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 3

    Hello, I am Kate, and I like doing retopology.

    But I don't want to see it for a month (at least). 

    I was busy working on another project, so I had to do all of the retopology in two days. The only thing that saved me was the Multires modifier - I had decent base meshes for the shirt, pants, socks and shoes, so I didn't have to rework them. And the cape seemed good enough from the simulation. But the head, coat and hands (especially the hands!) were quite enough to entertain me over the weekend.

    I also modelled his eyelids, even though they are not in the original sculpture. I'm not entirely sure how to go about this, so I ripped the edge where his eyelashes are supposed to be, and I hope I'll be able to rig it for animation this way.

    I'd still like to polish a few things and upload the model to Sketchfab, but I really need to get some sleep, so I'll do it tomorrow.

    And here is my Robo-orb submission.

    • crew

      I like retoplogy too, but too much of it and I'm sick of it too 😅

      Overall your topology is solid. The eyes are unique shape to tackle..not sure myself what the best way is without more info on how they would move in animation. The mouth is the stain on the topology though. Perhaps you just ran out of time..

      In general, this character could definitely be animated at this point 👍

  • Unfortunately looks like I am falling behind the class this week. 

    But I would surely try to catch up. Retopology is fun, it's kinda like a puzzle game in a way. 

    Also I've got some problems with RoboOrb. I've started building from the top crease and it seems fine, but all seems somehow jagged in the bottom half. What's the reason for this. Could anyone help please?

    • I had that too. Have your retopo'd mesh selected in Object mode then set your shading to Smooth and that should help the jaggies.

    • crew

      Retopology is fun, it's kinda like a puzzle game in a way.

      I completely agree! A puzzle game. I'm going to use that in the future to describe retopo to people.

      Did you submit your exercise to the official page? Make sure you do if not - get some XP 🤓

      Matthew is spot on: It's just a matter of selecting all your mesh faces and setting your shading to smooth.

  • Homework Submission Week 3 Part A

    I DID IT!

    And everything hurts.

    Thanks Kent for the hair tutorial! It turned out WAAAAY better than I expected!

    I still have to do the RoboOrb. I did one a billion years ago, but I don't like how it looks. It's poor craftsmanship.

  • Well..... taking much longer than I thought to get a modeled character.  This is my first serious foray into sculpting, so working with the large learning curve.  I'm trying to figure out how to get the skirt portion of her outfit sculpted, but it just seems like too much work to sculpt it than to box model a base mesh then sculpt details into it.  It's a learning process, no?

    Artwork for reference:

    • I'm really brand new to sculpting also.  Really new - my whole sculpting portfolio is Melvin, twice, and then the models I've posted in this thread.  I have a feeling these exercises would be a lot easier if I'd had some more sculpting practice before now and the learning definitely has a curve to it, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.  From the looks of it so far, so are you!

    • crew

      Sculpting clothing is a big challenge. While tighter clothing is easiest to sculpt imo, long flowy clothing (capes, long jackets, long dresses, etc) can be easier to simulate. Take the concept sculpt I showed during last week's stream, I simulated the jacket coat-tail instead of sculpting (arms of the jacket were sculpted):

      I also taught the simulation approach in the Realistic Character course.

      But it looks like you're getting the hang of it. Practice absolutely makes perfect and each new sculpt will be better than the first, both in quality and workflow efficiency.

  • Homework Assignment Week 3

    And sketchfabby:

    Robo-orb RETOPO by lhumungus on Sketchfab

  • Homework Assignment Week 3

    Maybe on the Earth there is some time zone where there is still Sunday, my time management totally failed this week.. The biggest mistake was not completing the orb exercise in advance, it took much more time than thought and still being only at the half.

    But there is no excuse has to do like in a real school - posting which having :-)

    The little giraffe is neutralized but did not have chance to retopology:

    Regarding the orb exercise, still following the tutorial of Jonathan Williamson and being at that point, did not reach that phase yet when the back side so the real task need to be worked out.. Next time I need to be more careful with the time

    • crew

      I like to think CGC classes are a little more relaxed than school. Excuses are more understandable here. Like when I admit that I didn't have enough time to finish retopology either....🙃

      Your neutralization looks good and the orb retopo is well on it's way. There's a bit of edge sliding that could even the faces sizes out a bit better. Here's an image outlining where differing edge lengths could be evened:

      Where the green edges are good and consistent, but the red aren't. Same for blue/yellow. It may seem small and insignificant, but especially since the orb is a round shape, roundness depends on evenness.

