MA Character & Creature Creation

Course Details

Location

London campus or live online

Start date

23rd September 2024

Duration

1 year 

Mode of study

Full time 

Fees

London campus (UK students): £18,995 

London campus (international students): £19,995

Live online: £15,995 

Entry requirements

An undergraduate honours degree in a field related to character creation 

Degree awarded by

Transparent black Coventry University logo

Top 10 Rookies award for creative schools in the UK
©

Course overview

Design, create and bring life to your own characters and creatures. 

Over the course of this programme, you will learn how to design, model, texture, rig and animate your own characters. The first 18 weeks of the course are common with our Advanced Character & Creature Creation course. You’ll learn hands-on character and creature design skills before applying them to two major projects based on industry briefs. One of those projects will be collaborative, so you get used to working as a group just like in a studio, the other will be individual to allow you to create and finesse more pieces for your portfolio.  

At the end of the course, you’ll have earned a postgraduate qualification, have a showreel of character and creature creation work and a thorough understanding of the animation and VFX industry. Led by our industry-trained tutors who’ve worked on credits including The Lion King, Godzilla and Doctor Strange, and with help from our Talent Development Team, Aftercare programme and industry guest speakers, you’ll build the skills and connections to kick-start your creative career.  

If you are serious about building a career in character and creature design, this course will give you the qualification, confidence, skills and connections to start applying for roles in the industry. 

See also Character & Creature Creation (12 weeks) or Advanced Character & Creature Creation (18 weeks)

See more student work

Why choose this course

  • Industry feedback - you’ll receive industry-standard critique from an expert in their field. Previous studio partners for our character and creature creation course have included VFX and games studios like Framestore, Rocksteady and Improbable 

  • Industry briefs - you'll work on industry-standard briefs and experience real-life scenarios, just like in a professional studio

  • Professional input - our advisory board of experts, from the likes of DNEG (Fantastic Beasts and Stranger Things), Framestore (His Dark Materials, Thor: Love and Thunder), Rocksteady (Archam) and MPC (The Lion King, Pinocchio) help develop and keep this degree relevant

  • Successful alumni - you'll join our community of thousands of Escapees, many of whom have gone on to work as Character Technical Directors at some of the world’s top studios including Framestore, MPC and Blacklist Creative.

  • Aftercare package - we'll help you polish your showreel and find the right job, with access to our studios and showreel clinics for 12 months

  • Industry-standard facilities - you'll work in a studio environment that mirrors current industry practice, using professional software such as Maya, Zbrush and Unreal Engine

  • Flexibility - choose to study live online if you can’t travel or need a visa to study in the UK. The final 24 weeks are project based and can be organised around a part-time job or personal schedule

  • Recognised degree - graduate with a postgraduate MA qualification from Coventry University which will boost your employability around the world. 

Course modules

This programme is a one-year course including 18 weeks of direct teaching time, a 12-week collaborative project and a 12-week final project. 

The first 12 weeks are common with our 12-week Character & Creature Creation course and the first 18 weeks are common with our 18-week Advanced Character & Creature Creation course.

  • Character and creature design theory

    • Moodboards

    • The importance of research, body language and expressions

  • Tools and techniques for creating character and creature concepts

    • Colour and background

    • Beat boards

    • Light and shadow

  • Using anatomy of characters and creatures in design choices

  • Analysing an established style to create character and creature concepts

  • Functional fashion in character and creature concepts

    • Costume design

    • Costume language

  • Establishing new styles

    • How to prepare a character or creature design bible for animation, outsourcing and videogames, and a pitch for comic publishing

  • Introduction to ZBrush

    • Character and creature anatomy

    • High-detail sculpting

  • Introduction to Maya

    • How Maya works

    • Retopology

    • Anatomy

    • Asset setup

  • Introduction to texturing

    • Introduction to Substance Painter and Mari

  •  VFX and games pipelines

    • Differences and similarities

  • Lighting and rendering

    • Rendering in Arnold and Unreal Engine

  • Presenting characters and creatures for portfolios

    • Introduction to rigging for creating character poses

    • Directed project time

  • Character rigging in Maya

    • Creating advanced character rig setups

    • Introduction to python

    • How Maya really works

  • Creating cloth and soft surface simulations in

    • Maya and Houdini

    • FEM and Vellum workflows

  • Creating muscle systems in Maya

    • Advanced anatomy

    • Character FX pipelines

  • Fur and hair groom

    • Long and short hair/fur with dynamics

  • Creating character cycles for presentation

    • Walks and runs ready for final showreel presentation

  • Project catch-up week

For this module, you will work on a project as a group, to demonstrate your ability to choose correct techniques and approaches, and to apply them to a specified professional brief. 

