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Science of Character Animation by Markus Magnusson

$599 Add to Cart Buy it Now
Learn how to create lively and charismatic characters from scratch and direct funny animation scenes on your own. In this course, Markus Magnusson will share his unique approach to character design.

Science of Character Animation by Markus Magnusson

Get as much life as possible out of your 2d characters with this all-encompassing course taking you into the fascinating world of Character Animation. Markus will cover tonnes of classical animation and character design principles. He will also share his unique techniques gained throughout his long experience of a professional animator and motion graphics designer.

What is this course about?


The Struggle is real

Characters are too complicated
A character is a complex system of limbs, body and other parts. And it's extremely hard to handle all of this at once. Usually you don't know what to animate first, what kind of dependencies exist between all of the body parts, each step of the animation process just confuses you even more.

But we will give all the necessary knowledge to understand what to start with, what to do next and even where and when you should stop in animating characters.
Something is wrong with my character's moves
Your character is moving like he has just run away from hospital long before making a complete recovery? Not satisfied with the result and can't understand why?

In this course you will learn all the essential fundamentals that will allow you to heal your characters from past diseases and let them enjoy this beautiful life you've just brought them into!
How to prepare illustration for animation?
You have just drawn a character, imported it to After Effects and here we go… Splitting it into new layers again and again, going back to Illustrator and sorting it out in a new way. OMG, is there any rule of thumb?

Sure, there are a bunch of principles you should know and apply while preparing your character for animation. You will be taught all of them.
My characters don't look awesome
Decided to do a real cool shot for your portfolio but even static characters already don't look good?

Keep calm, this course will show you not only how to organize illustrator layers but also how to design characters so that they are easier to animate and are still as charismatic as you want them to be.
Something is wrong with my character's moves
Your character is moving like he has just run away from hospital long before making a complete recovery? Not satisfied with the result and can't understand why?

This course also touches upon the topic of rigging. So, you will definitely know what exactly, at which stage and in what way should be rigged.
You will get permanent license on Character Tool Lite together with the course

No additional plugins needed

It is a versatile script for character animators. It contains functions for rigging characters and adjusting their appearance, workflow boosters and a bunch of secondary motion presets.
We have developed Character Tool Lite specificaly for this course, it contains all necessary rigging functions for learning and commercial purposes.

Is this course for me?

You will need basic knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and some experience working in After Effects to be able to complete this course.
Illustrators & Character Designers
Who want to gain more knowledge about character design and to bring to life their own creatures.

Illustrators & Character Designers

Motion Designers & 2D Animators
Who want to diversify their works with kickass character animation or at least get rid of an ugly limb movement.

Motion Designers & 2D Animators

UI Designers & Graphics Designers
Who want to learn character animation and create scenes which then can be used in their apps, games and other digital products.

UI Designers & Graphics Designers

Course Curriculum

What will I learn in Science of Character Animation?

Blocking Out a Character (Adobe Illustrator)
Work on character animation starts with a character. For this reason, Markus will pay great attention to how really charismatic characters are created.

You will have a quick overview of Adobe Illustrator tools and then learn about blocking out a character, proportions, exaggerations and etc.
It's really important to know how each body part relates to other parts and the body itself in terms of size.
General Shape of a Character
A little trick that will significantly simplify your work with character design and will give you an understanding of how exactly to change the size and the position of the body parts.
Adding Details (Adobe Illustrator)
We will continue talking about character design and pay more attention to such things as hands & feet, face and hair and will finish with adding details and outlines and, of course, we will show you effective ways of working with color.
In this lesson, we'll design all of its elements: face, hair, clothes and all other details you can come up with. So by the end of the lesson, you'll definitely know how to create your own rock star!
Show Full Curriculum
Dynamic Character Posing (Adobe Illustrator)
Many believe that the main role in animation is played by easings and timings… But the truth is, the secret to good character animation lies in high-quality poses. So in this section you will learn what the line of action is and how to use it, how to work with weight and gravity, and how to build an expressive and balanced composition.
It's all about defining at what distance objects or their parts are placed from the camera and also about the perspective.
Consider this as a general rule of what to do with horizontal lines depending on where the object is pointing regarding to the camera.
This thing does a lot with making your poses more dynamic. Symmetry is boring so play around with the angles of hips and shoulder lines, then try to do the same thing with other limbs and their parts.
Each character has a center of gravity. And this thing will help you a lot to make a balanced or an unbalanced pose.
Line of Action
Think about the direction character's forces. Then consider what angle and curve should the body have to apply them as efficiently as possible.
Facial Expressions (Adobe Illustrator)
What emotion is your character expressing? There are a lot of small nuances in facial expressions, that's why it is very important to know the basics of building emotions.

