Meet talented animator Mathijs Luijten & his awesome reel

I first met Mathijs Luijten at the opening of an art exhibition at Kuvva Gallery. The guy is all about animation. The way his eyes shone when we discussed aspects of motion design was like a lighthouse’s beacon. That’s before I saw any of his work. After I did that, I showered him with a bunch of questions. I have to feature this talented guy. Here is Mathijs and his aspiration, showreel’s workflow, and advice on starting out as an animator.

Hi Mathijs! Please tell us something about yourself.

Hey! I am a 2D animator based in Amsterdam. I love to move vector shapes around, draw frame by frame animations and fiddle with guitars and synthesizers to make music. But most of all, I try to make a living out of moving ….. well ….. people! In my opinion, nothing is cooler than influencing people’s state of mind (or at least trying to do so).

Therefore I take Concept and Design very seriously. Because without those, animation is worthless. Concept and Design also create the boundaries in which to animate. For example, I would animate Picasso’s work very differently than a realistic painting or a caricature. I like it when the design is really “out there” like that; concept, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be, in my opinion.

I love to collaborate, because in my opinion the creative process is like a dance, like a jam. Fortunately I know some very kind and talented people who are able to put up with my shit haha and I’ve recently started freelancing in the hope that I’ll meet more of these inspiring people.

What first took you to the path of animation? And what are some of the most important things you learned while doing so?

I never imagined I’d become an animator, although I had made some animations in Flash when I was younger. I graduated at the age of 18 as an “Interaction Designer”. At my first internship, my boss kept asking me to make (case)video’s instead of interactive stuff, so I started animating more and more. I also interned at Postpanic and after that I started working at several advertising agencies where I learned a lot about story telling, deadlines, and last but not least, dealing with clients. At Woodwork I really started to find my way in animation, and now I am ready to explore the world as a freelancer!

Please elaborate on your favourite work and the making of it!

To showcase your work as an animator, it is usual to make a compilation of your best animation moments with some fresh music – a showreel. In less than 1:30, you have to show everything you got. So to get the viewers in the right vibe to watch my work, I’d like to create an intro – a great opportunity to try out new techniques in a free work, while also serving a purpose!

I’ve made two intro’s before (this & this). This year, I needed a lot of attempts before I got to my final intro. The first attempt was a bit too ambitious: A fully 3D animated intro, with a complex concept. I stopped halfway… but I did come up with a nice character!


The second was based on a song by Kero Kero Bonito named “Flamingo”. They explain that you’ll get pink of you eat to many shrimps haha.

flamingo Animatic

Then I created the final animatic for my intro. The concept came down to something quite simple. I chose to animate a character representing me in a creative process: a child in a big body, playing around with imagination and uplifting humor.


I tried some colors and styles (I’m not a good designer, so this was my greatest challenge).


To get a good flow for the animation, I moved basic shapes around in After Effects. I animated a few sphere’s representing the belly, head, feet and hands (just like Rayman). Then I took that animation to Photoshop and connected the spheres to make solid shapes.


Then I animated a looooot of shape layers on 30 frames per second. With a high frame rate and some subtle lighting, I recreated sort of a 3D look:

Finishing up, I did some sound design. I recorded myself, squashed oranges, and cloth on cloth.

Any advice for folks starting out freelancing as an animator?

I recently started freelancing, so I wouldn’t dare give advice on that topic.

I look up to a lot of great animators (For example: Giant Ant, Buck) and I think this is very important. They make you want to ‘up your game’, so find that stuff that inspires you. On the other hand, it’s really important to find who you are as an animator/designer/etc. without looking at others. There’s a sweet spot in the middle between those two, so I advice to find that sweet spot!

Do you have any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about?

I’m working on several projects, which hopefully will become very cool!

Thanks Mathijs!

Below are two other projects done by Mathijs. You can follow and see more on his Vimeo, Behance, Dribbble, Blogspot, Soundcloud.

Leave a Reply