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Hard Surface Modeling for Characters

A 6-week course focused on designing and building complex hard surfaces for characters

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Build and design hard surfaces for characters

Throughout this course we are going to take a look at the techniques and challenges of designing and building hard surfaces for characters. This does not only include design, sculpting, and modeling, but especially the focus on creating character hard surfaces with animation in mind from the very beginning. The goal is to get students to look at the subject matter from a new perspective and to take away as much knowledge, tips, tricks, and techniques as possible for use in their own work.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individually recorded
Duration:   6 weeks
Assignment:   Due each week. Expect to spend 10-20 hrs/wk viewing lectures, q&a, and time on assignments
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Photoshop, ZBrush and 3D packages such as Maya, 3Dsmax, Modo, or else should be known to follow along
Skills level:   Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Knowledge of ZBrush and 3D packages such as Maya, 3Dsmax, Modo; | Some basic but solid anatomy knowledge is a plus for having a base body model to get started | Basic knowledge of Photoshop

Hard Surface Modeling for Characters WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Taking a look at the difference between hard surface modeling and organic modeling (deformation) | Design principles and challenges when building hard surfaces for characters | Have a look at the character concept (background story, design breakdown, reference used) | Evaluating design for required range of motion
Quick intro to ZBrush toolset and personal layout for the basic hard surface blockout | Blocking out the basic/primary shapes of the hard surface and clothing | Designing the back of the character during blockout (on the fly design without 2D concept) | Explaining ZBrush workflow, tools used and design decisions while sculpting the concept model
Using ZRemesher and Decimation Master to create a quick low res version of the base body | Building a simple rig inside of Maya for motion tests |Testing key poses of the character and talking about feedback from the Rigger | Evaluating and applying design changes to the model in order to meet requirements to range of motion and deformation | Testing design changes again on the rig
Building and using custom brushes for hard surface detail | Sculpting smaller shapes, details and bringing concept sculpt to final | Stage for cleanup and remodeling | Some rules and guidelines for adding detail to hard surfaces | Showing techniques of cleaning up hard surface parts for texture baking
Decimating the character and exporting him into another 3D package (here: Maya and Modo) | Setting up the scenes for retopo | Showing first of two ways of remodeling the character: Sub-D/Highres modeling for offline rendering or texture baking.
Showing second of two ways of remodeling the character: Low res modeling for real time rendering (games). | Topology guidelines for real time mesh (geometry examples, overpaints): polygon budget, technical requirements for the mesh such as LODs, Uvs, rigging, character variation etc.

Igniting your imagination

Ben is a Senior Character / Creature artist and modeler currently working at Blizzard and has been in the industry for over five years now. Previously a Character Artist at Guerrilla Games, on "Horizon Zero Dawn." He is at home with many styles and techniques, from organic to hard surface, realistic to imaginary. As a character artist he has worked on the games Kill-zone: Shadow Fall and Horizon Zero Dawn, and has also worked for Blur Studio as a freelance artist.


January 27th!

winter TERM Registration

Oct 21, 2019 - Feb 3, 2020




January 27th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

environment design Benefits


What makes this learning experience unique?

Personal Feedback

Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.

1+ Year Access

Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.

Certificate of Completion

Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.

Flexible Learning

Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with our online courses.

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