module specification

CU2017 - Character Animation and Realism (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25, but may be subject to modification
Module title Character Animation and Realism
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Workbook
Coursework 60%   Animation *FC*
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

Students learn about the differences between realism and naturalism and how to research, design and animate a realistic character. This module is "pass on aggregate".

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The aim of this unit is to teach students how to research, design and animate believable, empathic characters. The aim is also to develop their understanding of the differences between realism and naturalism in animation.


? acting techniques and theories on acting
? realism versus naturalism
? lab annotation
? character and empathy
? expression and gestures
? action and reaction
? exaggeration
? poses and holds
? pace
? anticipation
? weight
? momentum
? acceleration and deceleration
? mood and emotion
? character and props
? character and mise en scene
? writing character histories and descriptions
? voice, dialect and manner of speaking
? speech and lip-sync
? making dope sheets
? expressing emotion and status through different body parts.
? movement and timing
? storyboarding

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching will be through seminars (2hrs) and workshops (1 hr) In the seminars students will get the opportunity to discuss and act out issues and relevant topics surrounding character animation with tutors, other students and with visiting actors. Examples of issues and topics that may be covered in the seminars are: What needs to be included in a detailed character biography? How do internal forces affect the way a character talks and moves? How does contextual issues affect the way a character talks and moves? How can emotion and status be expressed through different body parts? The seminars will also be used to analyse and discuss characters in films and animations. The seminars will also introduce students to acting techniques and theories of acting.

During the workshops the students will be using the skills and knowledge obtained in the seminars to work on their assignments. The workshops will include regular critiques where the students get the opportunity to talk about their work and comment on the work of others.

Students are also expected to spend a significant amount of hours carrying out independent study for this module.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:

ability to write a character biography and description [A3];
ability to design a voice and manner of speech based on a character biography and description [A3];
ability to analyse sound and produce a dope sheet for lip-sync;
ability to create realistic and exaggerated movement by animating a character based on character biography, character description and observational studies of human motion, emotion and timing in animation [A3];
ability to animate a character expressing emotion and status through different body parts [A3];
ability to animate a character so that he or she acts and reacts with appropriate props and within appropriate mise en scene [A2];
ability to animate a character with expression and gestures based on a character biography, context and mise en scene [A3];
knowledge and understanding of the difference between realism and naturalism.


Hart, C. (1997), How to Draw Animation: Learn the Art of Animation from Character Design to Storyboards and Layouts, Watson-Guptill Publications, ISBN 0823023656

Roberts S (2007) Character Animation 2D skills for better 3D. Focal press. ISBN978-0-240-52054-4

Maestri, G. (2002), Digital Character Animation 2: Advanced Techniques, New Riders Publishing, ISBN 0735700443

Hooks E (2003) Acting for animators. Heinermann. ISBN0-325-00580-X

Muybridge, E. (1955), The Human Figure in Motion, Dover Publications, ISBN 0486202046

Stanislavskii, K.S. (1979) Building a Character, Methuen Publishing, ISBN 0413367207

Wright J (2005) Animation writimng and development. Focal press. ISBN0-240-80549-6

Wells, P. (1998), Understanding Animation, Taylor & Francis Ltd, ISBN 0415115973

Hedgepeth & Missal (2006) Exploring character design. Thompson learning. ISBN1-4018-6296-9