I've been working towards taking this class for two years. When I first got interested in concept art, I wanted to jump immediately to character design, but I knew I wasn't ready - I had to study the fundamentals first. This is a complete list of the classes I have taken so far, in this order:
Analytical Figure Drawing
Intro to Digital Painting
Intro to Story Development
Figure Invention for Animation
I took Story Dev and Fig Invention during the spring semester because I was thinking about pursuing a track as a storyboard artist. I subsequently realized that I did not enjoy storyboarding at all - but I don't regret taking those classes.
Even if most of these classes weren't directly related to character design, I've learned something and made artistic progress in every single one. I don't miss struggling with oil paints in the hot sun. But the landscape painting class made me a much better artist because I learned to pay attention to the big picture, the broader statement of the image. I don't miss calculating precisely at which angle a generic box is casting a shadow. But learning perspective paid off greatly during my character design homework this week when I had to do turnarounds and calculate precisely where my characters' feet would be on the ground.
I would have taken more classes before character design if I had had more time - I particularly would have loved to take Animal Anatomy, and the more advanced Head / Figure Drawing class. But I've been studying those things on my own on the side as I go along. And I knew my fundamental drawing skills were getting strong, but I was sorely lacking in my design skills. I felt ready to tackle a design course.
For Character Design, we were supposed to come up with a story (or choose a classic fairytale) and do designs for 4 characters of our choosing - a hero, a love interest, a villain, and a sidekick. We started off with LOTS of thumbnails, and finally it came down to doing a final design and turnaround for 2 of them.
My characters are Riva, a scrappy cartographer's daughter, Altus, the forest prince, Unnamed Villain, the mayor of Riva's town, and Altus's steed, a creature of the forest.
I did turnarounds for Riva and Altus. I finalized their designs more during the turnaround phase, after receiving a critique on the final design from the teacher.
© Gina Florio 2014