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.

  • Hello !!! The concept I'll go for during the whole Class. How do you find it ?

  • Thank you for responding! I will look over it!

  • LOL. Tried to do Johnny Depp and ended up with a creepy guy!  XD


    • crew

      Haha that explanation cracked me up 😅

      You sculpt and model is certainly very clean and "proper" in a way. But it reads to me like you had trouble identifying and/or committing to certain facial features. Johnny's hair (both scalp and facial) is pretty important to his appearance. Without scalp hair it's even harder to draw the connection to him. But the facial hair is too simplified. The way his mustache curls around the corners of his lip - that'd be a good thing to emphasize.

      He's a handsome dude, so he's potentially a more difficult candidate for caricature. You may have a more difficult time than if you'd picked Jim Carrey, for example, but I think Johnny's features are defined enough for the task. 

    • Will keep those points in mind for the next sculpt. Thank you :D

  • So, for "my process," his nose is my main focal and problem point atm haha.  I get it shaped the way I like from one direction and in the other I have made a mess. This is where I just think .... simply getting more sculpting under my belt will help more than anything.  More sculpting more understanding of brushes, behavior, when to use what, and settings.  Can't ride a bike by reading a book about it.

    Slightly tiresome to try and get all the angles I want from the same film/age.  In the end, if I get a "him" out of this I think the hair will help make it look "Emilio."

    • crew

      It looks to me like you're well on your way! I can already see Emilio coming out. The nose makes sense to focus on and you're doing a good job with it.

      Granted, fighting the tools along the way is super annoying. I say take a break and come back to it hours later. That often helps both the detach and come back with fresh eyes. And remember, you can only get more familiar with the tools from here.

      Side note: As a beginner, it is too bad you're not using Blender. We'd be able to offer more direct help if that were the case..

  • Here is my homework for this weeks caricature.  I present Christopher Walken 

    Let me know what you all think and what I can work on.  Thanks

    • It would be helpful to post multiple angles or a sketchfab upload would be best.

      Good start. The eye area in particular are reading most like christopher walken.

      Based on this image it looks flat like you sculpted mostly from a front reference and not enough side or three quarters views. In particular the lips seem like they are drawn on instead of the mass that the lips would have. The cheeks feel like they also don't have the mass that would be needed.

      Overall try to sculpt from multiple angles and make sure to add volumes instead of carving in details. Keep it up you are doing good!

    • crew

      I agree with Cody. Most of the face, aside from the nose, feels very flat. The lips especially have very little depth in their shape. Looks like the contours are etched on the surface. I can tell a resemblance to Mr. Walken, so you're headed in the right direction!

  • BC2-1803 Week 1 assignment

    Here's my take on Mr Bean, his ear and nose really standout  and also the short and square chin feature. I'm not sure if I emphasize those features enough. I would like to hear your input from you  Kent. Thanks!

    Sketchfab link

    • I can already see him flipping birds like mad!

    • Great start! It is definitely recognizable as Mr.Bean. How far are you wanting to take the stylization? On a 0-100% scale 0 being realistic and 100 being extreme I would say you are as around 10-20% 

      The side view of the nose is nice it pulls out very far but from the front it feels natural almost less extreme than the reference photo. The ears don't really feel exaggerated much as a normal ear goes from just below the nose to the top of the eye/eyebrow area and that is how they are sized in your sculpt currently.

      Also the shape of the nostrils in the reference photo is an area you could exaggerate. The nostrils really go upwards to where the tip of the nose is a good bit lower than the sides of the nostrils. You could push that much further.

    • His eyebrows really stand out to me, I would try exaggerating those more.

    • crew

      First, this sculpture is very high-quality! Unmistakable as Mr. Bean - Nice work. I do agree with Cody about the 10-20% exaggeration. What's funny is Mr. Beans face is already extreme in reality lol. So he already kinda looks like a caricature.

      But I'd like to see you try and push the features to a 50%+ level. Really good stuff so far, Kenny!

  • Just wanted to add my "getting started" screenshot. This is merely a few hours into it.

    Decided to go for a Benedict Cumber-bust of Dr. Strange. ;)

    Focusing mainly on the long face, intense eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and gaunt cheeks.

