Animation Course Descriptions

Core: Level One Courses

Refer to Certificate Program Guide for specific semesters offered.

Drawing is an essential means of communicating, and central to every artist’s and designer’s practice. This class is a more rigorous and sustained introduction to the drawing medium. Drawing I students begin learning to define shapes and forms with line: investigating weight, direction and speed through gesture, contour and planar analysis. Then moving on to value, using both additive and reductive ways of working, they learn to utilize the power of light and dark to create a sense of texture, volume and space. Spatial systems, including perspective, are investigated as well as fundamentals of composition to construct dynamic imagery. Measuring and attention to negative space are essential skills used and reinforced throughout the learning process. Transcribing what is seen or imagined into visual form utilizing multiple approaches, from note taking to rendering to diagramming and sketching, is explored. The class is structured around demonstrations, guided exercises, and sustained drawing of varied subject matter including still-life, landscape, architecture and the human form.

Design is the discipline underlying all forms of visual expression, and an understanding of design principles is the basis for all art forms. This course introduces students to the formal elements of design: line, shape, pattern, value, texture, color and space. Working through a variety of challenging exercises, students use these elements to engage with problems of visual organization. Deliberate and considered placement of visual elements into an organized whole is the basis of composition, and skills acquired in this course have direct applications to anyone working in art and design, from painters and artists to art directors, illustrators, interior designers and interactive designers.

Color is one of the most powerful, and complex, tools at the artist’s disposal. Bridging the divide between color theory and color practice, this studio course distills the essentials of color mechanics into workable studies and projects. Students explore color through creative exercises using collage and paint to understand color and how to use it effectively. Explorations of the role of light, the psychological impact of color, and how such factors as hue, value and intensity affect design are integral to the learning. Slide-illustrated presentations address the historical background of the use of color. Through the process of experiencing the interface of color theory and color application, guidelines toward developing a personal palette are discussed. Mastery of color is essential in the work of artists, illustrators, craftspeople and designers, making this course an ideal starting point.

Tell your story with movement! As an animator, your challenge is to embody a static drawing with the illusion of life, making that doodle crawl, march, dance or soar. But where do you begin if your sole experience with animation is “Angry Birds”? This course is your introduction to the art form, using digital tools that make the learning accessible and immediately gratifying. The instructor reveals the workflow and explains the mechanics that allow separate and distinct drawings to be sequenced so that they flow together. In-class exercises and homework demonstrate core principles such as cycles, levels and squash and stretch. By the end of the course you will complete a short movie, built frame-by-frame, and gain artistic confidence.

Explore the interdisciplinary relationship between imaging, coding, text, animation and video that come together as the designer’s toolkit. This fast-paced digital media course is ideal for the novice or even the intermediate user desiring a better understanding of computer-based workflow. A single unified Web design project, built over 12 sessions, is broken down into manageable lessons that include bitmap editing, vector graphics, page layout, image capture, preservation and manipulation. The terminology, protocols and connections between products are made clear as you become familiar with the techniques necessary for anyone who designs digitally.

Varies by semester. Electives may be taken at any point in the program, provided prerequisites have been met.

Concentration: Level Two Courses

Refer to Certificate Program Guide for specific semesters offered.
Note: Successful completion of the Core curriculum (above) is crucial prior to starting the Concentration level.

How did Snow White move from fairy tales to animated films and then on to be reinterpreted in video games and live-action television? Find out in this must-have course for creators of children’s books, comics and cartoons, where you’ll explore how to visualize a character from narrative prompt to illustrated reality. Beginning with an editorial description, you’ll use historical, anatomic and cultural references to sketch and develop the look, feel and personality of archetypal characters. You’ll also become acquainted with the strict legal guidelines that govern all “licensed characters” (think Spider-Man or the Grinch), as well as with professional ethics surrounding work for hire.

Take a line for a walk, literally, in this animation course that introduces the hand drawing techniques that have given shape to classic characters like Snow White, Scooby-Doo and Stewie Griffin. Students learn how to design characters that move, as they are introduced to the frame-by-frame moviemaking tradition popularized by Studio Ghibli and Warner Brothers. Students are introduced to the animator’s core rudiments like squash and stretch, walk cycles and metamorphosis. A sharp pencil is your primary tool, but the motion is finally made real with lessons in scanning, capture and sequencing using digital technology. Students exit with a better understanding of the animator’s workflow, from light table to tablet to screen.

Before ideas can be expressed as motion, aspiring animators must understand the underlying elements (keyframes, fields, level) and accompanying principles (cycles, sync, timing) that are specific to the art form. This course is for artists willing to explore frame-by-frame moviemaking techniques with greater commitment. 2D animation workflow best practices are reinforced in every lesson, as students use digital tools to complete weekly assignments leading to a self-directed final project. Historical examples of metamorphosis, cycled movement and the illusion of gravity are presented to so that students better understand this unique storytelling medium.

Why storyboard? Storyboards can be used to discuss ideas, describe a sequence, visualize a “look” and create a blueprint for implementing an animation, saving time by facilitating experimentation and exploration before the real animation begins. Professionals also use storyboards to communicate ideas to creative teams, clients or potential employers. In class, students translate their story ideas into visual images and accompanying text, describing the action, mood, setting and timing of the story. Storyboard conventions are covered, along with narrative development, production and presentation techniques. Students also learn how to choose the appropriate type of storyboard for their audience, as well as how to set and manage client expectations. A variety of film and animation projects are presented for discussion so that students emerge with brand new tools for successful animation project planning.

Adobe After Effects is to video and film what Adobe Photoshop is to photography. Students in this course learn to master this powerful software tool used by professionals in the film and video industries for generating visual effects and motion graphics. In the process of creating video shorts, students are afforded the opportunity to composite multiple layers, animate an unlimited number of elements and apply visual effects to video. Students can then apply these skills to both professional and personal projects.

Storytelling is at the heart of the animator’s art form and the focus of this advanced studio course, which gives students an opportunity to build narrative, frame by frame. Lessons are given context by viewing clips that illustrate concepts like sound sync, cycling and gravity on the animated form. The instructor provides story and character prompts that students use to build storyboards, then animatics and, finally, a short sequence in the medium most appropriate for their tale. Drawing assignments and self-directed work continue the learning outside the classroom. Throughout the course, the emphasis is first and foremost on creating a compelling narrative that will shine in a show reel.

You may intend to have your movie discovered at Sundance, Tribeca, the Black Maria or even our local Rhode Island International Film Festival. Or perhaps you want to craft a killer reel that will buy you your own production company. The methods are different but the objective the same: to find an audience and catch their attention. With that as the overarching theme of this production studio class, students undertake a project: a short narrative, a documentary, a traditional animated work or a 3D modeled animated piece. All aspects of creating and combining picture and sound are considered as your instructor takes on the role of chief critic. From the score to the end credits, all details are considered, including distribution and presentation options.

Varies by semester. Electives may be taken at any point in the program, provided prerequisites have been met.