Character and Concept Design | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Character and Concept Design

Learn character design and concept art as you gain skills that can be used to design for a range of media, including comic books, video games, animation, films, and more.

Student draws character in sketchbook with pencil.

As a Character and Concept Design major, you will:

  • Learn and apply character design skills such as research, storytelling, sketching, refining, and illustrating a final character. 
  • Create pre-production art emphasizing key story beats, characters, props, and environments.
  • Develop a portfolio of characters, concepts, and environments that can be used across a range of contemporary media.


What projects will I be working on?

Students will develop visual media assets and artwork like character, object, and environment designs, as well as storyboards and style frames. Visual research and documentation of the process will be emphasized, from moodboarding and preliminary sketches to polished illustrations.

What kinds of jobs would a character and concept designer have?

The skills and practices covered in this major apply to a variety of jobs focusing on visual storytelling. These include several different roles and media, like concept artists, character designers, storyboard artists, comic artists, and production designers.

Will I meet professional designers and artists?

Yes, you will meet professionals working in the fields of animation, game design, filmmaking, and more. 

Will I be working digitally or analog?

The course features a mix of working methods, with digital instruction in Adobe Photoshop as well as techniques using traditional materials. While some assignments focus on specific tools, the course is designed to give each student space to develop their own unique approach.

What software will I be using as a character and concept design major?

Students will primarily be using Adobe Photoshop to create digital artwork or enhance and edit traditional artwork.  

How is this major different from graphic design, illustration, comic art, or animation?

Character and Concept Design encompasses many of the same skills and techniques found in other majors but applies them in specific service to larger storytelling projects. There is a greater focus on illustration than in graphic design or animation, but resulting artworks are usually not final products in and of themselves—rather, they act as guides to communicate needs and decisions with other departments in a production pipeline.

What would a final project look like?

Discussions, exercises, and assignments will apply principles and practices that lead to students creating a suite of pre-production art that will provide a visual overview of their story concept. These story concepts could then be used in a comic book, video game design, or in an animation. 

Student Work: 

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration

Character illustration