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.

  • Homework Submission Week 4 Update

    I was able to send just the geometry and then the textures separately to Sketchfab. jack07 confirmed my suspicions about the process. Many thanks to you Jack. I was using the technique outlined in the Axe example about packing the textures in the .blend file which worked perfectly... for the axe. I found that Ulbricht needed special uploading procedures.

    Here he is with all of his high resolution errors visible now. The weight painting and shape keys were challenging. Like herding cats, those errant vertices wanted to do their own thing.

    Thanks again theluthier for a fantastic class.

  • Homework Wk 4

    Bob, in all his Sunday glory! Thanks for the amazing class theluthier! Looking forward to the next one!

    I encountered a loooot of bad artifacts where my paint would lay down well past my brush's boundaries.

    I'm guessing this was due to 1) having a crazy-complex Smart UV Unwrap, 2) maybe too much bleed, and 3) not retopologizing.

    Bob4 Paint 007 by Ryan Brewer on Sketchfab

    Edit: Actually, I don't see any bleed-interference. Unless I hear otherwise I'll write off the artifacting to the convoluted Smart UV Unwrap.

    • Well the textures look really good imo. Even if the unretopolized models UVs look pretty messy since there are so many islands, the ending result is fine overall. Good job Ryan stonewing !

    • crew

      I agree with Jere that the paint job looks quite good imo. It really finishes off the character well. Bob has come a long way since the initial sculpt. Lovely work stonewing; an easy A 👏

      The method of smartUV'ing a dyntopo mesh is supposed to be quick and dirty but it often turns out overly dirty in my experience too. I need to see if I can iron out the workflow to avoid the artifacts better..

      Thanks for participating this month and sharing your work, Ryan 🙇🏻‍♂️

    • Looks really nice! Each time I see him I keep imagining a short of him trying to get breakfast...

    • "But at VML, it’s not all about the work. We want everyone to have the best life both in and out of the office."

      Looks like Dad is having that best life out of the office right now. Great job on the sculpt and texturing Ryan stonewing !

    • I feel like Bob is watching Ferris Bueller running between houses across the street. Bob is awesome.

  • crew


    This class was an absolute blast. As the first advanced-level curriculum, I was kinda expecting participation to dwindle - maybe even turn into a ghost town by the end. Not the case. I am so impressed with the commitment level and quality of results. Amazing job everyone!

    Consistency: Out of 37 total members that submitted homework, 12 submitted all 4 weeks. I want to commend those members:

    Community Leaders: There were several members this month who invested significant time in this community thread encouraging others, answering questions, and offering advice/tips. Without a doubt I believe it's members like these that have made these classes so successful. I wanted to highlight some of the most involved but currently I don't have a way to filter the thread by top posters and 44 pages is a lot to go through one by one lol. But you know who you are! And thank you.

    Volunteer Instructor's Assistants: As with my January's class, Zolt Cseh was voluntarily active this month by facilitating a consolidated report card spreadsheet. I'm a spreadsheet novice and his help is very appreciated. He also periodically reported statistics regarding class participation which I find extremely useful for gauging the pulse of the class. Thank you, Zolt!

    Additionally 2 other members heeded my call to be Volunteer Assistants: Cody Winchester ( codywinch ) and Matt Curtis ( jbird09 ). Though the participation in the class didn't reach overwhelming proportion, I sincerely appreciate you both volunteering your time and attention if the need arose.

    Highest Grade: Matthew Ullrey takes home a record 180 XP this month. See how you did via Zolt's Report Card. I calculated the total value for everyone by adding individual grades based on this scale: F = 0, D = 10, C = 20, B = 30, A = 40, + = 5. I'm going to manually add those XP values to everyone's current total. 2758 total XP is about to rain down!

    Your Feedback is important! I've created a Google Form to harvest some data from you all, including a consensus for which class topic to do next. Please take a moment to fill that out if you wouldn't mind 🙇🏻‍♂️

    Speaking of the next class - In keeping with the semi-standard every-other-month cycles, May would be next in line. While this may still happen (#badpun), I'm considering pushing it back to June. Either way it'll be more of the same awesomeness these first 2 have been!

  • That is a great summary Kent theluthier, if you need of course will continue the tracking of the results also in the next classes with pleasure.

    I especially like somehow that XP rain at the end of the class :-), regarding that would like to congratulate for the top three students who gained the highest XP in total by the two classes:

    1) Matthew Ullrey ( ullreym ) - 360 XP
    2) Katerina Novakova ( shiennar ) - 308 XP
    3) John Sanderson ( pprocyonlotor ) - 283 XP

    And just for the next students a bit of additional motivation with this chart, just join bravely and learn and gain XPs because that is also a fun and good feeling:

  • It annoys me that the fourth checkbox is not checked.

  • crew

    Thanks to those of you who've responded to the questionnaire so far! 5/9 votes for Hard Surface / Vehicle modeling, 3/9 for Digital Hair, so it looks like vehicles will be the next class! Unless a bunch of you decide to vote otherwise in the next 24 hours or so.

    Also the feedback you're leaving is gold. A final closing stream makes a lot of sense 👍

  • crew

    Thanks to those of you who've responded to the questionnaire so far! 5/9 votes for Hard Surface / Vehicle modeling, 3/9 for Digital Hair, so it looks like vehicles will be the next class! Unless a bunch of you decide to vote otherwise in the next 24 hours or so.

    Also the feedback you're leaving is gold. A final closing stream makes a lot of sense 👍

  • crew

    BTW I have continued working on Mr. Dunne these past couple weeks. And had a lot of fun painting his shadeless texture. The hair was a lot of fun. Pinstripes less so. I'm no Tim Von Rueden, but I'm getting a bit better at the hand-painting approach:

    I'd like to try and extract some baseline spec/metalness maps for uploading to sketchfab with a hint of shading.

  • theluthier  looks good  sensei! 

    BTW the concept creator contacted me finaly and u were right he loves my render !

  • So, I figured out my issue with Sketchfab, apparently I managed to save the view from VR somehow, creating the super off center Model-Nav. Man, the past few days have been terribly-awesome.  I am feeling the "burn" from putting in "work at the gym." Had to work through the issues of getting texture sets to import into substance painter which starts with some changes in Zbrush.  And had to fix exporting them all as separate objects/uv maps from from Substance into sketchfab, (ctrl+J in Blender was the hot-fix) and think about how to correct the UV map issues I ran into in the future.  For whatever reason, even after changing the names of the sets, it was still somehow associating old-names with files.  Not sure I am through the woods on that yet but, all in all, feeling good.  Was able to work through the problems I was having and generate my final submission for this thread.

    It's only the base materials for the textures sets or body parts.  Nothing detailed, no real effects other than some smudging and scratches.  Hope to give the eyes a marbled/glass like quality ... and some pupils! I'm okay with this though, and will post a polished result somewhere many moons from now.

  • So I thought I may try this course out 2 years after the initial release. 

    If I'm just talking to a void that's fine with me.

    I did week 1's homework today.  Attached below is my attempt at sculpting "Tyler, the creator". 

    There are only slight exaggerations. This is largely due to have a too high poly count too early. It is crucial that you have a solid blockout before you start refining, after the blockout your stuck with whatever proportions you have.