Hello! My name is Mackenzie Bystrom, I’m an Animation student at Freestyle Academy. The past few years, even before Freestyle, I’ve been working hard to improve my drawing, animating, character designing, and storytelling abilities. Outside of these skills, I take several dance classes, so in both the dance and animation aspect, I’ve always felt a very close connection to arts involving movement.

For my senior Showcase, I will be presenting an animation reel, along with some examples of my character designs. These pieces best reflect my abilities, as they show the development I’ve made in drawing, animating, and storytelling. In my animation reel, I’ve included examples of animation that showcase my abilities in animation itself, while not necessarily representing my composition or storytelling skills as much. I feel that my abilities I currently have in storytelling are reflected in my character designs, and their ability to show the viewer what the character is like without any context, purely based on design.

I would like feedback on the quality of the animation itself: whether it looks natural or not, and what principles of animation could use improvement. I would also like feedback on the quality of my character designs: if they fit in the story, and have consistency and clarity. However any and all feedback on other aspects of my projects, such as composition, pacing, etc. are completely welcome and appreciated.

Next year, I plan to continue studying animation and concept design at Otis College of Art and Design. I’m very excited to be living in L.A., surrounded by the animation industry. Many students receive internship opportunities for what they are studying, so I am hopeful I will be able to find internship experience within the next few years. I believe I have good ideas to share in the animation industry, and I’m going to develop my skills accordingly so I can share them one day.

You can reach me at

Animation Reel

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I wanted to share an animation reel to showcase the specific skills I’ve developed in animation. Using exaggerated motion to capture the emotions of characters is a practice I hope to develop into my career.

Character Designs

I want to showcase character designs specifically so I can get feedback on how to better communicate the personalities of my characters as much as I can visually, without use of dialogue or actions. I feel that in effective character design, you can immediately know something about a character just by looking at it.

For my second character design, I wanted to revisit an old character from my junior year narrative film. Because the character is meant to be an ugly outcast, but I also had the habit of designing only cute characters, so the design was lacking clarity and consistency. So, I decided to re-design the character to make more sense to the intended purpose. During my development as a character designer, I’ve learned that character designs can be appealing without typically cute traits, and in some situations, works better than having cute characters.



Upon redesigning this character, I came across many issues with the original: the colors, the shape language, a lack of exaggeration, a lack of clear silhouette, a lack of a clear, expressive pose, and a lack of overall clarity. While I still have a lot of room to improve, I feel my re-designed character improves on a lot of these elements in a very clear way.


In putting together my showcase presentation, I realized the development I’ve made as an artist recently has not necessarily been visual, but instead, I became more creative and risky in my projects. I’ve put a lot of effort into developing my technical artistic abilities, but I’ve been struggling in the area of cartooning and developing a style that I can consistently replicate, so this is something I’m hoping to focus on more along with my technical studies in future years. In the grand scheme of things, my current projects aren’t all that unique, but I’m proud of the development I’ve made in my creative risk-taking, and I hope to develop that skill further when I head to college.