Elective | 3D Classroom. CG Master Academy
Character Creation for Films/Cinematics
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Pete Zoppi
Senior Character Artist
Pete is a Los Angeles based senior character artist with both video game and film experience. His skillset revolves around high to low poly modeling, texture painting and look development. He is currently working at Treyarch on Call of Duty : Black Ops 2. His past work includes Call of Duty: Black Ops, James Bond: Quantum of Solace, Underworld: Evolution and Night at the Museum. His softwares of choice are Maya, Mudbox, Zbrush and Photoshop.

Course Description

The objective of this class is to understand character creation for film and game cinematics in terms of a characters profile, and its ultimate purpose in a composition or narrative.

Each week we will focus on a different aspect of character construction and explore the technical ways of assembling a final character. This will begin by first analyzing and assessing various reference materials prior to initial sculpting. Then the class will dive into the fabrication of hard surface components, clothing and other accessories needed to finish out/polish a high poly asset. From there, the emphasis will then switch over to surfacing your character using advance painting and shading techniques. These will include look-development of skin, metal and various other material shaders prior to outputting final renders. Finally, we will end the course with discussions on- and demonstrations about -color theory, render manipulation, and post processing.

Skill Level: Advanced

Pre-reqs: CGMA Character Arts Program

Course Format

Course Format: Standard
Duration: 10 Weeks
Lecture Type: Pre-recorded
Assignment: Deadlines each week.
Feedback: Individual Recordings
Q&A: Once a week. 

*For classes with fewer than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.

Estimated time for course work: 10-20 hours per week

Course Outline


Analyze and assess the reference material and build a blockout which will serve as a guide for the full character. Various types of blockout models will be discussed.


Focus will be placed on the head of the character. Sculpting, initial texture projection and high frequency detail will be discussed.


Discussion of various methods and tools for generating high poly models. This week will cover hard surface assets.


Clothing will be the focus here and we will discuss various methods of generating clothing assets. We will talk about modeling, sculpting and marvelous designer. We will look at transferring mesh information between programs to best leverage each software's strengths. We will also discuss creating tiling fabric patterns for use in detailing and texture painting.


Focus will be placed on assembling the entire character, polishing high poly assets and prepping the model for detail and texture painting.


Texture Painting will begin by looking at creating a library of base materials to use in substance painter. We texture and detail gear and hard surface assets in substance painter. UV layout and material management will be discussed.


Texture painting will continue with clothing and organic forms of the character. We will discuss material breakups and UV layout as well.


Initial look development and rendering will be discussed. We will pose the character and begin finalizing assets. We will begin lighting the scene, setting up shaders and getting the asset ready for final renders. Shading of skin, metals, and various other materials will be covered.


We will finalize our scene, finish texture painting, and make model adjustments as needed. We will talk about scene efficiency, and solid production techniques for fitting the work into a production pipeline.


We will output final renders and and create final, portfolio ready images. We will discuss render manipulation and post processing as well as color theory to make for pleasing final images.


  • Game Character Artists
  • Texture Artists
  • Game Environment Artists
  • Prop Artists
  • Concept Artist
  • Visual Effects Artists
  • Visual Development Artist
  • Hardsurface Modeler