Book 2 & 3
We're Finally Back!
In 2013 the Kickstarter community helped us raise over $530,000 for our first book making it the 3rd highest gross project under publishing ever at that time. We're back with 2 new books filled with more artists, more excitement and more value for your hard earned dollar!
Character Design Masterclass Imagine being in a classroom made up of the greatest character designers in the world - artists who have worked for Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Sony Animation, Marvel and DC. Imagine what you could learn from seeing these incredible artists tackle challenging character design assignments. Character Design Master Class: Book One will be our first entry in a series of books that aims to improve your ability to design meaningful and modern characters. Over 130 of the world's greatest character designers were hired for this massive volume!
This first book (Book One) is based on a hiring practice used by many famous animation studios to evaluate an artist's creative potential. The task involves taking a classic story we all know and love and doing something unique, fresh and brilliant with it. It's time honoured practice that's as old as the animation industry itself. The employer is looking for compatibility between the artist's vision and the voice of the studio. Employers swear by this practice because it allows them to assess the candidate’s raw talent. What starts as a simple assignment quickly balloons into a nightmare as design decisions begin to pile up with the effort of trying to be unique and modern.
The Assignment: We asked each artist to imagine that they've been hired by a famous studio on the verge of financial ruin - the studio has invested everything in a brand-new Robin Hood project that needs to generate tens of millions of dollars or risk going bankrupt. They need incredible, fresh, new character designs of the main eight characters. What's worse, there are 2 other studios working on a Robin Hood project of their own!
We left the look, feel and format of the story entirely up to them - they could design for a show, movie, comic book or graphic novel. The tone could be light and fluffy or dark, violent and sexy - or anything in between. It could be a Saturday morning cartoon like Sponge Bob Square Pants, an epic animated film like Pixar's Brave or an R-Rated adaptation filled with corruption, murder and treachery like Game Of Thrones. We gave them just enough narrative freedom to express themselves fully in their typical drawing style.
Masters of Anatomy: Anatomy In Action - During our first Kickstarter we received over a hundred requests for a book about dynamic anatomy; so we knew we had to something very special. This follow up to our anatomy series has over 550 final images and over 1300 rough images. It is the most comprehensive and beautiful collection of action anatomy ever produced.
Our goal was to create a must have item for artists interested in comic books, graphic novels, and game design. That meant finding one of the best artist in the world at creating these types of images. So, we put our heads together and came up with a list of artists we felt were the best at doing that. Only five names came up. The entire survival of this project rested entirely on convincing one of these 5 incredible artists to devote a year of their life to making this book for us!
Enter the great and talented Raul Moreno! The young, talented artist had exactly the kind of imagery we were looking for - bold, electric poses coupled with realistic anatomy. We did not want work heavy with shading, cross hatching and obscure detail. The art had to be as clean and light as air - the perfect type of imagery to learn from. The end result is a massive volume that contains hundreds of the most popular action poses used today - all redesigned by Raul to look more modern, accurate and dynamic than ever before.
Create Your Own Poses!
Have fun creating your own interesting poses by stitching together various roughs. It's the perfect way to experiment to find something new and unique. For many artists the roughs will be the meat-and-potatoes of the book. Raul's highly dynamic roughs offer lots of possibilities without heavy stylistic influence.
Why Robin Hood?
There are many reasons we choose Robin Hood as the first book in our character design series:
Reason #1: Robin Hood is one of literature's oldest and most enduring stories - it's a tale that has stood the test of time. It has been remade countless times into television shows, films, children's books, comics and graphic novels over the last 50 years and will continue to be remade over the next 50. There are literally thousands of stories that use Robin Hood as a basic narrative skeleton - Superman and Batman are simply Robin Hood in a cape. Quite simply Robin Hood and its cast of characters will never go out of style as design icons.
Reason #2: You can follow along! Robin Hood is the perfect material for aspiring character designers! It has all the stereo typical roles you'd find in almost any story - a hero, a sidekick, a love interest, a wise man, a dictator, a bully, a weasel and an evil witch. It's the perfect cast of characters to try out for yourself.
With over 1000 unique designs you can dig deep into the nuts and bolts of the assignment and see how unique and clever the designs can be. A book like this can be an invaluable tool to an artist looking to explore and challenge their creative potential. To be a great musician you need to listen to great music, to be a great novelist you need to read great novels, to be a great character designer you need to study great character designs!
We encourage you to try redesigning all these characters on your own while you wait for the book. Treat it like a real assignment and try your 100% best - research the characters and clothing, explore different styles, shapes and silhouettes - try to think like a character designer. After you receive the book, compare it to your drawings. Takes notes of the styles you find the most compelling and the ideas you find the most clever. After you've thoroughly examined all the art work in the book, redesign the characters one last time. We guarantee you'll see a huge improvement!
(In order to keep things fresh we asked the artists to design Robin without a hat since it is too connected to the Disney and old Hollywood look. Also, we asked them to draw Friar Tuck without a tonsure hairstyle).
Designing Eight Characters Is a Whole Different Ball Game!
Designing one great character is hard enough - designing eight great characters is a whole different ball game. It's the difference between trying to win one baseball game versus eight games in a row. The difficultly becomes larger than the sum of it's parts. Each artist was required to balance the personalities, shapes and sizes of each character to create a harmonious flow to the cast. Having 1 or 2 great characters with 5 mediocre ones was not an option - the goal was eight great characters.
Why So Many Artists for "Character Design Masterclass"?
