All individuals planning to be on Gnomon’s campus for 2021 Fall Term must submit proof of COVID-19 Vaccination, unless receiving an approved exemption.
Please visit Gnomon’s Campus Access & Safety Protocols FAQ for more information.

Gnomon’s Foundation in Art & Design provides up to a year of fundamental art education to students looking to become better artists, build a well-rounded portfolio, and lay the groundwork for further education in digital production or a related field.

Discover the techniques and processes used within art and design across a wide range of creative mediums. From Life Drawing to Digital Painting, students are enrolled in four preparatory individual courses per quarter, up to a year of continuous study.

Considering Gnomon’s BFA Degree or Certificate Program in the future? Specific courses taken within this course of study are transferrable to our full-time programs. Courses are not vocational in nature and do not lead to a certificate/diploma. For more information, contact


TermRegistration DeadlineStart Date
2022 WinterNovember 26thJanuary 10th
2022 SpringFebruary 25thApril 11th
2022 SummerMay 27thJuly 11th
2022 FallAugust 26thOctober 10th

Learn the Fundamentals

The Foundation in Art & Design provides students the opportunity to assess their interest and proficiency in the visual arts, while developing the fundamental skills that are essential building blocks to becoming a better artist.


Students must have graduated from High School by the start of classes.


Register now and start classes during any of Gnomon’s upcoming academic quarters – Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall.



Class time is filled with hands-on demonstrations, continuous practice, and feedback from industry professionals. Curriculum is subject to change.

First Term

Photoshop for Digital Production

This course provides students with a working foundation of the interface and tools of Adobe Photoshop. Through lectures, demonstrations, and exercises, students learn tools for photographic retouching, color treatment, use of layers and selections, photographic manipulation, and compositing. Students will gain the ability to create and utilize advanced photo manipulation and image editing techniques to create 2D images and assist 3D design.

Life Drawing

In this course, students learn to draw the human figure, utilizing both traditional and non-traditional principles and techniques. Styled after a foundation art school figure drawing course, the principles of form and gesture are applied to in-class live model sketching and homework figurative studies. Communicating gesture, creating accurate anatomy and proportion, and developing a body of figurative portfolio work are inherent to this course, supported by in-class demonstrations and lectures.

Drawing Fundamentals

In this course, students learn to recognize and effectively utilize complex and abstract forms to communicate ideas. Students will develop skills in expressing value, shadows, shading, perspective, and composition in both traditional and digital platforms. Lectures and demonstrations support in-depth homework assignments, creative projects, and a final presentation. This course is a cornerstone of learning foundational methods of communicating visual constructs.

Drawing in 3D

This course teaches students how to approach a variety of subjects using traditional methods of perspective. Students will develop an understanding of managing scale, measurement, shadows, composition, and the overall mechanics of one-, two-, and three-point perspective, all supported by in-class lectures and demonstrations. Complex at-home assignments utilize these methods to illustrate relevant subjects such as spacecraft and vehicles, building towards the presentation of final projects.

Second Term

Digital Painting

This course teaches students how to approach a variety of subjects using traditional methods of perspective. Students will develop an understanding of managing scale, measurement, shadows, composition, and the overall mechanics of one-, two-, and three-point perspective, all supported by in-class lectures and demonstrations. Complex at-home assignments utilize these methods to illustrate relevant subjects such as spacecraft and vehicles, building towards the presentation of final projects.

Drawing Fundamentals 2

This course is a continuation of Drawing Fundamentals 1. Students focus on developing advanced sketching and illustration techniques as applied to industrial design. Students will use traditional methods of ideation based on source materials to produce polished final pieces in digital platforms. Complex homework assignments tap into the principles of design as outlined in lectures, demonstrations, and critiques.

Character Sculpture

This course teaches students to design characters in 3D. Understanding the methods of traditional sculpting is an integral part of learning the foundations of 3D design. Beginning with character design fundamentals, students learn armature construction, dynamic and neutral posing, and then concentrate heavily on primary and secondary forms, texturing and detailing their pieces. Lectures and demonstrations support and inform the overall process of completing a sculpture to a polished, professional finish.

