Kent Trammell (theluthier)

672 replies · posted

[ENDED] BC2-1803 - March 2018 Class Homepage - Creating Stylized Characters with Blender

[FINAL, FINAL] CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #7 (Apr 11, 2018): Thanks to those of you who have responded to the Questionnaire. The feedback is extremely helpful. If you haven't responded yet and you participated in the class - or even if you didn't participate - please fill that out and I will gift you 20 Breath of the Wild screenshots from my Switch.

[FINAL] CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #6 (Apr 9, 2018): We've reached the end of the homework extension period and this class officially comes to end. What a month! It's been a thrill to see each of you forge your characters, learn new things, share tips with each other, and offer critiques along the way.

This thread will be open indefinitely but it's officially at the end of it's "class lifespan" meaning I won't be able to commit weekly time to it anymore and I will unpin it from the forum topics list. I'll pop in occasionally if I see activity but you all are more than welcome to keep working on their characters here if you wish!

UPDATE: Closing post on page 44 and XP has been added to each participating account.

CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #5 (Mar 28, 2018): Week 4's stream is archived and available via the Past Events button on the Live Event page. Also a reminder that I'm extending the 'deadline' of this month and will be keeping this thread alive through the end of the first week in April. Hopefully that gives you all a bit more time to get your characters done!

CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #4 (Mar 26, 2018): Week 3, done! Thanks to everyone who submitted by Sunday. I'm quite impressed by the neutralization and retoplogy work I've seen. It's a lot of work and I can see that effort in the WIPs and especially completed submissions.

Week 4 - the final week - dives into adding color to our model, primarily in the form of creating textures. Check out this week's breakdown a little further down in this description and see you tomorrow at the Live Event!

CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #3 (Mar 19, 2018): Week 2 is accomplished and I'm finally caught up on submissions! Thanks to everyone who submitted by Sunday. We have some impressive character concept sculpts underway. In fact, I have yet to bestow a grade lower than an A this week.

Week 3 continues our 3-week character building production. Specifically we're going to look at pursuing an animation friendly version of our character - both how and why we would do this. See you tomorrow at the Live Event! Don't forget to RSVP.

CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #2 (Mar 12, 2018): Week 1 is done! Thanks to everyone who submitted by Sunday. It's been a lot of fun seeing your caricature work and concept art choices.

Week 2 begins the 3-week process of building a character based on the concepts we choose. Don't forget to RSVP to the Live Event tomorrow - See you then!

CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #1 (Mar 5, 2018): Class is in session! Today officially begins the BC2-1803 class. Please check the syllabus below for Week 1's focus and assignments. Begin watching the pre-recorded courses if you haven't already and begin looking for a cool, stylized character design for creating in 3D this month. The first Live Event is tomorrow at 2pm EST - SEE YOU THERE! 😎


Welcome to the CGCookie Class: Creating Stylized Characters with Blender! This class is designed to teach you everything you need to know about building stylized 3D characters. If you’re diligent in watching all content and hitting homework deadlines, by the end you will have a modeled and textured stylized character! It’s an intermediate-to-advanced class which means you’ll do best by having some experience with Blender and 3D modeling before committing to this class.

This is the second "Class" format where Citizen members are invited to focus together on a particular topic/skill for a month. Participation looks like this:

  • RSVP and attend the Live Events
  • Watch the courses outlined below
  • Ask questions
  • Submit homework
  • Generally be active in this thread

WHEN? The class will take place from March 5th through March 31st

✅WEEK 1: Understanding Character "Stylization" (March 5-11)

Abstract: Stylization is any deviation from realism. Thus it’s a broad spectrum from slight liberty away from reality to extreme abstraction of reality. This week we're going to sift through various examples of stylized characters, noting their qualities, and categorizing a spectrum of stylization.

Goal of the Week: Train your eye and mind to stylize your perception. Practice simplifying and exaggerating reality. Loosen up your sculpting approach (gestural sculpting).

Pre-recorded course to watch: Art of Sculpting: Caricature Chapter

Week 1 Live Event (Already happened and archived!)


