my own films.
What’s your favorite medium to create in?
I’ve been leaning more towards traditional media for drawing. You forgive yourself a lot because there’s no “undo” button to stop you. This taught me about the value of “mistakes.” Sometimes those mistakes build character in your work.
I like to use Flash for animating since it’s easy and pretty straightforward. Sometimes I use Photoshop to color the frames; other times I print them out and color them traditionally. After I finish animating, I use Adobe After Effects for post and compositing. That’s my standard method for my work.
How has your art style evolved over the years?
I think I was only recently able to discover what I wanted my art to start to look like. I tried out a lot of styles in college and had a huge variety of work (it looked more like a mess!). I’m pretty pleased with the way I draw now but I know it’ll keep changing and improving. I’m just happy to know that my art is going in the right direction for myself.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at FableVision and why?
My favorite project is the one I’m working on right now. I've been given the task of designing monsters. I looked at animal masks from Africa for inspiration and sketched the ones that stood out.
I then blocked out simple solid shapes such as squares, circles, and triangles in Photoshop and worked with molding a character from those. I like to make the general shapes of the designs minimal in order to make it clear and more direct. For me, a good character design has a simple yet unique design.
I also liked an animation project we worked on focused on the theme of creativity. There were a lot of charming character designs and I had the chance to animate a cute rainbow fish. The animation was music-driven and had no dialogue or sound effects. A lot of the character acting came from body language and facial expressions, which was fun to animate. With no dialogue involved, this film can be universally understood.
What does a typical week at FableVision look like for you?
Since everyone is working on a lot of different projects, we have a scheduled artist meeting every morning to discuss our plans for the day. This is great because not only do we get to understand where everyone is in their projects, but we can help out others who have an uneven amount of work.
Our animation team tends to work together. The animators discuss plans to finish a project efficiently, dividing the work evenly between everyone. If one person is stuck on something, we work together to solve the problem.
I wear a lot of different hats here – so far I've done storyboards, designs, and compositing in addition to animation.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from individuals who dedicate themselves to their craft, and people who work hard to create fictional worlds in their own voice. J.K. Rowling or Osamu Tezuka come to mind. To become emotionally connected to a world created by one artist or author – I find that amazing and inspiring.
You have a lot of projects going on right now outside of the studio. What is INU INU?
INU INU is an online fashion boutique shop aimed towards teens and young adults. They contacted me when their shop was fairly new and since then I’ve been designing their trademark mascots and animating for them as a part-time job.
I also have a personal short animation film titled “Minico” that I work on during my free time. It’s been more than a year since I started. The process has been slow. I’m only able to touch it a few hours a day, but it’s definitely worth it and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I’m hoping to finish it this year!
You’re also known as Jin. Where does that name come from?
I’ve loved to draw dogs ever since I was little. In middle school I wanted a nickname, and I thought of the Korean dog breed named Jindo. I’ve been using Jin as my online name and nickname ever since. The seal stamp I use to sign my artwork says “Jin” in Korean.
Any advice for people interested in doing art and/or animation as a career?
Get involved in events and festivals! Always be willing to learn more about your field and practice. Most importantly, create what interests you the most and be persistent about it. Don’t worry about what people think of you, or what you think people want you to make – if you’re passionate enough, people will notice.