Elective | 3D Classroom. CG Master Academy
Sculpting Anatomy: From Animal to Creature
Registration Starts On
Monday, Feb 26th 2018
Class Begins On
April 28, 2018
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Gael Kerchenbaum
Creature Artist

Gael Kerchenbaum is a Freelance Creature Artist. Early in his life, creatures like King Kong, Godzilla and dragons inspired him and bring him to the world of VFX. Gael decided to dedicate his career to understand the mechanism behind animal anatomy. He worked at MPC, where he was part of the team who gave birth to the animals of Jungle Book. Then he became a freelancer and worked for many studios like Bacon Picture, Noemotion, Capsule Studio. Gael is currently working as a Creature Artist for Axis Animation on unannounced cinematic projects.


Course Description

In this course, students will start to create their own animal anatomy study in ZBrush. They will learn how to construct a model from the inside out, starting by building the skeletal system and adding muscles and skin later on. This course will also focus on portfolio by covering how to light and render a beautiful study in Maya and Photoshop.

In the second part of the course, students will jump from the study to the creation process by learning how to build up their own creatures. They will create the anatomy of their own dragon and discover the workflows to sculpt details and paint accurate skin colours in ZBrush.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Pre-reqs: Knowledge of ZBrush and digital sculpting strongly recommended; basic knowledge of Maya and ZBrush is required; basic knowledge of Photoshop strongly recommended; course pre-reqs include Anatomy for Production

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


Introduction to animal anatomy: understanding the principle of motion

  • Hierarchy of animal anatomy
  • Motion: skeleton, muscles, articulation, direction
  • Basic understanding of design: carnivore vs. herbivore
  • From design to study
  • Anatomy study and paint-over in Photoshop


Anatomy of the skull: understanding the notion behind bones

  • Introduction to animal face anatomy
  • Description of the face
  • Skull sculpting


The center of everything: understanding the spinal column and rib cage and the connection to the arms and legs

  • Basic understanding of the body structure and connection
  • Deeper understanding of the anatomy of the spine
  • From the scapula to the fingers
  • Standing on the legs
  • Creating the base of our animal in ZBrush


Pull to motion: understanding the function of a muscle

  • Understanding the role of a muscle
  • Description of the head anatomy
  • The spinal column muscles
  • ZBrush sculpting


From the écorché to the living creature: the fat and the skin

  • Fat presence on the body
  • The skin's appearance
  • The écorché in ZBrush
  • Understanding the anatomy of fur


Between study and art: the motion in action

  • Put motion into practice
  • The photographic look of an animal anatomy study
  • The clay material
  • Create a pose in ZBrush
  • Setting up our studio in 3D


From study to creation: how to translate anatomy from one species to another

  • Interpreting anatomy
  • Introduction to the dragon project
  • Creating the base in ZBrush


More limbs: what does it take to be a dragon?

  • Dragon skeleton draw-over
  • Study from Avatar's creatures
  • Building our dragon's écorché in ZBrush
  • Adding the wings


The beauty behind the details: how to create high-detailed sculpts

  • Creating details in ZBrush
  • Using Photoshop to create details
  • Posing our dragons


From study to production: putting a model into a production environment

  • Understanding production needs
  • Colorize your creature
  • From 3D to illustration


  • Creature Designer
  • Concept Artist
  • Game Character Artist
  • Visual Effects Artist