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Master the Art of Stylized Character Design: Creating Bold Proportions and Dynamic Forms!


Learn how to create a stylized character with exaggerated proportions in this step-by-step tutorial.

Explore techniques to sculpt the body, enhance specific features like the chest, arms, and abs, and use specialized brushes for a cleaner and more stylized appearance.







- Workflow

  • For today’s class, we’ll be using an already-made block out of a stylized character.

  • The process of creating stylized anatomy is almost the same as creating real-life anatomy with the exception of getting into too much detail.

  • We’ll also focus on exaggerating the shape by making everything look more sharp and blocky unlike how normal real-life muscles look.

  • The shapes of the muscles are the same as always and in the same position, so we are not completely going out of the boundaries of anatomy.

  • We’ll first DynaMesh the character on a high enough resolution to work with but also not lose the details from the block out.

  • With the Move brush move any parts of the arms that are too merged with the rest of the body.

  • In this case, the front and back of the armpits are too merged with the torso.

  • To fix it we have to move the parts up and afterwords use DynaMesh again.

  • With the DamStandard we’re going to make the chest muscles, drawing them out and making them stick out more by holding down Alt and using the brush where the chest is facing forward.

  • We want to exaggerate the form as much as possible and make it look more blocky.

  • For the ribcage, draw it out with DamStandard from the bottom of the chest leading all the way to the back.

  • Make sure you exaggerate the indents on the sides.

  • For the abbs, we’re also going to draw them out with DamStandard and use ClayBuild up to add volume as usual.

  • Make the shape of the abbs more blocky by holding down Alt and outlining them with DamStandard.

  • We can also add in the muscles below the arms with ClayBuild up and smooth them out a bit.

  • Draw out the shoulder with DamStandard but this time we won’t separate the muscle into 3 parts.

  • Instead, we’ll leave it like this and make the form more blocky.

  • For the bicep, we’ll sue DamStandard to create the indents on the side for the muscle and add volume in the middle with ClayBuild up.

  • We’re going to be going a lot of back on forth on the muscles and keep refining them as we slowly build up the character.

  • With ClayBuild up add a bit more clay on the back of the shoulder and with DamStandard make the form more blocky.

  • Afterward, smooth out the brush strokes and create a nice line below the back of the shoulder to make the form stick out even more.

  • For the Tricep muscle, we’ll do everything as per usual, separate the muscle into two parts in the middle and add volume with ClayBuild up.

  • For the Bicep use the Flatten brush to flat out the ends to sharpen the form.

  • Moving forward we want to work with a slightly bigger topology.

  • We’ll DynaMesh our model on a higher resolution, enough to give us more topology but also make it easy to smooth out and form the clay with no issue.

  • After DynaMeshing smooth out the front of the torso.

  • From here use the DamStandard brush to carve out the side of the abbs to exaggerate the form and add some clay on the side to connect them better with the rest of the body, we still want the model’s anatomy to make sense.

  • With ClayBuild up add more volume to the Bicep, smooth it out and from the side use the Move brush to make the muscle stick out more, the same for the Tricep.

  • In between the Tricep and Bicep use DamStandard to create a gap and in the gap use ClayBuild up to form the small muscle between the Tricep and Bicep.

  • Moving down to the forearm, use DamStandard to form the muscles.

  • With the Flatten brush flatten out the side of the muscle to make it more stylized.

  • Going back to the chest muscles, outline them again by holding Alt while using DamStandard.

  • Do the same thing for the ribcage below the chest where it’s sticking out.

  • Outline the abbs as well using the same DamStandard method.

  • For the Saw muscles add clay on the front sides and use Alt + DamStandard to make them stick out more.

  • Separate the abbs more with DamStandard to make the muscles pop out.

  • For the elbows add in clay with ClayBuild up and use the Flatten brush to flatten the top and bottom part of the elbow.

  • With DamStandard make the indents on the side.

  • Make the bone of the forearm with ClayBuild up, DynaMesh the model, and smooth it out.

  • Use DynaMesh every time you add in a lot of clay and when creating shapes on the character.

  • For the back muscles draw them out using DamStandard and add in clay using ClayBuild.

  • Smooth out the clay a bit and with Alt + DamStandard make the muscle stick out more.

  • With the Flatten, brush flatten out the sides of the muscle.

  • Connect the top of the muscle with the rest of the back so it isn’t just a big square attached to the back.

  • With DamStandard carve out the back more where the torso is outlined and with ClayBuild up add more volume.

  • With Alt + DamStandard outline the muscle more and with the Flatten brush flatten out the sides of the muscle.

  • For the lower back muscle, make a line going down the back using DamStandard then add clay on the side, DynaMehsing and smoothing out the clay.

  • With DamStandard add indents on the side and with Alt + DamStandard make the sides stick out more.

  • Outline the hips using DamStandard and add more volume.

  • For the glutes use ClayBuild up to add more volume and outline it using DamStandard.

