• Amanda Aszman

Designer of the Week: Tim Ruffle

Tim Ruffle is an animator and director at Aardman Animations, the Academy Award-winning studio that created Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.

You may have seen Ruffle’s recent interactive short film for 360 Google Spotlight Stories [read more about that below] or come across his commercials and animated content for interactive websites and clients such as Nintendo, BBC and Google.

Read on to learn more about this versatile creator.

Name: Tim Ruffle

Name of Studio: Aardman Animations/Aardman Nathan Love

Location: Bristol / New York City

Design school attended: I graduated with a first-class degree from the University of the West of England, Bristol, where I studied graphic design but specialized in animation.

How would you describe your work? It tends to vary on the project, but I think there is a Ruffle style, which is often bright, graphic and 2D, but I have started to play with that extra dimension recently whilst still clinging on to the 2D sensibilities I love.

Where do you find inspiration? I look at a lot of illustrated kids’ books and comics and often think how amazing it would be to animate the stories and bring them to life. Working at Aardman is a pretty inspiring too; there are so many amazing creatives here.

I have an illustration process where I thrash out rough characters or ideas that might make for interesting animations. The good ideas then get worked up into target stills, which is often the basis for an animation or commercial before it goes into production.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists? Charlie Harper and Miroslav Sasek are a massive inspiration. Their illustrations are timeless. I have been lucky enough to work with some great illustrators such as Aurelien Predal, Adrian Johnson and Ingela P. Arrhenius. It’s exciting to bring their work to life.

Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on? There are so many. I’ve just spent a year directing a 360° film for Google called “Special Delivery,” which I’m proud of.

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far? The 360 Google Spotlight Stories film “Special Delivery” [view the film above] has to be the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. This was Aardman’s first foray into 360° filmmaking, so it was a massive learning curve for everyone involved. I think it’s amazing what we’ve achieved though and would love to direct another one.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future? I really want to make my own animated series and kids’ book. I have a few ideas that I’m working on at the moment.

What’s your best advice for designers today? Try to bring something to the project, whatever your role is. The more input into a project, the better the outcome. Draw lots, even if they’re bad. It’s still the best way of communicating visual ideas; plus, you’ll get better at it.

View more of Ruffle’s work here and here.

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