2D Character Design Program

This program is the next step for artists focused on a career in designing characters for film, games, and other entertainment industries

Courses start on Jan 25, 2020

Estimated tuition

$5K to $12K

Prices may vary on elective courses taken


18 months


Foundation & Design Program or a suitable portfolio submission

Estimated Salary

$65K to $174K

Based on US job data

Foundations & Design Program overview

Program Overview

Understand the role of a Character Designer in a Production

H.R. Giger, Phil Tippett, Ray Harryhausen, Stan Winston, Patrick Tatopoulos--all are rightly regarded as legends in the entertainment industry. Their visions have helped define popular culture, inspiring thousands of creative minds and entertaining millions worldwide. It’s clearly no overstatement to say that character and creature design is one of the most exciting, creative, and celebrated artistic disciplines. Gaining entry into this field isn’t always easy: this is where our Character Design Program comes in. Designed for those already versed in the fundamentals of drawing and design, this program carefully builds on those core skills to give students head-to-toe training in the art of human and creature character design for the entertainment industries. By the end of the program, students will be ideally placed to make the leap to a character design/concept art position at a film, animation, games, or print-based studio. To enroll in the Character Design Program, students will need either to have successfully completed the Foundation & Design Program or submit a portfolio that demonstrates sufficient core drawing skills and character/animal anatomy knowledge. Enrolling into a CGMA Program is a simple and painless affair. Once you've decided on which program you want to complete, simply register and start taking the classes outlined in your program's block list. That's it!  On average, we recommend 1-to-2 courses per term. Additionally, you only pay for the course(s) you take in a given term (so no need to pay for an entire program upfront). And, after completing all the block-courses in a given program, you will be awarded a Program Certificate of Completion.

Prerequisites Foundation & Design Program or a suitable portfolio submission



Story is the natural starting point for any narrative-based piece of entertainment, be it a movie or TV show, a 2D or 3D CG animation, video game, virtual/augmented reality project, or good old-fashioned printed work. The level of story detail may vary from project to project, but typically notes regarding scenes, character, story beats and threads, plus character dialogue will all be developed here, providing a foundation upon which artists working further down the pipeline can build.


Here the character designer finally starts to bring the characters, animals, or more exotic creatures required for the project to life. The aim here is to develop and then depict the ‘essence’ of a character--through images, silhouettes, and poses that help define the way something will look, move, and appear in various contexts (i.e. during rain, or at night). With more fantastical creatures, the designer will also need to work to create a sense of believability, implying function through form and likely drawing on nature to create something that elicits the right reaction from the viewer--be it primal fear or something more warm and fuzzy. Character designers will create turnaround sheets, to help ensure all this detail is translatable into a workable 3D model.


In the case of video game, film, animation and similar moving/interactive projects, the materials are then handed off to one or more character artists (see our Character Arts Program for more details on this specialization), who begin to transform the designs into workable 3D form via modeling and sculpting using tools such as Maya and ZBrush. Additional micro-detail will typically be added at this stage, along with any necessary design adjustments that the leap into solid 3D form brings up. Further work texturing and then rigging the character will finally yield something that can be passed over to the animation team.

Foundations & Design CURRICULUM


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of our curriculum.

In order to qualify for a program certificate of completion, students must enroll in least 10 courses in this program and complete 9. This can be some combination of a program’s standard block courses, students can have 2 electives as part of the courses enrolled.
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