For this module, you will work on a final major project with feedback and guidance from your tutors and industry professionals. It will allow you to showcase your in-depth knowledge of your specialism area, ready for use in a portfolio. 

For more details about modules, see the programme and module specifications.

More information

  • Maya 

  • ZBrush 

  • Houdini 

  • Substance Painter 

  • Mari 

  • Unreal Engine 5

  • Adobe Creative Suite 

To apply, complete an online application form which includes a link to submit your portfolio. Our Admissions Team will get in touch to take you through the next steps.

If you have any questions about your application, your portfolio or our entry requirements, get in touch!

As part of the application process, you will need to agree to our terms and conditions for your place on the course to be secured.

Minimum requirements 

An undergraduate honours degree with a significant component in the field of art and design or related discipline. 

Applicants without a degree who have significant industry experience in animation or related creative subjects will be considered. 

Suitable applicants will be asked to submit a creative portfolio.  

International students 

We welcome applications from qualified candidates all over the world. 

Postgraduate applicants will need a good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (or significant professional experience) and a postgraduate portfolio.

View individual country requirements. If yours are not listed, then please contact admissions@escapestudios.ac.uk

English language requirements

All our courses are taught in English. If your first language is not English, you may need to complete an English language test, such as a Pearson English language test (PTE Academic) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, to demonstrate you have the language skills needed to complete your degree.

QualificationScore required
IELTS 6.0 IELTS (with a minimum of 6.0 in Reading and Writing and 5.5 in Speaking and Listening)
PTE 62 including 60 in each subtest
Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency176 (with a minimum of 169 in Reading and Writing and 162 in Speaking and Listening)
Internet-based TOEFL90 Overall including at least 22 in Reading, 21 in Writing, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking

International students will be required to hold a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at B2 in order to be able to apply for a visa to study at Escape Studios on a student visa. View Qualifications that are accepted by UKVI.

You may be exempt from proving your English level if you are from an English-speaking country listed as recognised for visa purposes or have a degree level qualification obtained in one of these countries. The latest list is available on the UK Government website.

For students who have a SELT at B2 but who do not meet our requirements, we can also consider alternative qualifications. Please contact admissions@escapestudios.ac.uk for more information.

If you’d like to discuss your circumstances before applying, contact us at admissions@escapestudios.ac.uk or +44 (0) 20 4570 5091.

We can provide remote access to our workstations during teaching time. Due to availability restrictions, we highly advise you to have your own set up at home to study in your own time.

More things you’ll need:

  • A strong internet connection

  • An external hard drive (minimum 2TB) to back up your work during the course

  • A three-button mouse (or optionally graphics tablet)

  • A computer microphone (and optionally a webcam)

  • Note-taking materials

If you have any questions about learning online or if you need help with what to buy, get in touch at courses@escapestudios.ac.uk.

Fees for 2024 entry

London campus:

  • UK students: £18,995

  • International students: £19,995

Live online: £15,995

Our postgraduate fees are payable within the first 18 weeks of the course, with a deposit to be paid before the start of the course. Please note, we review our fees every year.

Fees include:

  • Escapee Aftercare and career support, including help and advice on your CV, showreel and job applications for 12 months after the end of your course.

  • Free Autodesk student registration allowing access to educational versions of software such as Maya and Arnold.

  • 18 weeks of classroom study followed by 12 weeks of remotely directed learning and a 12 to 15-week remotely directed final project. All with feedback from your lead tutor and from an industry professional.

Funding for UK students

To be eligible for funding from Student Finance England, you must be studying on an eligible course at a provider registered with the Office for Students (OfS). Escape Studios is registered with the Office for Students and our Master’s programmes are eligible for funding.

Visit www.officeforstudents.org.uk for more information.

Payment plans

We offer a range of payment plan options for all courses. Following an initial deposit at registration stage, your chosen payment plan will break down your remaining fees into up to six equal instalments, to be paid over the course length.

Contact our Admissions Team on admissions@escapestudios.ac.uk or +44 (0)204 570 5091 or visit our admissions page for any questions about fees, funding, payment plans and scholarships.

“Animation in the UK has a strong track record in character development and storytelling. It also leverages the UK’s global leadership in the artistic and technical aspects of the visual product.” (source Animation UK)

You’ll graduate with a postgraduate qualification and a killer portfolio put together with advice from tutors and industry professionals. Ready to apply to start your career in the industry! 

Some of the opportunities you can consider once you’ve finished your studies include: 

  • CG Generalist 

  • CFX (Character FX) Artist 

Our students have gone to work as both specialist and generalist artists in creative studios, across films, TV, games and visual effects. Read some of our Escapee success stories.

Check out our Careers Guide for more information about career opportunities and progression routes.

