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Animation students visit a galaxy far, far away

The graduating third-year animation students got the chance to expand their skills and portfolio Thursday, April 19 when some of Ray’s Reptiles animals and 501st Star Wars Legion members modelled for them.

An abundance of sketches were drawn as a python, hawk, owl, alligator, tarantula and tortoise all gathered in the art studio from morning to early afternoon. However, the late afternoon and beyond was soon taken over by the 501st members as they put on their costumes and gave the students an authentic Star Wars experience.

“It’s fun; the whole thing is a nice way to send the students off from life drawing. The goal is they get some nice drawings, they usually get a few on the demo reel at the end of the year. The animals and characters give them something different, exciting and exotic,” said Tom Crook, an animation program professor.

The idea to have the 501st members come in was from one of the animation students, Cassidy Feng, who recently joined the 501st Star Wars Legion and parades as Kylo Ren.

“I think we have to study the life in all of this and the structure of living things before you can truly understand how perspective works. It’s important to keep up the skills to draw what you’re seeing,” said Feng.

Although animals are not new for the students to draw, having more exotic animals is a treat. The students are usually drawing nude models life drawing, or sometimes models in some of the costumes and props they have in the studio.

They have three minutes to draw the character in their poses, said Jeff Amey, the life drawing professor for animation. It gives the students the ability to sketch fast, especially for things that can’t stay still, such as animals.

Going from props to authentic-looking Star Wars costumes gives the students a final treat before they say their goodbyes from the college and they’re off to start their next chapter in life. Some of the costumes that appeared were Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, a stormtrooper, an Imperial Guard and a Jedi.

Although the members of the 501st will parade for free, they will often ask for a donation to contribute toward the charities they help raise money for.

“The real reason [the Legion] does this is for charity. We do a lot of work with the Ottawa Make-A-Wish foundation, CHEO and other recognized charities,” said John Mihailov, the president of the 501st Star Wars Legion Capital City Garrison. “We work with the community at large, especially the fan-base, but the public in general. By coming together as a group it creates a really interesting impact on people. When you have a few stormtroopers around people really enjoy it.”

The college made a donation towards the Legion as a thank-you for contributing their time to the animation students. Thousands of dollars have been raised by the Ottawa 501st members, with 1.2 million being donated towards the recognized charities within the past few years.

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