Friday, 9 September 2022

Last Call for Character Design 10 October 2022

character design by Escapee Leroy Dias
Last call for our online Character Design Evening Class - which returns to Escape Studios on 10th October 2022.
Character Design is an eight week evening class taught by industry veteran and Escape Studios' Head of Character Design Steve Sole.

There is also an eight week period of aftercare at the end of the course, where students are encouraged to continue working on their portfolios, polishing their work to industry standards. 

The Art of Character Design
"Mr Bean" artwork by Steve Sole
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".  To find the official course page, follow this link.

Fundamental Principles
Students will learn the basic principles of shape design; how to achieve contrasting characters, how work towards a client brief, and how to put together a "bible" of design information. 

Character Design
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.

Where and when
Character Design Starts on Monday 21st March 2022 and runs for eight weeks.  It takes place online. 

Tutor - Steve Sole
Spirit Fox by Seta Kendir
Our tutor for the Character Design Evening Class is veteran character designer Steve Sole who has worked for many years for London Studios such as Blue Zoo and Tiger Aspect, working on shows such as Mr Bean

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 Works

Designs by Stephanie Jayne-Jackson
Character design involves 8 classes of 3 hours duration. 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.

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

Course Content
Part 1

Spirit Animal by Sole Westlake
Week 1: Introduction to your Tutor, each other and the Course Aims
Meet and greet, ‘walkthrough’ your main project and the course goals. Introductory exercises. Discussing the importance of research and references in creation of a considered character design.

Week 2: Creating designs with character.
Discussing the role of a character artist within the pipeline of an animated project. The value of simple succinct design,  shape language, ‘cognitive bias’  and colour theory as techniques to help you create an informed idea for your designated characters ‘Hero Pose’! 

Week 3: The Value of Life Drawing - Anatomy 
"Damon" by Sole Westlake
Walking through the principles of life drawing will help the students value an understanding of anatomy allowing them to subvert it well for design.   We shall also be exploring the importance of clearly highlighting a character's weight an volumes and how to carry this knowledge onto a turnaround.    . 

Week 4: The Value of Gesture Drawing - Acting   
Exercises and discussion will help to push the importance of a solid line of action drawn through the pose, as well as highlighting the value of contour lines in the formation of  a clean and clear silhouette.

Week 5: Colour Theory
Art by Steve Sole
Discussing the basics of colour theory and exploring techniques which can help us find the right
colour and tone to best reflect the personality of our characters.

Week 6: Pushing your expressions 
Walking through Tips and Tricks like ‘The Mask’ technique,  identifying angles of the skull to help place the head in space along with a discussion on EYEBROWS (NOT A MAKE UP LESSON) all to aid the student in putting together a plan for their expression sheet. 

Week 7: Contrasting Characters.
Now that we have established a style for one of your characters, it would be great to see how this treatment can be employed in a new character from the same narrative, and place the two together in a situation - employing many of the skills discussed previously in the course. 
"Sophia" by Ariel Shalem

Week 8 : Presentation of Character Packs and Discussing your own Character Based Project.
You will each have 5 - 10 mins to walk us through your character packs which will be followed by a questions and answer section with the group.  The second half of this lesson shall focus on your plans for the self directed/online mentoring aspect  of the course - what ideas would you like to explore further during this time and how do you plan to tackle the task.  

Part 2 Self Directed study and online mentoring. 
Online mentoring will continue for a further 8 weeks via the Discord group introduced in week one -  Students will utilise techniques taught across the previous lessons in order to explore their own ideas and flesh out their portfolio.

Final Pitch
Once the month is over, students pitch their final projects.
Cat Design by Escapee Aimee Schiele


We are 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 online Classroom.

Career focus
Cat by Rafaella Colasuonno
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.  

Recommended Reading
Steve Sole

We recommend these books for learning the art of character design:

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.

Official Course Page
To see the official course page, follow this link.

"Coffee Guy" by Natalya Ropova
Character Design at Escape Studios
To find out more about character design at Escape Studios, follow the links below:

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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