      Still it's minor notes. Overall you're doing great 👍

    • I agree with Kent on the retopo.  When you're done adding a new section, go around and touch up the other areas because maybe the flow shifted in that time.  Think round and evenly spaced.  Check from all angles.  Practice good topology now and it'll become second nature later.  You got this.

  • Homework Submission - Week 3

    Man, this was hard stuff.  Not the actual retopology work itself, but everything ephemeral to it - I kept making mistakes and having to start over.  Once halfway through retopo I realized that I had joined all the parts of my model together but didn't boolean them together, and it was causing weird issues with the shrinkwrap modifier in combination with the subsurf; it seemed like in some spots it wanted to shrinkwrap to the internal geometry for some reason.  I was able to copy my retopo object to the clipboard and paste it into a much earlier save from right before I joined everything together, and start again from there.  It took a lot of patience, especially with the Boolean modifier in making sure it didn't leave any internal geometry - I had to try a few different "orders" of combining parts before I finally got a solid model.  But, things were learned.

    Going with Kent's advice I "took in" the pants a little so they weren't so baggy.  I took a tiny bit of mass from the jacket too but very little - I wanted that to look a little puffy, it is a jacket after all.  I also did some polish on the face and especially the shoes before I started the retopo (the shoes were awful in my Week 2 sculpt).

    So here he is:

    The jacket and the hat are separate pieces from the rest of the character.  When looking from a distance, the wireframe from the character's arms visually "bleeds through" the jacket wireframe in some places - I've tried a few things but I can't seem to prevent that if I want to stay zoomed out far enough to get the entire character in the viewport (the effect goes away when you zoom closer).  Just take my word for it that it's a visual artifact I suppose.

    And of course my RoboOrb, from back when I first submitted it as an exercise for the Retopology course:

    • crew

      But, things were learned.

      Hahaha love this quote! It could make a great CGC Class slogan: "Things were learned."

      Really nice job this week jjakeblended! For being new to sculpting, you're picking it up quick. The clothing feels much more fabric-ky at this point. And overall the toplogy is solid; it could definitely be animated. There's some inconsistency in facial size in areas:

      • like the density down the front of the pant legs compared to the sides and back)
      • also the faces around the torso portion of the jacket are significantly larger than most faces everywhere else.

      But those are small notes for improvement. You've earned an A this week no doubt.

  • Homework Submission Week 3 part b

    Ulbricht took the week off while I was doing my taxes. He wasn't available to be normalized and retopologized until Sunday afternoon. There was extensive restorative sculpting prior to the retopology. He is now retopologized.

    • crew

      For Sunday afternoon, you've made some good progress. Given the level of detail you achieved in the sculpt, I don't doubt that your neutralization required some re-sculpting. Though that's not fun, it's common. Happened a little for me too.

      Your topology is off to a great start as far as I can tell. You've got skillz so I know the finished version is going to be awesome!

    • Thanks for the encouraging words! I felt like I was back at art school again pulling an "all nighter" to get it this far. ☕️☕️

    • Ulbricht finally made it to class completely retopo'd. Yay!

    • crew

      Holy mesh density, Batman. I think you take home the award for highest resolution retoplogy! 💪

      While that could be a bad thing, I don't believe it is in this case. You've done an excellent job retaining sculpted detail with the higher density. Just look at the furry boot retopo 😱

      Fantastic work overall. The only questionable area imo is the arm musculature. Just seems a little off in terms of anatomy and form to me. It's definitely not enough to detract from an A though.

  • Finally put together the Sketchfab (I wasn't quite happy with the hands topology and I ended up working on them longer than I expected). Also, for some reason, Sketchfab makes the shoes dark (the normals are correct in Blender) and messes up the area around the collar....

  • crew


    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!


  • Homework Submission Week 3 Part B

  • (Late) Week 3 Submission — Sculpt Continued

    Bob (Aka, A Dad Takes a Moment for Himself)
    (link to Week 2) (link to week 2.5)
    With so much to do, I didn't come back to the face to push the facial expression mmalhomsi ; honestly I'm not sure how to push it, though I did consider making his head more of a potato shape.

    Thanks cc0mm0n53nse for pointing out Kent's vids on Sculpting Fabric—those were great! I redid Bob's robe from the base mesh. Those courses put me down a much better path than the one I was on.

    theluthier Thanks again for the encouragement and ending the Lollipop-head I had going on last week. 

    All critiques are welcome!

    Bob's hair and pajama pants didn't get a lot of love this week; most of my time went into futzing with the robe, accessories, and other miscellaneous touch-ups.