    Did I think it was ready to show off just yet? No, not by a longshot! Did I push myself to post it anyway for accountability and participation reasons? Yes. Yes I did. :P

    • arcangel_zero7 Nice job so far! You've done a good job of isolating the features that should be exaggerated. I think what you need to work on is maintaining realistic facial anatomy while you push the features into caricature. It's important to remember that stylization is sort of a mockery of realism and natural features. Specifically I'd round out the cheek bones and make sure they fade out up around the eye and back toward the temple. Also the areas above the corners of the mouth (should be creased in rather than puffed out) as well as below the bottom lip could use some attention. Nice progress though keep it up

    • crew

      I'd say you're off to a great start, Kyle! I like that you've honed in on an elongated face - a recognizable feature of Benedict. And I like Matt's feedback - I second his notes.

      Here's some annotations over your image:

      Note the distinct slant of Benedict's eyes and brow. Compared to yours which are fairly straight horizontally. Also the upside-down triangular shape of his nose. My eye immediately went to these features for exaggeration.

      Also he's got distinct but short laugh lines straight down the sides of his nostrils, which is a feature missing from your sculpt. Also the lower lip is a distinct feature on Benedict that isn't formed with your current WIP.

      I'm looking forward to seeing how you progress with this one - Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, guys!

      Identifying those particular spots really helps me know where to focus. I've been fighting tooth-and-nail to squeeze sculpting time into a packed weekend, but I will make something presentable by deadline. Your tips and notes are a huge help! I'm fired up! :D

      By the way, how do you "mention" other users? I thought it'd be @ or even #, but no luck. Hope Kent and Matt both see this and know they're appreciated. :)

    • I can't tell if it's coming out well or just...crazy weird. Implemented your advice though! Tilted those eyes, shrinking them really helped. Twisted the eyebrows a bit too. Added the smile lines by the nose, and connected those pronounced cheekbones to the brow so his skull-shape makes more sense. I got distracted and made decent-enough ears, which is kinda cool. XD

      The worst part is he was looking MUCH better in orthographic mode before I realized it LOL. I'm hoping after adding hair and such he'll look less...creepy. (Using Kent's "unflattering headlight" viewport light setup haha.)

      I'm very much torn about being proud of myself, because I can sorta see a likeness emerging...

      Much more to be done though, just not sure when to move to finer detail stage.

      Thoughts? :)

  • Homework submission Week 1

    I decided to go with Devin Townsend and not only because he's bold (well I guess it helped a little tbh) but because I think he's a great musician and an awesome dude of course. 

    During the sculpt I struggled with the stylizing and kind of started over at least three times. Every time I started to tweak all the face features what seemed important in his face, after few hours I realized that it was going more towards realism and it looked not like a caricature at all.

    So now it's time to settle because and get some concept done for my character. Here is the Sketchfab and reference I used. Please shout some of those facial features that play big role, I think I don't have too good eye for that. I guess all I noticed was the strong jaw and damn straight nose


    • nice sculpt , likeness feels here ! all u need r small twicks ! give him a bigger head and forhead , and put a largrger space between the nose and the upper lip! and maybe larger ears and break the symetry a lot !

    • crew

      I agree with malhomsi that you've dialed in the likeness pretty well. And I see what you mean about circling back around to more of an authentic likeness rather than a stylized caricature. Honestly, I'd say Devin has a fairly 'normal' neutral face when he's not yelling on stage, making it more difficult to caricature. It might have been an easier stylization process if you'd done the yelling version; more obvious features to exaggerate.

      Authentic likeness is an admirable accomplishment in itself, even though technically the point of the exercise is to exaggerate away from realism. So I'm inclined to grade this submission C+. Certainly worthy of passing👌

      PS: I've not heard of Devin Townsend before this. As a guitarist myself, I'm quite enjoying his skills via youtube vids now 🤘

    • Yes he has pretty neutral face when not yelling or making some other weird expressions and I'm lucky that there are so many pictures of him, as like in 5% of them he is neutrally serious.

      I try to make ONE MORE sculpt and really push those features mmalhomsi mentioned but it's more important to get the character picture done by the end of the week. Even if the caricature was bad this was good practice in sculpting for me making a human head.

      And theluthier he's a great guitar hero and he's skill in clean singing has improved so much after the younger days

    • Homework submission Week 1 part 2

      And here's the artwork beta version of my Chimney sweeper kid (name in progress) that I'm going for in the character creation.

    • Ok so I tweaked it a bit and feel my soul purified for making it look more like a caricature. 


  • Just thought id mention it, incase others like me who are still starting out.  

    for a good starting bust block, mind theres the 'basehead' that was available as a download for the caracature course ( first of this weeks prerecorded material).   im just using it as a nice quick starting block to get going.

  • Had some tough time with the guy...

    So, does he resemble someone or I failed miserably? :)

  • Did some tweaks and end it up so far, I don't know what else to push it further =(

    Any suggestion?

