Phillip Kieffer ’19 brings his talents back to PCA&D in a pair of Center for Creative Exploration classes
Monday, September 13th, 2021
PCA&D is thrilled to welcome Phil Kieffer back to campus this fall to teach a pair of classes in the College’s Center for Creative Exploration. An award-winning animator and artist, Kieffer is a 2019 graduate of PCA&D’s Digital Media department, now Animation & Game Art.
In the CCE program, Kieffer will be mentoring two classes: Character Design (for Pre-College students, on Tuesday evenings beginning Sept. 21) as well as the Adult Enrichment class Digital Painting: Fantasy Landscape, which runs on Wednesday evenings beginning Sept. 22.
Though the age groups differ, Kieffer says there are many similarities in how he approaches class instruction. “Every class is different,” he says, “but I still come at it with an eye for detail, and a focus on encouraging creativity and communication.”
Let’s take a look at the specifics of what students in Kieffer’s classes can expect:
For parents who aren’t familiar with what this is, can you describe character design?
PK: For me, character design is the art of designing the visual language for a character for the purpose of driving a story forward. You want to create a character that the audience can relate to, or experience a reaction to. We are designing characteristics, and communicating them visually to show off the character’s personality.
What kinds of projects should students expect to be working on?
PK: The types of projects I work on with my students always revolve around a creative prompt. For example, one of my projects is to craft a monster design. It’s open-ended enough so that the students don’t feel constricted, yet there’s this limitation of the character having to be classified as a “monster.” I like to give my students a jumping-off point to get their natural creativity flowing immediately.
The class description states that students will learn to create unique characters across a variety of media, including animation, illustration, comics, and video games. How do characters different within those different genres?
PK: The techniques and information I go over in this class are meant to be applied to any medium, but I do address how character design differs based on medium. A character meant to be drawn hundreds of times over the course of a 2-minute hand-drawn animation is realistically going to have to be less complex, and have more streamlined shape language than a character meant to be in a comic book.
… I ask my students what mediums they’re interested in on Day One, and try to keep that in mind throughout the course of the class, tailoring my critiques of their work to what they naturally gravitate toward, or what types of characters they hope to design.
You can see the full lineup of Fall CCE classes and workshops for Young Artists, Pre-College, Adult Enrichment, and Adult Professional, here.
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