2019 | Winter Registration Now Open!

A down-payment of $50 is required to enroll. The remaining balance is due Jan. 4, 2019. Learn More.

Next Gen Character Creation

A 10-week live mentorship course where students will approach the creation of AAA game characters

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Create AAA level game characters

Adam's class will work similarly to a live mentorship as students approach the creation of AAA game characters for their portfolios. Students should expect to cover head and hair, costume elements, low poly UV’s and processing required to get the asset real-time ready, and finishing with material and texture creation to set up the final model in engine with final images. This class will feature a mid-term and final to allow catch-up and focused work time during which students have the option (weeks 4 and 8) for general advice for portfolios and resume workshops.


Course Format:   All live course
Lecture Type:   Live format (recording available afterwards)
Feedback:   Live feedback (recording available)
Duration:   10 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Photoshop. Zbrush, Maya, Other software: Marvelous Designer, Substance Painter, Marmoset, Mirai
Skills level:   Advanced
Prerequisites:   Knowledge of Maya, Unreal, and ZBrush; course pre-reqs include Anatomy for Production, Character Casting, Texturing for Games

Environment design WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Live demo | Concept, reference gathering, discussing design idea | Start model blockout pass
Students introduce themselves and give an overview of their pieces | Live demo | Sculpting the head; major and secondary forms | Continue Week 1 homework
Live crit on past 2 weeks of work | Live demo | Continuation of head sculpt | Possibly move on to pore detail level | Homework midterm (2 weeks to work on project before next crit)
(Optional) Hard crit, portfolio demo, portfolio review, and online assessment | Homework crit (current assignment) | Individual artist assessment for the group to determine strengths, weakness, and missing elements, as well as mapping out strategies for moving up in the industry
Hard crit: homework | Instructor optional demo | Head model should be finished; Marvelous Designer demo
Live demo: hair | Student focus on hair; no crit | Focus and direction for individual students on new or continuing project
Live demo | Clothing and head topology/UVs | Final version lock (lock in on character creature environment or start revision)
(Optional) Resumé workshop: build a better resumé, lecture and demo on setting up and understanding what to include and what not to include on your resume, and how to best present your experience
Hard crit | Live demo | Texture paint pass for clothing and head | Continue homework
Optional demo | Set up in Marmoset | Overview of work and experience during the class along with strategies for focus moving forward

Bringing out the best in talent

Lectures by Adam Skutt

Adam is a Senior 3D Character Artist currently living in Cary, North Carolina, working at Epic Games. He has had the privilege of working on The Order 1886 as Lead Character Artist, as well as on Uncharted 4: A Thief's End--two of the most visually stunning games of this generation. At Epic Adam is a part of the special projects team where he contributes to next gen character development in UE4 as was seen at Siggraph 2017 with the Meet Mike demo.

Student interviews


July 13th!

winter TERM Registration

Nov 5, 2018 - Feb 1, 2019




July 13th!

* Between now and December 31st, accepting only $50 seat reservations. Remaining amount will be due January 4, 2019. More info at checkout.

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

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CGMA Student Project: Shaman Production

Interview with Alejandro Olmo

Alejandro Olmo talked about his Norse Shaman character made within CGMA course Next Gen Character Creation with Adam Skutt. Software used: ZBrush, SP, Toolbag, Mari, Marvelous Designer, Knald and more (check the full list on ArtStation).

CGMA Student Project: Shaman Production


My name is Alejandro Olmo and I am from Puerto Rico. I am a character artist for movies and video games. Currently, I am a freelancer doing voluntary work for a video game called Galaxy in Turmoil for Frontwire Studios. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work as a concept artist at the early stages of the upcoming Sony Pictures film Venom, and as a 3D modeler for the upcoming motion pictures Replicas. My background also includes smaller projects for 3D printing, 3D modeling for video games characters and as a Professor and 3D Character Artist in the Creative Department for a local university.

CGMA Course Goals

My objective in taking the Next Gen Character Creation class at CGMA was to learn the correct pipeline in the industry for a real-time character. The process was completely new to me because all I have worked on before was concepts and basic 3D models. I wanted to understand my weaknesses and learn how to focus on a specific project and make it look good. It is important for me to practice every day, learn something new, keep pushing myself to get better because my main goal is to get a full-time job in the industry.

Start of the Character

In terms of sculpting each character presents its own challenges. Anatomy is one of the skills I try to keep learning. One of the key elements that allow you to get more value taking a CGMA course is receiving the feedback of your mentor, in my case was Adam Skutt, which by the way is one of my favorite artists. I am not the best at anatomy and his feedback helped me do a lot of drastic changes to the character. There is still much to learn and every day comes with the opportunity to keep learning. The best thing you can do to make a character look good is to use references, without them it is more difficult to achieve the objective.

I always start all of my characters by gathering references. Once I have what I was looking for I start the sculpting process in ZBrush.

Reference & Story

The first step of the process was to look for references as I said above. The details of an organic model like this one are important, it requires time and a clear visualization to make it pop. The process of creating the character, accessories, and clothes go hand in hand. I wanted the character to tell a story, allow the viewers to imagine where he lives, his behavior, his traditions, etc.

My biggest inspiration to create The Norse Shaman came from two of my favorite games: The God of War and HellBlade Senua’s Sacrifice. I wanted to create a character that could easily fit into one of those worlds. I didn’t want to create a heroic character. The main goal was to create a character that makes you wonder: is he good or evil, does he have powers, can I trust him? Something a little more complex. That is why I decided to create an old man, a little deteriorated with tattoos and either little or no expression.

Skin Shader

Creating a real-time character and making sure that shaders look good is new to me. To be honest, it is all new to me. I am still working on the character, looking for ways to improve it, to make it look more realistic. I took the liberty of contacting some artists that are already in the industry and asked for feedback. One of the things they all agreed on was that I needed to re-work the skin shaders. I used Mari for the color base and Substance Painter for the roughness and dirt on the skin. For the translucency, I did a bake in Knald and applied it to Toolbag working with some parameters. I also tried to maintain a simple illumination inside Toolbag, basically, a 3-point lighting and a very soft HDR fill light.

Here is a before and after of the skin shader:



To create the details inside ZBrush I use the standard, dam standard, and clay brushes, then I exported a decimated model to Mari and using textures of Texturing XYZ I generated the displacement map. Next step would be exporting it back to ZBrush to have the basic and micro details to do a bake in Knald afterward. I added a noise texture in the detail normal map channel inside Toolbag to have more defined pores and light breakup.

Toolbag Renders


Feedback: Challenges

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered was to understand the full pipeline and be able to implement it on the character. I also had to learn to use new programs like Mari, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, and Marmoset Toolbag. Every character has its own challenges but I could say that anatomy, proportion, and materials are the common ones. I am still working with this character, practicing and learning new techniques every day.

Feedback: Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson learned is the dedication and time that is required to create a high-quality character. I had to learn how to be exposed to constant constructive criticism and not to be afraid to receive feedback from other artists in the industry. Honestly, it helped me grow and it has kept the motivation to keep wanting to learn more, be a better artist and fight more to achieve my dreams.