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.

  • Just a week to go - getting hyped!

    I've been getting used to my new tablet.  I've never had one before and I wanted to get used to using it before the class gets underway; so I rewatched the Digital Sculpting course and did the Melvin exercise again with the pen.  Now I'm as comfortable with it as I am with the mouse, so looking forward to using it for the class.

    Question: in week 1's homework, there's two assignments - a caricature bust and some concept art.  Just to be sure - is the concept art supposed to be of the subject of that caricature sculpt, or of the character we plan to make over the course of the month?

    • crew

      Woot - me too! Stylization is such a fun topic. As for week 1 homework, I recommend doing a caricature of a photo (of a human). And the concept art part of the homework is just for you to choose an illustration to create your character from.

  • Hallo,

    I am interested in this event but, it will be problematic for me.  I am in Germany, and to try and see if I can make this work, it would help to know the time zone of the 8pm EST or PST? Somewhere inbetween? 

  • This class looks awesome, but I'm not sure if I can participate:

    1. How many hours do you need to spend in order to get along with this class? I'm still in high school, so I have max. 2 hours to spend per day.

    2. I live in the Netherlands, in a completely different timezone. Is it possible to view the livestreams afterwards?

    3. I do have a graphic tablet, but it's really old; approximately 15 years. I can sculpt with it, but it does not have pressure sensitivity.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    PS: Even if I can't follow the class, it looks great and I wish everyone a lot of fun and succes!

    • crew
      1. I'd say 2 hrs per day is enough to participate in the class. Of course more time has the best potential to maximize the class experience, and less time would hinder the potential.
      2. You can absolutely view the livestreams after they're broadcast. Archived streams are available within 24-48 hours after broadcast.
      3. Wow, I'm not sure I've ever heard of a graphics tablet without pressure sensitivity..but if you're comfortable sculpting with it then that should be fine.
  • Hey Kent, I am concidering a preadolescent bipedal turtle character without martial arts training as my project. Would that be acceptable or should I focus on a more human like character for this class?

    The excitement for this course in the thread is infectious. I have a feeling we’ll all be Blender Zombies by the end of March. 🧟‍♂️

    • crew

      A lot of the class will be focused on human characters, but the principles will certainly apply to humanoid creatures like ninja turtles pre-adolescent bipedal turtle characters without/without martial arts training 😅

      I'm really glad to hear about your excitement! Glad I'm not the only one.

  • crew


    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!


  • I will start this month, I'm new here so maybe this class is a bit advanced for me, I have basic knowledge of blender, but I will try to learn as fast as I can to catch up with you.:)

  • Excited to take the class this month.  For the homework, do we create a thread in the forum and post there? or we just reply to this thread? 

    • crew

      Just reply to this thread. While a single thread isn't ideal, especially if we have as many students this month as RSVP's to tomorrow's live event, it's good in that it's a central place for class communication and homework submission. I'll be checking on this thread daily so there's little chance I'll miss a reply.

      Very glad to hear you're excited!

  • I am back for the class :) After like 2 years of pause I hope the class tempo would really motivate to work hard.

  • Need help - while looking for referenc images late this morning ... I also fell in love with John Turturro from Mr. Deeds.   “I love feet!”  Emilio or Seymour?

  • If you have a lot of reference photos and a second screen I can recommend the software PureRef, you can easily set up collages and see multiple images at once. It's way easier than the Blender image editor in my opinion. Just in case someone is looking for a software like that (It's free). 

  • Wow! Looks like I missed an Epic session yesterday. I'm sorry I have to bow out of this one. Have a great workshop everyone!
  • So, I was working on homework ... and was just starting to build up cheeks, mouth, brow, and chin areas ... when the power started flickering ... This doesn't happen in Germany.  But, we are having work done on our house .... and it wasn't that either ...  The floors throughout are being tiled and last night before I left (after the session) I plugged in a dehumidifier and had adjusted the power strip under the desk to do it ... I put my foot down on the power button  AHHHH! Sleeping at the mother in law's house till work is done so ... my time is limited due to waking the wife and kid when I go to sleep. =(

    Remotely good news.  Since using Zbrush - it has periodic quick saves.  So I still have my nose base.  MEH. I think the most annoying thing is I didn't save the spotlight setup I made (screen overlay reference tool) so I need to redo it now ... and save it =D

    Pretty excited about all this and looking forward to more class formatting. Hope to have something for Friday or Saturday =) Hope everyone is doing well! 

  • crew


    Yesterday's Live Event is now archived and available in "Past Events". 


  • A very nice stream yesterday !

    a quick sculpt ( 30 min with mouse , dyntopo ) i dont know if i catch the likenes

  • All right, got that posting access problem sorted - I'm still not sure what was wrong, but they fixed it so I'm happy!

    Here's my WIP bust so far.  I think I see the resemblance starting to show up, but I'm curious if anyone else can see it.

  • I'm getting a Ron Perlman vibe, but then it could also be Will Ferrell. lol.

  • Nice job jjakeblended ! You've definitely nailed some of the likeness. Maybe try to push the features to the extreme to really practice the caricature style. One area you could work on is the forehead. Ron seems to have a really square and flat one with a few huge wrinkles, so you could emphasize that if you want to keep working on it. Lookin' good though :) 

    • crew

      I second Matt's suggestion about pushing a little more into the extreme. I certainly have a tendency to do 'safe caricature' where I push the features slightly, say 25% further than reality. But I try to tell myself to push further, like 50% or more, for the exercise of it.

      But yes, it's totally looking great so far!

  • Hey, Just got done Texturing this character witch I pretty much worked on the whole day. Here is the concept art I went from and the final render... I know the eyes and eye brows could be improved and made better but that was not the point of the project. This is my submission for week one. (turned out more realistic than what I was going for)

  • Does anyone have sculpting practice recommendations, other than just doing? Iterations or anything like this?

  • Hello! I tried sculpting Meryl Streep, but I'm unsure of how to exaggerate her features further... Does anyone have some advice?

    • crew

      Hi Rebecka - You may have picked a hard one with Mrs. Streep. As I study photos of her, she doesn't strike me as having terribly distinct features. Also she's widely renown as an elegant actress, highest in class, which makes it difficult for me to push her into the less elegant world of caricature.

      While I think you've done a good job with your sculpt, I don't immediately recognize her as Meryl Streep. But then I see it a little more compared to this photo:

      Here's my annotations over the photo:

      I think your mouth shape is too far of a departure from Streep's smile shape. I tried to outline that in the annotated image. Note how the right corner of her mouth (screen left) hooks up more than the left corner. The contour where her lips meet has a unique wavy shape while the top lip contour is fairly straight across horizontally and the bottom lip has a consistent U-arch. I recommend focusing on this shape and exaggerating it.

      Again given her elegance, I would generally avoid accentuating wrinkles - only accentuate essential wrinkles like her crows feet, possibly under her eyes, and the corners of her laugh lines (which you've done pretty good). In the annotations I tried to highlight contour these features to emphasize in blue and the areas to keep smooth in yellow.

      Hope this helps, but I really do think she's a hard one to caricaturize.