Character & Creature Creation MA Starts 26 September

Our new MA in Character and Creature Creation, is returning on 26 September 2022.

The MA in Character & Creature Creation is about designing, modeling, and rigging your own characters.
In this Master’s Degree, students learn the stages of character creation from design through modeling, rigging, texturing and final render.

Character & Creature Creation

Creature by Tom Barton

Following the success of our Character & Creature Creation evening class, and our Character & Creature Creation Summer School, we first launched our new master’s degree in the creation of characters and creatures in September 2021.

Five years in the making
This new MA has been five years in development, and follows many years of consultation with industry to create a unique degree that maps directly onto industry-relevant skills.
In this year-long master’s degree students learn all about the skills needed to design, model, texture and rig and rig their own characters.

Michael Davies
The course is led by industry veteran Michael Davies. Michael rigged Smaug for The Hobbit and also The Minions for the Illumination-McGuff studio.  For the last three years Michael has been our undergraduate programme leader., and has brought his wide range of artistic and technical skills to bear designing this new master’s degree.

Programme Structure:
Demon by Escapee Sara Sanchez

The MA Character & Creature Creation included 18 weeks of class-based study time, a 10 week collaborative project and a 17 week final project.

There are Five Modules which make up the MA
Our MA Character & Creature Creation involves five key modules:
  1. Character and Creature Design
  2. Character and Creature Modelling/Presentation
  3. Character and Creature Technical Direction
  4. Studio Project
  5. Character & Creature Production Project

MODULE 1 – Character & Creature Design (30 Credits) 

Character Design by Tom Barton

Assignment 1 – Character Design Assignment Assignment 2 – Retrospective Assignment 3 – Individual Presentation

Weeks 1 – 6:
Week 1 – Character and Creature Design Theory (Moodboards and the importance of research, Body language and expressions)
Week 2 – Tools and Techniques for creating Character and Creature concepts (Colour and BG. Beat boards. Light and shadow) Week 3 – Using Anatomy of Characters and Creatures in design choices Week 4 – Analysing an established style to create Character and Creature concepts
Week 5 – Functional Fashion in Character and Creature concepts (Costume design and costume language)
Week 6 – Establishing new styles (Modelsheets. How to prepare a character or creature design bible for animation, outsourcing and videogames, and a pitch for comic publishing)
MODULE 2 – Character & Creature Modelling/Presentation (30 Credits) 
Demon head sculpt by Sara Sanchez

Assignment 1 – Character Presentation Assignment Assignment 2 – Retrospective Assignment 3 – Individual Presentation

Weeks 7 – 12:
Week 7 – Introduction to Zbrush (Character and Creature anatomy, high-detail sculpting)
Week 8 – Introduction to Maya (How Maya works, Retopology, Anatomy and Asset setup)
Week 9 – Introduction to Texturing (Introduction to Substance Painter and Mari)
Week 10 – VFX and Games Pipelines (Differences and similarities)
Week 11 – Lighting and Rendering (Rendering in Arnold and Unreal)
Week 12 – Presenting Characters and Creatures for Portfolios (Introduction to rigging for creating character poses, directed project time)
MODULE 3 – Character and Creature Technical Direction (30 Credits)
Character Designs by Aimee-Rose Schiele

Assignment 1 – Character Technical Direction Assignment Assignment 2 – Retrospective Assignment 3 – Individual Presentation

Weeks 13 – 18:
Week 13 – Character Rigging in Maya (Creating advanced character rig setups, introduction to python, how Maya really works)
Week 14 – Creating Cloth and soft surface simulations in Maya and Houdini (FEM and Vellum workflows)
Week 15 – Creating Muscle Systems in Maya (Advanced anatomy, CharacterFX pipelines)
Week 16 – Fur and Hair Groom (Long and Short hair/fur with dynamics)
Week 17 – Creating character cycles for presentation (walks and runs ready for final showreel presentation)
Week 18 – Project catch-up week
MODULE 4 – Studio Project (30 Credits)
Character Design by Seta Kendir

Assignment 1 – Collaborative Project Assignment 2 – Group Presentation For this module you will be required to work in a small team working on an industry brief or creating your own brief. This project will allow you to use the tools and techniques you’ve learnt but it will also prepare you for the real-world by working in teams.

Module 5 – Character and Creature Production Project – (60 Credits)
Assignment 1 – Production Project Assignment 2 – Retrospective This is the major project where you will work independently and develop your own brief. You will refine and produce a substantial Character and Creature project that will showcase your in-depth critical awareness of the area and the highly developed practical skills to deliver a complex project on time.
Course Leader
Course Leader – Michael Davies

The course was developed and designed by course leader Michael Davies, working in extensive consultation with industry.  Michael Davies is currently our undergraduate program leader, with a long industry track record.

Michael’s main areas of expertise are rigging and modelling, but he has also worked as a 3D generalist and supervisor.
Michael is also an Accredited Trainer for Maya and Unreal Engine,  and has worked on many VFX blockbusters such as Batman vs Superman, Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnarok. He also rigged Smaug (The Hobbit) and The Minions for Illumination-McGuff.


Escape Studios student work


Official site
To sign up, follow this link to the official course page.

Character Creation at MPC
To see more about how visual effects studios create their own unique characters, watch the short video below, in which MPC introduce their new “Film Character Lab”, working with directors and production studios to create new original characters and creatures.
The Escape Studios VFX Blog offers a personal view on the art of visual effects. 

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