  • Sculpt a caricature bust [post a screenshot, render, or sketchfab embed]
  • Choose/create concept art for your character. [post an image of your chosen concept art]

✅WEEK 2: Character Development & Sculpture (March 12-18)

Abstract: Story plays a big part in stylization. Not necessarily ‘narrative’ but background, personality, and purpose. The success of a character is strengthened by its developmental arc. The best artists create characters that are more than the sum of its pixels; more than the sum of its brush strokes and polygons; more than its final render.

Goal of the Week: Develop a story for your character; one that can fuel your creative workflow for the rest of the month. Then channel that story into the first stage of sculpting.

Pre-recorded courses to watch:

Week 2 Live Event (Don't forget to RSVP)


  • Write a background for your character at least 2-3 paragraphs long (200-300 words) [share as a Google Doc if longer with a TL;DR summary at the top]
  • Sculpt your character. [post a screenshot, render, or sketchfab embed]

✅WEEK 3: Production-Friendly Character Models (March 19-25)

Abstract: At this point a decision needs to be made about our character sculptures: A) Leave it as a sculpture or B) optimize it for ‘production’. Leaving it as a sculpture means it’s a static sculpture that can be painted, rendered, or 3D printed but not animated. Optimizing it for production means you turn your sculpture into a model that’s easiest to work with up to and including animation. If you opt for optimization, this week is mostly a technical and problem-solving task. We need to both retopologize our mesh and also neutralize it if the sculpt is posed.

Goal of the Week: Understand the concept of “production-friendly” and practice retopology.

Pre-recorded courses to watch:

Week 3 Live Event (Don't forget to RSVP)


  • Do the Robo Orb Retopo Exercise [post link to your submission]
  • If you’re maintaining a static character sculpture, just focus on polishing it to perfection.
  • If you’re retopologizing your character sculpt, retopologize and neutralize it.

✅WEEK 4: Painting Our Characters (March 26-31)

Abstract: Like Dorothy, our characters have so far lived in a black and white world. This week we’re leaving Kansas and adding color. There’s many methods for creating our character texture(s) including hand-painting, baking maps that accent the painting process (great for the less painterly character artists), as well as photo-sourcing. There's also a couple different formats: Vertex Colors and UV/Textures.

Goal of the Week: Get comfortable with painting textures.

Pre-recorded courses to watch

Week 4 Live Event (Don't forget to RSVP)


See you in March!

This thread is reserved for CG Cookie Citizens that are participating in the "Creating Stylized Characters with Blender" class. Its purpose is to serve as central communication for all participating Citizens (excluding Hobby plan Citizens) to ask me and each other questions and to post homework. As the instructor of the class, I will be monitoring this thread on a daily basis (especially Mon-Thurs) throughout the month of March to review homework and answer questions.

Free members are welcome to observe the thread but please respect that communication is reserved for Citizens.

  • crew


    CLASS ANNOUNCEMENT #5 (Mar 28, 2018)

    Week 4's stream is archived and available via the Past Events button on the Live Event page. Also a reminder that I'm extending the 'deadline' of this month and will be keeping this thread alive through the end of the first week in April. Hopefully that gives you all a bit more time to get your characters done!


    PS: Check out the this beautifully stylized Gandalf vinyl statue from Weta Workshop 🤩 #inspiration

  • Oh now I want that Gandalf, it looks so cool. I'm sorry wallet, you're gonna have to take a hit.  

  • theluthier I'm just now catching this week's class. (Work kept me away from the live-stream.)  I'm honored you mentioned Bob! Thank you!

  • If that noisy chainsaw is connected to her ears, they're going to blow as soon as she turns it on!

  • Homework Submission Week 4 part 1

    Here is my version of the texture painted axercise. I had fun using the techniques in video to create the dings and divots of the metal axe head. I was inspired by reference images of axe handles to add the look of carved celtic knot-work to my rendition.


    Now I need to get Mr. UV uv unwrapped and painted.

  • Coming along.  Need to add the last couple armor pieces and I'll be done with week 2!

    Nothing's perfect, but hopefully the retopo will yield better results.