    Caricature Bust Sculpt-WIP updated by ken on Sketchfab

    And here's my pick of the concept art by another CGCookie memberSpiris

    • very nice sculpt ! not easy to push it further ! u may give him a bigger nose and push the jaw and cheeks more ( a lot more )  for this u may use an extrem expression to help u !

      u dont have to sulpt it again ,try to use latice deform to sse what u can push further

    • crew

      Overall, your Mr Bean sculpt turned out well! It's still mostly an authentic representation of his features, which again, are already so exaggerated/distinct in reality. I can see that you pushed the ear size, but everything else looks pretty close to his actual features.

      Could you post a download link to your .blend file for me? I'd like to poke around with it a bit to see what I would push.

      And your character concept art is great! That will be a good character to see you build in 3D over the next 3 weeks 👍

    • WOW, Kenny fantastic work!!! Congratulations!

  • Homework submission Week 1

    so here is my stylized Terminator ! i started with a quick sketch sculpt to try to catch likeness, then a went up with more details , clothing and hair.

    i went with a bleu cold lights . materials are very basic shaders !

    Arnold has a very distinct face with hard cheeks and jaw ! sculpting the nos was the hard part ! and as usual the hair paarticuls!

    Ps: i like anatomy  :)

  • Homework Submission Week 1:

    I chose Conan O'Brien for my caricature. I was quite lost at first, didn't know how to start. Eventually things started to take some kind of human form and in the end I was kind of surprised of the end result. I don't know if people would recognize him as Mr. O'Brien, or if I chose the right features to exaggerate, but I feel more confident with my sculpting skills (but I know there's more to learn). 

    And for comparison:

    Now, regarding the character concept art, I was wondering if I can make my character a mix of animal and human? Human but with animal features, something in between this characters:

    Or should I stay in the human realm?

    • good work!  you may give him a wider forhead  and push the cheeks bones out !

    • Great Conan :D I think the idea of mixing human and animal features is great. If teaching is about creating human character it would be a nice twist in learning and maybe a fun challenge if you have some extra stuff to figure out yourself.

    • Nice work there, it registers to me as Mr O'Brian and I agree with malhomsi on the wider forehead.

    • crew

      I agree, your sculpt is recognizable as Conan to me. I like your choice of features to exaggerate (that quiff!). The only thing I see right away that I would have exaggerated is the slant of his eyes. Still though, great job. A-quality work 👏

      Sure, it's no problem doing a character with animal traits or additions (like the rabbit ears). The principles we'll explore in this class are applicable to non-human characters.

  • Homework submission Week 1

    I didn't choose anyone famous as I have a character in mind that I would like to develop during the month (for a short film I'm hoping to make one day). 

    He should read both as a professor and a magician - for reasons that will become apparent if I ever make that film. He is my first character design, I only recently finished the Intro to Character Modelling. His likeness was slightly inspired by this illustration but I decided to drop the glasses and give him eyes that almost looked like glasses in themselves. 

    Oh, and here is a Sketchfab link.

    • nice , reminde me of Estienne, the front view looks good , but i found the side view maybe a little flat! 

      i suggest to give it a crease stroke between the low eyelid and the cheeks !to seperat the 2 volue , it will help when retopologise and animating !

      ps: nice hat !

    • crew

      Good to see you again for this class, Katerina! This is a fun character. I like your idea to make his eyes feel glasses-like.

      I do think mmalhomsi makes a good point about the face being flat in profile. I'm looking forward to seeing this character fleshed out with a body 👍

    • Yesterday, I continued working on the character and gave him a bit of colour (first time using vertex colours). I found out it has its advantages, but also one major drawback. As I went back in today, I realized I couldn't change the sculpt without losing the colour information. And as temporary as it is I didn't want to redraw it at this stage. Luckily, I saw someone mention the lattice modifier, so I used that to slightly change the shape of his forehead and nose.

      I also played a bit with his chin, but I didn't capture it in screenshots. And I've started working on his clothes, so the latest version sports a badly sculpted shirt (which will be mostly hidden, I think).

  • HOMEWORK:  Okay, I'm flirting with an angry wife for this project! lol I'm trying to figure so many things out my head is spinning.  So, I must throw in the towel.  This is (believe it or not) the first caricature I've ever done in any form.  Not enough time to play with textures and fool with more crease/detail brushing in the hair, eyes ... and everywhere in general ... mouth and lips incomplete. /sigh But I am learning.  Not really happy with it but, happy that I got something done. Only my second "detailed" sculpt to date!  I think for a personal progression thing, I might task myself to do this once a week and set a time limit to help myself along.

