Teaching Effectiveness: Courses & Syllabi Revision


Courses are updated annually to match current industry practices and updated techniques. Conceptually I have found ways to connect students to think beyond themselves to a mission driven purpose. Based on course and program assessment, I have adjusted project definitions to include technical and conceptual goals that match industry needs while connecting students to a public service or entertainment strategy. There are extensive documentation of methods in written and video form on course sites that I also train adjuncts with.


    • Course Sites
    • Project Sites
    • Creation and use of effective syllabi and course requirements, which are clearly communicated to students within the first week of the start of a course

Periodic Revision of course material, syllabi and tests:

    • Effect of Assessment on the Digital Imaging Courses
    • Specific Creative Practice for Course Project Examples to adjust
    • Course Changes
    • Program Plan Changes
    • Software I learned to teach with
    • 3D Influence on Drawing

Course Sites:

For the course sites that I do not teach currently, I have developed the curriculum and manage the course site and content. I work closely with adjuncts to keep the student work updated and together we work on learning new techniques as software updates. This ensures students have the latest information available to them and that the student work selections are the strongest examples of what our expectations are.

see the spreadsheet below

Project Sites:

Project sites are communication tools with outside collaborators and help to train students how to communicate with art directors when they are not in house at a company.

The Digital Learning Center site is a learning site with tutorials and guides that are integrated into our courses in Digital Art and Design. Bill Fischer and I create most of the content that is shared with students and prospective students.

Creation and use of effective syllabi and course requirements, which are clearly communicated to students within the first week of the start of a course:

My course syllabi and course requirements are listed on-line and can be easily found by the students and linked from the KCADDLC.org and DAD Advising Site.

We review the syllabi on the first day of class as an introduction to my methods of teaching, my expectations and my willingness to be contacted by email and during office hours.

My syllabi are used as an example to adjunct faculty teaching sections of my courses, such as Digital Character Drawing, Digital Imaging I and Digital Imaging II and Concept Art. There are 6 adjuncts in the Digital Imaging focus of the D.A.D. program that I meet with in order for them to have effective syllabi and course content.

Periodic revision of course material, syllabi and tests:

Changes have been made to all syllabi, course content on sites updated and assessment adjusted. All course sites including courses that I oversee (for 6 adjuncts) continued towards accessibility design goals in an effort to move towards ADA compliance (Americans with Disabilities Act). This ensures students can access course content regardless of hearing or visual impairments. All course sites are also now cross platform able to be seen on Computer, Tablet or Phone.

see following Spreadsheet to enlarge

Revision of Course Material for Digital Imaging I based on meeting with Digital Imaging I faculty and an overall assessment of the course outcomes were made using the Content matrix below in 2016. Revision of Course Material for Digital Imaging II specifically animation project in After Effects including adding new tutorials to the kcaddlc.org

Imaging Content Matrix 2016
scroll to view or click to open (there are frozen header rows to view more clearly).

Effect of Assessment on the Digital Imaging Courses:

Examples of Specific Creative Practice for Course Project Demos to adjust curriculum:

Development within the Imaging courses has happened within all of the courses based on Assessment. In 2016 I developed new assignments to adjust to a changing technology for Mobile Devices and we were able to create an actual working app on a mobile device.

3D Referencing for Character in Courses

3D Character from Fuse and Miximo brought into Photoshop

Our Industry Professionals were telling us we needed more 2D Character development so I developed a new course: 2D Character Design. I developed the curriculum and made example works for each of the assignments in the course. I researched industry standards in 2D Character Design for Animation, Game and Retail. All of these genres are covered in this course. I researched new technologies including Mixamo and Fuse - 3D Modeled Characters to create, customize and build onto the base models. We are adopting this method as a program as it is a part of Adobe Creative Cloud. Students now feel very comfortable mixing 2D and 3D in their work before graduating.

Character Rigging Changes

2D Character Design Examples using my fully rigged character Lizzy

2D Character Design - New Course

Timeline management example for 2D Character Design

Multiplane and Animate for Environment

Digital Imaging II: Multiplane Scene Construction

See the Multiplane scene Guide with Student examples and my animation example.

New Course: Imaging for Game Animation Film - now Concept Art

Course site: Imaging for Game, Animation and Film (now Concept Art)

Digital Painting in Course Work

Character Design for 3D Game Digital Painting Demo
Click to Enlarge and scroll through process demo of painting a character by Susan Bonner - 2014

Entertainment Industry Painting Practices in course work

SuperDungeonTactics Painting Method - Susan Bonner
Click to Enlarge and scroll through process demo for Digital Imaging II and Concept Art

Concept Art - Vehicle Design

Concept Art Course with further development in the Mech and Vehicle Design Project.
New Drone Illustration examples of silhouette to render, student examples from course work.
Render Technique examples by Susan Bonner

Concept Art Mech Design

Mech example by KCAD student Coling Chan, Insect by Susan Bonner

Based on assessment we noticed that animals were not drawing at KCAD like humans were. The entertainment industry has a lot of creature and animal character work. I adjusted curriculum across the program to include animal and creature design. Example: We took a field trip to Grand Rapids Public Museum for a Creature Design Assignment in Imaging for Game, Animation and Film. Students drew the life size dinosaurs in action poses then placed them into their creature designs for entertainment.

