Digital Animation applicants

This information is for applicants to our Digital Animation programme, which comprises the following courses:

Due to the high volume of applicants to our Animation, Games Art and Visual Effects courses, we have introduced an online portfolio review ahead of any invitation to interview.

Applicants who are projected to meet the entry requirements described on the relevant course page will be invited to submit an online portfolio. Once this has been reviewed by a member of our team, your application will either be progressed to an invitation to interview, or rejected.

What we look for in an applicant

Here are some tips, advice and suggestions as to what makes a strong candidate for a place on our Digital Animation programme:

Life drawing

Go to as many life drawing classes as you can. These may be available to you as part of your current course; if not, find evening or weekend classes. You can never have enough life drawing practice, it is the basis upon which all your other artistic skills depend. Pay particular attention to proportion. You can find online life models posing on the Croquis Café channel on YouTube – this is not as good as a real lesson, but it can help.

Andrew Loomis PDF

Search this phrase online and you will find PDF files of some of the best drawing advice ever written. Andrew Loomis was one of the great art teachers of the 20th century. His books are out of print but animators consider them some of the best advice for life and perspective drawing. Reading them and doing the exercises will improve your skills. His most useful books are Figure Drawing and Successful Drawing.

Perspective drawing

You need to be able to draw confidently in one and two-point perspective. We will teach three-point perspective on the course, but you need to have mastered one and two-point before arriving. Read Loomis for advice, draw perspective grids before drawing and go out and draw lots of buildings.

3D modelling

If you are applying for 3D Animation, Games or VFX you should have spent at least a month using a 3D program to ensure that you enjoy the experience. We recommend Autodesk Maya; a free student version can be downloaded from Autodesk's website, but experience with any 3D software is useful. Try to build characters, vehicles, buildings and consider texturing and lighting them if you can. Try animating with a free rig from Highend3D.

2D animation

If you are applying to our 2D Animation degree, you need to love drawing. We really want to see your character designs (see below). Have you tried animating with Adobe Animate? Make sure you’ve drawn some frame by frame animation in Animate, not just tweening. A demo copy of Animate can be downloaded from Adobe's website. Animate a human figure in a looping walk, run and also a jump animation. Work through Richard Williams’ “Animator’s Survival Kit”, or other great animation books like Preston Blair’s ‘Cartoon Animation’ and Tony White’s ‘The Animator’s Workbook’.

Games art

If applying for the Games Art degree, please create some realtime artwork, either a modification of an existing game where you might create your own playable level from game assets, or preferably examples of your own 3D models in a game editor. We recommend Unreal Engine 4, but Unity is also a good engine. Unreal has the strongest online community for help.

Visual effects

If applying for VFX, make sure you have attempted some basic compositing of 3D renders into photos and preferably into live action film, and blend them seamlessly. We recommend Foundry Nuke for compositing, but Fusion is a good free alternative for learning node-based compositing. Photography is a real plus as a skill.

Character and environment designs

Drawn on PC or on paper, you should have front/back/side and three-quarter view drawings of character/environment designs from your own imagination, in colour. Please avoid clichés like ninjas, space marines, orcs, elves, zombies, and copies of heavily stylised manga characters.

Knowledge of the industry

Do research into the animation industry and make sure this is what you want to do with your life. You should know the names of the companies you want to work for when you graduate and what they do.

Read books

Go and buy (and read! And do the exercises where relevant):

  • The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams
  • Dream Worlds by Hans Bacher
  • Imaginative Realism by James Gurney
  • The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas
  • Light by Richard Yot
  • The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann
  • Understanding Animation by Paul Wells
  • Film Art: An Introduction by Bordwell and Thompson

Work through online animation tutorials

Great examples can be found at:

Ready to apply?

Follow the links below for advice about our online screening process, what to put in a portfolio and how to prepare for an interview.