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s a modeler at LAIKA Studios I create heroes for films like "Paranorman" and "The Boxtrolls". My models are rigged, animated, and held to the same standards as any CGI production. But LAIKA is a stop-motion studio and models here are "grown" using cutting-edge 3D-printers rather than rendered. Modelers like myself consider physical limitations of real-world materials, mechanical tolerances, and find ways to trick temperamental 3D printers into doing exactly what we want.

At LAIKA Studios I am firstly responsible for turning whimsical concepts into rig-ready topology, but it doesn't end there. I also interface with art directors and fabricators, interpret their notes, and evolve the designs further still. Unlike conventional character modelers I also design functioning machinery tailored to each characters dimensions and specific animation needs. These mechanisms allow for the natural articulation of eyes, the glowing of ears, the swapping of facial expressions, and let me exercise my hard-surface modeling skill-set.

Lastly, I assist with the interviewing and training of new modelers. I show newcomers how to apply their CGI production experiences to rapid prototyping just as I have. I also continue to document and improve existing workflows.

Before my recent foray into rapid prototyping I modeled for LAIKA's entirely CG (and unfortunately confidential) properties and the occasional TV spot. All this follows years spent creating animated content for medical companies, pre-visualizations for emerging technologies, and interactive content for use at trade-shows.

My goal is to soon lead a team of amazing Modelers for an ambitious studio intent on pushing the envelope; to always learn from and better those around me.


Ty Johnson

- 3D Modeler



years combined film/commercial studio experience
  • Character modeler for "Paranorman" and "The Boxtrolls"
  • Bachelors of Science "Media Arts and Animation"
  • Extensive experience modeling to specification
  • Award winning fine arts background
  Maya | ZBrush | Topogun | Linux | Adobe Creative Suite


LAIKA - Unreleased Title

July 2013 - Present
I'm already hard at work on LAIKA's next feature and couldn't be more excited. As the first modeler back I'm setting the pace for my colleagues and establishing best work practices. Until the studio's plans are made public I'll only say that I'm incredibly excited by the designs and that LAIKA fans are in for a treat.


LAIKA - "The Boxtrolls"

November 2011 - July 2013
With an emphasis on doing things more efficiently than "Paranorman" I continue to model hero puppets and their many components. I am increasingly involved with mentoring new character modelers and improving the established workflows amongst all disciplines within my department.


LAIKA - "Paranorman"

May 2010 - November 2011
Responsible for modeling Norman, Mitch, Witch transformation, Sandra, and other heroes for Laika's second animated feature "Paranorman". This entailed modeling a great deal of robotics within each character's head as well as the outward appearance of each puppet. Furthermore I make certain these models exceed the demands of texture artists, riggers, quirky 3D printers, and ultimately stop-motion animators.


LAIKA - Digital Design Group (DDG)

September 2008 - May 2010
LAIKA's Digital Design Group (DDG) is a proof-of-concept team and the first to transcend ideas from paper to production quality shorts. These shorts stress-test LAIKA's CG pipeline and shed light on technical problems that may arise during full-scale production. Needless to say my models were each held to exceptional standards. Having worked on so many unique projects in just a year's time was one of the greatest learning experiences of my career.


Reality Engineering

June 2006 - September 2008
Within a small team of generalists I helped build a library of over 200 animated dental procedures for Reality's own proprietary software. I also modeled many complicated devices accurate within a thousandth of an inch. With these assets I created mechanical blow-ups, promotional videos, training aids, trade-show fodder, and interactive media.


Animation Dynamics (ADi)

2005 - 2006
Initially contracted to model the lion share of characters, props, and environments for an Intel promo. After completing my models ahead of schedule, ADi asked me to stay on and rig them. One job lead to another without pause for nearly a year and included HD magazine spreads for Wilson Sporting goods and exploded views of machines.


LAIKA - Art Department

June 2005 - September 2005
Being LAIKA's only intern exposed me to nearly every facet of production at a very crucial time in my career. At first I performed simple chores but was soon crafting props for use in a korean cell-phone commercial. Ultimately I found myself interfacing with director John Logue to produce a series of figures to use in his PSA.

Art Institute of Portland

B.S. - "Media Arts and Animation"

Graduated 2005


AIPD Regional Portfolio Scholarship

- First Place


AIPD Scholarship Competition

- Second Place


Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Art Portfolio competition

- Silver, two-years full-tuition


The Art Institutes National Portfolio Review Competition

- Third Place


PHHS Art Club Scholarship

- winner





Throughout my career I've met some truly spectacular people. Some have been brilliant technicians or artists. Others were simply the warmest souls you'll ever meet. But the rare few who possess both qualities are my friends and you'll find a sampling of them here.
Illustrators Modelers Riggers

Vivian Chen
Kasey Gifford
Don Flores

Darrell Abney
Helen Duckworth

Lindsay Horton