Self Taught Character Design Course
"Taking a course with Stephen on character design changed the way I approached drawing characters. He taught me so much about the art of caricature which is the foundation for my design work. Stephen gave me the tools to improve my drawings, lessons that I still use to this day. He supported my tastes and instincts - never imposing a drawing style onto my work, but taking what I had and elevating it. I'll always point to my time with Stephen as an eye-opening breakthrough for how I design, you will not find a more passionate artist in the industry!"-Bobby Pontillas
- Oscar and Annie award nominated Director and Character Designer.
Fundamentals of Character Design with Stephen Silver
Welcome to the SDA Character Design Course. This course was originally developed back in 2005 where it was the training ground into Character Design for thousands of students over a 15 year period. Many of the course students went on to have great careers and some are now leading designers in the animation industry.
A prolific and noted artist in the animation industry, Stephen Silver is known for his distinctive and unique designs, and for his work on "Kim Possible", "Danny Phantom", "Clerks - The Animated Series" and many other franchises. Among his clients are Disney, Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures and many more. As a character designer, you will be responsible for exploring new ideas through characters. Your role as a designer will be to create major and incidental characters for animated television, feature films, video games, and the like, as well as creating characters for your own intellectual properties.
Throughout this course, Stephen will share the creative process of drawing that he goes through and his personal techniques for producing successful character designs. You will learn to understand clarity and shape variation, as well as many other important principles and elements of design. In his lectures, Stephen will provide you with a better understanding of the drawing and design process, and give you tools with which to constantly improve your skills. This 8-lecture course will build your confidence in drawing while inspiring you with new ideas that will help you grow continuously.
Lesson 1 - What is character design?
Throughout this lesson, we will examine what character design is as well as your responsibilities as a designer in the animation studio. I will discuss my own experiences, how I got started, as well as doing a visual breakdown of my influences, thereby, giving you a better understanding of what I'm thinking about when seeking inspiration. In this class, you will be given your first assignment, which will consist of creating a character based off a description so that I can see what your skill level is, giving me a better understanding of how I will work with you one-on-one.
Lesson 2 - Thinking, Looking, Doing.
"Get the fundamentals down and everything else you do will rise." This week I will be discussing Thinking, Looking and Doing. We will cover more design fundamentals and answer the most common question, "Where do I begin?" We will cover topics such as basic shapes, variation and the importance of strong silhouettes. I will discuss my own personal drawing exercises with you, which will help break those artist's blocks that we all get at times. You will also be given your scripted assignment that you will carry out from start to finish.
Lesson 3 - Construction/Caricature
In this class, we will cover the importance of construction. We will discuss what it means to avoid the ladder and tap into the realm of caricature. We will examine design issues such as contrast in angles and shapes and much more. I will give and demonstrate for you another great drawing exercise that you will be using for years to come. On top of all this, you will also be able to download my own 20 week drawing program. We will have two assignments this week.
Lesson 4 - The features
We will discuss more design principles and start breaking down some individual features, such as hands, eyes, noses, ears, and mouths. We will start fleshing out our characters some more.
Lesson 5 - Clean-up
In this lesson, we will cover scale and proportion. I will also do a lecture on clean-ups. As a designer, you may not often be called upon to perform this task, but you might have to do it from time to time. This will not be an illustrator lecture, but a clean-up-by-hand procedure. I will also be demonstrating another creative side assignment for you to have fun with during the week as well as continuing on with your main assignment.
Lesson 6 - Turnarounds
We will cover the important topic of turnarounds, a must if you want to work as a character designer in the industry.
Lesson 7 - Expressions and Attitudes
This week we will be covering expressions and attitudes. We will cover rhythm, balance and flow. I will also do a brief color demo on my characters. You will be given another creative exercise to do during the week in addition to your main assignment.
Lesson 8 - Memory sketching and how to approach keeping and drawing in a sketchbook daily.
We will be discussing the importance of drawing in your sketchbook, what you should be observing and why this will help you grow. We will also talk about the importance of memory sketching and what to look for. We will discuss the business side of art, being a professional, meeting deadlines, end in procrastination and ways to simplify your life. This means getting organized and staying on track. I will also cover putting together your portfolio to get yourself started.