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Look Development for Animated Characters

Look Development for Animated Characters

An 8-week course on professional-level character look dev with a focus on storytelling
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Storytelling Through Look Dev

Storytelling Through Look Dev

Look development for animated characters is usually a technical artist’s job. However, as much as software and technical expertise helps, advanced technical expertise is not required to make appealing, feature film quality animated characters. This course is designed to reinforce the design principles for creating textures and shaders for animated characters. We’ll discuss how to tell the story in every detail of the character, learn to approach a character from broad to fine details, and make a plan to execute the look. Throughout the course, students will learn how to receive feedback and prepare to work in a professional environment, and should have a solid piece for their portfolio by the end.
Registration Now Open
Registration Period
Course Start

Course Format

Standard (recorded lectures, individual recorded feedback)

Skills Level

Intermediate to Advanced


8 weeks


Once a week


Individual recordings

Lecture Type

Due each week. Expect to spend 10-15 hrs/wk viewing lectures, Q&A, and time on assignments.
Shading and texturing experience in a film or gaming environment. Recommended courses: Substance Basics, Texturing and Surfacing for Films/Cinematics, Stylized Characters in 3D
These are recommended, but each is not required. One of each, or an equivalent software package would work. Painting/Texturing Software: Substance Painter/Designer, Mari, Houdini, Photoshop. Shading/Rendering software of choice: Arnold, Renderman, Redshift; Unity or Unreal

The more you know, the better.

Class introductions | Telling the story through character design and look development | How does look development fit into the animated film pipeline? | What tools are used? | How do you put together a shading packet?
Review shading packet | Setting up your character: UVs, three point lighting set up, basic shaders, model refinements | Common shaders used on characters (skin, hair, cloth, eyes, mouth) | Using an art packet, and planning your work ahead
Techniques and methods to develop textures and shaders | Identifying your characters main shaders | Setting up eye and mouth shaders
Finding the “look” | Iterating on your shaders | Cloth shading
Receiving feedback from art directors and production designers | Evaluating your character | Preparing your work for reviews
Plussing your shaders | Shading for an animated performance | Improving the quality of your shader’s through storytelling | Preparing your character for professional reviews and your demo reel
Working with lighting (final client), and shading for a lighting “look” | LUT’s and IBL’s
How does your character fit into a feature film pipeline? | Developing shaders for a cast of characters | Working clean and staying organized | Creating variants

Bringing out the best in talent

To Be Announced
Course Start:
For specific questions regarding TBA instructors, please contact CGMA Admissions Department at registration@cgmasteracademy.com

Instructor's Gallery

Game Art

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.

Need guidance? We’re Here to Help.

We can help with admissions questions, portfolio review/course recommendations!

What are you interested in?