I’m flattered to bring the second interview of this series presenting a really talented animator, concept artist and storyboard artist, Franziska van Wulfen, from Germany. Franziska debuted last year at the anime industry on episode 10 of Revue Starlight (Kinema Citrus), which also end up participating in its last episode (#12). After this great first experience, van Wulfen most recently participated with key animation for the finale of the Netflix exclusive animated series, Cannon Busters.
Franziska will continue to mark her name on the anime credits at the current season, and next year forward. Let’s find out more about her present and future projects she’s on, her background as a traditional concept artist, inspirations and aspirations.
I’ve seen your illustrations from around 4 years ago to now, they sure look amazing. (By the way, I would definitely buy one sketchbook of your works!)
Have you always been interested in drawing fan arts of things you liked the most?
- Yeah, I’ve been drawing since I was little. However not that much fanart actually, until just a couple of years ago. Before that, it mostly has been my own characters and ideas.
Drew one of my oldest OCs Päivi. pic.twitter.com/54UWto4LyQ
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) June 17, 2017
Do you draw inspiration from other artists too or you pretty much have your style defined?
- By now I think I have found something like an own style, however, it’s still very much constantly shifting and being influenced by things I currently like and consume. The artists that probably have influenced me the most in the past, however, are probably Lily Hoshino, with her vibrant, colorful illustrations as well Shigenori Soejima, from the Persona franchise, for his stylish, expressive compositions. From both, I have art books lying around so whenever I need a bit of direction, I like to look through them for inspiration.
Lately I have been practicing painting digitally again and yeah… I think I finally understand somewhat how it works. pic.twitter.com/etlvTwq9gt
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) June 8, 2017
Oh… I see that. I’m guessing from your artworks, you started working from various traditional draw techniques and tools while also practicing some digital painting and then gradually drifting to digital draw, right?
- Yes, I very much still like to draw traditionally from time to time, especially for just quickly sketching down ideas, however for more time-consuming artworks, working digitally has a lot of perks. I can be very impatient, so I tend to make a lot of mistakes especially when it comes to coloring. In the digital sphere, this isn’t as much of a problem, even bigger mistakes can still easily be corrected most of the time. This is probably the main reason why I started to shift to digital drawings over time, even when I had trouble, in the beginning, to get used to it. The biggest trade-off for me is probably, the loss of texture and materiality. Compared to how colors interact with the medium in traditional art, digital art can sometimes feel a bit sterile to me, even when you manually add a texture to it.
Work in progress. Digital painting is hard. pic.twitter.com/rgfh3XiDAE
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) June 16, 2016
How your passion for animation started, it was something you always thought of doing?
- My favorite entertainment medium has always been animation, in particular, 2D animation. I would watch the Making Off for the Dreamworks Film Spirit when I was eight years old on DVD and realize what sort of artistry went into an animated film. However, I didn’t seriously think about doing animation myself until my late teens, when I became interested in the anime industry and how it works. Until that point, I hadn’t considered myself a good enough draftsman to ever make it as an animator, but then I thought that I might as well try, which is when I made a short animated film for my university application.
Oh yeah, I love this one! Especially the character animation, the smeary hands’ movements are so good.
Do you think your previous experience in using tons of diverse traditional draw tools and techniques helped you in your digital animation works?
- Certainly, the way I use light and shadow, for example, is still somewhat similar to how I did it when I colored my drawings with watercolors. Though moving into the digital space gave me the push to go for more bold color schemes, when before I would shy away from such in fear I could ruin my drawing. Actually, I noticed that this also applies vice versa, as in whenever I try to do something traditionally these days, having done something like it before digitally helps me visualizing it even with traditional tools.
And finished it. pic.twitter.com/eqNyIUII4w
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) March 21, 2016
Revue Starlight was your first anime work, how did you react when you got contacted? Were you expecting it?
- Oh, I didn’t actually get contacted. I had seen kVin’s tweet about how they were looking for animators and Mr. Ogasawara, one of the producers behind the show, actually had followed me on Twitter around the same time, so I contacted him. That it would actually work out however definitely surprised me. I think my reaction was along the lines of… jumping off my chair, then restlessly walking up and down my room in excitement for ten minutes and then panicking about if I could even do it.
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) September 12, 2018
So cool. I know that Kinema Citrus is always looking for animators and contacting them, that’s why.
- Yeah, I’ve been working on something Revue Starlight related for them recently again.
Oh, it’s good to hear that. Most animators only get to do layouts at their first experience, but you actually did both layouts and key animation, right? It was something you ask to do or there was the opportunity and you just went for it?
- I pretty much just went for it, though at that point I only had a very vague idea what the animation pipeline looked like, so I made plenty of mistakes the first time. They didn’t label it as Layout and Genga to me, but as Roughs and Clean Up, so I actually didn’t hand in a BG when I sent in my cuts. Also, since I had no idea how Layouts usually looked like, I always just had seen Genga drawings around, I overdid it and spent a bit too much time on already cleaning up my roughs…
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) September 27, 2018
I totally get you, from the animators I talk that’s a big question mark, “How rough should a layout be”
- Definitely, I’ve heard that pretty much anything goes as long as the movement is clear, but totally going off-model sounds like a lot of work left for drawing the Genga. With that in mind, I usually like to go as on model as for me possible, without totally sweating the details, so that I can usually just trace my LO drawings cleanly while applying the corrections of the animation director. Then again, if the animation director does some very heavy corrections, it can also feel like having put to much time into LO phase. I can’t say that I have completely found the right balance for myself.
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) August 15, 2019
How do you keep up the anime work with your studies? Is something that you find really hard to do, as of right now?
- So far I have been lucky that I got mostly contacted for animation work during holidays or when there weren’t a lot of lessons, though I suspect that this might become more of a problem in the future, as I am entering the supposedly most stressful semester at my school. I’m not too worried though, as I have gotten a good idea by now of how long what sort of cuts usually take me, so I can schedule myself pretty well.
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) October 30, 2016
What are your plans for when you finish your studies? Do you plan on going fully freelancer after it?
I saw in your art station that you got some big projects coming, SAO and your animation director debut in Dropkick on My Devil! S2, right?
- Right, I’m currently working on SAO. As for that Animation Director credit, I’ve been just helping out for one cut, so it’s barely worth mentioning… (laughs) I was surprised that they would ask an oversea animator they were working with for the first time at all. As for after studies… I’m not sure yet. I would actually like to work at a studio for some time at least and then perhaps go full freelance. Before I started studying, I interned at a 3D and a Stop Motion studio for a while and I did like having a team around when going to work every day. While working at the former I actually got the chance to board an episode for one of their upcoming TV series, which I really enjoyed. So I actually would love to go into storyboarding in the long run.
Quick Daecii portrait. pic.twitter.com/xw0aWWHD0O
— Franziska van Wulfen (@FranVanWulfen) July 8, 2017
Oh, I see. The industry is quite strange right now, my fellow countryman Joao do Lago also got his AD debut in similar circumstances.
- That’s interesting indeed.
I’m glad that you’re aiming for storyboarding (that’s actually the first time I got this answer), I can’t wait to see your next works. Thank you for your time, Fran!
- No problem, it was fun.
Franziska van Wulfen socials: