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Character Facial Sculpting for Games

Creating A Real Time Portrait, From Start To Finish



  • Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Forms
  • Facial Anatomy
  • Creating Hair
  • Skin Shading & Details
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What You’ll Learn

The course will go through the full process of modeling and sculpting character portraits, starting with collecting references, blocking in and sculpting the character, moving into retopology and UVs, then texturing and presenting. The emphasis throughout the course will be on addressing the nuances of forms, structures, workflow and presentation.

By the end of the course, you will have produced a portfolio-ready character portrait. You will also have gained knowledge on how to troubleshoot new problems and tasks.

This workshop on Real Time Character Portraits will consist of ten live lessons and mentoring. You’ll learn core character design skills and workflows and be part of a community of artists working to achieve next level quality in their work.

By the end of the workshop you'll:

  • Have developed a fluency in the various stages of the PBR workflow.
  • Have developed an understanding of the facial anatomical structure.
  • Understand the theory of Likeness
  • Have mastered the pipeline for real time character portraits.
FEEDBACK:   Live interactive group sessions
DURATION:   10 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
SKILL LEVEL:   Intermediate to Advanced
PREREQUISITES:   Knowledge of ZBrush and 3D Software Packages
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Week 1

Concept & Overview

Reduce decision making. Set expectations and concept. Overview of facial anatomy, forms.

Week 2

Primary Forms 

Establishing Planes of the face. The primary silhouette and structure for the face alongside of determining the core features, includes; shape of nose, eyes, ear, mouth, etc based on concept.

Week 3

Secondary Forms & Likeness

One of the most crucial stages, where the true character of the sculpt needs to start popping out. Using various methods to capture the likeness such as capturing highlights and shadows from different angles and lighting scenarios

Week 4

Advanced Secondary Forms

The focus will be going over adding asymmetry to the model by implementing a fat layer, big scale imperfection, facial feature asymmetry, and head posing. Likeness check by making a sculpted hair and/or facial hair

Week 5

Creating Our Game Ready Mesh

Retopologize your Mesh. UV your Character and Define Texture Sets.

Week 6


Texturing the skin and exporting Specular, Displacement and Normal Maps. TexturingXyz for the skin details and skin base texture. We will be using Zwrap to project the texture onto our model.

Week 7

Realistic Eyes

Creating real time eye shaders  and setting up the eye textures and maps. We will learn to fake through meshes and shaders things such as the eyeshadow dropped by the eyelids, the Eye transition from the eyelids to the eyeball.

Week 8


We will bake maps needed for texturing, such as Ambient Occlussion and Cavity map. We will use the base from texturingxyz and improve upon it in Substance Painter.

Week 9


Realtime Hair

Hair creation using hair cards workflow. We will learn how to bake hair textures and how to properly plan and place hair cards.


Week 10


Final Render

Finalizing the project, adjusting minor details and fixing minor issues. Adding the final lighting and shaders. Bring all of your Elements to life.


Ivailo Ivanov

Ivailo is a self taught Character Artist, who is fascinated by human facial anatomy. He has dedicated years into studying how likeness is captured inside 3D. Ivailo worked mainly in the game industry, with various developers, ranging from indie to AAA. Ivailo has worked with Actalogic,, Orcari Games and more.

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