Advanced Concept Art IL 347

Course Syllabus

Spring 2011
Instructor: Sean A. Murray


Class Hours: Mondays from 4pm to 10pm in Fox 218


Advanced Concept Art will challenge each student in the skill of "World-building" using drawings and paintings to create a fully fleshed-out imaginary place. This project will be self-driven in terms of ideas and specifics, but the assignments will all follow a general pattern developed by the professor.

To create a successfully designed world, each student must have the following by the end of the term:

            1. A map of an Imaginary place
            2. 2 - 3 Environment mood pieces / color keys
            3. 3 - 5 Character designs - "major players" and "commonfolk"
            4. 2+ pages of Flora and Fauna designs
            5. 2 Structure Designs/ Architecture
            6. 2+ Vignettes/scenes of Daily Life
            7. 1+ pages Props (common and uncommon objects)

The semester itself will be broken into 4 quarters of concentration:

            1st  - Map / environment / architecture / flora
            2nd  - Characters / creatures / fauna
            3rd - Objects / props / weapons
            4th - Vignettes / Scene

Emphasis will be placed on "believability", and some sort of grounding in familiarity. This can be achieved through visual research and reference gathering, which is required for every assignment, and it will be the first step of every assignment.

Next, each assignment must go through a thumbnail stage. The student must use thumbnailing as a way of exploring several approaches to each assignment.

Many of the designs should be in color, such as major characters and environments. Additional drawings of props, details, minor characters, etc. can be in black and white.

I will act essentially as an art director for each student's project, and will make judgment calls on an individual basis. Some students may be asked to do some of the assignments in a different way depending on the circumstances.

Every student is required to work digitally for at least half of the assignments, no exceptions. Pencils or ink for black and white drawings is fine, but they must be scanned in for the final presentation. During the class, works in progress can be presented digitally, and do not have to be printed on paper until the final presentation. 

Each Student's final designs will be presented in the form of a "Design Bible" which will be shown as a digital presentation in the last class, and each page of the presentation must also be printed out and bound in some manner in order to hand in for review. The presentation must include text blurbs and callouts.

Final presentations will be judged on the following criteria:
            - Imagination / creativity
            - Believability
            - Depth
            - Uniqueness
            - Consistency / a Sense of Place
            - Clarity of ideas and imagery

You must approach every assignment with the attitude of a CONCEPT ARTIST, which differs from that of an illustrator. You must use illustration skills to get your ideas across, but you must not think of each piece as a precious piece of finished art work… its main purpose is communication of ideas.   

Impress me with your ideas, sell me on them with your illustration skills.


"The Skillfull Hunstman" by DesignStudioPress

"Shadowline: the art of Ian McCaig"


  1. BRING DRAWING SUPPLIES (pencils, pens and paper) TO EVERY CLASS! (bring paper of any type, but NO SMALLER THAN 14 x 17)

  1. BRING ALL RELEVANT MATERIALS FOR CURRENT ASSIGNMENT TO EACH CLASS! This means sketches, reference images, studies, doodles, color studies, final sketches, final drawings, etc.)

3.   Assignments MUST be posted to the class blog before the beginning of the class for which it is due. Any assignment not posted to the blog at this time will be considered late. The address for the blog is:

  1. It is very important that you tag each of your blog entries with your full name. I’ll use the blog for looking at your work for midterms and finals.

Midterm Critiques – March 07, 2011
Final Critiques –May 2, 2011


* Students must attend all classes and be in attendance at 4:00 pm in Fox 218 every Monday. 
* Three unexcused late days will result in a grade no higher than a C. 
* Three unexcused absences may result in a failing grade. 
* Missing the final review may also result in an automatic failure.

ADA Compliance Statement

Learning Resource Center ADA Compliance Statement Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Learning Resource Center at 410-225-2416, in Bunting 458, to establish eligibility and coordinate reasonable accommodations. For additional information please refer to:

Health and Safety Compliance
From the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

It is the responsibility of faculty and students to practice health and safety guidelines relevant to their individual activities, processes, and to review MICA's Emergency Action Plan and attend EHS training.  It is each faculty member's responsibility to coordinate with the EHS Office to ensure that all risks associated with their class activities are identified and to assure that their respective classroom procedures mirror the EHS and Academic Department guidelines. Each of these policies and procedures must be followed by all students and faculty. Most importantly, faculty are to act in accordance with all safety compliance, state and federal, as employees of this college and are expected to act as examples of how to create art in a way to minimize risk, and reduce harm to themselves and the environment.  Faculty must identify, within each art making process, and require personal protection equipment use, by each student for each class, when applicable.  Students are required to purchase personal protection equipment appropriate to their major. Those students who do not have the proper personal protection equipment will not be permitted to attend class until safe measures and personal protection is in place.