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  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-i I
  • Keywords: 3D


It is said capturing the beauty and soul of a digital character is the most difficult task as it requires an abundance of artistic and technical knowledge. Often, information is scattered and it can be overwhelming to develop a work flow without having all the technical puzzles put together. This course will solve that fro you as Sze Jones shares her many years of professional production experience. In this sixteen-week workshop, Sze will help you work through common obstacles, teach you to problem solve to avoid technical setbacks, and answer all your questions on the creation of your perfect model.

You will be creating your own base mesh, painting texture from scratch, styling hair and making your vision come to life. Participants will learn disciplined, focused methods to create a production-ready model using ZBrush, Mudbox and 3D studio Max.

In this intense workshop, Sze Jones will demonstrate her workflow and provide valuable insights as well as offre professional critiques, topology notes and paint-overs based on over 10 years of  industry experience.

You will learn methods and procedures required to complete a character from design to the production ready model.

This workshop is aimed at the intermediate to advanced user. Students should have a good understanding of how to use ZBrush, have a good understanding of 3D Studio Max modeling as well as good Photoshop skills.

what you will learn

  1. You will learn step-by-step procedures for designing and creating an iconic heroine character.
  2. Starting from concept sketch, learn how to portray a character with attitude and personality, and design functional armor and costume with practical mobility.
  3. You will learn how to make high standard meshes with good topology and efficient edge flow with poly/Graphite tool in 3D Studio Max for deformation and rigging, and also how to retopologize and edit topology as needed.
  4. You will study the female anatomy and learn how to exaggerate proportion with ease using Zbrush and various editing tools in Max.
  5. You will learn to choose important landmarks for sculpting and stylization. (You will pick the reference of your choice for face design and Sze will assist you to achieve as much as possible at the end of course).
  6. You will gain a full understanding of how mental ray Fast Skin shader works. Dissect and break down settings along with techniques of hand painted texturing methods to create realistic skin effects.
  7. You will learn how to apply make up digitally to enhance beauty and personality of the character. You will learn how to create texture and apply color and value accurately, traditional painting methods will be applied digitally for painterly and organic results. Mudbox will be used for texture painting methods. Various UV unwrap methods will be demonstrated.
  8. You will learn how to divide UV layout page for optimal base for texture paintings and material setup.
  9. You will learn how to make costume fabric and armour metal material setup with mental ray Arch and Design shaders. You will be painting grimes and decay texture on metals and fabric to create a realistic look for the costume and armor.
  10. You will learn hair stylization and technical setup with hairfx and sculpting in ZBrush will also be discussed and demonstrated. You will be able to learn the process of hair creation based on your design. Sze will teach you the essentials on achieving the setup.
  11. You will also learn how to build a simple rig and pose your character dynamically for presentation. Tips and tricks on camera and lighting setup will be demonstrated.


Week 1 - Character Design - Face, costume, body and Hair

In week one, we will create the concept design based on the background of the story you have developed. Topics covered include:

  • Character Development - Brief description and story.
  • Designing and sketching out the concept on paper.
  • Hair Design.
  • Body Type and stylization.
  • Face Design - Persona and Attitude.
  • Costume and Armor Design - Mobility and function.
  • Defining goals and approach based on design.
  • Color Palette.


  • Design concept of the character.
  • Submit for evaluation and refined the design based on evaluation and feedback.

Week 2 - Base Mesh Creation

In week two, you will learn how to create base mesh using poly modeling techniques in 3D Studio Max and ZBrush. Topics covered include:

  • Block out basic proportion using box modeling techniques.
  • Topology for production and sculpting.
  • Poly modeling Techniques and approaches.
  • Advance techniques for edge flow and topology editing.
  • Artistic and Technical evaluation.


  • Create base mesh from scratch with desired body type and stylization.
  • Learn effective topology for production and poly modeling techniques.
  • Block out basic armor.

Week 3 - Anatomy: Sculpting muscular and bony landmarks in ZBrush

In week three, you will learn how to analyze and understand essential anatomy knowledge for artist for sculpting accurate form with rhythm. Topics covered include:

  • Muscular and bony landmarks.
  • Zbrush Sculpting - Emphasis on Silhouette, form and rhythm.
  • Sculpting Brushes and techniques.
  • Proportional & Stylization for various body type.
  • Armor Base Mesh Techniques and Creation.
  • Artistic and Technical evaluation.


  • Refine base mesh by analyzing form and sculpting muscular and bony landmarks.
  • Learn how to sculpt form with rhythm, solid forms and accurate silhouette with anatomy knowledge.

Week 4 - Head Design and topology block in

In week four, you will learn how to design an Iconic Heroine's head with persona and style. Topics covered include:

  • Approach for Iconic Head Design
  • Creating production ready facial topology for production
  • Facial proportion overview
  • Facial planes and structure
  • Eyelashes creation
  • Artistic and topology evaluation


  • Focus on Head Design, study and revise head topology for facial deformation and expressions.
  • Block out locations of eyes, eyelahses and teeth.

