Karl Gnass is a master draftsman with an expert understanding of the human and animal forms. His grasp of movement, anatomy, and energy has made him an in demand advisor to an animation industry eager to infuse more authenticity into its character and creature designs.
Gnass (pronounced guh-nahss) has developed facial anatomy and character expressions and consulted on anatomical authenticity for such films as I Am Legend, Watchmen, The Polar Express, Hollow Man, as well as Disney’s Tangled and Moana.
Of particular note, he developed the character expressions and anatomical breakdowns for Stuart and other animals in Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2, and creature breakdowns in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Gnass has been at the forefront of helping animators translate drawing skills to new technology. Legendary Disney animator and Tangled co-director Glen Keane engaged Gnass to develop a Dynamic Figure for Maya class to help computer animators incorporate authentic movement with the then-emerging 3D rendering technology.
In other industry arenas, Gnass has storyboarded for Disney Television Animation, and several of his figure drawings and paintings are in private celebrity collections.
Gnass also served as a judge in choosing the film and TV storyboard artist and director nominees for the Annie Awards (animation’s highest awards).
Speaker and Author
An engaging and accessible speaker, Gnass has appeared at San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon, and the CTN Expo.
He has also run special workshops on figure drawing dynamics, storyboarding, and story essentials at Sony ImageWorks, SIGGRAPH, Young Presidents’ Organization, Art Center College of Design, Ringling College of Art and Design, Kapi’olani Community College in Honolulu, and visiting students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore.
Gnass’ work and philosophy appear in two highly received books: Spirit of the Pose, and the elegantly designed follow-up, Spirit & Force in Figure Drawing. Used by some art schools as reference texts, they feature Gnass’ classroom sketches, drawing advice, and tutorials. And, at last Head Shots–An Artist’s Guide to Head Drawing is now available. This 110 page book is packed with important procedures, tips and advice for great head drawing.
All delve into Gnass’ unique approach to infusing life force into drawings, while grounding them in classical skills, like form, tone, and volume. Gnass’ whimsical musings encourage readers to consider their own artistic intentions, while his gorgeous illustrations serve as inspiration to elevate drawings from competent to exceptional.
Gnass is one of the most sought-after figure drawing instructors in Los Angeles, whose students include Oscar® and Emmy® Award-winning luminaries of digital and traditional animation industries.
He currently teaches drawing, painting, and storyboarding at Disney Features Animation, DreamWorks, and the Animation Guild, and previously at studios including Sony ImageWorks, Nickelodeon, Rhythm & Hues, and Warner Bros. Features Animation.
Gnass has an ability to improve any artist, regardless of talent, training, and age—influencing animators who now direct movies and create the images your children watch on television, to enthusiasts who want to simply hone their skills. His classes also address the core of what it means to be an artist—of taking chances, questioning the status quo, and pushing beyond societal expectations.