A package slid onto freshman Alyssa Diaz’s desk. Her eyes widened and her heart beat quickly as she read the name: Lin-Manuel Miranda. She sent him two drawings, a chibi and a portrait of the famed actor himself. A feeling of joy and pride washed over Diaz as she pulled out one of the same drawings she sent the Hamilton star, but now with the addition of his signature. It would be the first time her art had been validated, but not the last.
Since second grade, Diaz illustrated an interest in the arts. Eager to indulge, her early drawings failed to fulfill her expectations. Initially discouraged, she gave up drawing for two years until discovering the world of animatics, polished storyboards used in multimedia. Additionally, the inspiration of other artists and her loved ones helped rekindle her passion.
“I discovered animatics in fourth grade on YouTube, ” Diaz said. “They were simplified versions of animation, so I was able to create anything with my skills. My grandpa also helped me dive back into drawing with his informational and effective tutorials.”
Diaz’s grandfather guided her through her first animatic lesson on visualizing shapes, the fundamentals of developing basic shapes, drawing tricks, and coloring in a step-by-step manner. Because her grandfather encouraged her to make physical art with giant wood cutouts, Diaz better understood the essential principles of the craft.
“My grandpa helped me learn how to draw as he used to draw as a hobby,” Diaz said. “He made it fun and easy to understand, inspiring me to become as great a drawer as he is and making it my goal to be better.”
Exploring animatics, Diaz drew inspiration from artists, like Australian YouTuber Josiah Brooks, or Jazza. To master new skills, Diaz constructed hand-drawn flipbooks, digital flipbooks, and animations through stick figures and fully rendered drawings.
“I discovered drawing was the fundamental of art design,” Diaz said. “I learned how to draw objects as shapes and create related edges of various things, making things more enjoyable and fun as I was able to experiment with my skills. I kept drawing as I got interested in complex things, such as values, replications, and perspectives.”
More motivated than ever, Diaz currently practices animation and drawing, striving to improve in both. Diaz continues to challenge herself to animate for at least one hour a day and to draw with more detail consistently. The young animator deeply appreciates the fact that all of this would not be possible without her grandfather and his helpful guidance.
“As an artist, I have progressed my skills, drive, and motivation,” Diaz said. “Improving these aspects pushed me to keep on practicing. I am glad that my grandpa taught me how to draw as he made it fun, making me want to indulge in it for longer. I don’t think I would have continued to draw if it was not for him.”