  • Yesterday had the chance to watch through the last recorded event as only to the beginning of the live one was able to join, where there was some discussion regarding the topics of:

    - Linear classes vs. Random classes

    - 4 week classes vs. 5 week classes

    and as a Volunteer Assistant for documenting homework grades just thought that maybe it is worth the visualize the experiences of the first two classes.

    Basically let's allow two charts to speak:

    On the first one you can see that both classes had great participation, however inspite of some covering topics which would associate the point of the linear classes, only just 7 members participated in both ones.

    That might have the following conclusions:

    1) Blender is hard :-)

    2) CG is so complex that people who intend to learn are specialized on particular areas

    3) Life happens - simply like that, in one month having time and no chance in another one

    The second chart is also interesting, showing that less percent of the members are able to post homework on as the weeks are going. (the Week4 for the actual class of course is not representative, as Kent is waiting for minimum 12 submissions there :-) )

    Briefly the statistics seem confirming rather the choice of random classes and having one class on 4 weeks looks as a good balance

    • crew

      How can I get you to voluntarily assist me for every Class I do? 😍

      These stats are so great! I just don't have the gumption or know-how to visualize the data like this. Very interesting to see. Thank you csehz 🙇🏻‍♂️🙇🏻‍♂️

    • Cool statistics! I want to add some conclusions, but first a disclaimer: I didn't participate in january's class, I only take a quick glance to some submissions.

      With that say, this are my conclusions from the data gathered:

      • People that started recently with blender saw the second class as more advanced. They might believe they are not yet ready to take on a character model.
      • Those who had the most experience with blender in class 1 are mostly the same who showed up for class 2.
      • Regarding people who didn't join class 1 but did join class 2: In my case, I didn't want to look like I was flexing on the newcomers :P , other's may have preferred a more advanced topic to try the class format.
      • Classes take a lot of the students' time, going 2 months straight may feel overwhelming to some.
      Overall, I really prefer random classes more than linear, they allow for people of different skills to participate and beginners get the chance to breathe and prepare for what they would consider the next step. I believe a linear class would cause people of higher skills to wait for the classes to "catch up to them", while those who started recently might end feeling they are falling behind.
    • Our little renno work that was supposed to start mid-February didn't start  March second.  It was only supposed to last two weeks, and turned into just over 4.  It was pretty miserable. One of the biggest shockers in all of it for me, is that .... apparently,  when you get work done on your house in Germany, its common for the workers to make giant mess and not clean anything up.  I made if halfway through the bookshelf (everything is covered in concrete dust) just today.  Trying to get back to a normal, which includes no longer living out of boxes! We finally got storage/wardrobes stuffs and started unpacking boxes so we wouldn't have to move it out so the floor could be tiled.  AHH!  Anyhow,  however the future classes go, I would love to randomly, or methodically "try" again. As I have a #3 jewel protector ... and my junk is a little more secure. =)

  • a day with no inspiration ..having a lot of problem reposing my model , pc lagging with multires and cloth simulation. i dont know why but i'm still unable to reproduce what i have allready done .. didnt figure out the color palette to use.

    wish everybody else is doing better !

    • crew

      Some days inspiration is just lacking. For me that usually means to take a break, get some space. Give inspiration a chance to come back naturally. So hard (if not impossible) to force inspiration.

    • mmalhomsi just hold on, with the color palette having similiar issues, somehow hard to find the same color in Rendered view. 

      Anyway I started with Vertex Paint and not with the Texture Paint as Kent demonstrated, basically I should just put circle spots on the little giraffe but somehow they are blurred at their side, instead of being sharp as should be on the reference. But will check yet why

    • Getting the right colors sounds easy but it's quite draining! Maybe you just need a little rest!

  • I spend the last few days preparing my character for texturing, plus I rigged her because I have a lot of free time haha! (If I sound pleased about this, it's only because my programmers made this my default tone of writing! I'm actually quite depressed!) 

    I made a quick coloring with materials, as placeholders, and I was wondering what do you guys and gals think? Should I go with these colors? Maybe someone with knowledge in color theory can give me some advice:

    The render and the material view of her face look so different >_>

    I plan to do the textures in Substance Painter, at least the clothes. Not so sure about how to deal with the skin, maybe I can make a simple subsurface material in Substance... I need to learn how to make my own materials urgently! 

