We are currently offering only 2 classes onsite for the Fall. Many other classes are available online. Please visit our Online Art Classes page for more info.

Intro to Character Design

A 10 week course where you learn a step-by-step method for developing top quality character concepts that evoke the desired emotions

Student Artwork by Sida Guo

This class is full. Please send an email to [email protected] to be on the waiting list.
You can also check out our Digital Painting, Prop and Vehicle Design and Environment Design with Blender classes.

Teacher Artwork by Diana Van Damme

Intro to Character Design

Do you feel your characters lack personality? Do you wish to create characters that are distinct and believable? Top concept artists create iconic and convincing characters that enhance the storyline and strike an immediate chord with the audience.

In this introductory class, you will learn a step-by-step method for developing top quality character concepts that evoke the desired emotions while integrating seamlessly with the overall art direction. At every step, you will receive feedback from the instructor to help refine your character design process.

You will gain expertise in applying essential design principles in your workflow so you can create characters that are of the highest quality. Reference boards act as a source of idea generation and inspiration during any artwork creation process. You will develop the skills required to efficiently gather your own references and create your own reference boards so you can continue to generate more ideas and use it to guide you as you design your characters. You will acquire the skills required to create thumbnails to explore multiple compelling options for your characters so you can arrive at the best possible final version of your concept.

Shape language plays an important role in determining your character’s physical and personality traits. You will become proficient in shape language so you can determine and effectively communicate your character’s personality to the audience in the most efficient manner. You will also gain expertise in creating multiple interesting colour variations so your characters can appear vibrant and stunning. In addition, you will develop an in depth understanding of posing so you can establish your character’s signature pose, qualities and personality traits. Finally, you will gain expertise in modifying behavioural traits, costumes and accessories and physical features so you can customize your character to suit any era, genre or timeline.

By the end of this course, you will have learned a powerful set of methods and techniques that will allow you to create original, iconic and convincing characters to fit any story. Furthermore, you will learn to work within constraints and follow art direction like a pro in addition to creating portfolio worthy character designs that you can be proud of!

  • Course Type Concept Art and Illustration Courses
  • Duration 10 weeks
  • Skill Level
    Level 3
    Level 3

    These courses are for people who can already draw and paint realistically and can create complete digital illustrations.

    Level 3 classes will help students to give a new edge to their images, properly render their digital work, and bring them closer to a professional level.

  • Language English


Note: This class will be offered online only

Class Timings: Wednesdays from 11 AM to 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT or UTC -4 h)

Date of first class: September 30th

Duration: 10 weeks

If you are unable to attend the class during the times listed above, you will still have access to video recordings of the class lectures and will still receive personalized feedback from your instructor.



This class is for people with some experience in realistic style drawing and painting and basic skill in Photoshop.

You should have completed at least some intermediate level drawing and basic painting courses (or have equivalent experience in drawing and painting realistically through the use of proper perspective, proportions, shading and colour). If you do not have the required skill in drawing and painting, it is suggested that you take our Foundations of Painting class and some intermediate level drawing classes such as Analytical Sketching and Drawing the Human Form.This is a class designed for people who have already taken our Digital Painting course or are aware of advanced photoshop techniques.

Language requirements: You need at least intermediate level English to take this class.


Required Materials

You also need to have a laptop with Photoshop installed and a tablet sensitive to pen pressure (such as a Wacom tablet). Or you need a tablet-computer with Photoshop installed that is sensitive to pen pressure (such as the Cintiq Companion). And you need to have some basic skills in Photoshop and be comfortable drawing and painting in Photoshop and know how to use layers and the basic tools (all things you can learn quickly with free tutorials online).


Tech Requirements for Attending Syn Studio Online Classes

Minimum Requirements

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 600kbps bandwidth (up/down).
  • A Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a single core processor (at least 1 GHZ processing speed) or a smartphone/tablet with equivalent processing capabilities
  • Good speakers/earphones to listen to the classes
  • Browser - IE7+, Safari 5+, Firefox, Chrome
  • Operating System - Windows XP, Mac OS 10.6, Linux distro based on 3.0 kernel, Android 5.0, iOS 10


Syn Studio Recommendations

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 1.5Mbps bandwidth (up/down). You can also connect to the internet directly using your ethernet cable to improve your experience.
  • Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a dual core processor with at least 2 GHZ processing speed and a 4 GB RAM
  • High Quality speakers/earphones to listen to the classes
  • Browser & Operating System - We recommend using the latest version of the browser and operating system for an optimal online classroom experience.

Course Outline

Week 1 - Learn the essential character design principles of cohesiveness, balance, contrast, visual rhythm and sizing so you create high quality, vibrant and engaging characters. Become proficient in efficiently gathering reference material and creating your reference boards so you can generate ideas and use them for guidance and inspiration during your character design process.

Week 2 - Gain a deeper understanding of all the steps involved in the character design process. Learn how to quickly create multiple interesting silhouette and 3-tone studies of your character so you can choose the best option for your art director and develop it further.

Week 3 - Learn how to transform the key shapes and forms from your reference into into actual features on your character such as body shape, clothing, tools, weapons, etc., by using the correct values to create the desired forms so you can depict believable characters with multiple attributes.

Weeks 4 - 6 - Become proficient in colour theory and posing so you can design multiple vibrant colour variations, establish the signature pose and add subtle personality traits for your title character. Learn to properly indicate material textures so your character looks realistic and believable.

Weeks 7 - 8 - Gain the skills essential in indicating the timeline, styling and behavioral traits of your character so you can design characters for all eras and genres. Learn how to compile an effective visual library that can be used as a reference to establish and refine all aspects of your character’s look, signature pose and unique personality.

Weeks 9 - 10 - Learn to create professional character sheets and turnarounds for your concept so it can be properly integrated into an entertainment product. Become proficient in rendering, polishing and adding the finishing touches to your character concept, paying special attention to values, edges, colours and details of materials. Finally, combine all that you have learned to complete a stunning portfolio piece and learn how to present it in a professional way so you can showcase your skills and get noticed.

Check out the entire outline

Speak to an advisor

Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 514-998-7625
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