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Hard Surface Modeling for Characters

Hard Surface Modeling for Characters

A 6-week course focused on designing and building complex hard surfaces for characters
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Build and design hard surfaces for characters


Throughout this course we are going to take a look at the techniques and challenges of designing and building hard surfaces for characters. This does not only include design, sculpting, and modeling, but especially the focus on creating character hard surfaces with animation in mind from the very beginning. The goal is to get students to look at the subject matter from a new perspective and to take away as much knowledge, tips, tricks, and techniques as possible for use in their own work.

Course Format


Skills Level



6 weeks


Once a week


Individually recorded

Lecture Type

Due each week. Expect to spend 10-20 hrs/wk viewing lectures, Q&A, and time on assignments
Knowledge of ZBrush and 3D packages such as Maya, 3Dsmax, Modo; | Some basic but solid anatomy knowledge is a plus for having a base body model to get started | Basic knowledge of Photoshop
Photoshop, ZBrush and 3D packages such as Maya, 3Dsmax, Modo, or else should be known to follow along

The more you know, the better.

Taking a look at the difference between hard surface modeling and organic modeling (deformation) | Design principles and challenges when building hard surfaces for characters | Have a look at the character concept (background story, design breakdown, reference used) | Evaluating design for required range of motion
Quick intro to ZBrush toolset and personal layout for the basic hard surface blockout | Blocking out the basic/primary shapes of the hard surface and clothing | Designing the back of the character during blockout (on the fly design without 2D concept) | Explaining ZBrush workflow, tools used and design decisions while sculpting the concept model
Using ZRemesher and Decimation Master to create a quick low res version of the base body | Building a simple rig inside of Maya for motion tests |Testing key poses of the character and talking about feedback from the Rigger | Evaluating and applying design changes to the model in order to meet requirements to range of motion and deformation | Testing design changes again on the rig
Building and using custom brushes for hard surface detail | Sculpting smaller shapes, details and bringing concept sculpt to final | Stage for cleanup and remodeling | Some rules and guidelines for adding detail to hard surfaces | Showing techniques of cleaning up hard surface parts for texture baking
Decimating the character and exporting him into another 3D package (here: Maya and Modo) | Setting up the scenes for retopo | Showing first of two ways of remodeling the character: Sub-D/Highres modeling for offline rendering or texture baking.
Showing second of two ways of remodeling the character: Low res modeling for real time rendering (games). | Topology guidelines for real time mesh (geometry examples, overpaints): polygon budget, technical requirements for the mesh such as LODs, UVs, rigging, character variation etc.

Igniting your imagination

For specific questions regarding TBA instructors, please contact CGMA Admissions Department at registration@cgmasteracademy.com

What makes this learning experience unique?


Receive personalized feedback on all assignments from the industry’s top professionals.


Enjoy lifetime access to the spectrum of course content, including lectures, live Q&As, and feedback sessions.


Show off your Certification of Completion when you turn in 80% of course assignments.


Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with flexible, online course scheduling.


Ben has been one of the most accommodating, engaged instructors I’ve ever had, always enthusiastic about our work and making sure things are clear. And on top of that, he’s very open about career advice and provides high-level artistic critique.


Ben was a wonderful teacher who showed interest in his students and gave insightful critiques and Q&As.


He’s great at teaching everything you need to know about Hard Surface.


Ben is a fantastic instructor. Hard surface modeling felt like math to me but he made the workflow easy to understand.


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