Robyn Whaples, a 2014 graduate of Sandwich High School, is on the path toward a career in animation, and she credits the “ArtWorks School to Careers” program sponsored by Heritage Museums & Gardens and the Cape and Islands Workforce Investment Board with cultivating her passion for this hot art form.

Robyn Whaples

As a junior at Sandwich High School, Robyn participated in the ArtWorks internship program where she spent eight weeks working under the tutelage of artist Marc Leitzel. As part of that program, Robyn created a two-dimensional animated cartoon, complete with characters, storyline, and background music. Robyn says she did not have to look very far to find a story theme for her project—she chose to draw on a true event that occurred in the summer of 2012 when a black bear was seen roaming around the mid- and lower-Cape area. As television and newspaper reporters tracked the latest location of the bear and speculated how the animal managed to get from the mainland onto the Cape, Robyn’s mother and sister thought the incident would be a good premise for a children’s book. “They came up with the idea for the story and asked me to write a rhyme scheme to it,” Robyn says.

The story sat idle for nearly a year until Robyn brought it alive in her animated piece. With only two weeks to complete her assignment, she and Leitzel, who helped with the character design, decided “to keep the characters simple” in terms of their movements and other details. “I worked right up until the last minute before the deadline for the project. I am a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to ensure that every frame was perfect,” the young artist says.

The result of the collaboration between the animator and his protégé is a two minute and 25-second animated film that brings four characters to life as they speculate how the black bear got here. The video was uploaded to the website YouTube for viewing.

“It was such a great experience working with Marc. He was a fantastic mentor—he taught me how to manipulate and develop the characters. He gave me lots of hands-on experience,” Robyn says.

She says the seed for working with animation was planted when she was in sixth grade. “I signed up for a two-week summer camp at the Sandwich Community School and animation work was part of the program. Drawing animated characters struck me, and I just loved it,” she says. “Any time I had free time, that’s all I would do. The thing I love most about animation is that I get to bring the characters to life.”

As part of Sandwich High School’s Senior Project class, Robyn had the opportunity to work with three-dimensional animation. “That is much more difficult,” she admits.

The Sandwich grad’s artistic talents are not limited to animation—she also plays four different instruments including the guitar, flute, mandolin, and trumpet. Of the four, she says the guitar is her favorite since it lends itself to music composition.

A member of the National Art Honors Society, Robyn will be moving on to study animation at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia this fall. She is excited about the prospects of working in the industry. “There are so many opportunities for animated artists—video games, advertisements, training videos,” she says. “It can be useful—but also entertaining!”