This is where I will post the assignments for the class, so you should always know what is due for the next class.

Homework - Due April 25, 2012
1. Revise your "story beats" based on my critique in the last class. They don't have to be beautiful drawings, just get the idea across

2. Do a final full-color concept of your creature in a fairly dynamic pose, but not one that obscures important information about your creature.

Print out your creature concept on 11x17. Also post it on the blog.

Homework - Due April 18, 2012

Taking inspiration from the Ian McCaig Workshop video we watched on Wednesday, I want you to create the "Story Beats" for a 3-act story involving the character you have been designing. Here are the parameters:

1. Your story must have 3 "Acts". Think about classic story structure - Act 1 establishes characters and sets up a problem or situation, Act 2 character tries to resolve problem but finds him or herself at increasing threat of failure Act 3 - resolution of the events/closure    Three-act_structure

2. The story does not have to be epic or complex, but must follow the classic structure described above

3. You must depict the MAIN STORY BEATS of your three-act story using drawings. These are not necessarily storyboards. You must use only between 3 and 5 drawings PER ACT, so the total number of drawings will be between 9 and 15.

4. Each story beat should be drawn on a separate piece of 8.5 x 11 white paper. You may draw a border if you wish, but don't make your drawings tiny.

5. The drawings do not have to be masterpieces, nor do they need to represent final designs - this is meant just to get the story across, don't worry about noodling details, or re-thinking the design of characters/objects, etc too much.

6. Your character does not have to be the MAIN character, but must feature prominently in the story.

7. Don't worry whether or not you have the entire story thought out before you draw it - just start drawing and see where your ideas take you, let the process of drawing guide and refine your ideas.

8. YOU MUST introduce a "creature" or "monster" into the story. THIS IS A MUST. But again, don't worry too much about the design at this point, just have a general idea for what you want, we will be refining the designs of the creature as our next assignment.

9. Use whatever medium you want, but you must bring these to class either on the original paper, or printed out on 8.5 x 11. And yes, you must post these on the blog, but you can have a couple days more to get them up on the blog if you need it.

If you have ANY questions, e-mail me:

Homework - Due April 11, 2012

Work on your character's "Personal Item". It should be fully rendered with as-close-to-photo-realistic as you can get texture and fidelity. Imagine that you are creating a concept of a movie prop. Use photos to help learn how to render proper textures and lighting.

Please post it on the blog. No need to print it out, but be prepared to review it in class from the blog.

Homework - Due April 4, 2012
For class, you should have completed the following:

1. Finished color palette study - If you weren't in class, the assignment was to find a piece of digital art that has a color palette that you like, and use that image, and ONLY the colors in that image in order to take any pencil or line-art drawing you have to color. In other words, use the image you find ( is a good place) as your palette to color pick from. It can be any image you want, doesn't have to be from this class, but something that you drew in your sketchbook or whatever.  POST IT ON THE BLOG

2. Finished historical mix-up Character. This should be FINISHED concept art, so if you need to include any callouts or texture references, do that, otherwise it should be rendered enough to be useful to someone building the model or costume. If you were not in class - e-mail me so that I can help you choose which one of your 5 iterations to take to color. POST IT ON THE BLOG, NO NEED TO PRINT THEM OUT UNLESS YOU WANT TO.

3. 3 - 5 sketches of you character's ROOM/HOUSE/CHAMBER/LIVING QUARTERS. Wherever your character feels the most comfortable, or the most "at home" given his or her situation. It should be a place that would have at least a few personal effects. Think about who your character is, and what your character's background/story is. NO NEED TO POST THESE ON THE BLOG, JUST BRING THEM/PRINT THEM OUT.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at:

Homework - Due March 28, 2012  Alternate-History-Genre-Mixup!
Take any one of the sketches we discussed in class, and do 5 refined variant sketches with simple, FLAT-ish color.

Your 5 sketches should explore different approaches to ONE character, and they should all still reflect the basic premise and spirit of the original sketch... do not stray from the original idea unless there are things we talked about changing/enhancing. Your variants could explore things like: different hat shapes or sizes, different basic color schemes, facial features, etc.
Color can be fairly simple and flat, and should not be over-rendered. You are just trying to establish a basic color scheme/palette.

Print out all 5 sketches on one sheet of 11x17 paper and bring it to class as well as post them on the blog.