Character Design

This course teaches the process of character design in the entertainment industry. Students create characters from start to finish, going through the pre-production stages of research, concept, and the craft of editing before a final presentation of a well-developed character. Thumbnailing, silhouette design, figure invention and posing, prop and costume design, character archetypes, storytelling, and illustration techniques will be discussed.

Third Term

Digital Painting 2

This course builds on the principles learned in Digital Painting, and through weekly lectures, in-class practice, and out of class assignments, expands student learning in developing high-end concept art using various film and game, industry-aligned software. Emphasis is placed on storytelling, painting technique, and the ability to complete finished pieces. Classes include a mixture of weekly painting demonstrations, discussions of cinematic concept methods, and in-class exercises, as well as portfolio critiques and industry tips. Students will explore various styles of painting through homework assignments and work toward polished conceptual projects.

Animal Drawing

In this course, students learn the foundations of animal anatomy. Students will be exposed to live animals in a variety of settings, learning the basic musculoskeletal anatomy of quadrupeds, illustration techniques, and dynamic form and gesture. Lectures cover biomechanics, methodologies of gesture, the biology of creature design, and the specifics of equine gaiting, behavior, and communication. Students will create a creature for a final project and present it for critique.

Prop and Weapon Design

This course explores the design methods used to build conceptual props based on a given script. Students will sketch and ideate prop and weapon designs in traditional media for a specific application in a digital platform. They will utilize form language, thumbnailing, reference, research, and materials studies. Lectures cover these design methods and how to craft concept in a group.

Color Theory and Light

This course explores the practical 2D applications of the fundamentals of light and color. Lectures and demonstrations cover topics such as bounced light, camera effects, value patterns, shadows, and atmospherics. Value scale and color wheel exercises, and at-home assignments in traditional media reinforce learned successful applications of color harmonies and atmospheric principles. Gaining experience in the foundation of color provides students with the ability to expand on existing visual techniques.

Fourth Term

Gesture Drawing

This course is a complement to Life Drawing, focusing on the expression of gesture in the human form. Inclass drawing sessions use live models, both nude and costumed, in a variety of character and story-driven poses. Students will learn critical elements of dynamic drawing, such as pose analysis, silhouette development, proportion, balance, and critical thinking in terms of storytelling and design. By drawing quickly and spontaneously, students learn to be more creative, inventive, and versatile as visual artists.

Creature Design

In this course, students learn the processes used to develop fantasy creatures. Students will research and develop creature designs from idealization to completion. Anatomy, form, storytelling, and character development aid in creating believable and appealing designs. In-class demonstrations and lectures on the applications of biology to design are used to establish an understanding of how to illustrate complex creatures. Discussions of industry experts fosters inspiration for students' own methodologies.

Environment Design

This course covers the basics of designing different types of environments for animation, film, and games. Students learn perspective, composition, and research techniques to create believable detail, clear tonal reads, and modeling. The application of the expressive differences between interior and exterior environments within established values will be utilized towards a final project.

Vehicle and Mech Drawing

This course teaches students to sketch, style, and render vehicles and mechs using digital rendering techniques. Students learn design cues and a visual language that allows an audience to understand vehicles' roles in film and game narratives. Lectures, demos, master studies, and homework development contribute to an in-depth understanding of the purpose of vehicle and mech design
If you are setting out to build a skyscraper, the tallest you can imagine, it can only be as high as the foundation will support. This is also true of the heights of artistic achievement you may desire. Without a solid and broad foundation established, you will be limiting the scale of your dreams.
Neville Page
Concept Designer for Avatar, Star Trek, Star Trek Discovery, Prometheus, Super 8

Foundation Roadmap Note: This is a sample curriculum and is subject to change.

  • Photoshop for Digital Production
  • Life Drawing
  • Drawing Fundamentals
  • Drawing in 3D
  • Digital Painting
  • Drawing Fundamentals 2
  • Character Sculpture
  • Character Design
  • Digital Painting 2
  • Animal Drawing
  • Prop and Weapon Design
  • Color Theory and Light
  • Gesture Drawing
  • Creature Design
  • Environment Design
  • Vehicle and Mech Design