Animation Concept Art CURRICULUM

Term 1 Course Descriptions

Students discover the relationship between form, function, and story through vehicle and prop design. Whether they have a strong design foundation or are just beginning, this course allows them to hone the drawing and research skills that will help them succeed in their careers. Through instructor-guided practice, students have the opportunity to develop core skills including one- and two-point perspective, orthographic drawings, and how to locate, source, and collect project reference materials. Emphasis is placed on the application of research in the design process. The course includes research field trips.

The design process is essential for developing and visualizing potential ways to solve design problems. In this course, students explore the core elements and principles of design in order to develop a greater repertoire of approaches and appreciation for its role in entertainment media. Through hands-on practice, students discover core skills including composition, shape, line, and silhouette. They are also introduced to both traditional and digital design workflows.

Students explore the theories and principles of perspective drawing.  By the end of this course, students are able to render 1-, 2-, and 3-point perspective, emphasizing appropriate scale. Assignments provide students with the practice necessary to create convincing visual forms and spaces that will also support the development of their major Design Studio project.

In this course, students encounter the elements and processes involved in digital painting. They explore the unique properties of light and develop an awareness of differences between digital and traditional painting. Emphasis is placed on colour relationships, composition, light, shadow, value, and accurate representations of physical objects. The majority of class time is structured around painting and sketchbook studies. Through exercises, demonstrations, presentations, and discussions, students are introduced to relevant industry examples, artists, and the skills necessary to prepare them for advanced course work and industry challenges.

The study of the human form is a vital practice for animators and artists. This course offers students precisely what they need to observe the relationship between form and function, anatomical structure, and representing the movement, balance, weight, silhouette, and gesture of the human form. Through hands-on practice, students study the human model in many poses and augment the knowledge that they have gained in other course work. (Please note: this course includes nude models.)

Media design is a vital tool in the development of entertainment properties for TV, film, and games. Through a close examination of props and vehicles, students explore the issues, histories, and theories that underscore their technical course work. The combination of screenings, readings, research, discussion, and guest lectures encompass the critical frameworks that form the core of the entertainment designer’s craft. Students find their own voice in media design and share it through group presentations and informal discussions.

Term 2 Course Descriptions

Expanding each student's repertoire of design skills through the study of environments and story, this course focuses again on the relationship between form and function. Students enhance their existing knowledge and develop critical new skills, including three-point perspective and digital proxy environment modelling. Emphasis is placed on refining research skills and applying reference ideas to the environmental design process. The course includes research field trips.

Students explore the principles of storyboarding through traditional and digital workflows. They plan their shots, research reference, and assess how to leverage what they observe in cinematic media through their own storyboards. They also gain valuable insight into the language of film and the principles of continuity and timing. This course culminates with the creation of a basic animatic including both picture and sound.

In this course, students discover why colour is such a critical component for expressing the mood and theme of a script. They hone colour theory skills and practice representing story arcs through digital painting projects, all while developing a heightened understanding of colour relationships, composition, light, shadow, and value. This course culminates in the development of compelling colour scripts (e.g. environments, landscapes, and/or scenes). The majority of class time is structured around digital painting and sketchbook studies.

In Life Drawing 2, students expand on the principles introduced in Term 1 by further exploring the observation of the human form. They focus on the principles of movement, weight, balance, shape, and anatomy through gesture drawing, long-form poses, and humans in motion. The practice of observation and application is the foundation from which students practice these principles. (Please note: this course includes nude models.)

Media design is a vital tool in the development of entertainment properties for TV, film, and games. Through a more expansive examination of cinematic spaces, students further explore the issues, histories, and theories that underscore their technical course work. The combination of screenings, readings, research, discussion, and guest lectures encompass the critical frameworks that form the core of the entertainment designer’s craft. Students find their own voice in media design and share it through group presentations and informal discussions.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

Expanding each student's repertoire of design skills through the study of environments and story, this course focuses again on the relationship between form and function. Students enhance their existing knowledge and develop critical new skills, including character design in genre and 3D digital sculpts. Emphasis is placed on refining research skills through focused field trips and applying reference ideas to the character design process. This course culminates in the development of a full character design package.

In this course, students discover and practise the fundamental character design principles, professional techniques, procedures, and terms used in the creation of characters and model sheets. Students study the various disciplines of character design, including the importance of turnarounds and silhouette, the use of different proportions to visualize archetypes, poses that define action and personality, character design analysis, developing complementary and contrasting characters, and exploring different character design styles. 

Students learn how to create story-driven worlds through the interplay of characters, objects, and their environments. They enhance their colour theory, design, and research-based skills through expressing the mood or theme of a script. This course culminates in the development of compelling environment paintings in service to story. The majority of class time is structured around digital painting and sketchbook studies.

Pushing observational talents to the limit through long-format exercises, students build upon the principles and techniques practiced in Terms 1 and 2. They dig further into the details observed in anatomy and costume, placing emphasis on advanced rendering, shading, structural, and proportional studies. This courses challenges students to practice depicting the actual appearance of objects by striving to understand their internal/external structures, developing drawings suitable for a final portfolio. (Please note: this course includes nude models.)

