Groundbreaking animation producer/director Will Vinton and his team have created many memorable characters, such as the California Raisins, the PJs, and dinosaurs Herb & Rex.

Now Vinton’s collection of animation art will be on display in an exhibit, Will Vinton’s Animation Art Collection, that opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21st, at The Art Institute of California (AI), 2900 31st St., Santa Monica. Admission is free.

The exhibit remains on display through Wednesday, August 31st.

Vintons’s animation art collection is a celebration of the art and artistry that goes into designing animated characters. The purpose of the exhibit is to honor the numerous regional artists who have contributed to many of Vinton’s animation productions, according to AI.

The show features some well-known animation art (including 3-D sculptures of the California Raisins and the PJs), but the essence of the exhibit is showing visitors about the process of creating animation art and design, according to AI.

One piece, entitled “Finding the Perfect Princess,” follows the artists’ journey of defining and redefining sketches and models in search of creating just the right features for an animated character.

A section of exhibit is devoted to the art of storyboarding which shows the viewer the process that animators go through when developing scenes.

Both early stage design models and final design models will be displayed.

To complete the exhibit, visitors can watch video character tests for The PJs, clips from The Adventures of Mark Twain and other animated works.

Vinton has worked with Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Ron Howard and Eddie Murphy.

He enrolled at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s, where studying the work of Spanish sculptural architect Antoni Gaudi influenced him to begin experimenting with clay animation.

In 1975, he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film for Closed Mondays, a clay animated short he created with Bob Gardiner.

He coined the term “Claymation” to describe his unique process of animating with plasticene clay, and registered the word as a trademark.

He founded Will Vinton Studios and was responsible for launching the careers of animated characters the California Raisins, the Noid, Dinosaurs “Herb and Rex,” M&Ms “Red and Yellow,” and The PJs’ Thurgood Stubbs.

Information, (310) 314-6037.