Online course
A Thinking Character

What makes an audience believe? A thinking character makes an audience believe.

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A Thinking Character

Acting is not just delivering lines and emoting while moving. Making a character think while delivering the line is what fools the audience into believing the character is alive. The brain never stops; a character is always thinking, there is never a dead moment.

During this course we will focus on pushing the envelope of animation by making characters think and making an audience believe. Acting for an actor or an animated character is about solving problems. Just like an engineer needs to solve a mechanical problem, an actor needs to solve his or her problem by picking the appropriate way to act during a given situation. Different actors will pick different ways to solve their problem. There is never only one good way to solve a problem but there are many bad ways to do so and as an animator, just like an actor, we need to be able to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t.

As Animators, we are rarely great actors but we need to be able to pick great acting and know how to make good choices. We need to be able to differentiate between the good and the bad.

During this course we will study a few actors and watch how they choose to solve their problems. We’ll talk about the choices they made, how unique they were and also about other ways their problems could have been solved.

Sometimes we forget that an honest performance is not just a character that is moving well but a character that is believable. We will talk about beats, takes and accents – how to do them without losing focus and just mechanically adding them in a shot.

We will then demonstrate how to shoot good reference. We will go over examples and demonstrate the thinking process behind each one. We will also pick an audio line to animate during this course and show how we would approach shooting reference for it.

We will show how we break down and how we think about shapes when we plan our animation. We’ll then dive into Maya and demonstrate a workflow. We’ll show how to do a blocking pass, how to move from blocking to Animation and how to polish a shot. We will talk about exaggeration and working in extremes. We’ll transition onto the face and show how we layer emotions, how to do eye darts and eye blinks, and how to keep the character from looking dead. We will talk about how the character feels alive even without the mouth being animated after which we’ll move on to lip-sync. We will demonstrate how to link the lower face to the upper face and how important it is to do that final overall face pass.

In the end, we hope that you will have a better understanding of what makes an animated character come to life, how to accomplish the daunting task of animating a thinking character and what fools an audience into believing in this character.

Course data

  Course duration: 3 months

  The course starts every 3 months:
June 1, September 1, December 1, March 1

  Prerequisites: Intermediate Animation Skills

  Recommended software: Autodesk Maya

 Additional animation tutorials:
CGTarian Masters Animation Workshops

Course instructor and animation mentor Jalil Sadool
Course mentor:
Jalil Sadool

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Lecture previews

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Learning Reference

Lecture preview

Learning to observe and collect your reference library. Learning to notice details and studying reference from professional actors.

Blocking Plus

Lecture preview

Creating an extra keys for breaking down your key poses and protecting them. The more poses you have in your blocking, the easier it is to reach a final result.


Lecture preview

Correct eye position while turning head around. Following the reference. Tips and tricks.

All that you need!

Content developed by professionals, challenging assignments and mentor's assistance is your way to success!


3 months of intense studies! Comprehensive animation course!


12 online meetings with your mentor and video reviews of your work!


More than 20 hours of video lectures and tutorials!


More than 50+ recordings of QnA sessions and video reviews available!

Students’ reviews

The best evaluation of the course and it's result - is feedback of those, who have been attending this course.

Mauricio José María Medina Olaechea
I really enjoy the class! It was good to have the tips and feedback of a legend as Jalil. And have the chance to look whats behind the amazing animations he makes.
— Mauricio José María Medina Olaechea

Full list of student feedback you will find on "CGTarian Students' Reviews & Testimonials" page.

Full list of student reviews you will find on this page "Student Reviews".


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Where do our students work?

Many of our students got employed in world famous studios working on top level projects. Below you can find some of them:

Маша и медведь
World of WarCraft
World of Tanks