Class Syllabus

Concept Art IL 247

Course Syllabus

Spring 2012
Instructor: Sean A. Murray


Class Hours: Wednesdays from 4pm to 10pm in Fox 320


Concept Art will be a review of various types of assignments that one may encounter in the field of entertainment design, and will consist of several short-term assignments that will all have somewhat different parameters in terms of genre, style, and subject matter.

This class is designed to give the students a chance to try their hand at different areas of concentration within the concept art field, and will challenge the students to be adaptable, open-minded, and creative with their solutions.

We will discuss various idea-generating techniques as well as drawing and digital painting techniques, though the main focus will be on the quality of ideas and how they are presented.

Every student is required to work digitally in PHOTOSHOP with a tablet. All final pieces must be digitally painted and ready for print or uploading to the blog. Analog media is acceptable for sketches and studies.

Final presentations will be judged on the following criteria:
            - Imagination / creativity
            - Believability
            - Presentation
            - Following the assignment
            - Clarity of ideas and imagery

You must approach every assignment with the attitude of a CONCEPT ARTIST. You will use illustration skills to get your ideas across, but you must think of each assignment as being part of a larger project, a piece of a larger puzzle whose main purpose is communication of ideas.   

Class Assignments

Assignments will be given in class and will be posted on the blog. Assignments will cover all of the following subjects:

  1. Character Design
  2. Creature Design
  3. Environment Design
  4. Architectural Design
  5. Prop and Weapon Design
  6. Vehicle Design
  7. Storyboards

And will touch on the following principles:

  1. Silhouette
  2. Costuming
  3. World-building
  4. Adapting to different styles (“cartoony” vs. realism vs. hybrids)
  5. Color Palettes
  6. Digital Painting techniques
  7. Generating ideas
  8. Iteration
  9. Last-minute changes
  10. Working with licensed property
  11. Creative Professionalism

And much more!

We will have visiting artists as well as in-class demos. We will also do some live figure drawing in the class.


  1. BRING DRAWING SUPPLIES (pencils, pens and paper – 14 x 17 or larger) TO EVERY CLASS

  1. Required Textbook: Imaginative Realism by James Gurney

  1. YOU MUST BRING YOUR LAPTOP, TABLET and PHOTOSHOP to every class. NO EXCEPTIONS. If you do not have these three things, I will request that you go and get them, and you will be marked as late for class.

  1. BRING ALL RELEVANT MATERIALS FOR CURRENT ASSIGNMENT TO EACH CLASS! This means sketches, reference images, studies, doodles, color studies, final sketches, final drawings, etc. Sicne we are working mostly digitally, be sure to save the various stages of your work as JPGs, and if you have analog sketches, scan them or bring them to class for the duration of the assignment.

5.   Assignments MUST be posted to the class blog before the beginning of the class for which it is due. Any assignment not posted to the blog at this time will be considered late. The address for the blog is:

  1. It is very important that you tag each of your blog entries with your full name. I’ll use the blog for looking at your work for midterms and finals.


* Students must attend all classes and be in attendance at 5:00 pm on Wednesday.
* Coming back late from a dinner break, or not coming back at all after a dinner break counts as late and/or absent respectively, unless you have cleared it with me first.
* Three unexcused late days may result in a grade no higher than a C. 
* Three unexcused absences may result in a failing grade. 
* Missing the final review may also result in an automatic failure.

Other Rules for the class:
-          Students are responsible for checking their email every other day
-          Students cannot talk on the phone in class, text, chat on line, answer their email. 
-          Students are responsible for the cost of materials applicable to the class. Students are responsible for their own tickets for class trips. 
-          Students are responsible if they are absent to contact their classmates and make up for their work.

ADA Compliance Statement

Learning Resource Center ADA Compliance Statement Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Learning Resource Center at 410-225-2416, in Bunting 458, to establish eligibility and coordinate reasonable accommodations. For additional information please refer to:

Health and Safety Compliance
From the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

It is the responsibility of faculty and students to practice health and safety guidelines relevant to their individual activities, processes, and to review MICA's Emergency Action Plan and attend EHS training.  It is each faculty member's responsibility to coordinate with the EHS Office to ensure that all risks associated with their class activities are identified and to assure that their respective classroom procedures mirror the EHS and Academic Department guidelines. Each of these policies and procedures must be followed by all students and faculty. Most importantly, faculty are to act in accordance with all safety compliance, state and federal, as employees of this college and are expected to a ct as examples of how to create art in a way to minimize risk, and reduce harm to themselves and the environment.  Faculty must identify, within each art making process, and require personal protection equipment use, by each student for each class, when applicable.  Students are required to purchase personal protection equipment appropriate to their major. Those students who do not have the proper personal protection equipment will not be permitted to attend class until safe measures and personal protection is in place.