This is my first time on Reddit, so I apologize ahead of time for any mistakes. My girlfriend told me people were asking for an AMA after she posted a picture of Krusty barfing on an airplane barf bag. I'm happy to answer any questions about the animation process The Simpsons goes through, or questions about the industry in general. I'm also a conceptual design artist and would be happy to answer any questions about concept art and illustration as well.

I've sent verification to the moderators, as well as this.

Edit: You guys can see my own personal work outside of the Simpsons on my Facebook page, my website, and my DeviantArt page, and follow me on twitter.

Edit2: I gotta wrap this up and start on another project I'm currently working on, but I plan on going back and answering a lot more so please feel free to ask a question or send me a PM! this Reddit thing is really fun... I can see why my girlfriend spends ALL her time on it! See you around soon Reddit!

Comments: 2422 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

Ruyn1888 karma

I'm sure many people will bring up how the old episodes were better than the new ones, but I gotta say this:

Back in the day, animation was really fluid. Right now everything seems robotic, and just barely enough to get the message. Is this intentional to cut costs and do everything as fast as possible? The HD opening is one of the biggest examples.

Here's a comparison:

AlexRuiz2148 karma

It's all a part of the evolution of the show, really. The characters evolved over the years, they became less wacky looking. And so the animation had to follow suit, and I agree, it suffered from it. When the show went all digital, it lost even more fluidity, and once again, suffered again. Another element that's affecting the animation is the timing. This is a HUGE determining factor of how an animation looks. And so with all of these components changing to modernize( or rather, 'normalize' the show), things like fluidity and the 'charming wackiness' we all loved on the early shows went bye bye.

Mr_Quagmire1311 karma

Uh, excuse me, Mr. Ruiz. On the Itchy & Scratchy CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the wizard key?

saintdev1661 karma

Hi. A question for Mr. Ruiz. In episode 2F09 when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

AlexRuiz916 karma


AlexRuiz590 karma

I'm sorry friend, you're going to rot in there.

aColoradoan917 karma

Did you make their eyes look like boobs on purpose?

AlexRuiz1537 karma


wingeddingbats693 karma

How involved is Matt Groening in the creation process nowadays? And what's he like in person?

AlexRuiz1118 karma

Matt of course can always give input, but he's usually not around at meetings as he's pretty occupied with his other projects. Nice guy, interesting combination of artist, writer, and post-modern philosopher:)

Kick-the-Cheat665 karma

I'll leave this mini-doc starring Alex Ruiz here; answers a lot of preliminary questions (for me, at least).

AlexRuiz333 karma

great, thanks for posting this!

shampoocell605 karma

Who is your favorite minor character 1) to draw and 2) to laugh at?

(I think mine's Gil.)

AlexRuiz1218 karma

I always love drawing Duffman when I get the chance...that's a rare thing:)

MetricSuperstar504 karma

I noticed in your girlfriend's post that people kept on bringing up Korea doing the animating work. Can you explain exactly what you do and how the whole Korea thing works?


AlexRuiz766 karma

What I do here is the key animation, the main( and most important) poses of the character. We have the voices already recorded and we make drawings accordingly. Those are timed, and sent over to Korea to be 'inbetweened', cleaned up, shot, colored etc. Then it comes back to us for further editing, music etc.

PostYourSinks486 karma

Do the characters ever look slightly different depending on who did the scene? Btw, thanks for doing the AMA!

AlexRuiz646 karma

your welcome! Absolutely, each animator has their own style, though it can't differ too much from the standard model sheets of the characters.

NobodyLovesMilhouse420 karma

  1. Can you add your own secret jokes to your animation?

  2. Have you read or heard about the book The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History? If so, what are your opinions?

  3. Who is your least favorite character to draw?

  4. What are your opinions on the newer episodes vs the older episodes?

AlexRuiz818 karma

back in the day we were able to 'sneak' things into the art, but it was hard. what we did a whole lot was put ourselves in the crowd scenes, that was fun...many of us are immortalized in the show:)

MisterBreeze330 karma

Are you able to give an example, maybe a screenshot, of your character in one of the episodes?

Kick-the-Cheat366 karma

Is there any element, any nuance, you feel the show has lost that you wish were still there?

Conversely, what's your favourite way the show has changed?

AlexRuiz646 karma

I feel that when the show went all digital, that's when it lost some of it's magic. Back in the day, things were drawn on paper, cel painted, etc...lot's of grueling work. But it had a charm to it. But of course, the new technology has allowed the show to become more complex as far as camera moves, massive crowds etc.

Harriv194 karma

When exactly show went all digital?

AlexRuiz322 karma

several years ago

DougeryThuggery350 karma

Of all of the things you've had to animate for the show, which one was the hardest?

