Faculty of manga Character Design Course

Character Design Course

Create appealing characters with your own hands

Many artists and designers say that if a character just has appeal, its success is guaranteed. Character design is a vital element that provides added interest to genres such as manga, video games, animation, and light novels. Today even characters that have no connection with manga can become a business success. With merchandise and figures selling exceptionally well, mascot characters representing regional cities have emerged all over Japan, and corporations and theme parks are also utilizing them.

The Character Design Course aims to cultivate talents capable of designing attractive characters in this milieu. To acquire the essential ability required for character design, that of being able to convert an idea into concrete form, students first develop their hand-drawing skills while simultaneously engaging with digital drawing and producing work intended for display on smartphones and tablet devices.

Students also acquire the professional ability to conceive and plan products with a keen awareness of what types of character are popular and how to develop character design as a business, rather than just drawing and creating characters without any plan. By exercising their imagination and refining their skills, students design appealing characters that are sure to charm audiences.

Four years in the Character Design Course

  • 1st Year

    What makes characters especially appealing?

    Many types of characters exist. Characters have been created in manga or animation with very specific personalities, ages, backgrounds, and stories. And then there are mascot characters without any background stories. But the most popular characters are successful for particular reasons. Character Design classes teach students the essentials of creating appealing characters by analyzing both the visual characteristics and stories attached to characters, and the process by which characters are created. Combining these elements gives birth to new ideas.

    The ability to put ideas into form also constitutes an essential part of creating characters, and this requires students to have excellent drawing ability. Today digital drawing has become standard and some students have no previous experience of drawing by hand. Students thus enhance their analog abilities through sketching, croquis, and tracing. The digital process simplifies re-drawing and correcting your work, reducing the intensity of concentration on the picture, that is necessary for professional work. Students therefore need to practice focusing on drawing each line in highly expressive way. From here begins four years of shaping ideas into form and designing characters that can attract people from around the world.

    1st year
    1st Year Goals
    Understanding the elements necessary for designing appealing characters, enhancing drawing abilities for converting ideas into form.
  • 2nd Year

    Developing character design for business

    In this year students engage in practical lessons to design characters with an awareness of clients. Students create characters intended for clients such as local governments and corporations. According to what clients are looking for, students design mascot characters, moe (appealing) characters, and hero characters. And by creating related merchandise like costumes, students experience the process of first conceiving ideas, designing characters, and then creating actual products.

    In their drawing classes, students continue to train in basic drawing abilities, while also engaging with drawing background pictures and mecha. Based on the analog drawing skills that they have already cultivated, second-year students tackle digital drawing. Understanding the features of both analog and digital drawing, students obtain the methods for utilizing as well as integrating these techniques.

    As the character business continues to expand today, professional artists are required to have not just drawing skills but also the ability to develop character design. The course features classes for producing content for tablet computers and smartphones while teaching students foundational digital skills. As completed content is streamed online, your characters go out into the world.

    2nd year
    2nd Year Goals
    Building up the ability to develop character design for businesses, learning indispensable digital skills.
  • 3rd Year

    Your characters start to move

    The third-year learning is based on seminar-style classes. Students select classes on manga, illustrating light novels, or digital content production according to their fields of interests and future career paths.

    In classes designed to train students to become illustrators for manga or light novels, and simply as illustrators, students get to grips with producing manga and light novels, collaborating with students from the Manga Production Course. Students from the Manga Production Course undertake the task of writing scripts and novels, while the Character Design students engage with drawing manga and illustrations for novels. The course also offers classes teaching content production for tablet computers and smartphones. Streaming your content online and getting feedback, students gain hands-on experience in how to entertain people. Each professor in charge of these seminar–style classes is a leading professional in the character business, including a manga artist and illustrator. Learning directly from them enables students to absorb their professional skills as well as their ways of thinking.

    3rd year
    3rd Year Goals
    Creating work based on your own field of interest and future career path. Attaining professional skills and ways of thinking.
  • 4th Year

    The challenge of turning professional

    With a variety of planning and drawing abilities as well as specialized techniques obtained over four years, students now commence work on their graduation projects, designing characters as the accumulation of four years of study through a series of meetings with supervisors. The graduation projects are broad, including illustration, comic art, digital content, and three-dimensional work. As the creative output as well as business opportunities for character design are wide open, so too are appealing characters born here in diverse genres.

    The fourth year is a preparatory period for becoming a professional. In one class a professor, who is a leading illustrator, uses video to show the process of completing one picture, explaining his intentions at each stage. Learning professional creative methods directly, students are motivated not only to create their graduation projects, but also to enter competitions for upcoming artists. The challenge to become a professional starts here.

    4th year
    4th Year Goals
    Utilizing the skills and techniques obtained over the four years, and commencing graduation projects. Entering competitions to set off into the professional world.

Career paths after graduating from the Character Design Course

The Character Design Course trains students to acquire both analog and digital drawing skills, and digital techniques that enable them to release their work via tablet computers like the iPad and online. Students are also furnished with the ability to conceive ideas for designing popular characters and the practical skills for connecting their characters to business opportunities. Characters that you design could become loved all over the world.

Career choices

  • Character designer for video games and animation
  • Illustrator for light novel book covers
  • Manga artists collaborating with script-writers
  • Designing corporate and local government mascot characters

Other career options

  • Light novel illustrator
  • Figure designer
  • Web designer etc.

Character Design Course Faculty Members (in Japanese)