Shahab Serwaty


Shahab Serwaty is a visual artist specializing in story art and 2D animation. During his career, he has worked on various projects, ranging from animated TV series, music videos, short and feature films to board games, and graphic novels.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your journey as an animator (How did you get started? What inspired you to get into the animation space? Etc.)

As a child, I was fascinated with SEGA Genesis games and I wished to be able to create my own worlds and characters someday. But as I grew up I fell in love with Rock and Heavy Metal music and I picked up the electric guitar. So I forgot about drawing for several years. However, I had to let go of my aspiration to become a musician because of an incident (which I am grateful for now) and I came back to drawing again. Initially, I wanted to be a comic artist, but then I also fell in love with digital painting. I landed my first job as an illustrator for a TV series, after two years of practicing. It was a great challenge and opportunity for my growth as an artist. During that time I realized how much I enjoy animating and storytelling.

Q: What animation style/s do you animate in? How has your style evolved over time?

I have always been in love with hand drawn frame-by-frame animation in the comic art style. However, since it is a very time-consuming method for a solo animator like myself, I adopt other techniques to speed up the process. For instance, rigging characters and sometimes using 3D models helps a lot. I am always on the lookout for better and faster ways to deal with the tasks I need to do.

Q: Are there any animators, films or art movements that inspire your style?

There are too many to name here. However, I always get inspired by seeing the work of comic artists like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Sergio Toppi, Alex Toth, and JP Leon. Also, animators like Robert Valley and Jeremy Clapin are my biggest influences. I have always been fascinated by impressionistic and minimalistic art styles.

Q: What genre do you find most fulfilling or enjoyable to animate?

I love animating in a gritty and edgy style which in my opinion best fits with thriller, psychological, and suspenseful stories.

Q: What tools and software do you use?

I use an MSI desktop computer and a Wacom Cintiq 27”. My main software to draw and animate is Clip Studio Paint. I use Moho Pro for rigging and animating and Davinci Resolve for compositing and editing. At times, I also use Blender for 3D modeling and layout.

Q: What does your creative process look like? What comes first?

It might vary depending on the kind of project I am working on. However, usually for story-centered projects like Storiaverse shorts, it starts with designing characters right off the bat. I would also search the internet and create a mood board of my favorite artworks, photographs, and film stills. This gives me a general idea of the looks of the whole film. Then I move on to thumbnailing the storyboards which involves a lot of imagining and scribbling. The next step would be making an animatic using a soundtrack and the drawings I have created, and I add SFX where needed. At this point, I have worked out the timing of each scene and I have made sure everything flows and conveys the mood I am looking for. Finally, I move on to drawing the backgrounds and key poses of the characters and I animate them.

Q: Which part of the animation process is your favorite? (character design, storyboarding, animatics, etc.)

The whole process of creating an animated film is wonderful and exciting to me. But if I had to choose the best part, it would be character animation. There is some unexplainable joy in seeing your drawings come alive. I could do it all day and night if it was physically possible.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring animators based on personal experience and industry insights?

I think the best advice I can give to anyone, including myself when I was starting out, is to do what you are truly passionate about without trying to follow the trends and things that are accepted as good art by the industry or the public. Those things always change and people who change it are the ones who believe in what they do and love it. Also try not to be different from everyone, just try to draw and paint the way it comes naturally to you.

Q: How do you navigate periods of creative block?

I rarely encounter creative blocks, but when it happens, I have noticed it is usually caused by stress. So the best way to deal with it is to calm down and take a breather. In general creative blocks can happen due to wrong approaches as well. If an artist tries to create and edit at the same time, they most likely will be in trouble. When you are trying to come up with ideas don’t judge them, just let them flow, even if they sound stupid to you. You can always edit them later.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about the latest story you animated for Storiaverse? What was the most challenging?

I loved how intense and unapologetic the story was. The most challenging thing was to show the feelings of each character at various points of the story, and trying to understand how a person would react to certain situations.

Q: What motivated your decision to collaborate with Storiaverse?

I love how Storiaverse has created an opportunity for writers and animators to create beautiful works of art in a new format which is unique and engaging in my opinion. Furthermore, as an animator, I love to work in short formats like this, as I can experiment with different styles and ways of storytelling for each story and see the engagement of the audience right away. Also, I am very grateful for the artistic freedom the Storiaverse team has given me.

Q: How do you think animation can play a role in promoting diversity and representation?

Animation is a very powerful medium because it can be created by a single person and is very personal and free by nature. So it can be used to express very deep and complicated emotions which can bring people together. Despite our differences, we can easily see that we are all the same and we experience the same emotions after all.

Q: What do you love most about the animation space and what draws you to adult animation specifically?

I am a firm believer that animation is not specifically for children but adults also enjoy it very much. But, unfortunately, adult animation doesn’t attract investors as much as animation for kids. I love adult animation because it can be intense and surprising on another level, it can explore more sophisticated and complex themes and I believe there is a lack of adult animated content in the market at the time. So I have made it my life mission to create as many adult animated films as I can.

Q: Where do you think the animation industry is heading?

I think the future of animation is very exciting. With the new industry-tier tools and software that are completely free, nowadays everyone with passion and some dedication can create animated films. There is no more a need for powerful computers and complicated equipment to make animation. You can easily animate on an iPad if you have the creativity and love for it.So I think there will be more and more people gravitating toward it and we will see a lot of new content everywhere. Therefore, the industry will become more open to new voices and new styles.