Character Design I with Kory Hubbell (On-Demand)

Now On-Demand!

Character Design and Exploration for Video Game Production


Want to learn how to design characters for the dynamics of a game company?Maybe you want to take your designs to the next level or level up in your career.

Character Designers make an average of $86,413 a year according to but this is a career that requires specialized training and a unique set of skills.

Anatomy, shape language, proportions, weapons, clothing, environments... these are all some of the topics that a successful character designer has to consider every working day.

Kory Hubbell has been doing this every day for a decade at companies like 343 Industries (Halo 4 and 5) Carbine Studios (Wildstar), and now Amazon Game Studios.

Throughout his career he's designed for MMO's, Mobile, Social and Console games and he has a simple system that helps him quickly generate ideas and flesh out concepts.

What You'll Learn

You'll learn the following and much more during this eight week class:

  • Design fundamentals in character design
  • Shape language for character types
  • Exploring character variations
  • Designing characters and creatures for the entertainment industry
  • Designing props and weapons

A Design First Approach To Characters

Design First is an essential key to create amazing character art. In this course we teach character design using the three S's.

  • Story
  • Shape
  • Style

The Story of your character establishes their role, their identity, their specific function in a game. It is the first pillar to exploring your character's design.

Shape language is the second pillar to great design. What shapes best represent your character and his/ her story? Is the character more boxy or perhaps they are more round and spherical.

The shapes in your design go a long way to creating the "feeling" of the character. For example, in Disney's The Incredibles all the characters except a few evil ones had rounded edges.

You could also look at Michael Bay's Transformer movies to see how hard edges and repetitive triangular shapes help establish the decepticons vs the boxy-ness of the Autobots.

Squares, spheres, triangles are the grammer, the vocubular of a good designer and are an essential skill for designers to master.

The third pillar of the Design First principle is Style. Once you have Story and you have Shape you can begin to focus on the Style, the ornamentation, the detail work of your character.

Do they have arabesque ornamentation of medieval? Do they have big bold and broad planes of color or do they have multi-faceted surfaces that add a lot of visual clutter?

Learning the three S's of the Design First principle will help you grow as a designer and focus on the skills and the resources that you really need to be successful.

Myths Of The Character Designer

Do I need to know anatomy?

No, Design First is the most important principle at work. We need to borrow anatomy and work to be better at it but we start with shapes and form first.

Do I need to know how to draw?

This course will show you the simple time tested procedure used by character designers for years. You need to be able to draw but you do not need to excel at drawing. Helping you excel is our job and we take that seriously.

The number one challenge people have learning character design is the sheer amount of work that you need to do to be successful.

In this course, Kory will show you how to establish your own character design pipeline. You'll focus on shape language first. Then you' and then when you're ready begin exploring details.

The key, though, is to break your pipeline up into different stages 


Week 1.

-Intro. Principles of design- Line, Shape, Form, Value, Color, Texture, Space. Tsk about principles used in concept art: Rule of thirds, 70/30, Big Medium Small. Flow. Balance. Rhythm. Repetition. Shape language. Proportions. Balance. Etc.
Sketch or study every day. 

-Demo: Character Thumbs for 3 characters.
-Assignment: Gather reference. Generate list of ideas for character, weapon, and prop. 5 sketch pages of relevant material- studies of machines, armor, etc or thought process for function. Environment study ok too. Just sketch.

Week 2.

-Go over student ideas. Go over my own. Explain that we want to ideate and come up with lots of variants and make character sketches from those before a final. Discuss silhouetted variation, variants on a base, etc.
-Demo: do a second pass at some thumbs based on direction picked, doing variants and exploring 3 of the original thumbs further. Figure out weapon types and potential pose, general costume. Story, Shapes, Style. Keep it loose.
Finish first phase of thumbs. 2 sketch pages of relevant study.

Week 3.

-Go over thumbs. Help pick directions based on story and scene idea. Talk about story development and implementation of props, weapons.
-Demo: Character 1 and weapon or objects, prop if time. Show my process for character sketching- very loose sketch, color flats to nail down more of the silhouette, drawing/painting on top.
-Assignment: Pick 3 thumbs and start doing variants, pushing, pulling, experiment on a base. 2 sketch pages of relevant study.

Week 4.

-Critique previous assignment.
-Demo: Character 2 and weapon or objects, prop if time
-Assignment: Pick one from the three character sets and start doing a full sketch/design. Goal is not to make a rendered image in this class, but to design. Also consider adding in an extra large prop for story. 2 pages of study is forgiven this week.

Week 5.

-Critique first Characters.
-Demo: Character 3 and weapon or objects, prop if time
Assignment: Continue on first character or do a second. May also choose to do variants of first character. 2 sketch pages of relevant study.

Week 6.

-Critique of character sketching.
Demo: Weapon iteration and design
Assignment: Flesh out a character's weapon or held prop. Variants or options. Large Prop if feeling ambitious. 2 sketches of relevant study.

Week 7

-Critique of weapons. Explain placing character in a scene.
Demo: Prop designs and scene arrangement.
Assignment: Prop thumbnails and scene arrangement. Basically, pick a large prop and have your character standing near it or interacting with it. This should be to add to story and create a "scene" and establish scale for the prop. Sketch pages forgiven.

Week 8

-Final review
Demo: prop design, polish


When is the live session?

This is NOT a live class. This is an on-demand course extracted from his live course.

When I get access?

Your access starts immediately.

Can I download it ?

Yes, everything streams from the site and is downloadable.

How long do I have access to the material?

You have lifetime access to the course material

How long are the recordings?

Each module is around three hours long. There are nine modules. 

Will my work be reviewed?

As an on-demand course there is no interaction with the instructor. However, you will have access to our private social network to post work and get reviews from our team.



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