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Character Design Mastersclass

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. Over 130 of the world's greatest character designers were hired for this massive volume!

This book 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 honored 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.


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?

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.

Let's Meet The Cast!

Robin Hood

The guardian of Sherwood Forest, the woodland bandit, the hero outlaw.


Little John

A rival, a friend, a nuisance, a loyal side-kick and a brother - he's all of these things to our hero Robin.


Maid Marion

The heroine of our story. She is a formidable woman and Robin's love interest.


Frair Tuck

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 conscious.


Prince Jon

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.


Meet Your 130 Character Designers

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!

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!

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