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Character Design

with Kenneth Anderson
4.9 (27)
Learn from a professional industry artist and follow along with Kenneth Anderson as he approaches a real life brief where he designs a 3D "undead pirate" from start to finish.
English English [Auto]
Intermediate to Advanced
Kenneth Anderson

Your Instructor

Kenneth is a professional freelance character designer with 14+ years experience. Based in the UK, he has worked with companies like the BBC, Disney, Tandem Films

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Spanning 7 Chapters, in this course you’ll learn about character design, research, storytelling, refinement and loads more! But the coolest part of the course is that you’ll get to see how Kenneth Anderson approaches a real-life brief where he designs a 3D “undead pirate” for use in a children’s TV show.

Follow the unique design & creative process for working with clients when creating a character design. Kenneth helps you nail down the feeling of your client using a structure that they’ll appreciate – starting from sketches to final full colored characters.

Who is this course for?

  • You are just getting started and you want to learn how professional artists create amazing designs.
  • You have the ambition to become a full-time freelance artist and want a clear structure and tips on how to create characters that will wow your clients.
  • You are currently a full-time freelance artist in character design and want to up your game.
  • You are a game/animation artist working for a studio and want to make a better brief, collect research and create a kickass character story before getting into the fun part: drawing.
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What you’ll learn

  • Learn the fundamentals of character design
  • Learn how to create a brief and character story
  • Learn how to go from brief to research to thumbnail sketches
  • Learn how to pitch a brief to a client
  • Learn the complete design process from start to finish
  • Learn how to nail down the final designs that your clients will love
  • Learn how to be critical of your own sketches
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This course includes

  • 4+ hours of on-demand videos
  • 7 exercises (PDF)

Lesson Plan

with Kenneth Anderson
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The Design Brief


Every design starts with a brief, an idea or a visual problem to be solved in the context of a story. Kenneth walks you through a simple character brief, and shows you how to create a short character biography. He touches upon style, character, limitations, context, and deliverables your client expects. This will give you a solid structure when you develop your own unique character design process.

You’ll learn to ask yourself important questions like: what does my client want? Who is the character? What is the character? Is it for a book? A TV show? A game?


The Character Story


It is vital to consider the character’s backstory before starting your design. You’ll learn why the story is so important and how it adds to the personality of your character.

Personality, conflict, desire, flaws, interesting characteristics, subtext. Simply answering the question: How do we make the character come to life? Follow along with Kenneth as he answers these questions and more!


Thinking about research


Mood board

Firsthand research brings originality and adds authenticity to your story. When it comes to design, preparation goes a long way. It leads to inspiration and new ideas.

When we draw straight from our heads, using memory as a reference, we tend to draw on old habits – potentially missing out on new unusual ideas which we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Learn how to avoid those cliches.

Kenneth shows you how offline research (not just online), can be very useful.

Research might seem boring, and you might be tempted to start drawing straight away – but once you get into it – it can be really exciting and lead to inspiring and memorable characters!

In this episode you learn how Kenneth uses his research and puts it in a mood board or a reference sheet to tie it to the original brief and character story.


Thumbnail sketches


Finally we get to start drawing! This is the most exciting stage of the design process.

Watch how Kenneth sketches his ideas from scratch. He explores shapes, posture, proportions and different ideas from the research phase. This is big picture stuff, trying not to get bogged down in the details…just yet! That comes later.

You will see him make several sketches, which he will eventually hone down into a few characters at a later stage.


Refining the sketches


Building on the previous thumbnail sketches you learn how to combine selected sketches into one. Watch how he goes from the general to the specific.

He reminds you to think how the sketches relate to the brief themselves. And encourages you to take a critical approach as you look and comment on each sketch. This is where you have plenty of room for experimenting. And for having fun!

Now the job is to present your work to your client. Here, you get some directions on how to best do this. You’ll learn how to get into the mindset of pretending to be a client.

Once the rough sketches are complete, Kenneth will show you to add a bit more detail to your refined designs, whilst still staying on target with your brief.


Focusing the design


It’s decision time! Kenneth shows you the process for choosing a general direction for the final design; how he took his favourite bits from sketches and incorporated these into the final character, focusing on subtle changes. But nothing too major, as your groundwork should already been done by now. This is where you’ll also learn about the coloring process.

You’ll watch and learn as Kenneth criticizes his own sketches, constantly looking for a more original design, and then refining those designs even further: tweaking, pushing shapes, and adding form. This is a relatively easy stage and you’ll find it super satisfying! You’ll learn how to explore your character and how to make an informed decision about which one to use in your final image.


The Final Character


Finally watch the 1h 30 min session of Kenneth choosing one of the thumbnails and developing the final sketch into a full color polished character – The 3D Undead Pirate. Here, you will learn how to nail down your colors, backstory and overall design. As a bonus, you’ll also find out which brushes Kenneth uses.

The goal is to paint up a “hero” pose which conveys personality and ties together all the design choices within the brief. A pose that sells the idea of who the character is, and making your client want to come back for more! Happy drawing!

Student Feedback

27 customer reviews & ratings


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The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.

(Based on 27 reviews)

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Great step-by-step process 18
Engaging Teacher 15
Helpful Examples 14
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reviews & ratings
Brian E.

2 years ago

Verified Purchase
Although what made me put down my money was how much content was in the masterclass and seeing how much effort was put into making them, especially Character Design and Creature Design. I knew I was paying for quality.
14 people found this helpful
Caroline W.

2 years ago

Verified Purchase
Superb course. Takes you from design brief to the finished piece. I particularly love the fact that it doesn't solely concentrate on drawing, but also goes into the breakdown over the decisions behind the creative process.
12 people found this helpful
Mike L.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
The amount of detail and steps he took to walk through the drawings were awesome
2 people found this helpful
Sajjad H.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I liked your techniques of character designing it was awesome and used it with my characters. Hope to see more of your courses ❤️

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
Love it! Great dissection of the design process, I'm sure I'll be drifting slightly away from this in my own projects but it's an amazing thing to have a place to start and to later check if maybe you've forgotten something basic. Thank you for this course Kenneth! (Also - I love your accent)
Jérôme C.

1 year ago

Verified Purchase
I only took the character design course with Kenneth Anderson so far, but I truly enjoyed it. It answered a lot of questions I had about the process of creating a character from scratch. I'm looking foward to take other classes as well.
Stefana I.

11 months ago

Verified Purchase
Kenneth has so much patience for explaining every little detail! It shows that he loves what he is doing. Thanks Kenneth!

6 months ago

Verified Purchase
I really reccomend this to anyone who's looking to improve their creative process and learn some tricks.
I recommend it for All levels
Robert J.

6 months ago

Verified Purchase
Great course very instructional
I recommend it for Beginner
Anima A.

2 months ago

Verified Purchase
Its a really great breakdown of how character designers design characters for clients and studio work. loved it!
I recommend it for Intermediate
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About the Instructor

Kenneth Anderson
Illustrator & Character Designer 5 courses

Kenneth is a professional freelance character designer with 14+ years experience. Based in the UK, he has worked with companies like the BBC, Disney, Tandem films and Axis Animation. He also worked on Sylvain Chomet’s Oscar nominated film “The Illusionist” and the French feature Titeuf: Le film.  His specialties are story-driven character-based illustration and design for a variety of mediums, in particular children’s television. In his spare time, he enjoys creating characters, illustrating magazines and making games.

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