AlexRuiz976 karma

I had to animate the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for the 'Simpsons Bible Stories' episode. Drawing horses is hard enough! I had to animate an upshot of four horses running, with dudes riding them, with weapons, cloth blowing, clouds billowing, meteors shooting through the sky. For a five second scene, it took me over two weeks to complete!

AlexRuiz23 karma

Yes, it is! I took the original concept and made it Alex Ruiz-ified.

SmurfSc2326 karma

How long does it take to animate one full episode of the simpsons?

AlexRuiz501 karma

In general, the show takes about six months from beginning to end. The animation takes about 3-4 months.

Aithyne304 karma

How are there so many recent references then?

AlexRuiz473 karma

writers write real fast;)

AlexRuiz321 karma

I've got some time to blow. Who wants to be Simpsonized?

Edit - holy crap. I expected one or two people haha. i'll do a few here and there, sorry if you don't see yours right away!

jlezcano85 karma

simpsonize me and the mrs.!!!

AlexRuiz304 karma

here you go - 5 minute sketch. I have no idea why it's so blue. Sorry!

jlezcano93 karma

I really appreciate that. my girlfriend is actually a super simpson fan!

AlexRuiz102 karma

no problem:) my girlfriend said she sent you a PM asking if you wanted the physical copy of it, but then realized you guys probably didn't realize she was my girlfriend and may have thought she was some random person trying to get people's addresses off the internet. so, if you DO want the physical copy, there should be a PM from her!

JamesPriestley44 karma


TopSuperRoll315 karma

Which character means the most to you? (hold dearest to your heart.)

AlexRuiz643 karma

Krusty the Clown has my heart;)

FetchezLaVache307 karma

How often are you asked by friends to draw characters doing various things?

AlexRuiz551 karma

ALL THE TIME! But that doesn't mean I always do it lol

Duramax159288 karma

Do you watch Family Guy?

AlexRuiz588 karma

hell yes...actually many Simpsons alumni are in charge of that show now:)

Kurfuffler261 karma

I'm asking this because no one else has. In terms of Simpson characters: Kill one, marry one, and fuck one. Go.

AlexRuiz431 karma

Cletus, Brandine, and Maude Flanders.

goose2460242 karma

There are 24 seasons of the Simpsons. Does the work you do ever get repetitive?

AlexRuiz553 karma

I'd be lying if I said it didn't:)

Verdantarium234 karma

Have you directly or indirectly done any work with Futurama?

AlexRuiz377 karma

no, but wish I did!

skyyz164 karma

Do you have any personal projects not involving Simpsons you're currently working on?

Also, which character is your least favorite to draw?

AlexRuiz270 karma

I'm always working on personal stuff, which is pretty far from the Simpsons. you can see it on my facebook page. My main site is and I also have a deviant art site.

biggie101163 karma

Thanks for the ama.

I've read that episode production has gotten rather huge for the Simpsons in the past ten years. Episodes and such are written and pumped out several months in advance to a accommodate the large animation schedule requirements.

Don't take this as a direct attack on the hard work of you and your peers, but I personally suspect the "downfall of the Simpsons" (quoted as obviously not EVERYONE will agree with me) is partly because of this over- inflation of the production schedule, and how management chose to handle it. The $$ went to higher animation and not giving the writers what they needed to produce in- depth episodes (anyone remember when episodes where character driven?)

Now let me get this out there: the work that you and your peers do is GREAT. I have never under appreciated the ability the Simpsons has to properly illustrate whatever they want in order to make a joke work. Props to you and the rest of your co- workers for the skill and dedication you put into your work. Reddit alone is a sucker for all of those little easter eggs you love to include.

So here's my question:

Do the writers get the shaft these days when it comes to creative flexibility? It just seems like they're forced to pump out cheap jokes to fill an episode as quickly as possible in order to get it in the hands of the voice actors so animation can begin.

Has a higher value been put on the actors and animators than the writers?

Sorry for the wall o' text... And any spelling errors. Pumped this out on my phone.

AlexRuiz198 karma

Great comment, thanks for writing in. As of now, the animation production schedule has been cut quite significantly. People have been let go( artists and production) because budget was cut.

This has NOTHING to do with the writers and their quality of work. They have their own schedule, budget etc( not to mention residuals, which no one on the art side gets.)

The writers are treated incredibly well, financially and creatively. As a team, along with Al Jean, call the shots. But of course, their burden is heavy and I don't envy them. If anything, the value of the writers is over everyone else's, and unfortunately the animators have always been last in the scheme of things.

xgonex149 karma

How long have you been an animator for the show? Have you worked on any other shows as an animator, or just in general?

AlexRuiz320 karma

I've been a Simpsons animator, on and off, for 15 years. I try to get away, but always keep coming back:)

AntiJournalist139 karma

I grew up watching the Simpsons. I knew it was something special. That said, I have noticed a severe decline in the direction and delivery of the show. There is some debate about when this took place. I'll say, over the last decade.

How is the Simpsons allowed to continue on?

