3D Character Arts Program

Master professional-level asset building and studio workflows in this training program designed specifically for a career as a 3D character artist

Courses start on Jul 11, 2020


24 months


Basic understanding of 3D modeling and texturing

Foundations & Design Program overview

Program Overview

Understand the role of a Character Artist

Character artists are the engines that drive the world of 3D animation. In essence they are responsible for translating pre-production and concept art into a solid, workable 3D form for the animation team--but that barely scratches the surface of what’s involved. What is remarkable about this job is the way it combines technical precision with artistic expression, providing a unique opportunity to build the characters and creatures that ultimately define a project. Little wonder the role of character artist is often regarded as the most coveted in entertainment design.

Enrolling into a CGMA Program is a simple and painless affair. Once you've decided on which program you want to complete, simply register and start taking the classes outlined in your program's block list. That's it!  On average, we recommend 1-to-2 courses per term. Additionally, you only pay for the course(s) you take in a given term (so no need to pay for an entire program upfront). And, after completing all the block-courses in a given program, you will be awarded a Program Certificate of Completion.

In order to qualify for a program certificate of completion, students must enroll in least 11 courses in this program and complete 11. This can be some combination of the program's standard block courses, (0-8) and up to 1 electives as part of the total courses enrolled. 

This intensive course is designed to take students through the entire process of character creation, developing the skills required to become a character artist capable of producing work to industry standards. Along the way students will become fluent in human anatomy, familiarize themselves with professional character pipelines, and master the tools and techniques used by seasoned professionals when sculpting, modeling, and finessing the surface detail on their creations. While some of the classes emphasize character arts from a games development perspective, the Character Arts program is equally valid for those eyeing a career in animation and VFX for film or television, where the scale and nature of the work typically requires larger teams of artists working in more specialized roles. For such students it provides a unique opportunity to gain a solid understanding of the entire pipeline while refining skills for their chosen specialist role, such as hard surface modeler, prop artist, texture artist, rigging artist, or creature designer.

Prerequisites Basic understanding of 3D modeling and texturing



This is the domain of the character designer; it is the place where ideas are explored, references are collected, and the form and function of the character are fleshed out (if not yet made flesh). Often this will all feed into a turnaround sheet, which gives enough three dimensional detail and information for the next stage of character development.


The modeling stage involves turning the evocative artwork from the previous stage into something solid and (almost) living and breathing. This involves more than simple translation, as the leap into three dimensions requires fresh creative decisions and the need for a high degree of fine detail. The process typically involves some rough shaping, followed by more refined modeling/sculpting using tools such as ZBrush and Maya. Levels of required detail vary from project to project, but whether creating characters for film, games, or other entertainment media, the basic process remains the same.


Texturing is the crucial stage that determines a character’s final appearance. It is the process of taking an unpainted, un-embellished (though sometimes retopologized) model and adding color, tone, and materials detail to it. This can involve multiple sub-stages, such as UV mapping, shader creation, and painting--all of which contribute to the final appearance of every surface element, including every inch of skin, the eyes, hair, and any body wear.


Rigging is the stage that takes the character’s carefully crafted 3D form and transforms it into something that can be posed and animated. It’s the rig that defines how a character’s physical form holds together, how the various body parts interact, and what controls the animators are given to work with. Requiring a fine balance between flexibility and efficiency, a character rig needs to work in concert with the model design while satisfying all the performance needs of the animation team.

Foundations & Design CURRICULUM


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In order to qualify for a program certificate of completion, students must enroll in and complete at least 11 courses in this program: ie. all of the program’s standard block courses. Student can have 1 elective as part of the courses enrolled.

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