  • Homework Submission - Week 4

    All right, I think I'm satisfied with where I've got things.  

    I went with the non-shader style of texturing because it suits the character, which is based on a 2D cartoon-style concept to begin with.  I understand now what everyone says about how Blender's painting functionality could be better.  Not so much with the paint tools themselves - I suppose they're fine enough - but file-handling, referencing, linking, all of that is somewhat convoluted and unforgiving, and I imagine it could be done better.

    After texturing the character, I modeled his typical equipment and textured it as well.  And this is where I ran into a problem.  Indy's jacket is supposed to drape over the items around his waist, but I failed to account for that when I sculpted and retopologized the jacket.  Because of the shrinkwrap modifier I couldn't edit either object without severely distorting the shrinkwrapped mesh.  It took a little while, but the way I worked it out was by blocking in a very simple mesh to surround the jacket, and then used it like a lattice, giving the original sculpt and retopo'd jacket a mesh-deform modifier and binding both of them to it.  In that way I was able to edit both objects at the same time by editing the lattice.  I'm glad I learned this utility, but it might have ultimately had little point, since at the very end of everything I ended up applying all the modifiers, decimating the mesh, and deleting all the sculpts anyway.

    And before I forget, my ax texture, one of the very first exercises I did at CGC.  I had looked at all of the other axes people had been submitting and decided to go with an old, very rusty and neglected blade because I hadn't seen anyone else take that approach.  Sad to say I was rather unambitious with the handle though, but I did try to make it look like old wood:

    • crew

      Nice job with the assignments this week jjakeblended. And thanks for sharing about your workflow, including things you learned and problems you solved. That's so helpful to others reading through the thread. 👍

      A's for both the axe and Indy's texture. This makes you the first in the class to complete all BC2-1803's homework 👏

  • Homework Submission Week 1

    Yes, week 1, I know I'm a bit late. However, I just got my hands on a graphic tablet and I had to test it out, so I thought I might just do the first assignment. Sculpting with a tablet is so much more fun than with a mouse and if anyone is thinking about getting one, I highly recommend it.

    I decided to go with Sylvester Stallone. Now  when I look at it he seems to have a baby face a bit, but I hope it resembles him enough.

    • crew

      As soon as I glimpsed the face, I knew it was Stallone. Great job! Some of the shapes are simplistic, like the eyebrows, where they could be detailed more, but you nailed the likeness and that's the most important thing. You've earned an A in my book 👍

  • Homework submission: Week 4

    One hour before midnight but I managed to finish the professor by the end of the month. :-) I fixed a bunch of things, most notably his eyes and eyebrows, and the coat pockets. I lost some detail in the retopoed head, so I baked a normal map to reclaim them. And I finally got to sewing buttons on his lab coat. No more duct tape solutions, yay!

    And here is the axe I painted I while ago:

    • He looks AMAZING! I thought you used simulated hair for the mustache, but in a closer look, is it hand drawn?!

    • crew

      Your character really came together, shiennar! The textures finished him off very well. I had to view the large version to tell if the hair was particle hair or painted - that means it's a great job! Easily an A this week, including the axe assignment. Congrats on finishing your character this month 👏

  • Ok, took me long enough but I made the retopo of the head. That should be the trickiest part of my character beside hands and well... toes. I still have some back thoughts about the nose. What do you say?

    • I think the shape of the nose is great for the character. A couple improvements could be made to the topology.

      1. The nose (and maybe large parts of the sculpt as a whole; is this with subsurf?) has far more geometry than it needs to accomplish the shape.

      2. You got most of the important edge loops, which is great.  It would be good to have one more loop that circumscribes the nose and mouth.

      3. There is a six pointed pole on the center line right between the eyes, This is not an ideal placement since it obstructs the center loop and will potentially experience significant deformation during animation (if that's in the plan).

      Great job overall though, especially if retopo is a newer endeavor for you.

    • crew

      Your retopo in general is very clean and evenly gridded. In that way, great job! It's clear that you have been diligent in those principles.