AlexRuiz478 karma

the majority of the people still love the show dearly...even if it sucks from time to time. It's also such a staple in society, millions of people would want it to go on forever if they had a say...which they kinda do with ratings and all.

I agree that there's been a decline, no doubt. But it picks up here and there, I'm gonna say most of it has to do with the writing...if it sucks, the whole show suffers.

verbaldave129 karma

Your concept work is amazing. How have you developed a style so far removed from the Simpsons? Also, you must be slaying the ladies with that long lusty

AlexRuiz212 karma

thanks! honestly, after a while I got sick of drawing the Simpsons all day, so I wanted to do stuff completely different...and yes, the ladies are lining up out the door;)

KidCadaver124 karma

Is your girlfriend pretty supportive of your rockstar-style life? She seems like a great gal.

AlexRuiz162 karma

she's the best, she let's me do whatever I want:)

leontes112 karma

How much flexibility is allowed in your animation? Is creativity frowned upon? How do they maintain quality control of the animations?

AlexRuiz176 karma

As animators, we have a lot of creative input for the animation. We're given storyboards and director comments, but it's really up to us to make the characters come to life.

AThirdFoot102 karma

Hey Alex! I'm an animator in the games industry, doing CG character stuff on the LEGO games franchise. I've always been interested in the TV side, and how these 2D shows are produced.

  1. How long does it take from initial storyboard to completion of an episode?

  2. How big is your animation team?

  3. On The Simpsons Movie, and other more recent episodes, I've noticed you use a lot more CG aspects, do you have specific CG animators now?

  4. How was it starting there? Did it take you a long time to get used to the flow and style of the iconic Simpson style?

  5. I'm In awe of you 2D guys, bring able to throw down a strong pose on a piece of paper. Do you have any quick tips for pose drawing?

Thanks very much! Keep up the sterling work.

AlexRuiz85 karma

cool, love me some Legos!

here ya go: 1) from boards to finished, probably 4-5 months. 2) there's about 30-40 animators on the show 3)we have a couple of dedicated cg guys doing maya work. 4) gotta admit, it was a rough start. Took about a year to truly get the style of the show...turns out, it was that way with everybody:) 5)the secret to become a great drafstman....get good at figure drawing!

Dave_Vai80 karma

Tell us about your own projects your lady said you were working on?

Do you read comics? If so is there any book you would like to work on?

AlexRuiz69 karma

I do a lot of concept art and illustration, sci fi and fantasy related. See the links at the top to see my work!

arstarz78 karma

Hey Alex! I took your class at StudioArts and I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! You really opened my eyes about using Photoshop and utilizing references. You are an AMAZING instructor, thank you again!!

AlexRuiz34 karma

You're welcome!:)

ScottiesaG70 karma

Do the animators have any influence on the story? Such as you draw something in such a way that the writers/actors decide to change anything, if that makes any sense.

AlexRuiz119 karma

There's very little room to influence story, if not any. The writers have full control the story stuff:)

sophelle69 karma

Holy fucking shit, never in a million years did I think I would have the chance to talk to you.

Hi there from Australia, I just wanted to let you know that your image, Starry night, is currently hanging on my wall, 106 centimetres of pure awesomeness. Thank you so very much for being alive and being amazing, because it is literally the best piece of art I have had the good fortune of laying my eyes on. It was not easy (or cheap, might I add) getting it to Australia and up on my wall but it is so so worth it. So thank you. =]

I really hope you see this.

Also, I did not know you worked on the Simpsons. Kudos.

AlexRuiz41 karma

The honor is all mine:) I'm so glad you love Starry Night, it's looks great in that frame!

McSpoish61 karma

Have you created any of the characters?

AlexRuiz81 karma

no, that's the writers and character designers' job.

neyxport58 karma

do you work with the voice actors at all? who is the most memorable?

AlexRuiz121 karma

I don't work directly with them, but have met them all many times. They're all great, but Nancy Cartwright is the most fun:)

TiggerPlease55 karma

How long is the period between making an episode then having it aired?

AlexRuiz94 karma

it takes around six months to create one episode, from beginning to end.

JPree54 karma

Can I have the Homer Reddit Rules picture?

AlexRuiz97 karma

sure, pm me your address and I'll send it to you.

jmortus112638 karma

Why have you done it all?

But, seriously, what got you into the Simpsons?

AlexRuiz99 karma

I got in as an intern in 1995, and saw it as a stepping stone to Disney feature animation but never went through with that. Guess I got lazy:)

MarknDC30 karma


AlexRuiz59 karma

Hate to say, but yes, very contentious:) Definitely a part of the process on any show, but it always has affected the animators' personally, because when they don't work, WE don't work!

LittlePieceOfMe29 karma

What's an annoying thing to draw that you always get stuck on, that you wish wouldn't have been made part of a character in the first place because it is so hard to draw?

AlexRuiz54 karma

Marge's hair