Fundamentals of Character Design

Fundamentals of Character Design

  • Price: $699
  • Pre-Reqs: Dynamic Sketching 1&2 and Analytical Figure Drawing or Drawing portfolio review required (images does not have to include characters), send your drawing portfolio or a link to your blog at
  • Materials: sketchbook (6x9 or bigger) / pencils (at least 3 different mediums ex:ballpoint pen, red Col erase pencils, black brushes) and/or a wacom tablet/photoshop, Scanner or Camera to scan or photograph homework assignments

Course Description:

Fundamentals of Character Design focuses on the general elements and principles used by professional artists in order to create successful animated character design. Students will learn necessary terms and explore strategies when approaching a composition. Topics include Form, function, space, line, color, shape, texture and value, through art studies and lectures. Students will utilize these techniques in practice and learn to develop a design with a clear purpose in mind. This class caters more for the development of a stylized than realistic design. *DISCLAIMER*: This class requires students to be at least age 18 to participate. If you are under age, you must provide parental written consent to take our courses. You may send us this request to

  • Week 1: Observation: What is Character Design? Definition of Design and explanation of the importance of Fundamentals. Playing with the face symmetry / parallels division of facial features into 4 parts varying with the size of these parts and with body shapes.
  • Week 2: Dimensional Drawing: Cubes, Cones, Cylinders, Spheres - Overlap, perspective, size relationships. How to use this knowledge about dimensional drawing on your characters. Placing a character on a ground plane: Using perspective as a storytelling tool, fore shortening and overlap to add variation and dynamics to your drawing, using centre of gravity/ movement and weight, Understanding the three dimensional relationships between the various body parts.
  • Week 3: Gesture/MimeGesture drawing is not just copying a model. It is using a pose to tell a story.What you want to do when you do a gesture drawing is thinking before and after the pose, exaggerating effectively your pose by: Finding the line of action (spine), Drawing verbs instead of nouns, Filtering your observation: Amplifying what stands out to you, find the story you want to tell and express it as clearly as possible. 
  • Week 4: Shapes and VariationThe importance of shapes, their connotations, and how they are applied in design. Students will first learn to design shape relationships on a 2D plane to help focusing on shapes only, without having to deal with volumes, gesture and construction. In a second time, students will to take this 2d design and turn it into a 3D drawing, by using the gesture and replacing the realistic body parts with the ones you designed.
  • Week 5: References/CreativityArt imitates life. To make believable characters you want them to refer to reality. We have a ‘visual vocabulary’ already, but studying the subject we want to portray in real life can make our designs much more believable. The pitfall is to come up with generic concepts and ideas. We will learn how to give our character as much personality as we can, so that we can relate to him while using references.
  • Week 6: Hands and FeetMany staring artists draw characters with their hands in their pockets, or behind their back because they think it will be difficult to draw them, they avoid drawing them. The way to learn it is not to avoid it but to learn it by drawing them. Over and over. One should not underestimate the importance of hands and feet. Drawings of just hands and feet can tell a story much clearer than the drawings of just the head and torso. When you really understand the shape, volumes, gestures and movements of the hand, the rest becomes much easier.
  • Week 7: Expressions: During this week, we will learn the construction of the face, how to place and play with facial elements: eyes, nose mouth ears, jaw, eyebrows, acting within the face: squash and stretch, asymmetry.
  • Week 8: Storytelling: What we want to focus on is  what has just happened and what will happen. What is happening right now is often not so interesting. We will lean how to create opposites: big vs small, dangerous vs. innocent, weak vs strong and how to show the the emotion of the character as well as how to show contrast within the character: (acting).

May 4th, 2016 - Jul. 1st, 2016 + 2 weeks for content review

Wouter Tulp was born in Vlaardingen on March 16th 1979. From an early age on he knew all he wanted to do was to draw and paint. After high school he attended the Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam. In 2001 he started his career doing mostly editorial illustrations and caricatures for leading magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands. Besides his editorial work, Wouter also illustrated many children's books that have been published in many countries.

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