Why Not! It works in your favor - if you think about it, you're only paying about 0.50 cents for each artist in the book - it's a great deal!
All kidding aside, having so many talented people participate means everyone is trying to do their best to stand out! Most of the images in this book have been redesigned 2, 3 and 4 times to get the right look. We were surprised and honored that people were constantly going back to their own designs when they saw the work of their colleagues. No one wanted to let anyone else down so they worked hard to deliver the best images they possibly could.
Take a look at just some of the process work below by Dane Romley for just one of his characters - that's the kind of planning and work that went into each character for every single artist in the book - it's a massive undertaking which is why it's taken us over 1 year to nearly complete.
Why only one artist for "Anatomy In Action"?
Anatomy In Action is a foundational book meant to provide you with strong knowledge of the fundamentals - it is not meant to be an exploration of style and clever design like our other two books which require the participation of many artists. . Furthermore, we required over 1800 drawings that needed to be drawn consistently and accurately with a strong direction.
Let's Meet More of the Cast!
The guardian of Sherwood Forest, the woodland bandit, the hero outlaw.
A rival, a friend, a nuisance, a loyal side-kick and a brother - he's all of these things to our hero Robin.
The heroine of our story. She is a formidable woman and Robin's love interest.
The wise man and father figure. He has come to understand that faith alone cannot cure corruption. He has joined the fight, though it still bothers his consicous.
The spoiled prince, the mad king, the dictator and the oppressor of the people - he represents the highest levels of corruption. His nature is the exact opposite of Robin's.
The Sheriff Of Nottingham
The Darth Vader of our story - the Prince's right hand, the enforcer, the bully, the Black Knight. He delights in the simple cruelties his position affords him.
The Corrupt Advisor
The corrupt bureaucrat, the weasel, he represents the cruel and oppressive tyranny of the rich and well appointed.
Maudlin - The Witch Of Papplewick
The sorceress, the seductress, the femme fatale. A mysterious creature that aids the prince for her own evil purpose. She can magically turn into a beautiful woman but her true form is hideous.
(above art by - Studio Mouette, James Castillo, Matthieu Cousin, Matt Rhodes, Nicholas Kole, Nick Swift, Suheb Zako, Cesar Vergara, Le Tang, Derek Laufmann, Dane Romely, Olivier Silven, David Maingault, Ben Fiquet, Anton Bogaty, Oscar J. Vargas, Bill Robinson and Tony Reyna).
The Process Of Character Design
Good character design is not straightforward - it's a winding journey down many roads that often lead to dead-ends. Let's take a simplified look at the process of designing just one of the 1000+ unique designs in Character Design Classroom by the talented Dane Romley.
The first step in Dane Romley's process is to explore the basic shapes and silhouettes. A good silhouette is one of the most important elements of a character. It is inside this fertile shape that a personality and soul will grow.
The exploration continues with buiding an underlying anatomy. Various proportions are tested. At this point, it's clear that a solid direction has yet to be made.
A number of possibilities are further expanded upon (called a character tree) but many of them lead to dead-ends like the series below. On the up side, Dane is discovering what doesn't work, on the down side, frustration begins to build. The life of a character designer!
Through further collaboration a stronger design is found among the explorations above (drawing #6). The idea of a mask is interesting. Dane takes the idea and expands upon it with a highly appealing fox mask. It's a small detail that will define not only the main character but all the remaining characters and the story itself. Dane cleverly decides to base his Robin Hood on Batman - reversing the concept of Batman being inspired by Robin Hood. The tone of the story now changes and becomes darker and more realistic.
A quick exploration of another character is done to be sure this reverse-concept will work. Little John is now his "Robin". As we can see the designs look great together. Onward!
Further exploration is done, another anatomy is sketched out and details are added to the clothing design. Another path is chosen but results in another dead-end. The designs are unique but they feel more like pirates than a woodland bandit. Luckily, we don't need to back track very far.
The designs are finally coming together as shown in this late first draft.
The designs are finalized and details like bags and other equipment are added to flesh out the character some more. this Robin uses a crossbow - a clever take on Batman's arsenal of weapons and gadgets.
Finally color explorations are done.
This simple process flow represents just one character by one artist. There are over 1000 unique designs in this book that have been thoroughly explored and designed!
We hired 130 of the world's best and most popular character designers to take part in this incredible book. Our designers have worked for companies like Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Sony Pictures Animation, Marvel and DC. There has never been a book with as much character design talent as this!
Please note - only bolded galleries have been uploaded.
To celebrate our books, we are giving away 5 free anatomy animations. These animations were produced to aid your study of the human body. This particular animation below uses the Ideal Loomis proportions of the human body. Understanding how the body and limbs are oriented in 3D space is a key part of your artistic development. Use the frames of this animation as a guide while practicing this exercise on your own. This animation was created in Photoshop.
The animation below is fully hand-drawn and consists of 36 unique drawings/frames. Half the turn is drawn and then flipped to produce the complete looping turn. The final animation consists of 72 frames (36 unique frames) playing over 4 seconds. Right click the image below and select "save as" to save it to your computer. Then open the file in Photoshop to study or print out the individual frames. Enjoy!
We will post new animations here - www.mastersofanatomy.com/animations
Don't Miss Out!
Our artists have worked on films and shows like Tangled, Frozen, Gravity Falls, Dispicable Me, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Madagascar, Penguins of Madagascar, Peabody and Sherman, Hotel Transylvania and many more. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to improve your art skills with these incredible artists!