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Designing Stylized 3D Characters in ZBrush

Leticia Gillett
9 Lessons (13h 31m)
9 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


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  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

LIVE Classes

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  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized Paint-Overs and Real-Time Feedback From The Instructors
  4. Watch Video Lessons and Peer Feedback as Often as You'd Like
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Digital Certificate of Completion
  7. Weekly Class Meetings LIVE on Zoom
  8. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Course Description

Learn the process of designing in ZBrush using simple but effective techniques to make quick and fun iterations of 3D characters with Sculptor & Character Modeler, Leticia Gillett! This course is a comprehensive introduction to ZBrush and how to use this powerful digital sculpting tool to create highly-detailed 3D characters and objects. Over 9-lessons, Leticia will teach you the basics of ZBrush and its tools, how to sculpt the head and body of an original character, refine their anatomy, design their costume and accessories, and pose them. 

Additionally, you will explore lighting and materials in both ZBrush and Marmoset Toolbag 4, and learn how to render your final 3D model for presentation. By the end of this course, you will have gained a strong foundation in ZBrush and be able to create your own 3D characters and objects with confidence!

➡︎ For the ‘Critiqued Sessions’, students will meet up with Leticia Gillett LIVE once per week on Sundays at 1pm PT / 4pm ET.

  • ZBrush

Lesson Plan

We will start at the very beginning and work on the story pitch for our character to flesh out their personality and interests that will impact their overall design. I will touch on the fundamentals of good design language to develop our character and show you how to use programs like PureRef to organize your references before we jump into the basics of ZBrush. We’ll go over the basic hotkeys and commands and start working on some 3D concepts as we begin sculpting the head of our character.

After analyzing examples of stylization in 3D characters and how to be intentional with shapes in our designs, we will explore several different concepts as we work out the face, eyes, hair, and accessories of our character. I’ll introduce you to DynaMesh, which we will use to blend everything together and sculpt out the face before jumping into some painting to add color to our character’s head.

We’ll start by finishing off the facial details by adding eyebrows and eyelashes to our character, and then I will walk you through the overall digital body sculpting process as we explore various body shapes and designs before taking one to a finish. I will give you an in-depth demo on how to approach sculpting all of the different body parts including one of the trickiest parts of the body to sculpt: hands!

In this lesson, I’ll provide a brief introduction on how to use the ZBrush features ZRemesher and DynaMesh to capture the finer details on your 3D model and how to work with polygroups. We will then get started on refining our character with anatomical sculpting, using anatomical references to make the character’s body and proportions more realistic.

We will study different ways we can use ZBrush to create clothes and accessories to add storytelling and start brainstorming ideas for our character’s costume. I’ll show you how to execute 3D clothing intentionally and explain why Dynamic Subdivision is so useful when working on clothing before we start making the character’s clothing with folds, creases, and other fine details.

The next step will be to add softness and sharpness to various areas to create more contrast and paint the face to make everything more detailed, realistic and stylized. Once that is done, it is time to pose it! We will talk about concepts such as simple curves of posing, contraction/expansion, and balance. Posing in ZBrush can be quite time consuming and requires a lot of clean-up, so I’ll show you my process for working efficiently with that in mind.

Our character needs some props and accessories to complete their outfit, so in this lesson I will show you my process for designing them and how to pose the hands once the props are added. We’ll then work on making our character and pose more detailed, refining the folds and adding more detail to the clothing, then take everything to the next level by applying materials in ZBrush, like chrome, rust, and metallics.

Our character is nearly complete, so in this lesson we will go piece by piece and polish everything up to get our model ready to be imported into Marmoset Toolbag 4. I’ll show you how to export and import your model, go over the basics of Marmoset, and demonstrate how to apply materials to the rest of the character in Marmoset.

Now that we have our character posed and polished, let's use Marmoset to apply lights and shaders to make our beautiful model renders! Light is so important to perceive form so we will go over some lighting concepts to present our model in the best light possible.


Leticia Gillett

Leticia Gillett is a 3D Modeler and Texture Artist currently working at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a Character Modeler. Before coming to the US, Leticia worked in Brazil with Archviz , in commercial houses as a 3D Generalist, and taught for 3 years on the subjects of Archviz and 3D Character Creation. She moved from Brazil to follow her dream of studying at Gnomon School of Visual Effects. Since finishing school, she has worked for numerous studios including Disney Consumer Products, Blizzard Entertainment as a 3D Character Artist on Overwatch, Dreamworks as a 3D Modeler, and Netflix Animation as a Character Development Artist. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, her strange cat Mia, and her crazy dog Sadie.