    The "move brush" is the most simple, subtle, aggressive, magical brush.  I think need to play with everyday.
    anyways, not quite a render time is not on my side atm. 

    • crew

      For a first caricature ever, this is pretty darn good! As long as you're learning it's absolutely a success. I won't critique it super hard since you are in the midst of learning a ton. The one thing I'll say is that I would have emphasized the slender nature of his face. It looks to me like you went more round which is the opposite of Turturro's face imo. But still the nose and teeth are pretty recognizable.

      The move brush (grab brush in blender) is one of those obvious brushes but super powerful. One of my professors in college exercised his sculpting skills by using only the move/grab brush.

    • Haha the expression really makes it recognizable :D Great job

  • Homework submission Week 1

    When working through the prerecorded course work a few weeks back, i ended up trying a character and this was the result

    Course Work learning project

    But for this month, I've gone for another person with a little more extravagent features to focus on, Peter Cushing.

    Enjoyed  trying to work through this. I've scrapped and restarted a few times  since i was finding myself, getting too detailed too quick and having to  go back and have a word with myself and just try and rough block the  shape first.  
    But its all practice and mistakes and thats all helpful, and hope it will stick in time.

    Still alot of work I could have done,  hair is too thin. the top jaw line is off, and the furrows just dont seem to gel.

    but that said, enjoyed working through it, and watching everyone else progress.  picked up alot from reading through, just need the practice to get it all sticking in my head.   Great work everyone !!

    For  the concept drawings for next weeks character ive chosen a teacher drawing I found on pintrest, I dont want to dig a  hole too deep for myself and then find its far too detailed for me to  finish.  
    So with that said ive chosen a more simplified character for myself as a beginner, and fingers crossed I can get through it.

    • good work! u may go heavier on the wrinckles around the eyes and the mouth , and deepen the eye pouches ! bigger ears maybe ? 

    • crew

      Great job with Peter Cushing AND Danny DeVito! I love that you did pre-class course work, Darren. I feel like it shows with Peter, given how recognizable your sculpt is. You chose to emphasize the right features imo. I'd place your level of exaggeration at around 25-30% beyond reality. While that's good enough to achieve a caricature, I would have liked to see 50% + just for the exercise of it.

      That's minor though. You've earned an A this week in my book 👏

      And I LOVE the character concept you've chosen! He'll look amazing in 3D.

    • Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances!

      Looks great!

  • Ok, so Statham being a hard sell.

    How about this guy? :)

  • Nice ttr1bar  Vladislav, very nice flow to the face.

    I'll poke my head above the ramparts, and say hes got a Kevin Hart look to him *ducks for cover*

    If you dont mind me asking, how did you do the sort of roughness of the facial hair?

    • Thank you oboshape !

      I was aiming for Martin Lawrence, so codywinch guessed right.

      I did the facial hair with Clay Strips brush, with radius to almost minimum, maximum strength, doing quick brushstrokes. The subdivide modifier seems to preserve the form quick well for these.


      Thank you very much for your feedback, Kent! I would give Jason another try :)

  • Progress mostly done just working on a render now and grooming the hair. Any guesses as to who it is?

    • i see  Ian McKellen here ! nice :)  i saw ur stream yesterday it was cool ! i ddint recognize all u sculpting brushes , is this an add on ?

      u sculpture (as usual ) is very good , i may just hint u to the upper eyelid,i may nid some fat , to make it fall a litlle !

    • Yeah, I gotta go with Ian McKellen too.  Not many around with eyebags like that!

    • crew

      It definitely looks like Ian. I kinda feel like it could be someone else though...That nose however, I'm going with Ian! In which case, great job Cody. You've chosen good features to exaggerate, I love the details like the wrinkly eye bags, and the particle hair too. Really nice work here.

      A+ stuff 👏. Very keen to see the render!

  • Homework Submission Week 1:

    That's my submission, but i'm not totally satisfied with the result (and don't know how to fix it), I think it doesn't resemble me, maybe because my face has no distinguishing features or I just couldn't represent myself.

    It is mostly a stylized face "based" on me. I would appreciate if I could get any suggestions on how to improve the artwork.

    The art and the ugly face:

    (I couldn't find a better photo of me)

    And here's the concept:

    Thanks and have a nice sunday.

    • crew

      I actually can see you in the sculpt. It looks like an older, caricatured version of yourself. I think you've done a good job choosing which features to exaggerate - nice work! It's an A in my book.

      Awesome choice of concept art! He'll be a fun one to model 🤘