Character & Creature Short Course & MA Returns Feb 2023

We’re delighted to announce the return of our Short Course in Character and Creature Creation on 20 February 2023.

This 12 week course in Character & Creature Creation – first launched in September 2021 – is all about designing, modeling, and rigging your own characters, with a view to becoming a Character Artist at a Games, Animation or VFX house.  
Students learn all the stages of character creation from design through to final render.   To apply, visit the official course page here.  

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 launched a 12 week course in the creation of characters and creatures in September 2021. 

Industry Consultation
This new course was five years in development, and follows many years of consultation with industry to create a unique course that maps directly onto industry-relevant skills.   
In this 12 week course students learn all 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 Illumination-McGuff studio.  For the last two years Michael has been our Animation Programme Leader; he has brought his wide range of artistic and technical skills to bear designing this new 12 week course.

Programme Structure: 
Demon by Escapee Sara Sanchez

Students can study Character & Creature Creation as a 12 week course, or study for a year and graduate with an MA (Master of Arts).

The course is divided into three key parts
  1. Character and Creature Design 
  2. Character and Creature Modelling/Presentation 
  3. Character and Creature Technical Direction 

Part 1 – Character & Creature Design 

Character Design by Tom Barton

  • Character and Creature Design Theory (Moodboards and the importance of research, Body language and expressions) 
  • Tools and Techniques for creating Character and Creature concepts (Colour and BG. Beat boards. Light and shadow) 
  • Using Anatomy of Characters and Creatures in design choices
  • Analysing an established style to create Character and Creature concepts 
  • Functional Fashion in Character and Creature concepts (Costume design and costume language) 
  • Establishing new styles (Modelsheets. How to prepare a character or creature design bible for animation, outsourcing and videogames, and a pitch for comic publishing) 
Part 2 – Character & Creature Modelling/Presentation (30 Credits) 
Demon head sculpt by Sara Sanchez
  • Introduction to Zbrush (Character and Creature anatomy, high-detail sculpting) 
  • Introduction to Maya (How Maya works, Retopology, Anatomy and Asset setup) 
  • Introduction to Texturing (Introduction to Substance Painter and Mari) 
  • VFX and Games Pipelines (Differences and similarities) 
  • Lighting and Rendering (Rendering in Arnold and Unreal) 
  • Presenting Characters and Creatures for Portfolios (Introduction to rigging for creating character poses, directed project time) 
Part 3 – Character and Creature Technical Direction (30 Credits)
Character Designs by Aimee-Rose Schiele
  • Character Rigging in Maya (Creating advanced character rig setups, introduction to python, how Maya really works) 
  • Creating Cloth and soft surface simulations in Maya and Houdini (FEM and Vellum workflows) 
  • Creating Muscle Systems in Maya (Advanced anatomy, CharacterFX pipelines) 
  • Fur and Hair Groom (Long and Short hair/fur with dynamics) 
  • Creating character cycles for presentation (walks and runs ready for final showreel presentation) 
Course Leader Michael Davies
Course Leader – Michael Davies

The Character & Creature Short Course and MA was developed and designed by course leader Michael Davies, working in extensive consultation with industry.  Michael Davies is currently our Head of Animation, with a long industry track record. 

Michael’s main areas of expertise are rigging and modelling; he has also worked as a 3D generalist and supervisor and has an MA in Animation.
Michael is also an Accredited Trainer for Maya and Unreal Engine,  and has worked on VFX blockbuster movies such as Batman vs Superman, Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnarok. Michael 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.

Character Creation Evening Class 
We also run an evening class in character creation starting in 2023. To find out more, read this post

The Escape Studios VFX Blog offers a personal view on the art of visual effects.

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