Animation Minor | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Animation Minor: Degree Information

MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all majors. For this Bachelor of Fine Arts minor, you will take courses in several different areas, including a core focus, adding up to 15 total credits required for graduation. 

Required Courses - These are the core courses that every drawing and painting student takes.

Studio Electives - Throughout your studies you can choose from several studio electives that give you hands-on creative time.  

Humanities and Sciences Electives - These classes round out your experience at MCAD, deepen your creative practice, and fulfill non-studio requirements for a degree.  

Learning Outcomes

  • Become familiar with the classical fundamentals of traditional character animation.
  • Demonstrate basic life-drawing skills and film-language staging.
  • Use software tools to composite, manipulate, and create animation.

Core Required Courses

15 credits

ANIM 2000 Introduction to Animation
3 credits

This course introduces students to production techniques of 2D and 3D animation. Students learn the basics of traditional character animation (i.e., Disney fundamentals) through a series of exercises including ball bounce, walk cycle, and sound sync. A small portion of the class will include an introduction to Maya 3D, a computer graphics application for animation, modeling, and rendering.  Individual exploration is emphasized in assignments and critique, culminating in the creation of a short, animated project.

Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1; Foundation: Drawing 1

Animation Minor Courses (select 3)

ANIM 2500 Drawing for Animators
3 credits

Expanding upon Foundation Drawing 1, students will construct poses for both 2D and 3D character animation. Students will draw from the nude model to explore techniques and concepts including gesture drawing, basic shapes, line of action, silhouette, perspective, balance, force, and rhythm. In addition to in-class drawing, students will participate in weekly lectures and demonstrations. A completed sketchbook at the end of the semester is required. 

Prerequisites: Character 1 (may be taken concurrently)

ANIM 3010 Stop-Motion Animation
3 credits

This class provides a thorough understanding of stop-motion fundamentals. Students explore the stop-motion toolbox through a variety of exercises including armature, character building, go motion, lip sync, replacements, simple casts, registration, photo cut, and strata cut. Students produce a stop-motion short for their final projects using a variety of industry standard software. The class will include recommended readings, lectures, demonstrations as well as historic and contemporary stop-motion screenings.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation

ANIM 3050 Storyboard
3 credits

This course is designed for animation, filmmaking, and comic art students. Working from preexisting and student-created scripts and narrative ideas, students analyze the various techniques involved in the visualization of stories and sequences for film and animation production. Coursework includes script and story adaptation, continuity, camera placement, image sequencing, shot composition, styling, and mood. Students apply the visual “language” of storyboarding and continuity sketching. Vigorous in-class critiques address storyboard effectiveness with strong emphasis on the process of revision and refinement. Assignments include the development of several short animation and film storyboards, and a final project consisting of a two- to five-minute production storyboard from the student’s own script or story.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking

ANIM 3020 Character Animation 1
3 credits

Believable characters remain the foundation and most difficult skill of successful animation. This course concentrates on creating credible characters that can walk, talk, and think, depicted through the techniques of timing, staging, and acting. Students begin with a basic drawing method for describing gesture and form, and then go on to produce pencil tests, animatics, and finished movement animations. Beginning with structured projects aimed at specific animation principles, students eventually develop their own scenarios and final project. Lectures, in-class drawing time, and weekly assignments are augmented by occasional demonstrations and visual aids. Students also analyze basic animation principles from single-frame viewing of short selected segments of classic animated shorts and features. Weekly group critiques and individual consultation during in-class work are also provided.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation

ANIM 3023 Character Design
3 credits

Students study various models of character creation, including realistic, heroic, exaggerated, and invented form, in addition to a variety of body expressions, facial expressions, and locomotion. Discussions and assignments in character creation for the narrative are explored. Lectures and discussions cover historical and contemporary animation. Weekly journals and exercises are assigned so that students may develop observational and invented figure drawing skills. An emphasis is placed on reducing detail to make a character suitable for animation and developing character sheets to help visual rotations in perspective space.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation

ANIM 3027 2D Digital Animation
3 credits

In this class Toon Boom Harmony is taught as a tool for creating limited styles of 2D animation. Exercises are conducted in motion graphics, kinetic typography, cut-out puppet animation, and 2D visual effects. Students research contemporary studios doing innovative work in the field and complete a final project. 

