Sunday 03 June, 2012



Creating CGI characters is a creative process and it should depend on your style and confort. Let’s explore multiple workflows together and choose one or adopt one to your own style.

Hello, and welcome to this rather short and targeted article on the process of designing a CGI character.
What you should know from the get go is that there are a lot of ways to tackle this process and can be adapted to your own needs and knowledge.

For example if you are a more traditional guy that loves to scribble with the pen on paper that is great, do your own thing and come up with the best character on the paper and scan it or take photos of it to use it as references like this:


Now here comes the hardest part for you, you need to learn the basics of a software like Photoshop or a free alternative like Gimp. You also need to get a graphic tablet and try to get friendly with it, try to follow the character’s line you drew on paper and scanned. In time you will get better and more familiar with creating CGI characters using this workflow. You will only have to focus on one tool primarily in Photoshop, the brush tool and the next feature you will have to get used to are the layers. Get some free tutorials from Youtube or the web, familiarise yourself with the software.

If your a new media artist then you are used to Photoshop or Gimp or other graphic softwares and if you need to create a CGI character then you should make a list with what type of character you need to create, is it a humanoid or some sea creature, what type of skin your character has, the character need to be designed in a way that has to wear different types of clothes, what age my character has, it is intended to be for animation or still, it’s a stylized character for cartoons or more realistic.
These are some basics questions you need to know the answer before starting.
Use the brush tool to create the character or use the Pen Tool, or better yet use them both, gather material, look for inspiration for ten minutes tops, don’t get yourself tired by searching for images.
Then start the creative process, create shapes, create form, silhouettes, create one silhouette, then another and another, create 25 silhouettes and choose the best that suits your character. After you got your desired silhouette then it’s all simple and you only have to draw based on your thumbnail things like: Here goes the hands, the legs, the neck, the head and so on.

The more anatomy knowledge you have the best your character will look.

After you have your character sketched create some materials, use different brushes and mix different colors just like a painter would. Use some textures to create more realistic materials.


Now if your character has to go to 3D you have to create some blueprints based of you’re drawings of the character. You need at least a front view and a side view. One perspective view would be great and it will help the 3D modeler to finish your character and look the way you need it to look.

There are other ways to create characters, Pixologic has a software called Zbrush and basically it’s a sculpting software. You start with a base mesh or use Zspheres to create a base mesh for the character and the same as sculpting you ad clay, you take clay, you smooth clay and so on.
In the end you get a high-res character with messy topology and you have to retopologize the mesh in Zbrush or other software but that is on the advanced side let’s say for now.
But again, it depends on the type of the CGI character, if you need it to be 2D it’s better to go the Photoshop/Gimp way, if you need the character to be in 3D the sculpting options becomes valid but that doesn’t mean a necessary one. Use the option you master best.

Bottom line is you need to be creative and do not try to reinvent the wheel. Respect the ground rules and be happy with your result. Things will evolve and every time you will start a new character you will have better results. The progress will kick in for sure.

Good luck with your projects.

PS. Here is a 1280 x 800px walpaper:

Right click and save AS
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Vaduva Iulian 2012.

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