Digital Art and Composition

Digital Art and Composition

Character design, proportion, anatomy, costume design, movement, character interaction, and composition are the focus of this digital class, which is taught by two excellent professional illustrators.

PLEASE NOTE: Instructors Lilliah Campagna and Mick Kaufer head our Digital Art and Composition Classes. They have also been Art Academy students since they were teenagers. When you view their work you are seeing how skills develop through our programs. The same is true of guest instructor Eliza Baker.

Lilliah Campagna's work is displayed first and Mick Kaufer's comes second. Then there are a few pieces by Eliza Baker and Sam Petersen. We hope you enjoy the exhibition!





Fantasy Painting

Heroes and Monsters

Initially, students will select inspirational master works to copy and use to study traditional techniques. While developing these essential skills, they also maintain a sketchbook of original ideas for narratives, subjects, character designs, and settings. Advanced students culminate their experience by creating a finished, fully realized painting.

In this first sequence of pictures, students have created paintings to learn step-by-step procedures from masters of Fantasy, Comic, and Science Fiction art.

Developing a Concept to Finish

In the following sequence of pictures we trace the thought process of one student at work on an original fantasy painting. Inspired by masterworks and sketchbook drawings, Alex used ink and wash to paint composition sketches. The cycle shows Alex's rough, initial concept as it develops into a complete visual expression through incremental studies.

Alex then selected his best concepts and consulted photographic reference to produce a full-size compositional drawing. Next came his bistre and grisaille underpainting.

The gallery concludes with a pencil drawing by Eliza Baker. It is included to demonstrate the variety of techniques we encourage students to try as they work to harness their first creative impulse.

Manga, Superheroes and Fantasy Figures Artwork – Character Design and Development

Character Design and Development

Proportion, anatomy, costume design, action, and character interaction are the focus of this class, taught by professional illustrators. Both instructor and student artwork are combined in this Gallery.

PLEASE NOTE: Instructors Mick Kaufer and Lilliah campagna head our Character Design and Development Classes. They have also been Art Academy students since they were teenagers. When you view their work you see how skills develop through our programs. The same is true of guest instructor Eliza Baker. When other students are showcased in this Gallery, their ages are always listed.

Pencil Starts

First lessons in Character Design are done in pencil, non-photo blue pencil, brown pencil, or red pencil. Some of the samples show the use of digital tablets.

Pen & Ink Character Studies

Developing Pen & Ink skills is essential to create dynamic characters. Our examples include traditional and digital inking methods.

DWitt's Inktober

Throughout October, 2014, instructor David Witt created a Halloween tribute and spoofed many popular cartoon, comic, and film characters. We publish this homage as a celebration of David's commitment to perfect his inking skills, which he demonstrates to our students.

Color Character Studies

After students learn how to create characters in black & white they are encouraged to explore designs in color.

Character Design – Portraits

First we teach students to draw the rudimentary features of the human head; then they learn to manipulate those shapes to produce a variety of characters.

Creative Anatomy

Character Design demands that artists have fun with anatomic forms. Then new and exciting creatures develop.

Character Design Sheets

Characterization all comes together when students create Character Design Sheets.

Costume Design and Costume Variations

After students create a Character Design Sheet they also learn how to use reference material to model costume and clothing pattern changes.

Emotion and Expression Studies

It is one thing to create a character. It is another to give LIFE to that creation. That's where emotion and expression comes into play.


A personality is not filled with life merely through facial expression. Rather, It flows through every movement of a characters body.

Character Interaction 

Finally, there is the challenge to create multiple characters and weave scenarios so they interact in convincing ways. Then it becomes easy for students to compose captivating pictures. View examples of those compositions in our Visual Storytelling through Comics and Graphic Novels and Digital Art and Composition Galleries.

Ages 5-8 Artwork

Books and Paintings

In our 5-8 program we don't burden children students with pedantic exercises. Instead, we focus on teaching the joy of picture making, with increased emphasis on cultivating each student's drawing and painting skills as they progress from term to term.

Book illustration teaches drawing, coloring, and design. Acrylic painting improves students color mixing abilities, color temperature understanding, and reinforces composition skills.


Student Artwork

We are incredibly proud of the work our students do. As we have a great reverence for tradition, many of the pictures that appear on this website are copies of historic and professional artists' works. For centuries, students have learned the foundations of art by studying and reproducing the great works of the past. All copies are made solely for educational purposes.

Browse our students' artwork in the galleries below.