2019 | Fall Registration now Open!

Registration for our Fall Term is now open!

Stylized Characters in 3D

A 9-week course for recreating the concept of an existing character and going from cartoony stylization to comic-book realism

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Stylize cartoon to comic-realism characters

The main objective of this class is to understand and have a finished stylized character at the end of the course. Students will start out by gathering their favorite concepts then laying down foundation with fundamentals of the form. We will go from primary forms to secondary forms which really boils down what it takes to make a stylized character. Furthermore, we will go over features of the body and face to create that sense of appeal. What students will get out of this class is understanding how to get a stylized character from start to finish.


Course Format:   All live course
Lecture Type:   Live format (recording available afterwards)
Feedback:   Live feedback (recording available)
Duration:   9 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Zbrush and Maya (3Ds Max also acceptable, but the instructor will be working in Maya)
Skills level:   Intermediate to Advanced
Prerequisites:   Strong knowledge and skill in modeling stylized characters, Anatomy for Production, Character Casting

Stylized Characters in 3D WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Gather concepts to model for class
Blocking out character with primitive shapes | Thinking in broad strokes
Adding in Secondary forms of the character
How to sculpt in eyes, eyeball, nose, ears, and mouth
How to sculpt hands and feet
Blocking out costume and cleaning them up
Posing​ ​your​ character in Zbrush
Polypainting and final presentation!
Take​ ​this​ ​week​ ​to​ ​finalize​ ​your​ ​character​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​you​ ​can

Igniting your imagination

Hannah Kang works as a Digital Sculptor and Designer at Dreamworks Animation in Los Angeles, California, previously worked at Legacy Effects Studio. Hannah believes her best art makes you laugh! Your art is at its best when you know what you want it to do! Hannah Kang graduated the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in 2014. Hannah has been delivering characters, creatures, and assets on projects like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Pacific Rim 2, Underwater and many more. Legacy provides one of the industry's most diverse portfolios requiring you to work on projects styles ranging from Call of Duty, Doom, and Crash Bandicoot to Avengers, Iron Man and the Georgia Lottery's Flying Pig!!!. While Legacy tends to focus on real-world translation of costumes and character builds that are created to be worn by actors. Hannah's personal style is often referred to as "bleedingly cute," showing a love for a feature animation style and a strong side of dorkiness--all with the aim of making viewers' first response to laugh out loud. Hannah has been teaching professional and student artists improve their portfolios for the past two years, and considers herself a student still--with a strong pursuit of continuous education. Hannah would like to someday work on children's books and create a universe of her own.

Student interviews


July 18th!

fall TERM Registration

Jul 29, 2019 - Oct 14, 2019




July 18th!

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.

Speak to an advisor

Need guidance or course recommendations? Let us help!

Have you taken a course with us before?

Show us your skills

Not sure if you have the skills, or are you proving you do? Show us.

Have you taken a course with us before?

The Warrior Sculpt

Interview with Christian Gonzalez

Christian Gonzalez took CGMA‘s class Stylized Characters in 3D and talked about the Warrior project created during it.

The Warrior Sculpt


My name is Christian Gonzalez, I am a Chicano artist born and raised in Santa Ana, CA. I am a graduate from California State University Fullertonwhere I got a bachelor degree in Fine Arts in Entertainment Art/Animation. I currently work as a 3D Visualization artist at Norman International Inc. I have also interned and freelanced for Gadget-Bot Production where I created a couple of characters for their I.P. (Kaidro the Awakening) In the next upcoming months I hope to join my fellow titans and colleagues in the animation industry creating characters and worlds that bring every animation to life.

Picking CGMA

Ever since I was at CSUF I’ve wanted to expand my knowledge in 3D, especially character modeling and countless times I was suggested to take a course at CGMA. It was 1 year and a half after graduating school and many stubborn attempts into teaching myself how to properly create a stylized model that I decided to start my journey at CGMA. Honestly, it was the best decision I have made. I learned so much from Hannah Kangin 3 months than what I learned in a year and a half on my own. For this course, I wanted to understand a more cohesive approach to creating a character from a concept. I also wanted to gain speed and knowledge into how to fix any issues I could possibly have with any form of a model like this.

Going into this course I already had an understanding of a character pipeline in ZBrush. This allowed me to focus on Hannah’s main objective for this course which was making the concept come to life. Hannah broke down the process of creating a character to a T. During the first week, we picked out a concept. Out of the 3 characters I had gathered the Warrior by Anton Voronovich stood out the most to me for its distinct shape. I loved the proportions of this character and I knew this character would turn out great. Throughout the weeks Hannah sculpted alongside us so if we ever had any question of how something was done, we would know how to solve it. She is one of my favorite instructors alongside many from CSUF. She taught me how to read a concept and create a mesh that was studio-quality.



Warrior Sculpt

Start of the Character

When it comes to creating a unique and neat-looking stylized character I am the kind of person who isn’t afraid to push forms or start a model over if it is not working for the project. Luckily, I didn’t have to start this character over except for usual touch-ups.

After selecting my concept I mapped out my character with paintovers. Hannah pointed out that they would allow us to see the different parts we would need to complete our character. A simple but necessary step for a character like the one I selected with such dramatic proportions throughout his body.

Next step was blocking out the form into simplified shapes. In this case, I used a combination of spheres cut up and transformed to create the base mesh.

Detailing & Working in Maya

For detailing, I relied on two of my favorite tools which are Anatomy for 3D Artist by 3D Total and male anatomy figure also by 3d Total. After preparing the blockout mesh I dynameshed the pieces together and started to cut out planes and add secondary forms and muscles.

In the week that followed, I got pretty far in the model and decided to bring the character into Maya for retopology. After that, I started modeling the clothing.

My sword and other small props are all created within Maya. I blocked out the proportional shapes with primitives, then subdivided and manipulated the mesh in order to get the shape I wanted.


To make a character feel organic one must understand the body mechanics of a human really. Whether you are going stylized or more realistic, a general understanding of anatomy is key in order to make something look real and not bizarre. Now, to get a pose to look more organic, I usually study the human form and take reference that will allow me to create the subtlety in the pose that makes every overlapping mark work together to get a clean and organic result. Hannah said that silhouette is key and no matter what pose you go for, remember to balance your character.


My main texturing tool for this character was ZBrush poly-paint although I would normally export my characters to be textured in either Mari or Substance Painter.

When it comes to texturing a character whether it being stylized or not I always try to keep it as close to the concept as I can. For this character, in particular, I painted as I modeled in order to get a better feel of the character.


Once the model was complete it was time to render for presentation. Since this course focused mainly on the process of creating a stylized character in ZBrush I decided to use Keyshot. This external renderer allowed me to play with different HDRI lights and get great previsualization render as well as add different materials with no UVs.

Zbrush Render

Keyshot render


To anyone who wants to improve their craft, I highly recommend checking out CGMA and their online courses taught by professional studio artist. It helped me develop a better eye for modeling. Thank you, CGMA and Hannah Kang for your awesome course!

Christian Gonzalez, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev