AOD Alumni Yomal Amunugama; combining passion with a futuristic career in Animation Design

Meet Yomal, a designer for the automotive industry with an intrinsic talent for conceptualization and 3D design.

Sometimes young children show a clear indication of exactly what they want to be in the far future. Yomal was one such student who always knew he wanted get into the automotive industry. “I have been an avid car enthusiast ever since my birth I reckon. I schooled at Trinity College, Kandy. I liked mere two subjects when I was schooling, Art and Geometry. My school books had more conceptual drawings of vehicles than notes. I have always enjoyed coming up with different concepts for vehicles and envisioning futuristic scenarios”

Yomal joined AOD after his A/L’s hoping that, with design, he would be able to finally work towards his dream career and explore the options and possibilities that would open up. Studying Motion Graphics and Animation Design was in itself a revelation to him in terms of how in-depth the programme teaches techniques, skills and design thinking to solve business problems as well as the vast amount of knowledge and experience gained from this programme. “I think you should always choose a career which you are passionate about. I had solely been relying on my 2D sketching skills but once I joined AOD and started studying animation design, I realized how much more can be done through high tech software and also my own drawing skills. Needless to say I have always been inspired by sci-fi movies like the transformers franchise. So I felt the urge to take my design skills to the next level. 3D Animation is a vital skill in the industry. The possibilities are endless. You can represent your ideas spatially in order to create convincing designs and this can help you in any industry like the automotive industry, gaming, films and television, medical and science, web designing, entertainment and much more. It gives the ability to explore forms which you could never translate in 2D. So I really got the chance bring my imagination to life with this programme”.

Animation Design being an unusual career path here in Sri Lanka, Yomal states how he managed to get into a highly lucrative and engaging career using his educational background and industry experience, “It is a common misconception that being a designer is just excelling in your artistic skills. Being a designer doesn't necessarily mean being able to draw or make something in 3D. The context of design is rather profound. There’s a lot of thought which goes into design. I have always been interested in studying how beauty is perceived in order to make better designs. It's like unraveling a mystery and intuitive process which happens in your subconscious. I have also been intrigued by the theoretical aspects of design and always enjoyed studying about art history, anatomy, design principles and branding at AOD. I really loved the Game design module which gave me an opportunity to incorporate my conceptual vehicles in realtime 3D. I was also introduced to software like Zbrush, Unity, Autodesk, maya etc. It helped broaden my 3D vocabulary and skills to industry standards. I also completed an internship during my second year at Vega Innovations, the company behind Sri Lanka’s first supercar. I think this experience as well as countless others put me in a position which really accelerated my career just after Graduation”.

Yomal’s career experience covers a wide range of work and he believes the Sri Lankan animation industry is only just beginning. “I work as the Head of Design of Accolade Composite Technologies which specializes in the automotive and marine industry. I have produced custom car designs, car facelifts, boats, car conversion kits and different props for airplanes. My designs have been appreciated by Senior designers from Mclaren to Pagani to name a few. This has been truly exciting and I love the fact that I sort of get paid to work on my hobby! I have also collaborated with Dilango Racing, which is owned by Sri Lanka’s world champion race river, Dilantha Malagamuwa. I was involved in their branding and designed automotive illustrations which are used in his official merchandise. Animation design has really given me the opportunity to explore various aspects of the industry and since Sri Lanka has a lot of potential in this regard, the opportunities are going to grow at a fast pace”.

There’s a lot of places to look for inspiration when you’re a designer and for Yomal it’s not limited to just vehicles. “Even though I’m a vehicle designer, I don't limit myself to just vehicles. I explore other disciplines like character design, interior design which compel me to step out of my comfort zone. I have always found artists from the renaissance era inspiring, Like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Anatomy is a great way to understand how form and function relate to each other, a masterpiece in its own right in terms of proportion and aesthetics. It helps create emotional and thought provoking designs. Also reading autobiographies of famous car designers like Ettore Bugatti, how they combined art and function. I find them really intriguing and sometimes I could relate to them too in some ways”.

With the industry expanding and consistently reaching new heights, for Yomal, the only way is up. “I have always been creating conceptual designs. So I see myself working for a famous super car brand ideally. Having a Degree in 3D Animation comes in handy at all times. There are opportunities to work as Automotive UI designers, 3D visualizers, vehicle and weapon artist for games and movies, character designs, Game environments and 3D generalists anywhere in the world. Mostly importantly, I am following my passion and creating success my own way. This to me is what a perfect career is”.