module specification

CU4008 - Drawing and Character Design (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Drawing and Character Design
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 30%   Professional presentation to include visual design work
Coursework 60%   Two small portfolios (15 pages each) and two short Animations demonstrating different techniques (2 x 10 seconds)
Oral Examination 10%   Studio Critique, Presentation
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

This module is an introduction to Animation production practices with reference to related areas such as Cinematics, Effects, Modelling for Games and Tangible Media.

1. The module introduces concepts, production methods and techniques from within history and contemporary industry practice from the Animation and related industry areas.

2. An introduction to skills in 2D, 3D, Stop Motion, Collage, Effects and integrated styles will focus on research for drawing and modelling for character, environments, props and effects. Concepts, techniques and principles that enhance the design and production of narrative – linear and interactive, character and environmental design are introduced.  Both tangible and digital stylistic techniques and effects to enhance emotion, movement and narrative devices are introduced.

Principles may be introduced through mini - lectures or demos and participative sessions with practical techniques explored in workshops.

Teaching period:  Year

Required prior learning: 


  1. Individual and team in-class presentations and supporting documents or online links
  2. Moving graphic collage and effects - Small portfolio of drawing and preparation (15 pages) and short 2D animation project -10 seconds
  3. Stop Motion  - Small portfolio of preparation work (3D tangible models documented by either video/ photos/ or 15 pages of design workbook or similar) and short animation project -10 seconds

Module aims

The aims of this module are to introduce students to :

  1. Animation history, practice and industry and related areas, to include presentation and promotional skills
  2. Research and practice into drawing and modelling, in particular the human figure and the importance of an understanding of character acting, movement and gesture for animation.
  3. The module will include the introduction of skills in
  • observational drawing - anatomy and proportion, composition, expression, performance and  analysis of human and animal motion through a consideration for design and visual impact, through use of colour, composition and cinematic language
  • design and development process; and asset-management  and production pipeline of simple animation project.
  • Animation techniques such as motion graphics/collage and effects; tangible 3D modelling, stop-motion and claymation, lens – based animation.


• Basic principles of Animation and the pipeline process of how to integrate traditional skills and computer- based skills to produce a range of animation styles and techniques;

• Understanding of the contemporary Animation and related industry (such as Cinematics, Effects and Games)  working practices and employability opportunities.
• Understanding of the history and industry practices used in traditional and computer Animation and related areas such as Cinematics, Effects and Games
• Observational drawing, with a focus on attributes of an image (eg. line, tone, mark, texture, colour)
• Understanding of anatomy and proportion, composition and expression
• Analysis of motion of humans, animals and objects using digital capture, sketching techniques ; acting and performance methods
• Visual research (eg brain storming, public resources such as galleries, the local environment)

• Developing and communicating visual solutions in a structured way (eg thumbnails, storyboards).
• construction of narrative, character, environment and props
• Traditional techniques and terms such as; onion-skinning, tweening, key frames and in-betweens, straight ahead versus pose-to-pose animation, paths of action, etc.

• How to build and animate a basic claymation character 

• Lip sync and how to make a character speak using substitution animation;

• How to build simple sets and props for animation;
 digital photography techniques;

• Stop motion photography techniques;
• Ability to design a timed imaginative succession of images using stop-motion techniques;

• Understanding of the relationship between sound and images in animation;

• Post production and compositing techniques;
an understanding of collage, montage and effects.

Learning and teaching

The module will make use workshop sessions. New knowledge, skills, and techniques are offered in short interactive lectures, brief seminars and technical demos, inserted into workshop setting at the start and throughout as required. Students will learn through guided experience and practice in hand on workshops (3 hours).

In addition students are expected to spend time carrying out research connected with the subject, visiting exhibitions and museums, reading and practising their skills.

Appropriate blended learning approaches and technologies, such as, the University’s VLE and online tools, will be used to facilitate and support student learning, in particular, to:

• deliver content;
• encourage active learning;
• provide formative and summative assessments, and prompt feedback; 
• enhance student engagement and learning experience.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

LO1:  An awareness of the history and current industry production practices in the animation, effects and games as demonstrated through production of key concepts – ( as in the analysis of character and narrative, socio-political, historical and geographic environment, atmosphere and props), evidence in visual sketches and diagrams, team-working and oral presentation skills.

LO2 - Understanding of the fundamental principles of language (visual, sound, kinaesthetic, montage and movement cycles) for animation, effects and games; through a practical exploration of the use of acting, gesture, sound, narrative and staging in character animation and written note taking methods.

LO3 - Understanding and ability to use computer skills and design techniques to produce a range of styles and techniques for animation and effects - to include techniques such as Rotoscoping, Frame by Frame, Lens- based animation, Stop Motion, Claymation, Effects, Titling, Prop and Set design.

LO4:  Provide evidence of a general understanding of legal, ethical, social and professional issues relevant to working practices – to include issues such as Intellectual Property, career development and employer requirements, assessed through individual and team presentations.

L05 - Understanding and skills in observational drawing, research into drawing techniques: such as an investigation into attributes of an image (eg. line, tone, mark, texture, colour), the capture of human and animal anatomy and motion including structure and proportion; visual analysis of character, environment, atmosphere and props.

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by a combination of individual coursework and oral presentations.

1. Two Oral presentations: 30% and 10% respectively. Individual research into history or contemporary industry practice and a team client proposal  to include visual design work   (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5).

2. One coursework (60%) comprising of two small portfolios of sketches and working methods (15 pages each) and two short Animations (2 x 10 seconds) (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5).

Students will produce a range of drawn and pre production work including sketchbooks/ workbooks in which they will capture and keep ideas, images, reference material and concepts, character designs and storyboards and technical working methods for animation. They will produce two short animations based on the preproduction work.


Beachamp R (2005). Designing sound for animation. Focal. ISBN: 0-240-80733-2

Burns, T. and Sinfield. S. (2012) Essential Study Skills

McCloud, S. (1994) Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.New York, Harper Perennial ISBN 006097625X

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

Shaw, S. (2008) Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation. Burlington, Focal Press ISBN 9780240520551 0240520556

Simon M (2000) Storyboards: Motion in Art. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80374-4.

Van Sijll , J .( 2005) Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must know, Michael Wiese Productions ISBN-10: 193290705X

Williams, R. (2001), The Animator’s Survival kit. Faber & faber. ISBN: 0-571-20228-4

Online resources
Software user communities and getting started
Adobe – asset production, Harmony – 2D , Maya – 3D
London Metropolitan University Library – eResources
Latest versions in Adobe : Audition, After Effects, Photoshop etc , Autodesk: Maya