I chose Tom’s class because I own both of his books on Character Design, and the only thing that was missing was actually watching him draw. There’s something about watching another artist’s process that can’t be matched in any book. My schedule is pretty busy, but the price and time commitment of the courses offered on the site make it very achievable no matter what kind of schedule you have. At $10 a course there’s really nothing getting in your way if you can spare a few hours.
The class was split into two lectures. In each lecture Tom gives thorough explanation of his process in designing characters for clients. From gathering reference to initial sketches, down to creating a design he considers acceptable to pitch to your client. He also talks about communicating with your client and how to help them help you give them what they want. Between each lecture you’re challenged to follow his lead and design your own characters. Once you’re finished you can upload them and move onto the next lecture.
Unlike most online classes you will not receive assignment feedback from your instructors, but unlike most online classes it doesn’t cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. These classes are perfect for people that want to test the waters, brush up on their skills, or who just love watching the masters at work and gaining insight into how they make it look so easy. I plan to take quite a few more classes as time permits. I highly recommend you do the same. :)
The recent influx of online animation training options has led to some extremely valuable opportunities to improve your skills. One of the newest kids on the block is Taught by a Pro, spearheaded by veteran animator and character designer, Tom Bancroft, and Rich Lanam, an educational technology consultant. I recently started taking a character design class taught by Tom for a mere $10, and while I’ll hold off on reviewing the curriculum for a future post, the affordability and level of teaching talent cannot be overlooked. For more info on the school, check out the promo material below.
Tom Bancroft, well known author and animator, has teamed up with Rich Lanam, an educational technology consultant, to start an online art school called Taught By A Pro. Tom Bancoft’s work has been included in Disney animation favorites Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, and many others. He has also written the definitive textbooks on character design that are used at art schools around the world. Together Rich and Tom have created the online art training program Taught By A Pro in order to provide art instruction by professionals to artists in training who might not ordinarily have the opportunity to be taught by professional animators, comic book artists, comic strip artists, illustrators, video game designers and more.
“Our goal is to give artists in training access to the best professional artists without the expense of art school. Whether you are already a professional artist or an aspiring artist, it is critical that you improve your skills. Taught By A Pro is the platform for improving your abilities and enhancing your portfolio”, states Tom. Rich adds, “Technology has the capability to improve access to education. Our goal is to reduce many of the barriers – financial, time and distance – so solid art instruction can be available to all who want it. By providing instruction anytime and anyplace at an affordable price we are breaking down some of these barriers.” According to Tom, “The types of professionals who will be sharing their techniques and tips to our students are Masters at their profession and don’t generally teach. These are artists who have honed their craft for some of the most prestigious film studios, video game companies, and institutions in the world. At Taught By A Pro, we are committed to bringing those artists to you!”
After working at Disney feature animation for over 11 years, lecturing at art schools, video game and animation studios, and writing some of the best-selling books on the subject of character design, Tom Bancroft, President of Taught By A Pro, had a few ideas about how we learn as artists. Taught By A Pro was built on Tom’s philosophy of learning. “We believe that we learn by listening, watching, then doing – then doing again, and again. We believe that we learn best in a hear, see, do style. We need to hear an experienced instructor explain a concept, see them illustrate that point, and then DO it yourself via an assignment given by the PRO. We add to this philosophy by also having the PRO do the same assignment so you can see how they apply their experience to the same challenges YOU faced. Seeing an experienced artist face the same challenge you did is one of the best ways to learn!”
About Taught By A Pro: Taught By A Pro is an online animation training company headquartered in Brentwood, TN which focuses on training artists on the creative aspects of their craft. Online courses are currently focused on animation, character design, comic strip creation and freelancing. Pro instructors include professional artists with decades of experience such as Tom Bancroft, Tony Bancroft, John Pomeroy, Michel Gagne, Michael Jantze and more.