The assessment methods employed in this programme have been developed to mirror industry practice as far as possible. We balance feedback from tutors and industry experts. It is crucial that, as a student, you learn how to accept and work with feedback from your superiors and peers, as this will be the norm when you work in industry. You also need to develop a keen self-critical eye, to be able to step back from your work and see what you could improve, and to have the ability to look at yourself and your working practices and make changes where necessary.  

Formative assessment

This is one of the most important aspects of your work. You will receive regular feedback from your tutor, studio assistants and peers during your modules. This will often be oral feedback on your work, sometimes on a one-to-one basis, sometimes in a group feedback session or daily. All of this should help you build on your strengths and develop your skills as you progress through the course. 

Summative assessment

This will be specifically designed to measure how well you meet the learning outcomes of the module. They will usually involve a task to meet a brief set by your tutor and will allow you to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that you have learned during the module. You’ll need to decide exactly how to complete the task, choosing particular techniques and approaches, and making decisions on the aesthetics and style to meet the given requirements. 

Each module will have a practical element (usually a practical project, where you make something) and a written element (usually a journal or blog, where you reflect on what you’ve made). Sometimes you will also have to give a presentation to demonstrate your work. All these elements are essential to your development, by showing that you can deliver to a required level and that you understand why you can and how you could improve.

Summative assessment breakdown

For your pathway modules (character and creature design, character and creature modelling and presentation, character and creature technical direction), you will be assessed as follows: 

  • Practical project – 60% 

  • Production logbook – 30% 

  • Individual presentation – 10% 

For the collaborative module, you will be assessed as follows: 

  • Group project – 80% 

  • Retrospective group presentation – 20% 

For the production project, you will be marked as follows: 

  • Production project – 60% 

  • Written retrospective – 40% 

For more information, see full programme specifications.

Your overall workload will be divided between teaching sessions and independent learning. 

During your course, you’ll be able to develop your knowledge and skills in a number of ways. Some learning time will be closely directed and supervised by your tutors, at other times you’ll be free to organise your own study with guidance. All your scheduled studio time, except for some information sessions and presentations, will be in smaller groups based on specialism. 

For your team project, you’ll be working with a smaller team, collaborating to meet a shared brief. This will give you ample opportunity to get the support and assistance that you need. 

The first three modules have a high contact time (180 hours for each module), as this is where you will learn the knowledge and skills associated with your chosen subject, directed and informed by your tutors’ expertise and experience. These will normally involve a large part of each day with your tutor and studio assistant, following demonstrations and working on set exercises to help you develop your craft. 

The Studio Project and Production Project modules will have a lower contact time (15 hours and 30 hours respectively), with your tutors taking on the roles of supervisors or studio leads. You’ll meet with them regularly to get feedback and help you stay on the right path, but these modules are much more about you managing the learning experience to meet your objectives. You’ll be free to organise your work either as a team or an individual to best suit your project requirements. 

Each module has its own area on our Online Learning Environment (OLE) where you will find information about the module and the resources that are provided to support your learning. Some of this information will be dedicated to the module, other elements may be shared across different modules and some may be external assets that can help with your further study. There may be links to videos, online journals and e-books, and you should take advantage of these to enhance your development and take it beyond the studio experience. Tutors may highlight some of these during their sessions. 

Students with additional needs or disabilities are supported by our Student Services team

Overall workload 

This programme has two entry points each year. It is divided into two stages. Stage 1 comprises modules to a total of 120 credits and stage 2 comprises a 60-credit Production Project module. You must successfully complete each module in order to be awarded the specified number of credits for that module. One credit corresponds to approximately ten hours of 'learning time' (including all classes and all private study and research). Obtaining 180 credits in an academic year requires 1,800 hours of overall learning time. 

The first three modules are taught in intensive blocks of six weeks each, giving a total of 18 weeks. During each of these modules, you will spend around 30 hours per week studying in tutor-led sessions or practice supported by studio assistants. The final two modules are more self-directed. The Studio Project will take around 12 weeks, during which you will have around 15 hours of feedback sessions with your tutor. Finally, you will spend around 18 weeks on the Production Project, including around 30 hours of feedback sessions with your tutor. 

Each 30-credit module on the course requires you to commit 300 hours of study, with one 60-credit module which requires 600 hours of study. Some of these hours will be formally supervised in the learning environment and others will involve private study.  

For more details about modules, credits and workload, see full programme specifications.

Profile picture of Klaudija Cermak
Profile picture of Philip Meredith
Profile picture of Michael Davies

Meet our industry-experienced tutors

They all have industry experience and are experts in their fields, including certified trainers for Unreal Engine, Autodesk and Houdini. They've worked at studios such as Walt Disney, EA and Framestore, on credits including Doctor Strange, Kingsman and Bond: Spectre.

Meet your tutors

Student showcase