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  • Software Used: mari photoshop

  • Live Webinars

  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-i I
  • Keywords: 3D


What does it take to become a successful texture artist in the film industry today? Justin Holt answers this question as he works with you to create realistic character textures, and begin your own texture library.

With a model provided by Ben Eoff, a selection of silicon casted pore and wrinkle scans from Surface Mimic, and FREE Mari 2.0 time limited student licenses from The Foundry, Justin will take you through his Mari 2.0 workflow. You will learn via streamed videos available weekly for you to watch in your own time, and several live web classes where you can receive critiques and ask Justin questions in real time (these will be recorded so you can watch them again later.)

You'll develop your colour palette, learn the importance of having control over the UVs and the best way to organize them for hero character work. You will also study the structure of human skin (pores, hair follicles). Justin will take you through displacement maps, colour maps and show you how to add layers and detail in Mari 2.0 in a non-destructive way. Then you'll move on to specular maps, reflection maps and wetMaps before doing some intensive work on painting both eyes and clothing.

Finally, you'll have a fully textured humanoid model to add to your folio.


Week 1 - Introduction, UVs and Texture Resolution

  • Demo on the elements to becoming a successful texture painter in the feature film industry. Observation, reference collection and resourcefulness.
  • Study the asset and begin to develop ideas for textures. It's necessary to go as far as to developing a back story and history for this character. The more details and parameters we have for any asset, the better we can decide what needs to be folded into the asset to bring it to life and add believability.
  • Developing color palettes and texture concepts for the asset. Typically in production all of this is provided to you by the art dept but here we have the opportunity to define these ourselves.
  • Building your texture library. This vault of reference images will be the key to your success as a texture painter. Not only will you use these reference images in your actual paint but you will also need some of your reference to guide you in your decision making process regarding color palette, patterning and overall surface qualities. The best texture painters always refer back to the reference before making any decisions, no matter how much they think they know what they want to paint.

​UVs and Texture Resolution

  • Discussion on the importance of having control over the UVs and the best way to organize them for hero character work.
  • Demo videos on UVing the character, and an introduction to Unfold 3D.
  • Discussion and demos on texture resolution and how to assess how much you need.

NOTE: Justin will be providing video demos and lectures for this week as well as all the basics needed to ramp up (model, sample ref library, etc).


  • Gather a texture library for this character. Gather both reference images you will use as inspiration and guidance and reference images you can use directly in the painting on this creature.
  • Also, develop a back story for your creature, details like where he is from, his age, occupation, environment he lives in, etc.
  • Define a color palette for your creature, whether through photoshop paintovers or simply providing a few key images you want to spring from. It is extremely helpful as a texture painter to give yourself boundaries and limitations in order to paint successful textures.

NOTE: Justin will go through the color palette choices and reference libraries students come up with at the end of this week, offering advice when needed with regards to their choices and plans of attack.

Week 2 - Introduction to Mari 2.0, Bump vs Displacement

Introduction to Mari 2.0

  • Demos on the best way to transition from Mari 1.5 or 1.6 to Mari 2.0
  • Demos on the the new interface of Mari 2.0

Bump vs. Displacement Maps Part 1

  • Demo on bump vs. displacement and when to use what.
  • Demo on human skin pores and wrinkles.
  • Demo on displacement maps, what detail goes into the sculpt and is reserved to the skillsets of the modeler and what detail goes into the paint and is reserved to the skillsets of the painter. (Justin will be providing example renders of displacements from modeler vs. displacements from painter).
  • Zbrush disp and Surface Mimic skin scans will be provided for the student's use.
  • Reference reference reference. Another discussion on always going back to the reference for clues and inspiration.

Assignment: Complete a first pass at displacement and bump maps.

NOTE: Justin will provide video demos on how he approaches painting my bump/disp maps by using his epidermalColor maps as a foundation to fold in more exclusive detailing.

Week 3 - Painting Color Maps Part 1

This week we're going to focus on developing the base Color map for our character. This is the first step to take when beginning paint on a creature. (There are a lot of things to do in color development that you get for free when you continue into the development of all your other maps.) Justin will also outline several things you can decide to leave out of my color maps and use exclusively in other maps to enhance the complexity and photo-realism.

  • Demo on decoding reference material in order to rebuild back into your textures.
  • Demo on the types of color maps needed for this character: epidermalColor and subdermalColor maps. Because we won't be covering lookdev and rendering in this course, I will provide example subdermalColor maps and how they look in a final render for the creature.
  • Justin will be providing extracted displacement maps.

Assignment: Complete a first pass of the epidermalColor and subdermalColor maps for the creature.

NOTE: Justin will critique and coach students in the development of their color maps, making sure there is enough detail and complexity to the maps and making sure they continually refer back to their reference for ideas and clues into complexity and detail.

Week 4 - Painting Color Maps Part 2

  • Demo on adding complexity within Mari in a non-destructive method.
  • Demo on ways to step back and re-assess the work you've done in order to add more flair and interest to the color maps. (Never settle with the just one pass of your color maps. You need to give it  two or three rounds of development in order to finesse the maps).
  • Discussion on what details from the displacement, normal and cavity maps to fold into the color maps in order to add more realism.

NOTE: Justin will provide video demos on my process for the development of these maps and the discussion points.

Assignment: Have final epidermalColor and subdermalColor maps completed.

Week 5 - Specular/Reflection and Wet Maps

  • Demo on specular maps and reflection maps.
  • Justin will provide examples of the effects of a spec map on the creature vs. a reflection map. 
  • Discussion on wetMaps and their use.

NOTE: Justin will provide video demos on how he goes about painting his spec/reflection and wetMaps.

Assignment: Complete a first pass of spec/reflection and wetMaps.

Week 6 - Painting Eyes

  • Demo on how to paint eyes.
  • Demo on the breakdown on a typical eye model you will be painting
  • What details are needed on each part of the eye.
  • Why to to paint eyes in Photoshop and not Mari.

NOTE: Justin will provide video demos on his method of painting eyes.


  • Having the knowledge you do on painting color, bump/disp and spec/reflection maps. Paint all necessary maps for the eyes.
  • Complete your spec/reflection and wetMaps.

Week 7 - Painting the Clothing

  • Demos and discussion on painting the clothing based on the texture reference and style guides created in week one.
  • Demos and discussion on painting the color, disp and spec maps for the clothing in a non-destructive way in Mari 2.0

Assignment: Have clothing maps completed.

Week 8 - Final Review

  • The key to believable textures is the final 10%. This week Justin will allow students to spend time finessing the last bits of their maps, going back to reference and adding in any and all details they can to push the illusion of realism.
  • Show how putting your maps together in MARI in order to assess if they are working together and how to tweak them
  • One-on-one reviews and critiques.

NOTE: Justin will provide video demos to illustrate his points.

EXTRA: Quick demo on rendering skin shader settings in Arnold and tips and tricks Justin uses to achieve the final result he is looking for.


Minimum Skills

You will need a basic knowledge of texturing to take this CGWorkshop.

  • “ Justin offers great one on one direction and has a keen artistic eye for detail. Very professional with an easy going manner. I really liked the webinars where we could ask Justin questions and get really helpful feedback on our work or watch real time demos on his desktop. ”
  • “ Among the many things, which impressed me about the workshop and Justin, was his indepth knowledge of both MARI and texture painting in general as well as his ability to construct photoreal materials from seemingly disparate sources. ”