You will learn mouth and eyes designs and the ways to create different moods.
7 basic emotions
It is believed that you can show seven basic emotions only with the help of line of eyebrows and mouths. The mouth arc sets the key message, whether it is a positive or negative emotion and the eyebrow arc specifies its nature.
Master the Story
So, let's start animating, right? Don't hurry… To start with you need to have everything planned thoroughly. This stage is extremely important, as it helps to avoid tricky corrections when animating and it will also save some hair on your head from falling out.

In this lesson, we will talk about ways to generate ideas, create concepts and how to turn them into a complete captivating story.
Rigging the Character
A character is a complex system consisting of lots of limbs and other elements. So it's very important to secure yourself against unnecessary trouble by splitting and naming layers in Illustrator first, then import it in After Effects and create a flexible rig. That will save tons of time and make the animation process much more comfortable. This is what this lesson is about.
Markus Magnusson
Course author
In this lesson, I will be using the Character Tool. It is the new script developed by Motion Design School that has all necessary rigging functionality and also serves as a great animation assistant.
Key Animation Techniques (After Effects)
Alright, it's time to animate. Markus will share with you a lot of different techniques he has learnt during his long journey as an animator. In this lesson we will talk about such principles as weight, anticipation, recoil and follow through.
Key Animation Techniques (After Effects)
After you have already got familiar with things that allow you to create the good animation basis it's time to learn how you can add flexibility to your characters with the help of squash & stretch, whip and wave motion, and offsets.
Secondary Motion
(After Effects)

A character consists of many details, and after main parts have been animated let's create some secondary motion by animating clothes, hair and adding some smears or action lines to emphasize the motion.
Here is a result you will get by the end of the lesson.
Nice Walk-cycles
(After Effects)

One of the greatest animators Ken Harris once gave a great piece of advice:

"A walk is the first thing to learn. Learn walks of all kinds, cause walks are about the toughest thing to do right".
Here is a normal walk that we are going to make.
Energetic Run Cycles
(After Effects)

A run is not just an accelerated walk. This movement has different dynamics, that's what we will talk about here. Markus will show you the key poses and some secret ways to make your run cycles more expressive.
Here is the result of what will be doing during this lesson.
Pose to Pose (After Effects)
This approach will save you a lot of time while animating complex scenes with a lot of different actions. In this lesson you will learn how to plan your shot and all the further steps to achieve a really nice result instead of getting lost and spend a lot of time on experiments when animating each movement one by one.
Here is the result of what we will be doing during this lesson.
Facial Expressions & Lip Sync (After Effects)
Even the slightest brow movement can cause a significant emotional response from the audience. Would be nice to know this trick as well as some others, wouldn't it?

Here you will learn how to animate transitions between emotions and get equipped with the alphabet of lip-sync.
Here is what we will get by the end of the lesson.
Acting and Timing (After Effects)
What if your viewers were able to watch your animation only once? Would they get the message? Animation is a true stage performance, so it follows the same principles and the same tricks can be used.

Here we will talk about body language, facial expressions, importance of the eyes and, of course, timings, which usually play even greater role in achieving the best possible dramatic effect than technically challenging animation.
Hand Animation & Gestures (After Effects)
The second part is devoted to adding details by animating hands and gestures.
Finalize your masterpiece (After Effects)
It's time to finish up your animation, create a perfect loop, add sound design, render it out and post it on your Dribbble, Instagram, Vimeo or whatever.


We have a free lesson waiting for you

Try free lecture
Free lecture image
Heyoo, My name is Markus Magnusson but most of you probably know me as Motionmarkus. I'm a swedish born animator with over 10 years experience of bringing characters to life. I've animated everything from Google Doodles to wizard sticker packs for Dropbox. In this course I will spill the beans on all my techniques so if your characters are a little bit stiff & bent out of shape then you'll love this course.

Who will be teaching?

Author's Works

You might have already seen some of his striking eye-catching stuff, but here it is once again!

Students' Homework

What will I be capable of after the Science of Character Animation by Markus Magnusson course?

Student Showreel
Science of Character Animation

What do our students say?