I worked with the students to do Dinosaur studies- Art by Susan Bonner

Then we took the images further into character design by pushing the forms and exaggerating features such as eyes. Art by Susan Bonner

Final render of my Dino Art by Susan Bonner

Student course work from the Drawing Sessions of Dinosaurs at the Public Museum in Imaging for Game Animation and Film. Art by Allyson Huber

Digital Painting (Painterly Style) revision to courses:

Digital Painting Methods site I made as a supplement to Digital Imaging I, Digital Imaging II, Concept Art, Pro Studio
Character Card for Magic the Gathering by Nolan Nasser
3D being brought into digital painting - see demo
My studio work showing special effects methods
Character Design for 3D Game Digital Painting Demo
demo using my digital painting technique

Nolan Nasser is working for Magic the Gathering creating token cards. I taught him Digital Painting in Imaging for Game Animation and Film course and Thesis. He now ones his own Game Company.

Digital Painting (Flat Style) revision to courses:

Coming fresh off the launch of the mobile game I made with Underbite Games, 1st and Goal a Football Card Game for Mobile Devices- I created step by step demos of my process for digital painting with flats. The process was recorded and will be used in Digital Imaging I for a painting technique, Imaging for Game Animation and Film for the process of working with a game company on production art and Concept and Production Design for the whole process from ideation to client finals.

My studio work of Characters for the Mobile Game for Underbite Games
A part of the set of tutorials available to students on the kendallweblab
Digital Coloring Process
demo using my digital coloring technique

Periodic Revision of course material, syllabi and tests:

Course Changes:

Digital Imaging I

Taught by 3 adjuncts. I administer the course site which contains assignments and course tutorials. In 2016 I updated the course content based on the Imaging Matrix I created. Always looking at the needs of the programs taking this course as a supportive course to drive course improvements for their needs.

Digital Character Drawing

Taught by Adam Withers, and Claudia Pimentel, both adjuncts as well as myself. I manage the website and review course examples and update the course site with student work examples as they improve. Drawing animals was one of the driving forces to teach this course as well as looking for action within poses needed for the Animation industry.

Digital Imaging II

Taught by myself, Claudia Pimentel, Milt Klingensmith and Brad Yarhouse. I administer the course site which contains assignments and course tutorials. I train adjuncts in animation software and methods. We have moved this course to be more advanced in it's rich media animation by creating moving images and as a precursor to Motion Design.

Concept Art

Taught by myself and Mike Williams. I administer the course site which contains assignments and course tutorials. I have had frequent contact with Concept Artists in the industry to assess learning needs for students, changes have been made since it was incepted to include more 3D referencing as the industry has adjusted in that direction.

2D Character Design

A course I developed after seeing industry calling for it in student portfolios. I learned how to rig characters for animation, I use my own examples as well as those shared by industry to teach highly technical processes while still challenging conceptual development.

Pro Studio I and II (Previously Concept and Production Design)

In the beginning of these course(s) we were creating pitches for ideas and working directly with industry pros as mentors. Now we are creating functioning apps, animations, games and motion graphics that are used as a public service while still working directly with industry as mentors. The students are now able to point not only to team work experience but real world project development.

Program Plan Changes

The Digital Media Program is worked on a new program plan in 2017 and I was involved in all of those discussions as well as creating new courses such as 2D Character Design and Digital Character Drawing which were previously special topics courses.

Software that I have learned during my tenure track position:

  • Miximo for 3D Character Animation and Concept Art
  • Daz 3D for modeling figures for reference
  • Fuse for modeling figures for reference
  • Sketchup for modeling hard surface environments for reference
  • After Effects for animation and motion graphics
  • Clip Studio Pro for comic line work
  • 3D Coat for painting 3D surfaces
  • Photoshop 3D for bringing in 3D assets to paint in conjunction with 3D coat or use as a reference for the psd imaging

3D Painting

I learned how to use 3D Coat – a painting application that can be done in 3D – I brought this to my classroom as a part of a project where we painted on 3D Character Models for the game Super Dungeon Tactics. Later my students have successfully prepped characters with 3D painting for games being released as interns and contract artists in the industry.

Super Dungeon Tactics Character painted by KCAD student Jillian Warsco – who later interned and worked on contract to build more characters for the Underbite and Ninja Division Game.

Environment 3D

Previs for Film example by Susan Bonner using Sketchup, compositing and Drawing

SketchUp continues to be used in my course work for Previsualization for Film in Concept Art and Digital Imaging II.

Sketchup demo

3D Influence on Drawing:

Drawing done using Daz 3D as a figure reference tool in my course Digital Character Drawing. We can get excellent camera angles and quick poses this way, but it is important to push the gesture further which is why we do redraws.

Daz 3D model and psd drawing by Anastasia Goldyn and Redraws by David VanTuyle KCAD Alum and Story board artist for Nickelodeon, who video conferenced with us and did draw overs to help students improve their work.