Character Design & Animation Masterclass Pixar


A Masterclass for students and professionals

Two days of intensive training with Daniel Holland, Art Director at Pixar, and Andrew Gordon, Animation Director at Pixar. The masterclass is suitable both for professionals and students who wants to learn and update the art of creating and giving life to memorable characters.
Over the two days, are planned lectures, examples images and excerpts from live action and animated films, and workshops to put into practice some of the principles discussed during the lecture.


Daniel Holland currently works at Pixar Animation Studios. His latest project was as sets art director on the feature film Inside Out. Dan studied art and film at Brigham Young University and animation at The Vancouver Film School. He has a BFA in character animation from the California Institute of the Arts. Dan has worked as an animator, sketch artist, and art director at Pixar over the last 12 years. He has taught and lectured for the past 10 years on character and animation design traveling the world, teaching also at The Animation Collaborative and The One Academy.

Daniel love children’s book illustration, steam engines, and animation.



Andrew Gordon has been animating characters professionally for over 20 years. He joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1997 where he has animated on A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2 and 3, Monsters Inc, Monster U. Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, The Incredibles and Ratatouille among others. The characters he has helped lead include Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Gill, from finding Nemo and Edna Mode, the costume designer in “The Incredibles”.
He was Supervising animator for the academy award nominated short “Presto”. Andrew was a directing animator on Monsters University and currently a director in the promo group creating material for Incredibles 2.
He was awarded “Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture” by the Visual Effects Society for his work in Finding Nemo.




Days: May 5th and 6th, 2017

SCHEDULES: 9am – 6pm with lunch break

* Unica data in Europa *

Location in centro storico a Roma:
Giovanni Paolo II Hall
Piazza di S. Apollinare, 49
near to Piazza Navona / maps

Pianifica il tuo viaggio



Day 1 – Daniel Holland:

Character Design Lecture
The Character Design portion of the workshop will begin with a lecture on my philosophy and method of character design. I explain and stress the importance of developing your personal interests and using those passions to fuel your design work. Students will be shown the importance of research, experimentation and decision-making throughout the design process.
Character Design Workshop
The hands on portion of the workshop will allow students time to put into practice some of the principles discussed. We’ll work with cut out paper, do some sketching from film stills to caricature and “push” live action poses, play with the 3 dimensionality of shape in some drawing exercises, and experiment with collage to help inspire fresh character design ideas.
Character Design Critique
The critique portion includes instructor examination of student work and draw-overs to help refine the designs while reinforcing important design principles.

Production Design Lecture
The lecture portions of production design instruction will be interwoven with hands on activities and critique throughout the afternoon. We will look at strong examples in both live action and animation of successful environment design, again stressing the importance of experimentation and personal perspective.
Production Design Workshop
The hands on portion of the afternoon will be about communicating within the limitations of the frame. Students will use simple cardboard viewfinders to tell a story through compositional sketches. Students will also be exposed to the limitless possibilities offered in animation and the way that theatrical design can empower and strengthen a story.
Production Design Critique
Again, critique will include instructor feedback and the examination of animated and live action work, as well as slides from a variety of artists in various disciplines.

Day 2 – Andrew Gordon:

Storytelling 101
We warm up the day with an overview of basic storytelling principles and 3 act structure. A few exercises are to put a character through the structure.
Staging and Pose Design
Lecture about staging and pose design. We look at how to push poses and how to fix broken poses. A review of Pixar interns work helps us see how to improve work. We also study hands and how to get appeal from them.
We will look at the process of creating character driven walk cycles as well as runs and other types of movement on animals, robots and understanding where to start.
Acting and Gestures for Animation
We explore how to make your characters emote. Pantomime, Subtle, Broad will be explored. Participants will do an improvisation in order to learn some basic principles. Gestures are a huge part of animating. We will looks at ways to make your characters gestures feel believable, fresh and telling. Entertainment Value – What makes a scene funny? In this part of lecture we will explore how to add entertainment value to your scenes.

Planning and Blocking
We will talk about all the different things you can do to get yourself ready for a scene. Thumbnails, Video Reference, Film Reference etc. By looking at past shots I have done I will talk about what has worked and what has not. We also look at how the masters, like Milt Kahl planned a scene. Different methods of scene blocking will be covered in this lecture. We will explore the process of blocking, getting notes, and making changes in an efficient manner. Straight Ahead, Pose to Pose and the Layered approach will all be covered.
Facial Animation and Design
They say when you are watching a character, most of your time is spent looking at the face, then the hands. In this lecture, we explore in detail the aspects of creating great facial animation. Facial acting, subtle eye movements, Blinks, lid shaping, cheats, dialogue, etc… will be covered.
Reels and Wrap
What really defines a good reel? What do you want to put on a reel to get you the job? I have seen thousands of reels and this lecture talks about the do’s and don’ts.



 Events like this, are gold for a professional as well a student. Are rare events not to be missed and where learn as much as possible. It was great to meet and connect with other artists of the industry…– Chiara

 Andrew is one of the greatest living animators, what a fantastic lessons from him! I was very inspired … at the end of the two days I was exhausted, but how much valuable informations!– Thomas


Pass, access to the class

Workbook, lectures and notes from the artists

Tshirt, collectible Tshirt, drawn by a Pixar artist

Certificate of Attendance, signed by the 2 artists

All lectures will be in English

Prize-draw from the Pixar store