Character Modeling for Production

The hardest part of this industry, like most, is finding your first job. But there’s also the difficulty of keeping that job in a competitive market.

The vfx/animation industry has exploded in the past decade; an influx of international visual effects movies are being made every year by more and more smaller companies which has created this boom in our field. It’s a fast paced and exciting industry to be part of and in this class I want to share with you some techniques and tips that I’ve learned not only to help you learn the basics but also to push you further in your career path.

I want to treat this course as if it’s the first day on the job so you understand how modeling is done as a professional but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be an advanced modeler to take this class as this can also be excellent for beginner level modelers.

With more and more people entering the field every year, how do you stand out? Thomas Jefferson said, “I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” In this course I’ll go over modeling in a production pipeline and go over some common characteristics of successful artists that I’ve noticed in my experience that make them succeed and continue to thrive.

Modeling is much more than just making something look “cool.” Your model has to be functional, believable, economical, appealing and practical for other departments to work with. Working in production isn’t like working on your own personal projects; you don’t have the convenience of being the only one working on the asset, you have to be aware of how your artistic decisions affect the rest of the departments in the pipeline. I’ll go over some do’s and don’ts with you to make you understand this process more easily. To name a few: you’ll have to juggle nailing a design from someone else’s vision, handle tight deadlines, multiple supervisors' feedback, manage long hours, work within a team environment, handle criticism and indecision, make rapid changes and present your work well, with confidence. The big key to all of this, I’ve found, is maintaining a positive attitude. Remember, people have to want to work with you. “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” - Harry F. Banks

The purpose of this course is to give you a real world example of a production model that was done for this school. We’ll go from start to finish, how to begin your character from the provided reference all the way through revisions and draw overs to final approval and handoff. Throughout the course I’ll show you techniques, tips and tricks to improve and speed up your workflow. We’ll also go over presentation practices, final topology, UVing techniques, how to check your finished model for common errors as well as the importance of a solid naming convention.

At the end of this course I hope you will have learned a lot about making a successful character model for production, how to improve your own workflow to increase your skills and efficiency, and lastly, I hope that you now have a solid understanding of what it takes to excel in the vfx/animation industry as a successful Digital Artist.

What you will learn in this class:

  • Gain a thorough understanding of a Modeler's responsibilities in the Production Pipeline by creating an appealing Production Ready Character Model
  • Learn Basic Human Anatomy and tips to model difficult areas like hands and faces
  • Improve your own speed and efficiency with hotkeys and shortcuts for Maya, Mudbox and ZBrush
  • Present your work for Dailies as well as how to handle revision requests
  • Understand Topology, Naming and UV Standards
  • How to Extract Displacement Maps as well as clean up spikes and common errors
  • How to transfer Topology from one Character onto another
  • Create blend shapes and how to quickly create variations of your character
  • Prepare your finished Model for handing off to the next department in the pipeline.
  • Acquire the necessary skills to help you become a successful industry professional

Independent study animation and modeling courses online

Course Information

Duration: 3 months (12 weeks)
Start Date: March 1st, 2016
Instructor: Shannon Thomas
Reviewing instructor: Shannon Thomas
Prerequisites: None
Standard Price: $1197 USD (or $399 monthly)
Independent Study Price: $597 USD (or $199 monthly)

Standard course:
• 12 weekly video lectures
• 17+ hours of content
• Live weekly Q&A sessions with instructor
• Critiques and Email correspondence
• 3 months additional access to videos
Price: $1197 USD (or $399 monthly)

Independent Study:
• 12 weekly video lectures
• 17+ hours of content
• 3 months additional access to videos
Price: $597 USD (or $199 monthly)

Registration ends on September 2nd, 2017.

Register & Enroll

Course Reel

Instructor's Reel

Students Testimonials

Shannon Thomas has enlighten me and taught me so much about the production process of character modeler including a ton of helpful tips on how to be more proficient in our industry. He will give everyone in the class clear and precise feedback during your Q&A session. He also took the time out of his busy schedule to meet with me for a one on one session going over technical and artistic problems with my model.

The relationship you build with your colleagues and Shannon is truly awesome, fun and very humbling. I personally started this class not knowing very much about MAYA, and nothing at all about ZBrush. Completing this class today I'm more confident with the tools I've learned and i'm looking forward with rocking out a few more models with the hopes of finding a job in our industry.

Shannon Thomas is a truly a one of a kind professional and I give his Character Modeling in Production class "FIVE Stars" !!!!!

Ernie Arrieta Jr. (Dallas, USA)
course «Character Modeling for Production»


Shannon definitely has a great ability to teach people. He'll often going into explanation and details that he could have brushed over during some of the reviews and my email questions.

Some of these online courses can be really bad but this was exactly how interactive learning should be.

Paul Adams (London, England)
course «Character Modeling for Production»


I really enjoyed the class!! Shannon is a great instructor, very patient and very generous with his time. I learned tons, and am really glad to have him help me start my modeling career with a solid foundation.

The classes are very well structured, video contents are great, lectures are very clear and full of information, with some light humor peppered throughout which helps keep the atmosphere light.

Shannon's positive attitude is great as well, choice quote like "I hate doing UVs/displacement maps that's why I got really good at doing them" is great. It reminds me to face future modeling problems with more positivity. I could have had another teacher where he or she might say "oh UV is horrible" and that would have left a bad impression on me about UVs, instead I was glad to have listened to Shannon's thoughts first, thus giving me a more positive first impression and outlook on the harder task when it comes to modeling.

Finally, thanks again Shannon for creating the course. I have enrolled in some other online school before, and I like this the best so far.

Se Ri Tan (Tokyo, Japan)
course «Character Modeling for Production»


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