  • Keep forming the shape with these two brushes till you are satisfied with the form.

  • From the front outline the waist to separate the torso and legs.

  • Moving to the legs we’ll start to outline the muscles with DamStandard.

  • Use ClayBuild to add volume following the same principles as we did in the Leg anatomy class.

  • With Alt + DamStandard make the muscles stick out more.

  • With the Flatten, brush flatten the sides of the muscle.

  • With Alt + DamStandard make the other muscles stick out as well.

  • With ClayBuild up add in clay where the knees are.

  • Add clay down the leg and with the Pinch brush pinch the clay to create an interesting shape.

  • Add clay around the knee to connect it to the rest of the foot.

  • Use the Flatten brush to get a sharper and flatter look on the knee just like we did with the elbow.

  • From the side move the knee more outward to give it that stylized look.

  • With the DamStandard add indents on the side of the knee and more clay on top and on the bottom.

  • With the Flatten brush flatten out the surface.

  • For the Calf muscle start by outlining the form using Alt + DamStandard.

  • Add clay on the top one you’ve outlined it.

  • With Alt + DamStandard again outline the bottom of the muscle and use the Flatten brush to flatten the sides.

  • With ClayBuild up connect the Calf muscle with the rest of the foot, adding a bit of clay before DynaMeshing and smoothing.

  • Outline the calf muscle again on the top and bottom before smoothing out the form.

  • On the back of the knee add an indent with DamStandard and add in clay on the side of the indent before smoothing and DynaMeshing.

  • Use ClayBuild up to make the collar bones, using DamStandard to outline them to separate them a bit from the chest muscles.

  • Add clay where the side muscles are and connect them slightly with the collarbone.

  • Make sure you add in the hole between the Back muscle and the neck. using ClayBuild up.

  • For the Trapezius muscle add more clay on the back and smooth it out.

  • Before we continue adding in the last details, duplicate the model and ZRemesh the Duplicate.

  • Once ZRemeshed and still has the duplicate selected and the original visible, go into the Project options inside the Subtool and click on the Project All button.

  • From here we will hide the original and continue working on the duplicate.

  • For refining the shape we will load in a brush made by another artist, it is called Pinch_3DCW.

  • With this brush start outlining the muscles of the character.

  • We first started with the tricep, outlining the edges to give it a nice clean finish.

  • Outline the abbs to make the indents more noticeable before making the edges stick out more.

  • We’re going to do the same to the Saw muscles, chest, and ribcage.

  • For the legs outline every individual muscle on the thigh.

  • Outline the knee to make it look more sharp.

  • For the back of the knee on the sides of the indent in the middle, draw outlines sticking out to add a blocky look.

  • For the glutes make the indent on the side again and also make the edge of the glutes stick out more.

  • On the back outline the muscles and the back of the shoulders before moving to the front of the shoulders and the forearm muscles.

  • End Result.

Bonus - Stylized Face


- Workflow

  • For today we’ll be using one of the male Head planes inside of our Project folder to make a stylized head.

  • Inside the LightBox in Projects, you will find the Head Planes folder.

  • Double-click on the folder to open up the meshes you can use.

  • In this bonus class, we’ll be using the HeadPlanes_Male_128.

  • Double-click on the head to open it up in your workspace.

  • Before we start working make sure to turn off the Perspective.

  • The first thing we want to do is round up the face and create a desired face shape.

  • With the Move brush squish the sides of the forehead, extend the neck a bit, and squish the side of the cheeks.

  • After we’ve created the face shape on a low-resolution DynaMesh the model so that we can smooth it out.

  • Use the Flatten brush to get rid of the square bumps on the head and face.

  • We’ll start shaping the eyesockets by first grabbing the innards of the eyes near the nose and with the Move brush moving the socket inward.

  • With ClayBuild up start carving the top of the eye socket to create a hole.

  • With DamStandard we can add a line on the side of the nose to give it a clear shape and exaggerate the cheekbones a bit by using Alt + DamStandard to make a flat surface on his cheeks.

  • Stylized faces can have very different looks depending on the style of the artist.

  • Some artists like to make the face features more flat and blocky while others go for a more smooth approach.

  • With Alt + DamStandard draw out a line on the side of the face to give it a more square look.

  • From the side extend the chin with the Move brush, same for the nose.

  • We’ll be changing the features throughout the class as we build up the face.

  • We can also bush the neck back a bit to give it a more curved look.

  • With Alt + DamStandard draw out the jaw on the face as well as make a nice indent below the jaw with just DamStandard.

  • With the Move brush make the nose wider and move down the top of the eyes to give the forehead an interesting form.

  • With ClayBuild up add in some clay where the mouth is and gently smooth it out.

  • With the Move brush extend the tip of the nose more.

  • Move the forehead above the eyes more down to make a more natural shape,

  • With Alt + DamStandard keep creating the lines on the cheeks and around the eyes because they lose themselves the more you smooth and DynaMesh the model.

