Monday, 9 December 2019

Character Design is Back on 29 June 2020

Artwork by Andrea Torrejon
Our Character Design Evening Class is returning to Escape Studios on 29 June 2020

Character Design is an eight week evening class taught by Andrea Torrejon, an experienced character designer whose recent work includes the Disney TV Series "101 Dalmation St".

Like all of our courses, this class is taught by a working industry professional; Andrea will guide students through the principles of character design, building up to a live industry brief.

Learning character design isn't just about drawing cool characters; it is also about learning what the industry actually needs from a character designer - turnarounds, model packs and an animation "bible".

Character Design
"101 Dalmation St"
Character design is one of the most demanding, interesting and competitive parts of the pre-production process.

Character designers work closely with the producer and director to determine the look and feel of a project.

Design a character for a blockbuster project and your work can have enduring global appeal.

Course tutor
Our character design evening class is taught by Andrea Torrejon, who worked at Passion Pictures as in-house designer on the Disney TV Series "101 Dalmation St", working at Passion Pictures in Soho.

Prior to that, Andrea did character model sheets and turnarounds for the Angry Birds TV series, and Angry Birds: Stella.  She's also a great teacher, who gets excellent reviews from our students. "Andrea was fantastic, very motivating and knowledgeable" - is a typical review of her teaching style.

Where and when
Model pack for Angry Birds by Andrea Torrejon
Character Design Starts on 29 June 2020 and runs for eight weeks. It takes place online, via Zoom Google Meet and Syncsketch.

Normally, £995, but this has now been reduced to £699 as this is (for now at least) an online course.

Job Opportunities for Character Designers
Character design is one of the most competitive but also one of the most rewarding parts of the pre-production process. Studios are always on the look-out for fresh talent, scouring Tumbler sites for a fresh vision and a new look.

Successful character designers are much in demand and can also often work from anywhere in the world. Entry level positions in the industry tend to focus on more junior roles, such as designing props and sets, and making model packs for the CG modeling department.

How it all works
Character design involves 8 classes of 3 hours on Monday evenings. The first hour and a half of the class is typically about the theory of character design. After that, students have a break, then they get about one hour for a practical exercise. There is also time in the first half to review the homework together.
Designs for "Stella" by Andrea Torrejon

There is usually one homework exercise, focused on that evening's class.

Course Content

Week 1- Moodboards and the importance of research.
Week 2 - Characters from the inside, Psychology, logic and their universe.
Week 3- Characters from the outside, Silhouette, line of action
Week 4 - Body language and expressions.
Week 5 - Costume design and costume language.
Week 6 - Creature design. Fear and tenderness.
Week 7- Colour and BG. Beat boards. Light and shadow.
Week 8- Modelsheets. How to prepare a character design bible for animation, outsourcing and videogames, and a pitch for comic publishing.

Nothin' Personal by Andrea Torrejon
Final Project
In the last class, Andrea generally sits with individual students to help them decide what kind of final exercise-project they want to develop for the next month, depending on what they want to apply their skills on.  During this final month students still have access to Andrea's professional comments and support through the private Facebook classroom.

Final Pitch
Once the month is over, students pitch their final projects.

The skills we're looking for in prospective students
We're looking for students with a passion to draw, design and create characters. Character design necessarily includes a certain level of competence as a draughtsman, so we look for drawing skills as a good starting point. 

Some basic knowledge of Photoshop is useful, but any digital art software will do.

For students who like to work on paper, it helps to have access to a digital scanner, but many students use their phones to take pictures of their work and upload these to the Facebook Classroom.

We create a Facebook classroom for each group, so a Facebook account is useful, in order to have access to our private group as well as homework and links. For students who don't have a Fb account, they can make a new one and then delete it afterwards.

Career focus
The course culminates in the creation a portfolio of work for submission to studios, including the nuts and bolts of model packs, turnarounds, and a complete client-facing approach to character design.

Video taster
To get an idea of what's involved, watch the free video below, a brief introduction to the art and craft of character design.  The webinar is about the general principles of character design, and also shines a light on the creation of the characters in Queen's Counsel, the cartoon strip that I have been writing and drawing in The Times newspaper since 1993.

To see more about the character design course, read this post.  And to read an interview with Andrea, and see more of her work, follow this link.

Recommended Reading
We recommend these books

1. How to Draw and Paint Crazy Cartoon Characters: Create Original Characters with Lots of Personality Paperback – March 1, 2007 - by Vincent Woodcock

2. Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels by Tom Bancroft.

To see the official course page, follow this link.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt in 3D Animation, follow this link.  To apply for our storyboarding evening class, visit this page here.  For the next 12 week animation course, click here.

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