Course: Short Film Character Production in Blender

52 Lessons

  1. 01. Modeling Intro Free!
  2. 02. Base Sculpting
  3. 03. Finish Form Sculpting
  4. 04. Beginning Retopology
  5. 05. Finishing the Body Retopology
  6. 06. Finishing the Body Mesh
  7. 07. Modeling Major Feathers
  8. Quiz: Modeling 0 / 16XP
  9. 08. Helpful Shapekeys
  10. 09. Texturing Intro Free!
  11. 10. UV Unwrapping
  12. 11. Base Textures
  13. 12. Feet and Beak Bump Maps
  14. 13. Shading the Body
  15. 14. Painting the Feather Texture Maps
  16. 15. Feather UVs
  17. 16. Creating the Body Feathers – Part I
  18. 17. Creating the Body Feathers – Part II
  19. 18. Creating the Body Feathers – Part III
  20. 19. Finessing the Feather Shaders
  21. 20. Texturing the Eyes
  22. Quiz: Texturing Painting 0 / 24XP
  23. 21. Rigging Intro Free!
  24. 22. Rigging – Deformation Bones
  25. 23. Rigging the Wing – Part 01
  26. 24. Rigging the Wing – Part 02
  27. 25. Rigging the Wing – Part 03
  28. 26. Rigging the Leg
  29. 27. Rigging the Tail Feathers
  30. 28. Rigging the Head and Face
  31. 29. Rigging the Spine
  32. 30. Rigging – Custom Bone Shapes and Rig Mirroring
  33. 31. Rigging – Mesh Skinning
  34. 32. Rigging – Facial Mouth Shapes
  35. 33. Rigging – Facial Brow Shapes
  36. 34. Rigging Facial Controls
  37. Quiz: Rigging 0 / 24XP
  38. 35. Animation Intro Free!
  39. 36. Animation Preparation
  40. 37. Animation Blocking – Part 01 – Key Poses
  41. 38. Animation Blocking – Part 2 – Timing
  42. 39. Animation Tweening – part 1
  43. 40. Animation Tweening – part 2
  44. 41. Animation Polish: Overlapping Action
  45. 42. Animation Polish: Face and Eyes
  46. Quiz: Animation 0 / 16XP
  47. 43. Post Production and Rendering Intro Free!
  48. 44. Lighting and Cleanup
  49. 45. Background Setup
  50. 46. Render Settings
  51. 47. Post Production: Composition
  52. Quiz: Post Production 0 / 16XP
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Who is Piero?

Piero is a retired carrier robin who’s great achievement in life was delivering messages to and from the feathered allies during the Great Pigeon War of ’98. He’s since retired to a quaint Ash tree in the hills of Yorkshire. Though very little happens during Piero’s care-free days in the British countryside, trauma from his service in the war has left him skittish of anything out of the ordinary.

Learn the entire process

I think many digital artists, like myself, see animated films from PixarDreamworks, Disney or Blue Sky and they begin to invision their own worlds, characters, and stories. Computer Graphics make it possible for artists to bring these visions to life inside a tangible medium that’s accessible to anyone with a computer.

However, the accessibility and capability of a computer doesn’t mean the creation-process is a one-click operation. Taking a character from vision to animated reality requires many devoted hours in each discipline of computer graphics.

Piero Concept Art by Tim Von Rueden

See how Tim illustrated the Piero’s concept art here!


The first step is modeling where the character is built with 3D geometry. No object exists in the computer intrinsically; it must be built by hand. Every subsequent step is dependent on modeled objects.

Blender’s all-in-one nature allows the artist to use its sculpting and modeling tools in conjunction. Piero will be form-sculpted first, then retopologized into an animation-friendly mesh.

Piero - Modeling


After being built a model must be “painted”. This texturing, or “surfacing”, process is where we introduce proper colors and material qualities that make our model more believable and tangible.

Being a bird Piero is a unique texturing task because he needs to be covered in feathers. We’ll take advantage of Blender’s paint tools and Photoshop to paint our texture maps. A particle hair system will allow us to procedurally grow and groom our feathers.

Piero - Texturing


While modeling and animation are perhaps the most coveted CG skill sets, rigging is the narrow bridge-less-traveled that connects them. Just like our human body needs a complex system of bones and joints to make movement possible, our digital model needs a complex system of bones and joints to make animation possible. This is a highly technical and polarizing process requires much more research and practice than artistic instinct.

Piero will be rigged in Blender as an general-purpose armature with full control over wing and tail feathers.

Piero - Rigging


The art of movement is arguably the most difficult skill set in computer graphics. But don’t tell an animator that – they think highly enough of themselves already!

Jokes aside, good animation requires a hefty combination of practice and talent. With Piero we’ll apply the principles of “The Nine Old Men” to realize his personality in motion.

Piero - Animation

Post Processing

With the animation finished, our “ingredients” are finally ready to go into the oven! Post Processing begins by rendering our scene into individual frames that make up our entire animation. Once the hours of rendering are finished, we can edit the final shot together in Blender’s compositor.


