Artist - Samantha Youssef

Brief Animation Biography
Samantha Youssef is a feature film character animator and visual development artist.  She is the founder of Studio Technique, an artistic training studio specialized in the training and artistic development of animation industry artists.  Samantha is a former animator for Walt Disney Animation, and has directed for Ubisoft cinematics. She is an award winner at the Toronto International Film Festival for her animated short film "La Fuga Grande".

Samantha Youssef

What part of Canada are you from Samantha?
Westmount, Quebec

What inspired you to create animation?
I always loved hand drawn animation for as long as I can remember.   My parents said that when I was little, before I was three, I would watch Disney films and ask them to pause the screen so that I could redraw the characters. 

Sun Wukong Concept

How would you describe your animation style?
My drawings are loose and gestural but I also aim for clarity. I tend to work very rough but doing feature 2D work, you need to eventually tie down the drawings with a level of control so that the character doesn't lose credibility.  I also love beautiful movement, I like fluid animation with textured timing, so I aim for that as well in my work.  I try not to compromise character performance for aesthetic of movement, but I do my best to achieve both.

Pele Concept

Can you share a piece of art work or script segment that no one has seen before?
Here is a 2D clip from Steamboat Willie Redux for Disney which was screened at D23 in 2013! This is the first time I’ve shared my scene online, and I’m happy to share it here. :)

Steamboat Willie Redux - The Walt Disney Company from Samantha Youssef on Vimeo.

What role do you play in the creation of animation?
I consider myself a 2D feature animator.
I’ve also had the opportunity to do some visual development work, character design, storyboards, and direct in CG cinematics.

Title Design

What is one project that you are proud to have been involved in?
That’s hard.  I am so proud of most of the projects I’ve been a part of because I have always had the opportunity to work with incredible artists whom I’ve learned so much from.  I owe so much to so many people that I’ve worked with, for me the most rewarding part of the process is the day to day of learning and being an artist.

What project(s) are you working on now?
I’m animating on the 2D feature, Hullabaloo, and and am also overwhelmingly occupied with my figure drawing for animation book, Movement & Form.

What visual short forms do you use when figuring out the mechanics of reference material?
I do gesture drawings of the reference.  Mostly internal lines, trying to work out what is directing the forms.  I don’t let myself get distracted with the shapes of the forms, I try to focus on what direction they are moving in, weight distribution, how the weight affects the placement of the masses, and how the body mechanics work.  A lot of the time I understand the reference because of my background in dance.  That training has given me insight into how the body works and how to emulate poses, so its much easier to understand an action because of that.

Life Drawing Sketches

How would you describe a major phrase of an image?  
I think a great image is a combination of many techniques that are chosen by the artist with the effect of an intent in mind.  I believe techniques help us build an amazing drawing, but it's the life and story of it in the end that are what really matter.

Do you use thumbnails before you starting animating? If so, how does that help your animation process?
Absolutely.  I wont start a scene until I’ve thumbnailed it out.  It allows me to see my scene objectively.  To me a scene is like a drawing, but also has a time element.  I want to see it as a whole, understand the highs and lows, the texture between sharp and fluid timing, well staged poses, and where it builds to or recedes from. Thumbnailing allows me to create a blueprint of my scene, and keeps me on track.  When you work frame by frame it can become easy to get lost in your scene, so I prefer to go in feeling confident about it and making sure that my thumbnails are solid.  I also try to work out poses in my thumbnails, to explore every idea and hopefully arrive at the best one.  Thumbnailing covers a lot of problem solving groundwork for every aspect of my animation process.

Who is one of your favourite Canadian animators?
Ken Duncan.

duncan reel from ken duncan on Vimeo.

What is one of your favourite animation books? 
The Illusion of Life.

Who is an up-and-coming or relatively unknown Canadian animator that everyone should check out?
I don’t know how to answer this one, as there is so much talent here that I can’t isolate it to one person.  I am so inspired by many of my Canadian colleagues, they may not have the advertising opportunities, publicity and networks that many American artists are privy to, but there is brilliant talent here.

Are you involved with any animation organizations in Canada?
Not particularly.  I have collaborated with Toons on Tap, they are fantastic.  I was also invited to do a masterclass at TAAFI, with Toons on Tap providing a great model, which was a really amazing experience too.

Have your films won any animation awards/accolades?
I won an award at the Toronto International Film Festival for my short film La Fuga Grande.

What are some of your animation milestones?
I’ve been published in Chatelaine Magazine, Wired, The Montreal Gazette, another local newspaper and a newspaper in Stockholm.  I’ve also been privileged to be featured in an Astral media artist documentary, and have been able to do some wonderful online interviews and podcasts with great hosts who are passionate and wonderful people to have the chance to talk to.  I think the biggest thing that I am so grateful for is having created an artistic training studio. 

I’ve  also been so fortunate to work with and learn from animators that inspired me when I was young, its amazing to be able to meet and work with artists you've admired for so long.  Obviously being at Disney as a 2D animator was something that I am eternally grateful for as well. 

Something I’ll always remember is how I had the opportunity to meet and talk about drawing with Chuck Jones when I was just starting to learn animation.  Some of the advice he gave me on drawing has always stayed in my thoughts.

Have you written any books or blog posts about Animation or Canadian Animation? 
Yes, I’ve written a book on figure drawing for animators, called Movement & Form. I’m currently in the midst of the campaign.

Is there a question I should have asked that I didn’t? Feel free to add it in. 
I think these were great questions! :)

Were you were interviewed about your work in animation on other sites online?

To keep up to date on Samantha's work, check out the links below 
Animation Blog:
Online Drawing School Website:

Samantha on Twitter:
Studio Technique Twitter:
Studio Technique Facebook: