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5 Questions for Ong Ean Keat (Keatopia)

1. Can you introduce yourself and the work you do?

Hi, my name is Ean Keat aka Keatopia (Homepage | DeviantArt | Facebook).

I'm a character animator, illustrator and creator. Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I discovered my interest in animation as a child. Years later, I enrolled into Sheridan College, Lim Kwok Wing University of Creative Technology (Malaysia) where I specialized in classical animation and illustration. This was back in 1999. I never stopped producing art since.

Currently, I'm working as a feature film animator in Lucasfilm Singapore and am responsible for creating character animation. This is a dream come true and am very honored and grateful to be part of this awesome team.

2. What does it take to be a character animator?

Most definitely, attention to detail. Acting is important as a character animator. Another is the understanding of physics- movement, gravity and "transformation". Transformation as in morphing from one thing to another. Understanding movement will dictate story and visual flow to the viewers.

Essential animation books are Richard Williams's The Animator's Survival Kit (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP) and Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP).

Having an animation hero to constantly inspire is important too. My personal animation hero is Tarzan's Glen Keane and he inspired me to be a character animator.

I began my career as a 2d animator and picked up 3d animation along the way. I think having a traditional animation background made me a better illustrator. We are lucky to be living in an animation renaissance! We have many great animation masters such as Disney's Nine Old Men, Chuck Jones, just to name a few.

3. You have created lot of comic-style illustrations and pages. What advice would you give to artists who want to improve quickly?

Practice, practice, practice. Keep practicing on your stroke, it's important to be confident and comfortable with your stroke. Layout and composition are important and always remember to identify important elements in the piece and avoid cropping them off. Give space, we can't have everything in the piece, it will be too busy. Focus and direct reader's vision to the important part. Get 2nd or 3rd opinion, comments besides ourselves make us realise things we couldn't see because we are so focus working on it, sometimes our mind gets trapped in a corner.

Before starting, I will envisioned how the piece will look like when it's done. If there's a character, pose plays a big part of the layout and composition. If there are multiple characters, it makes the layout more complicated and harder. All these brainstorming is essential to every animation and comic illustrations I do.

4. Do you have any particular piece of work you want to feature

Coocomo cover

This is my original storybook written and illustrated by my wife and me, published by Singapore National Arts Council. Our book is selected as National Library Board's First Time Children’s Authors/Illustrators Booklist. It is a beautiful picture book with center sewn binding made for all children, young and old. You can get it from your local major bookstore such as Kinokuniya or from my website.

Here's a short synopsis:
Coocomo were colourful creatures who lived a peaceful life in a land where everyone and everything was round. One day, their comfort was shattered by the arrival of a stranger who looked very different from them. The stranger persuaded the Coocomo to set out on an adventure beyond their land to meet it’s friends and discover new shapes! Bravely, the Coocomo embarked on this journey, which unknown to them, would forever change the outlook of their lives. Join the Coocomo in their riveting adventure and discover that you can create new shapes too!

Coocomo character designs

5. Which other artist or creator should we feature?

Gary Choo. Awesome dude with mad skills.

He's the colorist for these 2 pieces.

Iron vs Dr Doom Colored

Ryu Colored AFA 2012