Also, if you did not have the print outs of your Photo-ref from last week, please post it on the blog.

Below is an example of the level of detail/finish I would be looking for for this next round:

Homework - Due March 21, 2012Alternate-History-Genre-Mixup!

For this next assignment, I would like you to choose one from each of the following categories:

A. Choose one of the following Historical Eras:

1. Medieval Europe
2. Ancient Greece
3. Roman Empire
4. World War I
5. American Revolution
6. Feudal Japan
7. Ancient Egypt

Then combine it with one of the following genres:

1. SteamTECH World
2. Science Fiction / SpaceAge / Robots
3. Fantasy (Magic)
4. Undead (Supernatural)

The first part of the assignment is to do visual research:

- Please create FIVE 11x17 pages each with approximately 6 - 8 images per page of visual research of your ERA... JUST YOUR HISTORICAL ERA, not your genre!

Try to include the following things in your historical research:
- Clothing/dress
- Weapons/armor
- Patterns/motifs/symbology
- Architecture
- Personal items/trinkets/objects d'Art

THEN, I want you to choose ONE of the following types of characters:

1. Citizen (serf, farmer, beggar, worker, villager, woodsman, hunter, etc)
2. Soldier (Foot soldier, archer, sharpshooter, pilot, special ops, scout, etc)
3. Important Person (King, Queen, Captain, General, Priest, Shaman, Noble, etc)
4. Merchant or Tradesman (spice merchant, banker, blacksmith, tailor, alchemist, etc)
- Now do 20 sketches of different solutions for that one character type.

- Bring the reference material AND these sketches with you to class!

- Print them if they are digital!

- Post your character sketches on the blog, no need to post the photo reference.

That is all. If you have any questions, e-mail me at:

Enjoy your break!

Homework - Due February 29, 2012Cars 3 Assignment continued:
For next week I would like each student to do the following:

1. Post you Cars 3 sketches on the blog
2. Finish your Cars 3 character concept in full color in a 3/4 pose, with a hint of personality, or a typical expression. Include callouts if necessary. Digital only. Remember to get the "design" rules right - i.e. the eyes are always in the windshield, not the headlights, etc. If you aren't sure, WATCH scenes from the movie and OBSERVE!
3. Do a black and white/grayscale "profile" of your character. It could be integrated into your color concept image, or it could be a separate diagram. If you want to do it in color - be my guest
4. BRING the printout of your environment piece to class, Colin will collect them.
5. If you have done all of that - you can start on "animation and expression" thumbnails - basically just explore various poses and expressions that your character would/could make that fit with the personality.

That is all. If you have any questions, e-mail me at my personal e-mail address:

See you in two weeks, enjoy your Spring Break.

Assignment #5 - Due February 22, 2012

Cars 3 Assignment:
Your next assignment will center around character design in a designated style, using research and cleverness.
You have been chosen to work on the next Pixar movie:  “Cars 3”
Your job is to design one of the new characters that will have a large role in the movie, and will be voiced by a well-known celebrity. Here are descriptions of the characters you get to choose from:
1.       A rich, Donald Trump-like character, voiced by Donald Trump
2.       A wacky, blundering mad scientist, voiced by Christopher Plummer (of Back to the Future fame)
3.        A troubled bombshell actress, voiced by Pamela Anderson
4.       A meek, awkward hipster, voiced by Michael Cera
5.       A smooth-talking, heart-throb country singer, voiced by Tim McGraw
6.       An aging, burned out heavy metal rocker, voiced by Ozzy Osbourne
7.       A bubbly, too-cute ball of energy, voiced by Taylor Swift
8.       A tough, no-nonsense TV Exec. Producer, voiced by Meryl Streep
9.       A tough-guy brute who secretly plays Dungeons and Dragons, voiced by Vin Diesel
10.   A wise, aging, and even-tempered police detective near retirement, voiced by Morgan Freeman
Take one of these character archetypes and design your character by first researching the actor involved – watch videos or movies with them in it, try to think about what makes them who they are, both in terms of voice, and facial expressions, but also physical traits and mannerisms.
Next, research cars / vehicles. Choose vehicles that would make sense for the character. If your character could reasonably be assumed to have been born in another country, looks at cars that are made or are popular in said country, also consider the age of the actor/character. Make sure this is reflected in your choice of vehicle.
When designing the character, don’t worry about getting specific details about the car or cars you have chosen, you aren’t actually trying to make a character be an actual Volkswagen Beetle, but rather to “evoke” the design of a Volkswagen Beetle (this is done to avoid giving various car companies what essentially amounts to free advertising, as well as avoiding any trademark or copyright issues).
The cleverness angle will be in how you interpret the various elements of a car to mimic certain “human” features. For instance, take a look at the character of “Professor Z”. What was once a bike rack on the top of the car is now essentially a “comb-over” hair-do of sorts.