Prerequisites: Intro to Animation

ANIM 3030 3D Animation
3 credits

How do 3D animators breathe life into their creations? In this course, students learn how Disney’s indispensable 12 Principles translate into 3D, expand on these concepts, and explore sensible approaches to creating appealing performances. Starting with simple exercises and gradually building to more fully-developed scenes, students gain the ability to harness the creative opportunities of 3D animation.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation

ANIM 3040 3D Modeling
3 credits

3D modelers are capable of fashioning characters, objects, and locations out of thin air – but how do they make their creations functional and compelling? In this course, students will explore essential modeling tools and techniques, craft organic and hard-surface assets, and learn how to organize the underlying structures so models are ready for rigging, animation, look development, and lighting. Skills and concepts are applicable to film and television entertainment, video games, advertising, commerce, education, pop art, and more.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation

ANIM 3043 3D Rendering
3 credits

A 3D model is a dimensional canvas waiting to be fully realized, its generic gray giving way to wood and metal, paint and rust, freckles and scars. Once surface qualities are defined, evocative light and shadow pull the viewer further into the scene, stirring emotions, and enhancing narrative. Learn how to turn models into works of art by exploring how concepts from character design, production design, photography, cinematography, painting, optics, and other disciplines combine in the CG realm.

Prerequisites: 3D Modeling

MA 3065 Sound
3 credits

Designed to acquaint students technically and conceptually with the medium of sound, this course provides a basic working vocabulary for understanding, discussing, and producing sounds. Topics covered include basic perceptual concepts and fundamentals of composing sound such as pitch, rhythm, duration, and volume. Students complete a series of assigned projects designed to demonstrate and assess competencies with microphones, studio recording, and digital editing, mixing, and processing.

Prerequisites: Media Arts: Tools and Techniques

Animation Minor Advanced Courses (select one)

ANIM 3033 Visual Effects
3 credits

In this course, students learn how to enhance films and stories with visual effects, using both industry techniques and do-it-yourself principles. The focus of the course is to incorporate visual effects into live-action footage using Adobe After Effects. Students learn previsualization, how to shoot footage for visual effects shots, green screen keying techniques, tracking, masking, acting for visual effects and finishing techniques. Students complete engaging and creative technical assignments in order to create a finished short piece utilizing techniques learned in class. This class is designed for both film and animation majors.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation or Introduction to Film

ANIM 3070 Intermediate 3D
3 credits

In this course, students will take their 3D skill sets to the next level on two fronts: First, students learn the art of rigging, where objects and characters are given the underlying structures that animators use to create the illusion of life. Discover how to analyze the kinematic requirements for hard-surface and organic subjects, and then build those capabilities using skeletons, deformers, and controllers. Second, students will plan and execute an independent project that promotes research and practice in an area of interest. This work will expand the student’s portfolio and serve as practice for the upcoming senior thesis project.

Prerequisites: 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, 3D Rendering

ANIM 3075 Character Animation 2
3 credits

This course builds upon the traditional character animation content (i.e., Disney Principles of Animation) taught in Character Animation 1. Students develop sophisticated secondary movement and overlapping action through several five- to ten-second animation assignments focusing on acting and physicality. Projects are based on everyday scenarios and require the student to produce industry-level animation evoking believable character movement, thought, and emotion. While this is a 2D animation class, students who have completed the 3D Animation course may choose to work with Maya software with faculty permission.

Prerequisites: Character Animation 1

ANIM 3080 Experimental Animation
3 credits

After a brief study of the history of process-oriented animation, students engage in experiments with camera and physical materials. Techniques may include, but are not limited to, pixilation, stop motion, direct animation, straight ahead drawing, and sand and paint animation. With the vocabulary they develop, students plan and execute one larger structured piece. The class then addresses software-based experimental animation also directing their work toward one larger project based on small exercises. The final project of the class is a collaborative piece based on sound.  

Total Credit Hours