Syllabus - Summer 2011 - ARTC 4950 Character Design Workshop
Bowling Green State University

ARTC 4950:

Character Design Workshop
Bonnie Mitchell
M-Th 9:00-4:00, F 9-1 (3 credits)
1026 Fine Arts Center

Office Hrs:

109 Fine Arts
By appointment only
syllabus | schedule | topics | assignments | class notes | resources | students | ARTC courses
Reading Materials


"Cartooning: The Ultimate Character Design Book" by Christopher Hart 
"The Art of Animal Character Design" by David Colman
"Atlas of Human Anatomy" by Frank Netter
Atlas of Animals Anatomy by Frank Netter
Any of  Preston Blair’s character drawing books.
There are a LOT more books available related to the specific type of characters you are interested in drawing.

Supplies and Costs

Drawing Materials:
Sketchbook, Drawing Pad, Drawing Board and clip, Pencils HB or #2 (2B or 3B are good for shading), blue draftsman pencil or other preferred style, Pencil shapener, Paper stump, Erasors (kneaded rubber erasor is best), Optional: colored pensils, markers, pastels, or other media to design your characters optional. You will need a portfolio case to protect your drawings.

Digital storage:
Firewire External Drive (formatted for both Mac and PC) or Flash Drive highly recommended. You will be expected to back up your data if you save your files to the lab computers.

You will also need to print out images of your model sheets using the large format printers.

Field Trip Costs:
We will go to the zoo twice. Admission is $11.00 each time and we will share the cost of parking ($6.00 each vehicle). Plan on $30.00 plus food costs for the zoo field trips.

It is essential that you have a digital camera. The camera on your phone will work fine or you can use a more sophisticated camera to record the realistic characters you are drawing so you can go back and refine them once you are in the studio.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about how to apply art and design principles to create visually appealing characters.  Students will learn how to use effective visual language techniques to create character designs. Students will learn about character archetypes, body language, facial features, poses, model sheets, and character profiles. 

Students will improve their drawing and design skills by learning how to depict weight, create the illusion of 3d on a 2d surface, use economy of line, express emotion, and use shading and texturing techniques. Students will also learn about contemporary and historical issues related to character design by engaging in various research and creative activities. Students will create a series of drawings and model sheets to include in their art portfolio.

Instructional Strategies

The course is taught in the computer lab but not all the work will be created using the computer.  We will be using a variety of software packages such as Photoshop as well as traditional hand drawn/sculpting techniques to create the characters.  Class lectures will include demonstrations, discussions, videos, technical exploration, aesthetic inquiry, and historical information relevant to character design. During this workshop, students will spend time researching and developing their character designs.

The course will be taught in a workshop format.  Students will be presented with information and then given time to research materials and then they will create character designs. The information presented will include drawings, videos, films, comic books and strips, storybooks, animations, and research papers.  The studio time will include research, drawing, using color, compositing designs on the computer and printing.  The course will include periodic critiques and reviews where peer evaluations as well as feedback from the instructor is provided. 


Each student is expected to complete all projects, exercises, in-class exercises, the required readings, and the final project. Details of the various assignments will be discussed in class. By the end of the semester, all projects should be part of the art portfolio.

During class time, students are expected to engage in meaningful classroom participation.


Attendance is mandatory. We will be covering a variety of materials throughout the workshop and if you miss a class, it is your responsibility meet with a classmate or make an appointment with me to get the information.

1 absences = no penalty
2 absences = overall final grade lowered 1 letter grade
3 absences = overall final grade lowered 2 letter grades
4 absences = fail the course; dropping the course strongly recommended.

Being 15 minutes or more late to class three times will count as one unexcused absence.

Assignments and Critiques

Turning in Projects
Projects are due in the Homework folder prior to the beginning of class.

If you miss a regular critique, the project for that critique will be lowered by one letter grade.

During critiques, I expect each student's full attention and respect. Monitors will be TURNED OFF during critiques.

Final Critique
Attendance at the Final critique is mandatory. Missing the final critique will result in an F for the Final Project. NO late Final Projects will be accepted!

90 - 100
89 - 80
79 - 70
69 - 60
59 - 0
A = Excellent - Above and beyond, artistically AND technically
B = Very Good - Beyond requirements, artistically OR technically
C = Average - Met the basic requirements
D = Did not meet requirements
F = Project not turned in or completely insufficient
Digital Arts Department Rules

• No food or drink in the lab.
• No cell phones, or beepers on during class. ALWAYS remember to turn off your cellphone before class.
• No sleeping during class.
• Hardware: No student is permitted to disconnect, reconnect, or reconfigure any workstation without the permission of a digital arts instructor. Any problems with hardware or software must be reported to a digital arts professor, preferably by email. Report should include Barcode number of the workstation and exact nature of problem.

Student Projects

Projects created in any Digital Arts course may be used by the ART department for the purpose of promoting the student, the department and/or the university in general. These materials may also be used by the ART department for instructional purposes in future courses. Please inform the instructor if you do not want your projects used.


Any student who wishes to discuss accommodations on the basis of a disability, please come talk to me after class or during office hours. The goal of the Disability Services for Students Office is to help provide equal access and reasonable accommodations to BGSU students with disabilities. Students wishing to discuss their eligibility for such accommodations are encouraged to contact their office at 372-8495 (413 South Hall).