Or, take a look at the grill on the character “Chick Hicks”, it is meant to look like a thick moustache:

 Before you start the assignment, be sure to watch some videos of scenes from Cars or Cars 2 (you can find several on youtube…. Believe me, I know, I have a 2 year old), or watch one of the movies itself (look, if you ever want to work in the film industry, you are probably going to have to watch a lot of movies, even ones you may not like). Try to get a feel for the “logic” of the cars world… how do they try to show traditional archetypes in a “Cars” sort of way? How do they tell stories that are essentially “human” using characters modeled after inanimate objects?
Bring to class 5 - 10 sketches EACH of ideas for TWO OF THE CHARACTERS. You might want to try a few of the characters out before you decide on the two you like the most, but the sketches you bring MUST be 5 to 10 different ideas EACH for TWO of the characters chosen from the list above, so a total of 10 to 20 sketches total. ONLY TWO CHARACTERS !
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me:
Do your research, look at as many characters from the movies as you can. If you can track down the “Art of” books for either movie, that should provide some good inspiration.

Assignment #4 - Due February 15th, 2012

1. Using the paintover crit I did for each student in class, refine and "finish" your fantasy landscapes. Be sure that there is enough detail in it that you would consider it to be a finished piece, and that a client would also consider it so. Pay attention to SCALE, LIGHTING, and the PERSONALITY OF YOUR LANDSCAPE.

PRINT THESE OUT for next week, no smaller than 8.5 x 11, but 11 x 17 preferred.

Assignment #3 - Due February 8th, 2012

1. Make the changes we discussed in class to your Thumbwars Object concept. Finish it, print it, post it, bring it.

2. Watch Feng Zhu's tutorial on "Fantasy Landscapes" (Episode 40, found here):
After watching the tutorial, I want you to create 3 fantasy landscapes in photoshop using no more than two brushes, and taking no more than 25 minutes on each one (that's 75 minutes total). So after you start your first stroke, time it out to no more than 25 minutes, then stop). Keep them small, no more than 2000 pixels wide, but MAKE SURE THEY ARE HORIZONTAL IN FORMAT!!!!

The landscapes do not need to be printed out, but they DO NEED TO BE POSTED ON THE BLOG!

Assignment #2 - Due February 1st, 2012

- Take the sketch that was chosen in class and work that into a final, full-color concept of the object/vehicle/thing

- final piece should be in color and either isometric view, or in perspective (1, 2, or 3 point perspective)

- Make sure the angle you choose is descriptive as possible and that we see the ENTIRE object. Don't just do it straight on from one angle.

- Color should be descriptive enough for what you imagine the final output of the object would be - if this is a prop for a movie, you need to indicate realistic textures, if it is for a whimsical cartoon, then flat colors with some minor shading and simple details might suffice.

- Try to imagine that you will be handing this concept off to a total stranger to build in 3D - would they have enough information in order to build it the way you imagine? Show it to a friend and see what sort of questions they would have about it.

- Final image should be digital, in a high enough resolution to adequately print out on 8.5 x 11 paper.



Assignment #1 - Due January 25th

- Complete 15 more sketches of the 2 remaining Thumbwars objects (30 total). The assignments that we picked in class were:

1. A Poisonous Monolith for a Zombie
2. A Camouflaged Plant for a Steampunk World
3. A Frozen Flying Vehicle for a Mad doctor who crossbreeds people with animals
4. A Radioactive Armor pickup for a Malignant Aliens-type alien that eats children and the elderly

- Scan the best 3 thumbnails from each of the 4 assignments and post them on the blog.

- Choose 1 of the assignments and gather visual reference - 2 11x17 pages with AT LEAST 6 reference images arranged on them - post these on the blog and PRINT THEM IN COLOR as well.