Everything Digital, Everything Art

[Workshops]: Chris Oatleys Magic Box

oatley_coverIf you haven’t noticed already, I love learning as much as possible. Also, I tend to go through a lot of workshops/courses, and later review them. I found this workshop shortly after finishing the Concept Cookie Workshop, wanting to learn more to refine my newly found skills from the previous workshop. The online brochure looked great, and even one of my art groups agreed. I volunteered to be the guinea pig, and send recommendations back to anyone else that was interested. Unfortunately, I have not finished this one, and never will. Now I will take the time to tell you why.

magic box icon

The icon for the entire course. The main subject, but only shown in some demonstrations.

Right after finishing the Concept Cookie I Can Draw Anything Workshop, an entire new can of worms had been opened, and I was ready to eat as many as possible. In the process, I started looking for podcasts to listen to while I sketched, modeled, sculpted, etc. During this rampage, I ran across one created by Chris Oatley, a Disney animator, or artist. I’m still not sure. After visiting his site, I found he had a workshop of sorts called the Magic Box, in which he would teach you everything to create works like the one showcased piece. The entire brochure page where you sign up gave me a lot of hope, and a lot of what I wanted to hear from a course of this nature. Also, it was only $18 a month! Here we go!

So, the first month covered Composition, like most courses like this, and it was very well done. It had a lot of lecture, timelapse, and method videos. It even had homework, and examples. It showed a lot of promise, and I was happy with it. If you want to try the course, this is the one month that you can view, and after get your money back if you don’t like it. The only issue, each section only opened each month. ¬†During this month, I heard a red flag in something that was said, talking about rendering not being the only option, and to use other tools to mimic hand rendering. I didn’t think much of it then, and just hoped to see some cool new tricks.

Some Random Disney Character

One of the characters presented on the brochure page. I never saw this character in the 7 months I went through.

The next three months of content were sparse, and filled with simple unusual Photoshop tricks. Lasso, and radial gradient instead of hand rendering. Creating and altering masks. Taking textures from your reference photos, and putting them in your piece… wait, what!??! Creating texture groups, so photobombing looks natural… I feel…. so…. dirty. Then warping them to fit the perspective of the subject in the piece? To all their own, fine, but seriously, four months of basics someone could learn in a day from almost anywhere else.

I waited a few more months for the “bonus” content, “perspective”, and environments, which also had little to no content at all. I could have waited another month for the character design, but after six months of disappointment, I didn’t have any faith it would get better. If it does, then that content should come earlier.

So I went to cancel, and guess what, it’s not a monthly subscription, it’s a monthly payment plan! Of course, after I sent an email the site’s support, they allowed me to quit halfway through, as I was dissatisfied.

In the seven months I went through this, the majority of the actual content was Photoshop tricks, and little to no art theory/methods. I’m not sure who this is geared to, but I’m guessing to someone that doesn’t have more than 2-3 hours a week to work on art, and with zero experience with photoshop. With his corny personality, and just poor dialog, the entire course seemed like something my 68 year old mother would like. Otherwise, I really don’t recommend it to anyone else.

So, to fill the hole this left in my heart, I’ve moved to the ConceptArt.org Level Up Workshop, and so far it’s what I’m looking for, so expect a review on it very soon.