You will study from animators and Motion Designers from around the globe. Each of them is a professional in their own field, seasoned in production studios, freelance projects with big brands and stock footages. And right, we are also sweet.

Science of Character Animation by Markus Magnusson
  • Learn how to create memorable, expressive and balanced character designs for your future animations
  • Learn how to setup your scenes for animation and rigging techniques
  • Get acquainted with and dig deeper together with the author into classic animation principles that will take your works to a completely new level.
  • Become a better director of your future projects by learning about acting and timings.
  • Get familiar with exclusive animation techniques Markus has worked out from more than 10 years of experience in the industry.
  • No additional plugins needed.
  • We will provide you with an exclusive tool developed specifically for this course. Its work principle is pretty similar to most popular modern tools such as RubberHose, Limber, Duik, so you can easily apply this knowledge to work with any of them

Science of Character Animation by Markus Magnusson

Learn how to create lively and charismatic characters from scratch and direct funny animation scenes on your own. In this course, Markus Magnusson will share his unique approach to character design.

Intermediate ?

Intermediate: You already have some experience working with the software and understand its basic principles. You are familiar with the interface.

100% money back guarantee

If unhappy with the course, you can request a refund within 14 days after the purchase and get every cent back. Courses purchased before the actual starting date refund can be requested up to 14 days after the first lesson becomes available. Note: not applicable if purchased with a discount coupon

Frequently asked questions

Where can I find After Effects?
You can find After Effects here: It will be enough to work with the trial version for some time, but we highly recommend buying a license.
What system requirements are needed for After Effects to run smoothly?

  • Intel® Core™2 Duo or AMD Phenom® II processor; 64-bit support required
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. See the CS6 FAQ for more information about Windows 8 support.*
  • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB of available hard-disk space; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices


  • Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
  • macOS v10.6.8 or higher
  • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 4 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
Do I need to buy any additional scripts or plugins for character rigging?
We will provide you with an exclusive rigging tool developed by our school specifically for this course. Its work principle is pretty similar to most popular modern tools, so you can easily apply this knowledge to work with any of them.

But if you already have RubberHose 2, you can use it throughout the course.
Will this course work for me if I know nothing about After Effects?
This course is created for people who already have some experience of working in After Effects. If you're a total After Effects beginner we recommend to complete our Motion Beast course first.
Are there any discounts?
If no presale or discount activities are happening, you can get in touch with us to receive a -$50 coupon. We provide coupons for countries with not so good exchange rates and for students.

We consider a country with a not so good exchange rate if the currency rate is more than $1 to 10 units of local currency. For example, 10.5 Botswana Pula equals $1. If your county currency rate is lower 1:10 then we do not consider your county as a country with a not so good exchange rate.

We consider you a student if you have a valid student email address (@***.edu) and/or a valid student ID. Please either write to us from your student email or attach a picture of your student ID, so that we can verify your student status.

Please double check if there are no presale, sales or discount activities happening as we do not provide coupons during these periods.
Can I get a refund?
If you're disappointed for whatever reason, you'll get every cent back within 14 days after the purchase. Whether you select to complete the purchase in a single or in several payments.

Note that it only applies to purchases without a discount. So if you would like to use a discount coupon or complete a purchase for the items during a sales period, you will be not eligible for the refund.
Can I share the art that I create during the course?
Yes, all the artwork that you create on the course belongs to you. You can share and tweet and dribbble whatever animation you create. We would be grateful if you mention our school while sharing, we have @motiondesignschool accounts almost on every network.
Will I get enough knowledge to land a job?
With enough practice, you will receive just enough knowledge to reach a new level and beat your competitors. You will get a chance to get more clients since your character animations will become absolutely outstanding. Most of all, you will be able to charge far more than you are doing now.
How long does it take to successfully complete the course?
It usually takes at least 8 hours of doing practice and watching lessons per week for 3,5 months for a student to get to the final stage. We do recommend to spend as much time as possible since you are gaining new skills here, it's never an easy journey.
Will this course fit me if I have some skills in Character Animation?
Yes, the course works well for people who have skills in Character Animation and Character Design too. We will provide a great foundation and structure to complete your knowledge. And just to make your journey more fun almost all of our lessons have tasks with additional difficulty for advanced students.
What if my level of English is not good enough and I find it difficult to understand the spoken language?
This course has subtitles, which makes the content easier for understanding and lets you check the unknown words in the dictionary, if needed.