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242 Responses to “Short Film Character Production in Blender”
  1. Posts: 12
    cg_on says:

    I found dynotopology worked but when i drag the vertices as you do at the start, i only get the single vertices to move. I also enabled proportional editing however that did not work either, I could only still grab one vertices, i think i’m gonna look for other tuts than continue with this, since from the beginning i’ve encountered too many problems, let alone anything else I may have to read in forums or questions later in the 50+ other lessons i need to learn. maybe its just me but this sculpting thing now is still got me stumped 5 years, I must be a truly dumb twat not to get such a clear and concise lessons. thanks anyway, it would have been fun to learn new things

    • Posts: 1419

      Hi cg_on – Is this your first experience working with Blender or sculpting with Blender? I hate to see you give up on the course..

    • Posts: 4012

      I too would hate to see you give up on this course. Kent has such a wealth of knowledge to share.

      Since dynamic topology seems to be problematic for then maybe check out this tutorial first: It’s a bit outdated (due to the same issues I mentioned above) but it may help give you a rundown on the basics of it.

      Digital sculpting can be a bit tricky to get into, particularly next to regular modeling, but it’s so rewarding! I hope, and encourage you to stick with it! It’s worth it.

      • Posts: 1

        I’m having a problem sculpting as well. The Dynamic Typology looks different since this course was recorded. I’m using 2.71 and when I turn on Dyntopo, I’m not sure which refine method I should use. I tried each one but none of them produced results like the video. Please help! I would love to continue through the course but I am currently stuck on this.

  2. Posts: 108
    Ron Boygott says:

    I recently purchased your course. Even though I been using blender since 2.5 many things I forgot all about, and I learned so much more. My question is….in 2.71 you cannot uncheck project paint, therefore I’m not sure how to paint textures without spilling over onto adjacent islands, the only thing I could think of was to assign vertex groups to the parts I wanted to paint cleanly and then use a mask modifier, therefore hiding parts I didn’t want to ruin. This seems like a lot of steps, I was wondering what you do now in 2.71. Oh. by the way, you should of warned us about that normalize all button in weight painting, luckily I watched everything before I began. Again I applaud this course and highly recommend it to anyone, it covers so much. Thanks, Ron

    • Posts: 1419

      Lol sorry about the normalize all operator. I wish someone warned me before I messed up ;) But making and fixing mistakes is where some of the best learning happens. Thanks for watching and for the positive feedback!

      I for one was bummed when they removed the non-project paint mode. I contacted the dev about re-enabling it but he said it couldn’t/shouldn’t be done. Now I usually paint on individual UV islands in the UV image editor or in photoshop.

  3. Posts: 1
    joekent85 says:

    Thanks cgcookie for the citizenship gift, i have always wanted to do this course its been 100% helpful

  4. Posts: 9
    blendernova says:

    Hi, my name is Stephen and I’m thirteen years old and have been using blender for over a year. I want to say thanks for this course,and I’m not done with it but so far watching it, This course is very helpful in learning some new things and training myself to over come obstacles that I have to face when creating a scene. Once again, thanks!

    • Posts: 1419

      I’m so happy to hear it’s been helpful to you, blendernova. Thanks for watching!

  5. Posts: 2
    Liam Murray says:

    where can i get the mods you are running, the layering stuff etc…

  6. Posts: 4
    riadough says:

    hi jonathan…am having issues with the inflate brush…it keeps shrinking my sculpture..And the sculpt draw brush makes dents in my sculpture..i dont know why

  7. Posts: 11

    Hi Kent
    I finally became a member, I guess I am hooked. This Piero tutorial should be included in every newbe’s training as a required course to
    let us know exactly what is involved in producing an animation. Kent is nothing short of genius in his approach, persistance and accomplishment. Thanks so much for all your hard work. My work is cut out for me now.

    With kindest regards

  8. Posts: 11

    Hi again,
    I forgot to mention that I love your Disneyesque tree, background and lighting. We can all aspire to the fantastic
    Disney tradition.

  9. Posts: 519
    pieriko says:

    Hi Kent,

    In your tutorial at a time you met a problem with particle system when appending piero.
    I’m currently meeting this problem and it seems deactivating an reactivating density otpion from the particle texture fix the problem.

    I don’t remember if you do so as I havn’t review the relevent course chapter but I thinck I remeber you were redoing the fure.

    Just keep me posted if it works.

  10. Posts: 3
    myconilie says:

    Hi Kent!
    LOVE the tutorial. But for some basic animation practice, (and simply because I’m lazy) used the pre made rig, and the vertex groups for the Hand cntrl points is not painted, so the bone doesn’t work. It’s pretty fixable, just thought I should tell you that.

    (Thank you for the tutorial!)

    • Posts: 1419

      Thanks for the heads-up, myconilie! By “hand cntrl” do you mean the wings? Which specific bone names are not functioning?

  11. Posts: 3
    myconilie says:

    Yeah, should have been more specific. The tops of the wings that make them spread out. It’s labeled hand_cntrl_L, hand_cntrl_R, something like that. Sorry if it wasn’t exact.

    • Posts: 1419

      Hmm, I can’t seem to replicate the issue. CTRL_IK_hand.R and .L are working as intended for me (?)

      • Posts: 3
        myconilie says:

        It must just be me again. I swear, one more thing like that, and I am throwing my computer out the window. Thank you for responding! *I love your work!*

      • Posts: 1419

        Haha don’t be too hasty with the pc-tossing! I appreciate you calling the error out. Anytime you see inconsistency don’t hesitate to draw our attention to it.

        And thanks for the kind words :)

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