      If you were to animate this head, the density of the retopo is a little on the high side which could threaten the ability for the mesh to be animated and played back in real time. Also the mouth especially doesn't have concentric edge loops surrounding the mouth which is very important for reliable mouth deformation.

      If you're not aiming to animate this character (or you're not trying to make it animation friendly) those notes don't really apply. I'm looking forward to seeing you finish Boogerman's whole body 💪

  • Well, we are mostly cleaned and unpacked now.  I had planned to focus on one of my other characters but, I'm going to go with this one, since I already have a good blockout-base done, I should be able to get a decent sculpt, and figure out some texturing stuffs this week, thanks to the extension that is.  Here's a snap from a character-storming session.  His name is Moorkata.  He's a sidekick of the character I wanted to do but meh, life. 

    • Just for kicks. I plan to sculpt him next after I figure out what I am doing with textures and stuffs with Moorkata. 

    • HOMEWORK W-2.

      I would just like to mention, which I suppose I should have before ... that I have hours and hours worth of story outline built for a universe for my characters.  Not really comfortable with story details at this point but, I will share the name origins of  Doden - (a reptilian -boy) and Moorkata (an insectoid -boy).

      This is a low poly blockout -base?- method I was working on, based on some Zbrush-Gumroad content by The Red Beard.  Moorkata is Doden's right hand. He's tech savvy, intelligent, yet  impulsively stupid.  Ah, pre-teen adolescence. Will try to have something more "polished" by Monday night for me. 23:00 CeT, maybe Tuesday.

    • crew

      Moorkata's blockout is shaping up very nicely, hypester77. I'm excited to see this progress 🤘

    • Experimenting with my imports.  I have a pretty high res version that's like 3 million faces in blender lol ... hey, it doesn't crash ... but it does take about 2 minutes lol. Testing things out and seeing what seems to be blender friendly and or not.  If Blender is my engine, I think I need to lean on it more than "options" within Z-Brush. (modifiers)  Decimate in Z-Brush is much faster but, Z-brush I am fairly certain has a different sort of geometry if you're using dynamesh and I am. but in any case, Decimate in Blender (.05) gets me to just under 200k lol. I'm doing different things but, you know, I wanted to throw a brick at Blender with my new machine and see what happened. Next test is only 25k points in Z-brush. Anyhow, about to generate some UV's and scratch my head in Substance Painter.  

      Going to try and generate some detail tonight and get some texturing/painting and have something to look at .. I hope before I get to bed. =)  Wish I could have done this over a 4 week period lol because it's a huge learning process for me lol. Did I say huge? lol

  • Homework Assignment Week 4:

    Well it looked pretty good in ZBrush, but to get the resolution I needed for decent vertex painting, I had to subd x 8.  This warped the geometry even with creases so when I backed it down to the base subd for export, the textures were crooked.  :(  Thus I've included a screencap from Blender using a decimated version, and then an even more decimated version at Sketchfab.  I'll have to figure out some other method when painting my main figure, maybe just leave in ZBrush.

    Also tried painting in 3D Coat which was pretty fun but was running into too many little issues and was pressed for time.  Thanks for viewing!

    Demon Ax by lhumungus on Sketchfab

    • crew

      Very unique take on the AXErcise (pun credit: ullreym). Good stuff! And thanks for sharing about your experience with Zbrush polypaint and 3Dcoat. It always bothered me a bit that polypaint was dependent on mesh polycount and there wasn't a texel-based painting option. Not sure if there is now..

  • Catching up on some of the streams and  ... so I love the idea of a short-film boot-camp or something like that.  Would be pretty awesome.  3 minutes of magic?  Maybe several members of Team-CG could instruct various aspects with live-streams, have some mild overlap with each other, for an overall active-class/course that culminates just before Christmas with a shortfilm? Blood, Sweat, and Fears? I am in.  I would think one could argue that someone should know just about anything of everything on the list I have. I imagine it to be a good progression for the path I am trying to take.  But I would think overall, the goal would be to lay the foundational basics-for, and then have some supplemental "advanced this and that."  Possibly with both, utilizing content that already exists on the site, worked into a "syllabus," and making "homework" out of some of it. The hardest aspect, I would imagine, would be ... to get several full teams- with no "drop-outs," and to have some people take on aspects/roles they might not really want to? 