  • Hey guys. First of all just wanted to say everyone's been posting some AWESOME work here!

    Unfortunately this is the post I didn't want to write, but these weeks for me have been ridiculously life-crowded and I fell way far behind in the class schedule. I will still be watching the live-streams/recordings and applying the techniques on my own, but I'm way too far back to meet the submission deadlines and all.

    As my goal was to take this course seriously, I feel it's only right to explain that I didn't just run off/give up/disappear. A big thanks again, to Kent and friends, for guiding me through the caricature stage. The lessons learned here will find their way into my gallery page soon enough. :)



    • So sorry to hear your news. It is nice to have the recorded live-streams to go back to. Plus, Kent threatens to have these classes again. :-) So you may get another chance at a time, hopefully, when life comes at you at a normal pace.

    • crew

      Life gets busy - it happens! No worries, Kyle. Plenty more Classes to come, including re-running this one. I sincerely appreciate your commitment to take the class seriously.

      I hope life calms down a bit for you so you can recharge. See you in another class soon! 🙇🏻‍♂️

    • Thanks so much guys! Don't worry, nothing tragic happened or anything! ;)
      Mostly it was just the result of me putting too much on my plate,
      and coincidentally having a trip scheduled to see family, that kind of thing.

      I do want to say that this class really gave me confidence in sculpting though,
      and renewed my fire to seriously work in Blender again!
      (I cycle through my too-many hobbies/interests all too frequently lol.)

      I'm so glad this digital-classroom concept seems to be quite the success,
      and I'll definitely be on the lookout for the next one! For now, I'll still be
      gaining what lessons I can from the course suggestions and livestreams.

      Don't forget: You all are AWESOME.

  • Homework Week 3: Late(ish) and not quiet complete edition

    Long story short- work kept me late, and I had to choose between completing the orb assignment and working on Adam.  The orb will come later, but I decided to post Adam for critique(now on sketchfab)!

    Prior to retop I adjusted the body's proportions with Zbrushes transpose tools in order to better fit my initial vision.  I think I'm happy with it(for now).  For retopology I used retopoflow to quickly block in cylindrical areas, and used blender's basic tool set for the rest.  I don't think I have too much against it, and I think I might try to move on with it before I start redoing it over and over again(like the last character that I started- and am still working on 3 months later). 

    One of the big things I'm thinking about is the hair right now.  For now I've quickly done the current hair just to kind of get something that works, but I'm considering changing this over to a single mesh block of hair instead.

    Quick edit: just noticed the tubes got messed up on sketchfab import.  They are a bit more curvy and in the right spots in the actual blender file

    Adam Retop Jrenna 3 27 2018 by silver0199 on Sketchfab

    (in case I messed up embedding the sketchfab thing)

    • crew

      Glad to see you finished your retopology, ssilver0199! It's looking pretty good overall. The mesh density looks somewhere between game-res and subsurf-based animation/rendering. Did you aim for one more than the other?

      There's some topological junctions and edgeloop spacing that could use a little more attention, but again, overall it's a good job. It's a B+ in my book - nice work this week!

  • (Very late) Homework Week 2 Submission.

    This took a few days longer than I had expected, but I'm finally done with the sculpting phase. I'm gonna try to get retopo and shading done in time for the end of the class, but realistically, it's probably gonna be an extra week or so. I had a lot of fun working on this sculpt, and I would like to thank everyone who submitted feedback on the work in progress, it was very helpful :) Now without further ado, I'd like you to meet my character.

    "It's not easy, being a halfing in a human world. Especially with that freak's marks painted on my head. Who am I? My name is Silvaly'ithalda. I know right, bit of a mouthful. Just call me Silva, that's a lot easier. I was raised an orphan by some cult, far of to the east. I never really felt like I fit in, but for some reason the thing they worshipped chose me to be granted his 'gifts'. However, I've seen what his magic can do, it causes nothing but pain and destruction. When it comes to a fight, I like to rely on my sword. Nothing fancy there, just a piece of good steel, and you strength and skill against your oponent.

    "Part of ascending the ranks in the cult involves giving up one of your eyes, which would allow the thing to see through your other eye. I didn't feel much for losing my sight, but the cult wouldn't take no for an answer. In the end we got a compromise of sorts, I suppose. I lost my vision, but at least I got to keep the eye. It wasn't long afterwards that I left. Ever since then I've been wandering these parts, doing some honest work for my food and drink, looking for... I don't know, actually. Maybe just some peace and quiet, to forget my youth. Maybe one day I'll find a way of getting back to them, for all the pain they've made me go through. In the end, I suppose I'm looking for purpose. But for now another drink will do, telling my story always gets me thirsty. You're buying, I assume?"

