Character design and animation with Catalina Matamoros

21.07.22 | by Louise Byrnes

This week we sat down with Catalina Matamoros, a Senior Motion Illustrator on the Central Brand team. She tells us about her passion for creating – think animated videos, illustrations, caricatures and storyboarding… these elements all fall under Catalina’s scope. She tells us how she got involved in this field, as well as an overview of some of her favourite projects from the past year.

So how did it all start?

I always knew I wanted to create – from a young age I had a passion to draw and take photos, but growing up in Colombia, artistic careers are not so common! For a while I thought about studying history as I love this notion of retelling stories from the past.

I tried various career paths before I arrived at motion; design consultancy, graphic design and design management, but I always enjoyed the practical element of ‘making’ the most, I always wanted to be part of creating the finished product, rather than managing the process or teams around it.

And how did you start animating?

I studied design, but I always had this fascination with movement and bringing my creations to life. When I was at University I was producing illustrations, but wanted to find a way to add another layer of emotion and character to my drawings.

I got myself an internship at an animation studio to gain more experience and found the process really satisfying – adding movement brought a new dimension of personality to my work, and that’s what I have been doing ever since!

What do you enjoy most about the animation process?

I love seeing the final outcome- that moment when you know all your hard work is coming together and you get to see the finished piece come to life.

I also love the conceptualising part – thinking about how we are going to create a story and how the movement of a character can be manipulated to express personality and emotion.

What’s the most challenging part about motion?

Starting the project! Before you start the animation process you know that there are so many processes ahead of you and sometimes this can be overwhelming. But as you get into the flow and get things started, it all starts coming together – so luckily this feeling doesn’t last long!

Let’s talk about the ‘Thank You Riders’ project

At the end of 2021 we were looking for a way to say thank you to Riders from around the world. They are an essential part of the company’s ecosystem and the business couldn’t operate without them, so we took the opportunity to recognise their hard work and highlight some impressive stats from throughout the year.

This project was unique for me in many ways – firstly, we were able to find a style that went with the story. Usually we are given guidelines and have a style in place that we need to stick with, however on this occasion we were able to imagine the illustration style ourselves.

We had this idea for the animation that centred around maps and roads, so we went with a linear design that highlighted this notion of the different routes.

I was able to be fully involved in this project from storyboarding, to art direction, to animation and it was a fully collaborative project, with all members of the Motion Team getting involved with the process – everyone animated one part of the video and then we connected all of the sections at the end.

We had a short timeline to create this project, so everyone jumped on board and got involved – I love that element of collaboration on the team.

What was your involvement with WeGotWe?

WeGotWe is a platform that is about buying as a community- customers can invite friends to buy things in bulk quantities at lower prices.

I created all of the caricature illustrations- a series of characters that bring the brand to life and represent people from the local market.

The Design Team created the design style for the brand – a lively and colourful identity with lots of organic curved lines. It was my job to translate this style into the characters and make sure the images are representative of the design approach for the brand.

The visuals I created are static images, but I have really enjoyed being able to work on the character design and jump across these different skill sets.

An interesting part of this project was learning about the local market – the platform is live in Dubai, and there were cultural differences that I needed to take into account when creating the first draft of these designs. For example, making sure that clothing was a precise representation from the region – from necklines, to material lengths, these were all things that I was unaware of before working on the project that I needed to incorporate into my work.

I heard that you are a fan of hosting a workshop! 

Yes this is true! Knowledge sharing is a passion of mine and workshops are a cool way to learn new things and connect with colleagues.

There are moments when you have to explain something to a teammate and it makes you feel as though you are reinforcing your own knowledge by processing and organising your own thoughts in a way that makes sense for others.

Recently I hosted a workshop about Zoetropes and how to create them – These mechanisms are how animation first started and can be traced all the way back to the 1830’s. They are cylinder forms with multiple windows cut into the material. On the inner surface of the cylinder you create a sequence of images with slight variations. As the cylinder spins, it creates a scanning effect where the images simply blur together – creating the illusion of motion.

This was a great way for everyone to take a break from their day-to-day tasks and get down to the basics of creating something with their hands. It required no design or animation skill and was a way for everyone to connect and leave the session feeling energised and inspired.

21.07.22 | by Louise Byrnes