2-D champion in a 3-D world
Kinsey Spude has evolved a long love of pencil drawing into some sophisticated computer animation at Desert Academy, but her skills have only come with a lot of work. Her first artistic attempts were not promising. “I remember trying to draw a horse and getting really, really frustrated because it never turned out right,” the 16-year-old said.
She is in her third year of computer animation at Desert Academy. The school usually only offers a two-year program in digital-media arts, but her teacher, Chris Zappe, has taken it further for Spude and two other students. The three work on special, long-term assignments. Spude’s is an animation, nearly three minutes long, that she created after hearing the song “Orinoco Flow” by Enya.
“When we were in San Diego, all the boats in the harbor made my dad [Bob Spude, a history specialist with the National Park Service] want to share that song with the family,” Kinsey Spude said. “It has that chorus of ‘ Sail away, sail away,’ and I got this whole mental image, and when we came back, I drew up a storyboard.”
In the computer lab at Desert Academy, Spude showed a few short animations— including a stop-motion piece using sock creatures — and her semester project with the Enya music in the background. She demonstrated how some of the characters’ movements were smoother in some scenes and more jerky in others. “The way I do it is that I draw every other frame to get the basic motion,” she explained. “It’s like doing an outline for a paper. You storyboard, then you fill in the blanks over time to get a really fluid motion.”
Not surprisingly, art is part of the mix in Spude’s family. She has an aunt in Arizona who makes clay sculptures and teaches art. Kinsey’s mother, Catherine Holder Spude, is a retired archaeologist, and she writes historical novels. “She also studied art in college, and she was always very supportive when I would draw as a little kid,” Spude said of her mother. “I just grew up loving to draw. My teachers said I was good for my age.”
Besides her work in school, Spude has taken private classes with Santa Fe artist Dean Howell and with artist Sheila Miles, the head of the art department at Desert Academy.
Horses, dogs, and other animals were Spude’s favorite subjects until a friend lent her some Japanese manga comic books four or five years ago. “I’d never been into comic books as a child; the big superheroes really creeped me out— except for Spiderman: he’s my hero,” she said. “But here were these comic books where the characters were slender and thin, and that inspired me, and that’s when I started really trying to draw people.”
Spude loves 2-D animation, the process that was used to create Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other classic Disney films. (Her favorite is Aladdin.) She uses a digital pen and tablet rather than drawing on acetate cels like the Disney animators did, but it’s still hand drawing, not manipulating information on a computer screen.
“I don’t like how the 3-D is taking over,” she said, “like all the cartoons on Nickelodeon are 3-D animated, all the cartoons on the Cartoon Network are 3-D animated, all the kids’ movies that are coming out are 3-D animated. I just always liked 2-D a lot more. There’s something about it— almost like it has its own life that 3-D can’t add to.”
She was looking forward to the new 2-D Disney movie The Princess and the Frog. “I think they were trying to go along with the old Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. It made me really happy thinking I can go have that childhood Disney experience again.”
Music is another interest for Spude. She played trumpet in her elementary-school band, and she plays electric piano in a rock band with Michael Sheppard of Big Sky Learning.
Asked for her opinion of the Santa Fe scene and whether she wants to stay in this community down the road, Spude said, “I think Santa Fe is awesome. One of the main [reasons] I love art so much is living here, because you’re just surrounded by art. One time I went down Canyon Road and there were all of these artists set up, painting, like every 10 feet, and you go to the Plaza and there are people selling their art. I just love it here. It’s quiet and there are tons of artists. It’s perfect for an artist to grow up here, and I want to stay here.”
Apocalyptic, a drawing by Kinsey Spude