    1. Asset Modeling/introduction to texturing 
    2. Stylized Character Creation
    3. Texturing/Materials and Workflow
    4. Rigging
    5. Animation --- it's own huge beast? ---
    6. Environmental creation/modeling-beast
    7. Camera and composition-beast
    8. Sound-beast
    9. Editing and Rework.

    The "winning team" gets a CG citizen yearly -20% bonus? =D

    Anyhow, Kent, please take at least 6 months to formulate a "short-film" objective class. haha  

    • crew

      Thanks for breaking down your thoughts and suggestions around the shortfilm class idea hypester77! Reading this has reminded me/inspired me to officially put it on my live event ideas list.

      You hit on some key points, including the difficulty of ensuring committed teams. This whole idea could be epic! Or it could fizzle out with only a few teams barely getting any work done lol. I'm thinking we should do an "application thread" outlining the Class idea and calling for teams to form with some sort of application criteria. If we get enough committed teams, then I pull the trigger on the class officially.

      Because the active teams is going to be the meat and potatoes of the class. Without that, the class will be too abstract I fear. It'll definitely be a different type of class. Making shorts are so expansive and various that general lectures might be too irrelevant to the teams. It might make more sense to do detailed "guidance" sessions for teams and where they are in their production.

      I dunno - talking out loud. Anyhoo, it's on the list and I'm going to continue chewing on the idea.

  • Well, as this class draws to a close.  I have to admit that I have fallen by the wayside....
    Tried to keep up, but a bit too advanced for me at this time. There was moments where I felt that it was just too beyond me, so took a days break and then back to it refreshed,  But, I'm still going to continue to try and get the work completed, might take me a while, but ill get there...

    Learned soo much over the month by doing homework and by trying to watch and apply the prerecorded material and really want to get to the end of the journey with my character.

    been an absolute pleasure being part of it this month, and loved watching everyone grow and learn together :)

  • hey everybody ,hey theluthier  Sensei! i wish u r doing fine!

    here is my progress so far , and it is a nightmare , i think that i overestimated my hardware , and my abilities to sculpt and paint with a mouse. my Pc is lagging when going beyond level 4 of subdivision , 4k textures is blowing my rig .and cloth simulation is impossible to do .

    anyway i took a lot of time to reproduce the pose , laying uvs. for the textures i wanted to hand paint the skin and eyes. i started with a subdermal map , then a layout a multiple painting , i didnt want it to be so realistic to keep the stylized feeling !

    i m disapointed with the result for now ,but i ll not be able to do better with my pc  :(  i still have a lot to do but i ll do my best to post a final rendur befor sunday.

    hopefully u r doing better than me with ur homework

  • Could I please ask a small advice, maybe that is some evidence why.. So what can be the reason that the red spots on the giraffe does not appear in the Render view?

    The brush strength is 1 and clicked around 10 times with the mouse on the most front spot for sure with the TexDraw brush, presumably that is not some computer performance issue? (having not too modern computer for Blender)

    • csehz The only thing I can think of is that the texture is not assigned to the material. If you haven't been able to solve it, upload the file so we can see what's going on 😊

    • Check texture view and see if it shows up there?  Can we see your nodes for the material? You may already be aware of this, but the "Base Diffuse Color" image texture will need to be plugged in to the the color input for your shader.  Also I notice there is an asterisk next to the image menu.  You will need to save it externally before you can import it into cycles effectively. UV image editor-->Image-->Save as image-->then open it from your save location in the node editor and plug it in.  Hope that helps.

    • jack07 , pprocyonlotor thanks a lot for your advices, based on those started from the beginning and then the spot appears normally, I guess before had another material as base and that was not replaced by the "Base Diffuse Color"

  • Homework Wk 4 (Part 1)

    I was shooting for the Christopher Hayes World of Warcraft style, but dialed things back to a less skilled swirly-painterly thing.

    Had a lot of fun!