Prop design is an often overlooked skill. This course covers the basics, from proportions to design harmony. By the end you’ll feel confident designing any prop for your stories.

When you experience any visual story, whether it's animation, video games, children's books, or comics, your mind has been trained to emotionally bond with the character and the situation they are in. The story focuses on who the characters are, where they are, and what they need to accomplish. Props are there to support all of that, and in some cases be central to the story. Props help sell the characters and situations. Even if they're a background garnish, thought and care needs to be taken in their design to enhance the overall experience of the story.

The purpose of this course is to teach you the thought process and craft of designing a prop from start to finish. So that by the end of this course you can confidently design a set of props that support a story and feel like they belong together. 

Through this course Jake will demonstrate the principles he teaches by designing a series of props for his character Skull Chaser.

Students will finish this course with a finished prop sheet of at least 5 props. 

In this class you will learn:

  • The different categories of props

  • Difference between a hero prop and background prop

  • How to use and gather reference

  • How to use shape language to your advantage in prop design

  • The importance of harmony and contrast and how they apply to props

  • How to design props with interesting proportions

  • Jake’s step-by-step drawing and rendering process

  • How to draw props that feel like they exist in 3 dimensional space

  • How to design a series of props that belong together

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About the Instructor


Jake Parker

For the last 19 years Jake has worked on everything from animated films to comics to picture books. For several years he worked for Reel FX and Blue Sky Studios on such projects as Horton Hears a Who, Rio, and Epic. He is the creator of the popular Inktober drawing challenge. Jake currently works as an illustrator and cartoonist on children's books and comics. He works out of his home studio in Utah.

Who should take this course:

This course is part of the Level 2 Foundations Curriculum. The following Level 1 courses are recommended prerequisites:

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Course Introduction

    • Introduction

    • Basic Prop Categories

    • Why Prop Design?

  • 2


    • Asking the Right Questions

    • Questions you need to answer about your prop

    • Gathering Reference

    • Introduction to Reference Assignment

    • Assignment 1: Make a Reference Folder

  • 3


    • Fundamental Shapes

    • Proportions

    • Harmony & Contrast

  • 4


    • Drawing Process

    • Drawing Demonstration

    • Assignment 2

  • 5


    • Structure

    • Structure Demonstration

    • Assignment 3

  • 6


    • Rendering Process and Demonstration

    • Assignment 4

  • 7

    The Prop Ensemble

    • Ensemble Design

    • Ensemble Demonstration: Silhouettes

    • Ensemble Demonstration: Detail Sketch

    • Ensemble Demonstration: Structure

    • Ensemble Demonstration: Rendering

  • 8


    • Introduction to Final Assignment and Course Conclusion

    • Final Assignment

  • 3

    Over 3 hours of video lectures and demonstrations

  • 5

    Assignments to help you start mastering the skills taught in this course

Subscribe to SVSLearn and we will show you how. 

Our videos are custom made to show you how to get the skills necessary to break into the dynamic field of illustration.

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