Week 5 - Head sculpting with ZBrush

In week five, you will learn how to sculpt the female head with accuracy and details. Topics covered include:

  • Ears, nose and lips constructions.
  • Define muscular and bony landmarks.
  • Eyes, eyelashes and teeth location block mesh.
  • Sculptural and surface detail evaluation.


  • Construction and detailing facial features.
  • Block in eyes, eyelashes and teeth location.

Week 6 - Character Rigging and Posing

In week six, you will learn how to rig and pose your character for presentation. Topics covered include:

  • Quick rig for posing character.
  • Place joint location and proportion based on character design.
  • Skin and adjust envelope for deformation.
  • Dynamic pose for character.
  • Rhythm and weight for posing.
  • Artistic and topology evaluation.


  • Rig and skin base mesh.
  • Create various dynamic poses for critique.

Week 7 - Armour and Costume Design Block in

In week seven, you will learn how to block out armor and costume based on design for visual adjustment. Topics covered include:

  • Blocking out basic form of armor and costume.
  • Adding block in mesh to rig and pose.
  • How to improve silhouette, design and function.
  • Refine structure in Zbrush.


  • Block in armor and costume.
  • Improve form, silhouette and function based on initial character concept design.

Week 8 - Detailing Armour and Costume - Wrinkles and folds

In week eight you will learn how to refine armor and costume detail. Topics covered include:

  • Understanding wrinkles and folds.
  • Making metal details and scratches.
  • Adding details: Stitch, surface texture and material call outs.


  • Refine and finalize armor and costume modeling and sculpting.

Week 9 - UV layout and Material Setup

In week nine you will learn how to unwrap UV and create UV pages for material setup and texturing. Topics covered include:

  • Technical Aspects of UV Page.
  • Methods and Approach.
  • UV Grouping for Material setup and Texture.


  • Prepare and divide UV layout sheets for base mesh, armor and costume.

Week 10 - Camera Setup and Light Rig

In week ten you will learn how to setup camera and light rig. Topics covered include:

  • Camera position and settings.
  • Light placement and setup.


  • Setup Camera and Lights for shader tweaks and rendering.

Week 11 - Skin Pores: Techniques and Approach

In week eleven, you will learn how to sculpt the female head with character and style. Topics covered include:

  • Sculpting Skin Pores details.
  • Creating production ready facial topology for production.
  • Facial anatomy.
  • Head modeling, Eye, eyelashes and teeth.
  • Artistic and topology evaluation


  • Add skin pores details. 
  • Focus on sculptural and surface quality by using Zbrush techniques.

Week 12 - Skin, eyes and teeth shader and textures

In week twelve, we will setup shaders and textures for Skin, eyes and teeth. Topics covered include:

  • Skin Tone and Make Up Techniques.
  • Eyes and teeth texture painting and shader setup.


  • Finalize skin, eyes, and teeth shader

Week 13 - Costume and Armor : Shader for Leather, Metal and Cloth

In week thirteen we will create metal and cloth shader for character's armor and costume.Topics covered include:

  • Understand metal and cloth shaders' parameters.
  • How to adjust shaders to match reference material.


  • Setup leather, cloth and metal shaders for armor and costume.

Week 14 - Costume and Armor : Texturing Metal and Cloth

In week fourteen we will create texture maps for leather, cloth and metal for character's armor and costume. Topics covered include:

  • Usage of tile-able texture.
  • Photoshop techniques for Metal and Fabric Texture.
  • How to use textures in metal and cloth shader. 


  • Integrate texture maps and tune metal and cloth shaders for armor and costume.

Week 15 - Hair setup

In week fifteen we will setup hair with either ZBrush or Hairfx. Topics covered include:

  • Hair design and styling.
  • Building hair cap.
  • Hair splines setup.
  • Hair card UV layout and texture.


  • Hair cap creation and hair splines styling, submit for artistic and technical feedback.

Week 16 - Hair shader and texture

In week eleven we will setup hair with either ZBrush or Hairfx. Topics covered include:

  • Hair shader and hair strands color
  • Hair card painting and arrangement
  • Alpha and transparency map painting and setup


  • Hair cards creation, Hair texturing and alpha/ transparency setup.


Software Requirements

Students will require the following:

1. ZBrush.
2. 3D Studio Max.
3. Photoshop.
4. Mudbox.

Hardware Requirements

Hardware Requirements Students will require the following:

  • Students need a minimum 512mb RAM and a 2GHz+ CPU but as with all 3D, the more powerful the better!
  • A Wacom tablet or Cintique is highly recommended

Other Requirements

A broadband connection to the internet will be required to view streaming videos as well as the substantial image files for the exercises. Some of the sample scenes are hardware heavy, so its recommended to have a minimum of 1 GB of RAM and a fast processor.

  • Students need to be familiar with web navigation and browsing, as well as email.
  • Students need to be familiar with using a bulletin board system (such as  
  • As well as how to upload attachments to postings for review.


  • Reading & Research: 3-5 hours per week.
  • Assignments: Students are expected to spend 2 to 5 hours a day or 10 to 25 hours a week to complete their assignments.