Meet Nanda, an all-round 2D and 3D artist
Hi there, my name is Nanda van Dijk. I’m an all-round 2D and 3D artist. My specialization is character animation and character creation. I graduated from the School of Art in Utrecht back in 2010 and have built almost 7 years worth of work experience ever since. Now I’m working as a freelancer on various projects in advertising, film and gaming industries. My work can be viewed on my website, on my Facebook page and on Instagram. Go ahead and take a look if you want.
So, my first contact with the game industry was back when I started working for MediaMonks, a global creative production partner specialized in making online branding campaigns. The first game I ever worked on was a game series called ‘House of Anubis’. I did some small modelling work back then for this series. Later on I worked on the Ninja Turtles game called ‘The Sewer Run‘. This time I got to do a lot more. Like animating Mikey, Leo and the shadow ninjas. It was an amazing project and I was happy to be part of it. Even though this project didn’t take long, I was nice to get some experience working on games.
Tell us about some of your work
After my time at MediaMonks I worked on a 2D animation project for the movie ‘Trippel Trappel’. After that I got to work with Sanoma on the game Duckworld: Smart Adventure. This game is set in the world of Donald Duck. Duckburg was the Hub where you could play all kinds of mini-games in different area’s. I spent a year working on character animation as well as making ingame animations. In addition, I helped with modelling and rigging of some characters you might recognize like Huey, Dewey and Louie. After Duckworld I spent a few months working on the game ‘Verdun’, a shooter game made by M2H set during the Great War. I animated the first person arms that you see in the screen and worked on the shooting and reloading animations.
In the beginning of 2015 I participated in the Global Game Jam in Amsterdam with colleagues from Duckworld. This is where we created the Paradox in Paradise game, claiming the titel for the best game at the event . After seeing how successful this game was, we decided to finish it. We continued working on Paradox in Paradise, and that is how Marooners came to be.
Last September Marooners was released on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux. It was so exciting. For this game I designed 8 characters, modelled, rigged and animated them with 8 different color variations that the player can choose from. I also modelled almost all the weapons and created the illustrations for the treasure map. It was an amazing experience to work on this game.
What are you working on now and why is this your passion?
Right now I’m working as a freelance layout artist and animator for the feature film ‘The Little Vampire’ that will hit the cinemas somewhere at the end next year. My passion is to create appealing and entertaining characters. Be it for games, commercials or movies. I have the most fun working on feature films, like the work that I’m doing right now, because you can really make the characters come to life and become complete and believable personalities. For me it’s much more exciting than working on characters in games, where the animations are a bit more limited. Usually in games you have a lot of walk cycles, jump and fight animations and less opportunities for deeper acting. However, deep emotional acting scene’s are becoming increasingly more present in games. Take Ori and the Blind Forest, a game I believe is a good example of this phenomena. I would love to be able to participate in a similar game.
How did you achieve this?
See, I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something with animation. My dream was and still is to work in one of the big hollywood animation studio’s like Disney or Bluesky. During my studies and in my free time I work really hard to become the best artist I can be. After high school I studied Multimedia at the Media college in Amsterdam and was mainly interested in 2D animation. I only decided to focus on 3D modelling during my internship and last year of college. That’s when I started studying computer animations at the School of Art in Utrecht (faculty in Hilversum).
I was mainly focused on character animation, but it was difficult to get proper courses for this in the Netherlands. So I decided to follow a lot of tutorials and I spent a lot of my free time working on my own projects. I also worked on making 11secondclub animations. Let me explain the concept: you get an 11 seconds audio file and have a month to create animations for it. You learn a lot from doing this, because you receive a lot of good feedback from the community. After I graduated I did the online course Animschool, a course given by amazing animators who’ve worked on big Hollywood productions. I learned a lot doing this and my advice to anyone who wants to do animation is to follow a similar course.
What are your future goals?
When the production of ‘ The Little Vampire’ is finished, I want to focus on making a course. I want to focus on every aspect of creating and animating characters for movies and games. It would be awesome if I could share my knowledge and experiences and be able to help others become better inside the animation industry. I’m still searching for a way to go about this, but I’d love to be able to do something like that. Besides making my own course, I think it would be great to work for a big Hollywood animation studio in the distant future. Even though that’s not something I’m actively persuing right now. Perhaps after a year of making my course I will work more on that again.
Anything else you want to share with future animators?
If you’re out there and are thinking about becoming an animator, the most important thing is that you do not give up. If it’s your dream and you want to work in a big game or movie studio, it’s important that you keep working on it. Learning how to animate is not something you do in one day. It’s a long journey and you will have a lot of set backs and you have to learn to receive criticism. After graduating I sent a lot of letters to big studio’s in America and had to deal with many rejection letters. It’s hard to hear that you’re not good enough, but every animator who is working for large studio’s has had to deal with this at least once in their life.
Animation and many other creative jobs simply require time to built experience and become ‘good enough’. And believe me, I had to work hard and I never gave up. I believe it is because of this that I now get to work on my third feature film and do the job I always dreamed of as a child. Maybe I’m not working for a Hollywood studio yet, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve discovered that there are a lot of awesome opportunities here in the Netherlands, too. Wherever you live, you can always make your own opportunities. So hang in there and good luck!