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.

  • My sculpt is essentially already in a neutralized position, so I'm going to take the opportunity to polish it some more before I retopologize.

  • I found out that due to the pose I choose some things bended really badly when trying to neutralize my character, practically making a mess of her proportions. I decided to cut her in pieces and use some vertices with the skin modifier as a guide. Before continuing, what do you guys think of her proportions?


    I may need to do some work on her upper legs, some muscles lost their shape in the process. 

    • the proportions feel ok for me , the knee region seems maybe to large , but as u said changing in the shape of the muscles

    • crew

      Funny how neutralizing can reveal proportional issues, right? In that way it's a good metric for character judgement that would never be known if left in pose.

      But your neutral proportions looks valid. I'd say it's in the body type category of shorter legs. Plenty of women have this shape. If you're going for 'idealized' woman, I'd say make the legs longer.

  • I think it might be a bit late to join in on this.

    • You may still be on time, depending on how much free time you have. Week 1's homework is a cartoony head sculpt and to choose concept art for a character you will use the rest of the month, Week 2 is sculpting said character and write it's background. We just started week 3, we have to retopo a robot sculpt and decide if we will do the same to our character's sculpt or to keep perfecting it.

      Some students used their chosen character for the head sculpt and continued it for week 2, you could save some time doing this.

      You won't be the only one catching up, so don't worry. Hope you can join us!

    • crew

      Hi Erik - Are you just now finding out about the class?

  • I'm pretty far behind the class and hoping to catch up on the required courses--and figure out how to fix all the sloppy creasing and clothing edges I have going on.

    It occurred to me some of my troubles may be I've been sculpting strictly in the dyntopo Subdivide Collapse mode? Would Collapse Edges help me get rid of some of the lumpiness I have going on in the robe & shirt? (I'm not exactly sure when to use which mode.)

    This class has been a blast even though I'm not quite ready for it. I'm seeing some pretty great stuff in this thread!

    • taking shape nicely , u may push the face expresion further to match better ur concept art.

    • Normally you would wanna stay in Subdivide Collapse mode for roughing out the overall shape and form, giving the appropriate geometry density to where it needed.To fix the lumpiness,in Collapse Edges mode, you can try the Flatten + Smooth brushes then use the Grab brush to move and straighten out uneven edges, make sure to move around the viewport and check it on every angle and zooming out to have an overall view of your model from time to time. You may also want to have a look or re-visit Kent's "Sculpting fabric" video to warm you up.

      Your model is shaping up nicely, keep up the good work ;)

    • crew

      Bob is shaping up quite nicely, Ryan 👍 And since everyone has the choice this week of either neutralizing/retopologizing OR sticking with sculpture only, if you choose the latter then you're not that far behind.

      One note about your current sculpt is the head and neck shapes. I'd recommend bringing the head forward and eliminating that bump on the back of the head, near the connection to the base:

      That should make the head-neck connection feel more natural and less lolly-pop.

    • Thanks for the pro feedback theluthier and cc0mm0n53nse and mmalhomsi .  Looking forward to putting it to practice in Wk 3.

  • Starting to finally iron out the sculpting quirks.  It takes time to get over that steep hurdle, but I'm getting there.  Getting into the flow.

  • so what next .? i think i'm going to neutralized and retopo my sculpture ! if i have time i'll resculpt fine details in multires.

  • I'm mostly done with my first major pass on the sculpt. There is still a bunch of polishing and refining to do, but before I start working on that I was looking for some feedback. Something about the face feels off, like it's close but not yet there, but I can't seem to figure out what it is. Any help would be much appreciated, both with the face, and any other pointers to improve :)

    Edit: Added in the art work to compare the two.

    • it looks good so far , the face seems ok , maybe u have to put some meat in the mouth corners , i have the feeling that the arms r maybe to tall ?

    • the face doesn't "read" well as to whether is male or female and has tendencies toward either mixed together...

      for instance chin and mouth appear female while brow and forehead look male...

    • crew

      valandrath The face isn't striking me as off currently. Possibly the eyes are in that space of staring awkwardly forward, like the "looking through me" gaze. But I'm not 100% sure. Could you update the post with your artwork so we can compare better?

    • Good work so far! I marked some stuff that may help you:

      The pink line is for things that don't necessarily need to be changed, they may be your intention. What I would recommend do is to move the nose a little more to the front and pronunciate the angle between her nose and mouth. Her forehead may be too short, with the hairline starting too early, giving her a primitive apparence. This last one may be what's putting you off.

      The blue line is simpler, just move her ears a little more to the center of her head. Her jaw may be too straight, they usually curve to connect under the ear. It's not an impossible shape, but uncommon.

      Finally the green line, her nape is too thick and the back of her head looks squashed. The neck look fine from the front, but too large from the side.

      Overall, still a good job! I hope this helps you identify what's making you feel uneasy!

      Also one nitpick, your character may not be able to unsheathe a sword that big from the back :P

    • Thank you all for some incredible help. I'm gonna see what I can do with everything mentioned. I also added in the artwork I created for the character, it might help figure some more things out :)

  • WEEK3 by malhomsi on Sketchfab

    i finish neutralization ,and start retopo , here is where i got so far , is my  edgeflow ok ? is the geometry to dense ?

    i dont know what to do with the beard and eyebrows yet , do i have to retopo them or go with hair particules .?