  • We can use DynaMesh on a higher resolution to add cleaner shapes to the face.

  • Make sure you keep the cheeks and eyes with a nice and sharp look at the edges.

  • With the Flatten brush flatten the top of the cheeks to make a smooth and flat surface.

  • With ClayBuild up make bigger holes in the eyes and with DamStandard draw out a line in the middle of the eyesockets and DynaMesh the model.

  • With Alt + DamStandard draw out the shape of the nose.

  • For the mouth make an outline in the middle with DamStandard.

  • For the lips use Alt + DamStandard to make them an outline.

  • Mask the lower part of the face and with the move brush extend the top lip forward.

  • Repeat the same process for the lower lip too.

  • To add volume use the ClayBuild up brush and DynaMesh.

  • On the sides add in the dimples with DamStandard.

  • Make the nostrils with ClayBuild up.

  • On the sides and on the tip of the nose add clay to make the shape.

  • With DamStandard outline the sides of the nose.

  • Append a sphere and shape it to look like an eyelid.

  • With DamStandard make a line in the middle.

  • Merge the sphere with the face and DynaMesh it.

  • Make a hole in the eyelid with ClayBuild up to make a placeholder for the eye.

  • Shape the eyelid by adding clay and moving it with the Move brush.

  • Once you’re done with the first eyelid mirror and weld it to the other side.

  • Mask the bottom of the eyelid to easily move the top part without accidentally moving the rest of the lid.

  • We want the top eyelid to stick out a bit when we look at the face from the side.

  • Append normal spheres into the scene to serve as the eyes, place them inside the eyelids, mirror, and weld the sphere once it’s in position on one side.

  • Add clay on the side of the nose where the eye is and use the DamStandard brush to outline the bottom eyelid.

  • Add clay on the bottom eyelid, mask the cheek below it, and move it a bit outward.

  • On the top eyelid go through with it with DamStandard to make the lid fold.

  • On the top lid go through with it with the Flatten brush to smooth the surface.

  • Use ClayBuild up to add more volume to the lips and fix the dimples if they disappeared because of the DynaMeshing.

  • From the top mask the ears and invert the masking, smooth out the mask by holding down Ctrl and clicking the mask, move the pivot to the side of the ear and rotate the ear so they don’t stick out so much from the head.

  • With DamStandard make the indent on the back of the ear and smooth it out.

  • Do the same thing from the front at the start of the ear.

  • Start digging out the inside of the shape to create the rest of the ear.

  • Make a small hole and leave a good amount of clay on the sides so that the ear isn’t too thin.

  • Make a hole where the ear canal is.

  • Use the flatten brush to flatten out some of the shapes.

  • DynaMesh the model on a higher resolution.

  • Mask the top of the mouth and smooth out the mask then with DamStandard create the indents on the side of the mouth starting from the nose and going all the way down to the mouth.

  • While most of the mouth is masked use ClayBuild up to take away some of the clay on the side before smoothing it out and DynaMeshing.

  • With Alt + DamStandard make the line on the side of the face.

  • With the same brush make the outline for the chin, take away some of the top clay of the chin, and add extra clay on the bottom and sides.

  • Use the Flatten brush to flatten the surface of the chin.

  • With Alt + DamStandard make the edge of the top eyelid sharper.

  • Use the Flatten brush to flatten the tip of the nose.

  • With DamStandard go over the indent below the eyelid.

  • Go over the cheekbones again with Alt + DamStandard to outline the edges and flatten out the top of the cheekbone with the Flatten brush.

  • Do the same for the top part of the eyelid, use Alt + DamStandard to create the sharp edge on top of the eye and flatten out the inside of the eyelid.

  • With ClayBuild up take away some of the clay on the side of the face to create the cheekbones.

  • Add clay to the bottom of the jaw and smooth it out.

  • Go over the cheek bone edges again with Alt + DamStandard.

  • The same goes for the lower eyelid, make the indent below with just DamStandard and go over the top edge with Alt + DamStandard.

  • Duplicate the head ad ZRemesh the duplicate.

  • Add divisions on the duplicate to either match or surpass the number of active points on the original head.

  • Make sure you only have the duplicate and original head visible in the scene before projecting.

  • After projecting the details continue working on the duplicate and either hide or delete the original.

  • Go over the face one more time, refining the same shapes around the eyes, cheeks, and jawline at the neck.

  • Use the same methods we’ve used so far, DamStandard to make indents, and Alt + DanStandard to make sharp edges at the eyelids, cheekbones, and the outline of the lips.

  • Mask out the hairline and inside the Subtool there is an Extract option.

  • Set the thickness to be 0.02 and click on the Extract then Accept button to apply the extraction.

  • Once the hair has been extracted, use the Move brush to form the hair, DynaMeshing it on a low resolution to fix up the topology.

  • Use ClayBuild to make a more interesting form.

  • Do the same thing for the eyebrows, masking them out, extracting them, and then DynaMeshing and moving them into position.

  • End Result.







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