In this course, students discover why the character designer plays such a vital role in the development of story-driven entertainment properties. From Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell, students go deeper into the issues, histories, and theories from their technical course work with a particular emphasis on character archetypes. Screenings, readings, examples, discussions, and guest lectures relevant to character designer’s craft are the focus of this course. Students gain more confidence and practice expressing their own ideas and further explore how the act of character designing is embedded in the broader discourse of media design.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

Students expand on the four principles that define the mission of the program – Critical Thinking, Research, Craft, and Story. The major project for this course involves re-imaging an existing story and creating a comprehensive visual design package that includes character, environment, and vehicle designs and final concept images. Students meet with their mentor on a twice weekly basis to receive critique and suggestions on their work, problem solving issues, and to maintain their schedule. Each student works on completing their own project while working in small creative teams. These teams will allow each student to be critical of each other’s work, support and guide the group’s research, lend help with technique and craft, and continually improve the overall visual clarity of the stories being communicated.

In this course, students learn how to animate believable body mechanics. Whether their character is prying open a safe or colliding with a sign-post, this course has everything students need to enhance their observational skills, knowledge of physics, and the relationship between anatomy and character movement. Emphasis is placed on developing authentic and compelling performances through physicality.

Visual storytelling is an increasingly powerful form of communication in society and culture. In this course, students develop visual images to authentically and emotionally communicate story concepts. They aim to refine their understanding and use of colour to achieve a thematic effect. The course culminates in the development of portfolio-quality colour designs based on Tern 3 projects and research. Students also construct finished environments, worlds, and character designs.

This course focuses on why anatomical structure and form is so important for the development of believable humans. It aims to enhance students' artistic growth through the study of human skeletons, costuming, designing for superheroes, historical elements, interactive media, and science fiction. Particular attention will be paid to developing concise and direct ways of simplifying complex human anatomy, as well as expressing essential character qualities.

Students in this course discover why cinematic references are so vital to the development of new and innovative entertainment properties. They critically examine the concepts of originality in entertainment deign and explore the recursive nature of story archetypes in modern entertainment. There's a central focus on remixing, as explored through screenings, readings, industry examples, discussions, and guest lectures. Students gain more confidence and practice expressing their own ideas and examine how remixing is embedded in the broader discourse of media design.

Term 5 Course Descriptions

Working again with the guidance and support of their mentor, students push their portfolio production into high gear. Building upon the schedule and pitch that that they designed in Term 4, students re-assess the difficulty of the visual elements and refine their strategy to bring all of the assets together into a cohesive and industry-worthy portfolio that highlights their strengths as a designer. Students meet with their mentors several times a week to receive critique and suggestions on their work and problem solve issues. Course work supports critical concerns and skill-development for each stage of the design process, including the language and fundamentals specifically related to drawing and design principles, as well as dedicated group reviews. 

This course focuses on performing successfully while managing all of the variables of a final project. With continued faculty support, students gain new insights into the components of the production pipeline. They further expand awareness of their individual creative and technical strengths and rapidly assimilate input. Each student is expected to provide feedback to their peers and adapt their approach to producing the best-possible final project. Industry mentor courses emphasize studio-style one-to-one mentoring along with advanced technical workshops.

As a member of a production team, students experience what is involved in completing assigned shot(s) and how their contribution fits into the larger animated project framework. Working from a set script and storyboard, students complete their shots and practice character movement through working with character builds. This course culminates in the assembly and screening of all animated assets, offering students the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon how their work impacts the larger project.

This course introduces students to different painting styles, allowing them to experiment with a variety of influential techniques and approaches. From impressionism to cubism, this course provides them with the creative fuel needed to evoke the styles and themes vital to their project’s story. Each student creates finished paintings based on their final project package research.

Term 6 Course Descriptions

Working again with the guidance and support of their mentor, students delve into final production and create a comprehensive design package for their finished images. Students critically assess all of their design work and may select a key shot or scene to bring to life on screen. Each week students participate in one-on-one studio dailies with their instructor, assimilate and respond to constructive feedback, and adapt their design package accordingly. Through the process of iteration, input, and reflection students improve their project management skills and overall knowledge of the design production cycle.

This course challenges students to complete tasks, refine their work, and finish the program strong. They produce an animation package that will help them in the pursuit of their dream job. With the guidance of an Industry Mentor, students expand their project management skills, and develop a greater understanding of what it takes to complete a short animation production cycle. In Term 6, they also have the opportunity to hone in on the skill sets that they want to develop further as the course emphasizes studio-based one-to-one mentoring.

Students gain a solid foundation for building character models in Z-Brush. With an emphasis on anatomy sculpting, students explore character model proportions and anatomical forms. Students explore essential tools for character generation in Z-Brush and explore the process of refining the anatomy of a model. This course introduces students to the relation of UV’s and Z-Brush. This prepares students with the most modern approaches to character modelling in today’s industries and explore the details needed to get the most out of their work and keep them competitive.