Ask An Animator – Richard Phelan

Richard Phelan

Have you seen the Shaun the Sheep Movie yet? If not, I would definitely recommend a trip to the cinema. Having been a fan of Shaun since his first appearance in A Close Shave (released 10 years ago!) I was super pleased to hear that he was to star in his own blockbuster film. I was even more chuffed to learn that my pal, Richard Phelan, would be working as Senior Story Artist on the production.

Richard, who directed his own award winning animated short Damned (2011), is a multitalented artist and top animator. I asked Richard what advice he would give to those starting out in animation…

Richard Phelan

Question 1I love drawing, reading comics and watching movies so I tried to find a job that let me do all these things. After school I went to college to study Graphic Design. A classmate told me about an animation course he was doing in the evenings so I went along to try it out and fell in love with it.


Question 2

That’s a tough question. I love LOTS of different films and series for different reasons. Some of my favourite films and series are: The Jungle Book, Dumbo, The Iron Giant, Toy Story, Watership Down, Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers, Batman: The Animated Series, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Watership Down

Watership Down (1978) Dir. Martin Rosen

Question 3

The Iron Giant. I love the contrast between how huge he is but how he’s also quite sweet and innocent. I also love Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book for his laid back approach to enjoying life. I love characters who have a strong sense of doing what’s right and stick up for their friends.


Baloo The Bear

Question 4

Draw all the time! Carry a sketchbook with you everywhere and draw everything you see. It will help you to observe how people behave and come up with really interesting characters for stories.

Also, read lots of stories: Books, comics, anything you like. Being surrounded by great stories will really help to inspire you come up with lots of great ideas of your own.

Lastly, try to work on projects with your friends. I spend all my time working with other people and it’s important to learn to work in teams and collaborating on making stories as good as possible!

Question 5

Check out the work of Kate Beaton, she’s one of my favourite illustrators/comic artists. I’d also recommend Jeffrey Brown, Scott Campbell, Shaun Tan, Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake. They inspire me all the time.

Also if you’ve not seen The Iron Giant or any of the Wallace & Gromit films then go watch them!


Visit Richard’s website to see more fantastic artwork and project updates.

You can also find Richard on Instagram and Vimeo










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