    • The sculpt looks so clean, I would have bet you had already done the retopo! Great work!

    • crew

      Better late than never! Nice job here valandrath. I like the rebellious tone in Silva's background. Like the difficulty in life makes her skeptical of the world and everything in it.

      And yes, to Jack's point, your sculpt is super clean. Which isn't always common with dyntopo sculpting especially. Means you really must have taken your time to polish your surfaces. Good stuff. It's also an authentic representation of your art. Great job all around. A quality work!

  • I did a lot of small things, like cutting the model in smaller pieces, and did a new head and hair. But it still looks so unfinished.

    I tried to upload to Sketchfab but my file is way to big. (155MB) Know anybody good ways to reduce the file size?

  • awesome job here everyone ! jack07  man ,i m really happy to follow ur progress ,u r doing great !

    so what next .?? i'm going to take a day off ! hopefully my flu will recover quickly ! then i ll clean up mthe y model , multires sculpt details lost in retopo , then i ll redo the initial pose ,with cloth simulation , give Pete back his beard and eyebrows , and some UVs , then texturing ... and maybe shading ..

    i cant wait to see everybody finished character !

    and theluthier senesei ;thank u again !

  • Thanks mmalhomsi ! It means a lot to me!

    And thanks everyone for your kind words during the livestream, you made me smile and I needed it :D

    And theluthier , did I thanked you for the hair tutorial? Thanks for the hair tutorial ha! 

    Oh man I can't wait to see the painted characters, there's so many cool ones!!

  • BC2 1803 Week 2 ish Homework Submission:

    I hate that I'm so behind, and sorry my participation has been lackluster, but I'm determined to finish the class.  Had another 70 hour workweek, and still no internet at the house (they promise me it's coming this week), but here is what I have for week 2, the priest of Ungit:


    The priest of Ungit is a character from the CS Lewis novel "Till We Have Faces."  He is the head of the temple of Ungit, a fictional version of Aphrodite, in the fictional kingdom of Glome.  Princess Orual, the main character, describes him with fear and disgust, saying that he had a disturbing smell ("the holy smell, of blood, and singed fat, and burnt incense), and that his mask made it look like a great vulture was growing straight out of his chest.  He is a foil to the main character's tutor, a Greek slave who steers her education toward logic and philosophy and high, ethereal sorts of knowledge.  By contrast, he is an emblem of myth and ritual, darkness and mystery and what Lewis elsewhere calls the "dark gods of the blood." He is not quite a villain, but definitely a menacing presence, both physically and politically.  The story's location is fictional, but I decided I would aim for ancient Anatolia (pre-Alexander), somewhere far enough out of the way to be autonomous from Persia at the height of its power, but close enough to Greece to be familiar with its culture, and not so far north that lions, featured in the story, would be an impossibility. I looked at a couple ancient Hittite friezes and sculptures to inform some of the design. I used various images of Dhalsim from Street Fighter for his major features.  I initially wanted to make him more emaciated, but I couldn't quite pull off the intimidation and presence I needed him to have.  The bird mask is from the book, and I looked at a few different old world ceremonial masks for the design (textures will change; you guys recognize the feathers? ;).  I will probably give him a couple more priestly items, a knife and maybe some animal hide, but wanted to go ahead and get this up.  Will get a sketchfab up when I have internet. Now on to retopo.  Thanks again for your patience.  I've really loved seeing everyone's submissions in the chat.  Great stuff!

    • crew

      No worries on being late. I'm planning on keeping a pulse on this thread through the first week in April. Sorry to hear about 70 hr weeks...yikes.

      What a great, descriptive backstory. I like your interpretation of the vulture growing out of his chest. Interestingly it's like you're sculpting and texturing at the same time - is that what you're doing?

      Did you have any concept art for this character or are you making it up as you go based on the novel?

    • I'm interested in reading that book now. Thanks!

      Did I read that right, that you plucked Piero's feathers to make that mask? Poor little fella.

  • Only three weeks late and now i get to start with sculpting. :) then again, when you have time to sculpt you should. :) Concept picture is by Josh Norman, asked permission to use it for this project.

     blocked out the pose, (spent maybe way too long with skin modifier to fiddle around. hair is just a placeholder, will do particle hair once i get that far. :)