ILLU351 Contextual Character Design
From publication to entertainment, illustrators envision and invigorate characters that inspire audiences and have a lasting
impact. Students learn to capture expression and essence of characters through experimentation with performance, shape,
motion and gesture. These defined characters become a unique expression of the student's personal aesthetic that can be
marketed to a range of industries.
This course is designed to help artists develop a better understanding of character development through shape, personality and movement. Using a variety of techniques to create unique character concepts, artists will produce numerous character concepts for applications in film, game and publishing industries.
Using shape to create personality
This course emphasizes the importance of shape as a means to create personality and emotion in character design. From the simplest basic shape like squares and circles to more complex organic and geometric shapes, utilizing the characteristics of shape can produce dynamic and interesting character design
Telling a story
Developing strong and emotional characters is critical in visual storytelling. Each has it's own personality and attributes, and each has a story to tell. The most effective illustrations involves developed characters who have emotions, facial expression, and clothing, and attitude, and friends/family, and accessories.....All combine to create a character with a story!
50 Character Designs
Use basic shapes to create 50 character designs. (25) heads/(25) fully body. Moderately detailed sketches. Not too light.
2 Character Designs from Assignment One
Take 2 of Assignment 1’s characters and refine the design through body expression/poses. Must have at least 6 poses per character.
Examples: Running, jumping, sitting, crying, laughing, sighing.
Moderately detailed sketches.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy
Students must design three characters for a sci-fi or fantasy series based on prompt. One male, hero or villain. One female hero or villain. One male or female child. Characters must
be distinctly different shapes. Must be inked. No color. Must include three body expressions per character (expressions do not have to be inked but need to be very clean pencil).
2 Character Designs from Assignment Three
Take (2) concepts from Assignment Three and refine them based on Critique. Must redraw and color these (2) updated designs. Must create (6) facial expressions and (3) pose turn-around (anterior - posterior - profile) for (1) character. These should be inked.
Cartoon Character Redesign
Choose a cartoon character. Research the history of the show and the target demographics. Then create a redesign/reimagined (off model) version of the character from the show. Must include pose/s and a turnaround. Design must remain true to the core concept of the show and character must still be recognizable. Provide sketches.
70 Animal Concepts
Drawings are not meant to be reality but must show the personality of the animal. (10) Birds, (10) Horses, (10) Fish, (10) Bulls/Cows, (10) Snakes, (10) Cats/Big Cats, (10) Dogs/Canines. Use Art of Drawing Animals for reference. Can include faces/heads and full body. Designs must vary in shape and size. Must be labeled and numbered.
Find a photo of a group of animals (no more than five and no less than three) and recreate them as an anthropomorphic cast of characters. The original animal that the character is based on must be clearly seen. Must draw character line up characters. Must be colored.
Your Characters - Tell your own story!
Concept and create your own characters for a narrative that could be translated into film/illustration/comics/books etc. Must have three characters. All characters must have full color turnarounds and one character illustration. Must have one full color vehicle/inanimate object/robot (no turnarounds).
Must have character line up sheet. Must have three facial expressions and three body expressions for two of the characters (Facial expressions must be colored).
Must present idea to class (5-8 mins.).
Mar 29 - Assignment One - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
Apr 3 - Assignment Two - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
Apr 10 - Assignment Three - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
Apr 17 - Assignment Four - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
Apr 26 - Assignment Five - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
May 8 - Assignment Six - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
May 17- Assignment Seven - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
May 31 - Assignment Eight - DUE - Must be placed in Dropbox before start of class.
Bancroft, T. (2006). Creating Characters with Personality. New York: Watson-Guptill. ISBN-13:978-0823023493.
Kevin Hedgpeth, Stephen Missal (2005). Exploring Character Design (Design Concepts): Thompson. ISBN-13:978-1401862961
Archiving Your Work
Preparing each Final Illustration File.
1. All Final Artwork must be archived, both for Department and the college for promotional reasons; the Illustration Department will select student works for large full color prints to be displayed in the hallways of Hayman's Hall, for entries to be entered into various important competitions, the department's Illustrious Magazine, etc.
2. Each file must use the Department file naming convention and other pertinent/required information placed in the Metadata area.
3. Scan all work or be sure all finals are 300dpi and saved as PSD.
4. Be sure to flatten each image, please add a white 1/4" - 1/2" border to each final, clear guides and resize so that no side is longer than 18". Be sure that the image size is no smaller than 8" x 10".
5. Naming Convention: 'Save As' using the Department's Naming Convention; use TA2, TA3 and so forth or use ProjectA, ProjectB; no need to enter title of work here. Title of Work must be entered in the Metadata area and 'untitled' or TA2 or ProjectA is not acceptable.
6. Metadata; Metadata is information that is embedded in your image file. This data will be used by the faculty when completing competition entry forms and for giving you credit for your work when published, so it is imperative that you include all requested information.
Start by opening your file in Photoshop, go to File>File Info....click there and a new window will open. This is the window to enter the information for the Illustration Department and for the college.
7. Setting the correct color profile: To set the correct color profile, when your illustration is opened in Photoshop, go to Edit, near bottom of the Window, look for 'Convert to Profile' click on that link. A new window will open and look for 'Profile' and using the drop down menu select Adobe RGB (1998), click OK. Then save or save as to complete the task.