Character Design (Part-Time Course)

About the course

Character Design is an 8 week classroom introduction to the art and craft of character design.

The course will build up to a final project for a live industry brief. There will also be an 8 week period of online mentoring and aftercare, in which you can polish your skills in a virtual classroom and receive ongoing feedback and support. The course is designed by animator Alexander Williams with individual classes taught by guest lecturers from the animation industry.

Module information

Part One - Introduction to Character Design

  • Week 1 - General Introduction to Design
    Introductory Exercises. Creativity, ideas and inspiration for stories. Gesture drawing, fast sketches, and research.
    In-class exercises: warm-ups and quick design exercises. Get the rust off!
    Homework: Design Exercise 1
  • Week 2 - Creating designs which have character.
    Single images that illustrate personality and character. Design drawings. Situations and character-driven scenarios.
    In-class exercise 1: Who is in the story? – Character free-association
    In-class exercise 2: Take three inanimate objects and turn them into characters
    Homework: Change a human character into an animal in three poses.
  • Week 3 - Industry character design process.
    A close look at the work of some leading character designers and how they work.
    In-class exercise: create a pair of characters that contrast large with small.
    Homework: Develop the same characters to illustrate a children’s nursery rhyme.
  • Week 4 - Art Direction.
    Introduction to the principles of design and visual development.
    In-class exercise: Foundation shapes. Experiment with simple character designs based on simple shapes.
    Homework: develop the designs with simple shapes to create some characters for a TV series.

Part Two - Character Design Technique

  • Week 5 - Designing animal characters.
    How to base designs on real life. Animal anatomy, Staging and character
    In-class exercise: The cat family. Design a mother cat with several kittens. What can we tell about their characters?
    Homework: develop the cat family designs to create some characters for a feature film
  • Week 6 - Designing human characters.
    Life drawing, human anatomy, gesture drawing and character poses.
    In-class exercise 1: Two five year olds: Two sketches of yourself and a friend of yours age five.
    In-class exercise 2: Take your characters and put them into different historical era.
    Homework: take your characters and do “turnarounds” – viewing them from multiple angles
  • Week 7 - Character Situations
    The interaction of character with story. How do our characters fit into the overall story?
    In-class exercise: quick sketches of characters in set situations – such as “children on the first day of school”
    Homework: develop your quick sketches and work them up into beat boards.
  • Week 8 - Model Packs, Turnarounds, Blend Shapes and Rigging Studies for CG.
    Industry briefing.
    In-class exercise: rough thumbnails of industry project
    Exercise: Place your characters in a scene, with background and props

Part Three - Online Mentoring and AfterCare

Online mentoring and aftercare will continue for a further twelve weeks. Students will be set a series of projects for delivery, using a Facebook Group as an online virtual classroom. Tutors will provide online mentoring and individual bespoke video feedback.

Recommended reading

Alive Character Design: For Games, Animation and Film: For Games, Animation & Film Paperback - 31 Oct 2011 by Haitao Su

Purchase this product

Character Design (Part-Time Course)

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14 May 2018

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