Student Spotlight: UI junior finds animation experience in Iowa City

Isaac Morehead, a third-year undergraduate cinema major at the University of Iowa, discusses leadership at the EPX animation studio and his personal projects ahead of a hopeful career in animation.


Nick Layeux

Issac Morehead poses for a portrait at Catlett Resident Hall, Iowa City, on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2022. Morehead is a student in the animation program.

Charlotte McManus, Arts Reporter

Isaac Morehead, a third-year cinema major at the University of Iowa, is utilizing the UI’s resources to jumpstart his career in animation. His focus lies in the film and video production side of the cinema major.

Morehead wasn’t entirely sure if he would attend the UI at first. He narrowed down his post-secondary experience to two choices: he would either attend culinary school in New York, or major in Film and Video Production at the UI. In the end, he simply flipped a coin.

Morehead is an animation workshop leader for EPX Studio, a video game and animation development club for students at all experience levels. In a typical day, he leads a group icebreaker, a half-hour animation tutorial, and a final activity that showcases the students’ newly learned skills.

“You don’t have to have any prior experience,” Morehead said. “The only thing we look for is passion for the arts.”

As of Fall 2022, the UI only offers a few courses exclusively focused on animation. Still, Morehead has talked to big Midwestern names in animation, including Steve Jennings of Grasshorse Studios and Brian Ferguson, known for his part in several Disney movies, including “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “Mulan.”

Morehead also works on individual projects when not at the studio. Recently, his Art Station account gained traction, which features characters in various situations. For example, in “Cow Cube in Need of Assistance,” a wide-eyed square-shaped animal doodle flails on the ground.

To explore the animation by Morehead, scroll down here.

His animations begin as hand drawings, with paper and pencil. Then, he does a few sketches on Krita, a digital software designed for 2D animations. From there, he said he just “fills in the blanks.”

He said animation is partly a trick. Instead of drawing every single frame, he might draw half of them, and blend them so that the character’s motions are seamless.

“You draw only as much as you need to convince the audience that you drew everything,” he said.

RELATED: Student Spotlight: UI animator shares passion for cartoon

Morehead often finds his inspiration through other media. He said his animations don’t follow a cohesive theme. Rather, they follow “whatever niche obsession” he has at the time. After playing video game “Hollow Knight” with his little brother, he wanted to mimic that art style. He’s also working on a passion project that documents his life throughout the fall semester.

“One of the things I like most about [animation] is seeing everything come to life in the end. They tell this seamless story,” he said. “With animation, the possibilities are endless, and you can do whatever you want.”

In his free time, Morehead enjoys the outdoors, namely skiing and hiking. He has a “very cool” collection of stolen pens and cool socks. He is also interested in dinosaurs and is minoring in geology.

“I feel like my career has really taken off as far as what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s been a lot of fun so far,” Morehead said. “My only complaint is that I don’t know how to cook as well as I would like.”