    • crew

      Excellent retopology mmalhomsi! Edgflow is nice, mesh density is good, neutralization is good, eyes are closed - really nice. I think you really have a knack for this character art stuff.

      Are you going to try and do the rest of the body and clothes this weekend? It's a lot I know...running out of time myself.

  • Well after a lot of work and final debate, I decided to stop working on the current concept I had and go with something else. I know this is really late but I just wanted to post my progress here so I'm not falling extremely behind. I'm going to try to get this sculpt done by Saturday and then start neutralizing him on Sunday. Here's my progress so far.

  • BC2-1803 Week 2 Assignment

    BC2-1803 Week 2 Assignment

    I am alittle late this time, but it took longer than I expected to get to this stage of the model. I wanted to submit it to get some feedback on my progress.

    Wilbur the Wandering Wizard is a young wizard who doesn't know what path he should take in life. The only way he can find his way is by finding his own magic wand. By going on this journey Wilbur hopes to discover his own strengths and weaknesses.

    Finding his own wand is important but the wand itself is merely a symbol of his progress; because as every great wizard knows power comes from within oneself not without. Wilbur hopes this journey of discovery will help him to better be able to understand himself, control his power, and his direction in life.

    Wilbur by artbalanced on Sketchfab


    • Love it! Wilbur reminds me of a more rough 'n tough Vivi (Final Fantasy IX black mage). Very cool concept!

    • crew

      I love this concept! Saved it to my collection as well. I enjoyed your background. It totally read like the beginning of an adventure game to me. Good stuff.

      Your progress is solid. A good base that blocks out the forms with some nice details emerging in the pants. Keep going! I'm keen to see how this develops.

  • Our "little" 2 week renovation turned into 4 ... and its still not quite complete and I am about to lose my marbles, as there are issues mostly relating to one of the people we chose to work with.  We are finally back in our place, and I hope to try and make some more efforts for what they might be worth.  Disappointed that I missed streams, and haven't been able to do anything at all really.  Lots of nice looking stuff going on.  Hopefully there will be more class stuffs related or not to character modeling in the pipeline. 

    Cheers all.

    • crew

      Sorry to hear that the renovation hasn't finished as soon as expected. I been through my share of HGTV phases as well as 2 of my own large renovations - I feel ya.

      There will be plenty more classes to come in the future 👌

  • WEEK3_1 by malhomsi on Sketchfab

    Update : Hands and arms were more complicated than i thought , what do u think of the retopology , should i  change anything in the elbow region ? 

  • Homework submission week 3 

    I think the neutralizing and retopology parts went well but I'm not sure about the hair that I had to recreate. It doesn't look so good and I'm not sure if it even fits.

    Here is also my RoboOrb. Awesome model that I learned to love and hate during the exercise.

    • Nice work! With the accessories like that it looks like an action figure, haha!

    • crew

      Congrats swikni! As far as I can tell, you're the first completed neutralization + retopology this week. And I know it's a tall order for a week. So great job 👏

      While technically I there are some areas of the toplogy I could high-level critique, I'd rather leave it as a commendation for finishing it in general. It's an A in my book - way to go!

    • Haha indeed jack07 . I didn't see it that way until you said that.

      Thank you theluthier sensei (I love that nickname). Retopology feel like the final piece of a puzzle when making models. This course has been good kickstart of courage for me to get into creating more characters to learn the workflow better.

  • Don't want to push the sculpt any further.  Looking forward to painting/texturing.  Here's a sketchfabby version:

    OV_1.2 by lhumungus on Sketchfab

  • My progress so far!

    Only missing her hair, I'm not sure how I'll make it. I could just retopo what I have or do individual strands, but I'm scared. I'm also considering adding alternate arms and legs with a more "werecat" look, but they may not get ready for submission.

    This is the third character I have made in blender (well, fourth, but they were twins), and it blows my mind how much progress I've made.

    • crew

      Look how clean and even those quads are! Really solid work this week jack07. For hair, I'd recommend the technique in this video.

      A full character's neutralization and retopology is a lot to ask from week's worth of free time. So kudos for achieving it this week, even without hair (though if you have time tonight, wink wink). The achievement has earned you an A 👍

  • Homework Submission Week 3 part 1

    The Robo-Orb. The wireframe was much more simplified in Blender. When Sketchfab recieved it, the subdivisions became a bit over zealous.

    I am hoping Ulbricht makes it back from his latest cruise to Finland. I can't finnish part 2 without him.

  • Homework Submission Week 3 part 1

    Probably could be better (as I see in other people's submissions), but it's a learning process.  Had to take a whack and figure some things out myself lol.

  • Homework Submission Week 3:

    Done! a tough week ! take me more time than expected , it was complicated to compromised between visual and utility ( a lote of the sculpted details were just impossible to keep with retopo ) it'salmost all quad , i left maybe 2 or 3 triangles in area with no deformation.

    i decided not to retopo any hair , and push it to the particuls system. renders r level 2 subdivision.

  • Yes, there is something quite appealing about an unshaded render.

  • Hey mmalhomsi did you sculpt your model from scratch again in a neutral pose and then retopo or did you took your posed sculpted model and brute forced it into the neutral pose and then retopo?

    • Hey dostovel  , i forced my sculpture to neutral indirectly , i cut all articulation , and used lattices to repose the pieces , a was forced to resculpted areas lost in the operation , ( shoulders , the front of the neck , and the forarms)