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Animation Art & Design: Summary of Coursework

The coursework for programs in animation art and design cover the basic principles behind all aspects of animation development. Read on to gain a more in-depth understanding of classes in this field of study.

Essential Information

Studies in animation art and design are available through associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as through certificate programs. Non-degree programs in the subject include mainly basic courses in animation and design, while degree programs provide greater depth and cover additional art topics, such as digital video production, game development and photography. Some entry-level employment options for graduates include 3-D modeler, storyboard artist and character designer.

Degree programs in animation art and design often require that students make a professional portfolio of the work they have completed throughout their courses. This is usually done as part of a professional preparation course. Final projects and internships are also common for degree programs. At the graduate level, students might have to do a research project or complete a thesis.

Here are some main concepts you'll learn about while studying animation art and design:

  • Animation design with digital technology
  • Computer graphics
  • Creating 3-D animations
  • Storyboarding
  • Pitching and selling concepts

List of Courses

Principles of Digital Animation Course

The main purpose of this introductory course is to provide students with the foundational knowledge to successfully create animated characters that seem dimensional and realistic. The course will commonly cover basic terminology and concepts of computer graphics in animation design. It should also teach students how to render animated humans and animals by examining proportion, balance, weight, pose and movement. Students can also learn how to utilize vital frame techniques and how to modify motion capture data.

History of Animation Course

During the history of animation course, students explore the emergence of the animation industry leading up to modern techniques in animation production. The evolution of different styles such as puppetry, comics and live-action cinema can also be discussed. The societal and cultural changes and their implication on animation design may also be analyzed. Changes in financing and marketing strategies may be part of the curriculum as well. The course can include several screenings of various animated commercial, television and film works.

Fundamentals of Lighting and Texture

During this class, students are expected to learn about the core principles behind lighting. Object modeling, 3-D space and texture mapping are part of the curriculum. Students also discuss how to control reflections and shadows. They should gain practical experience in rendering basic digital 3-D models of environments and characters.

Digital Character Design

This course, which is usually taken at the midpoint of a program, focuses on teaching students the basics of 3-D modeling. Students learn how to use tools such as Mudbox, Maya and ZBrush to craft believable characters, with an emphasis in motion design. Several modeling techniques and tips are taught throughout the class, and conceptualizing and storyboarding are covered. A final project may be required in this course.

Animation Story Development

In this course, students learn how to develop concepts that are viable for production in short film or television. Topics covered include story idea creation, the storyboarding process, editing, preproduction packets and methods for pitching. This course often requires a final project such as a student presentation of a production-ready concept package or a script for a short animated film.


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