Concept Art MasterClass #1: Getting Started and Sketches

Gnomon Instructor and Senior Concept Artist Kyle Brown shares a groundbreaking workflow

As the world of 3D art and animations continues to expand into a new renaissance, animators and artists alike are rushing to find the best, most efficient tools to bring their visions to life. To CG artists, the ability to seamlessly move through the workflow of concept to finished product is invaluable. From rigging and posing character models, to the generation of textures and skins, and finally the pipeline to outside 3D tools, these artists require the best possible tools at their fingertips. And for Senior Concept Artist Kyle Brown and his students, having such tools is essential.

Kyle Brown, a veteran of the CG world, Kyle has worked within the field since 2015 and has had his hand in a number of projects throughout the film and television industry. He also currently is an instructor at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects where he is able to share his expertise with others.

Kyle is not a character modeler. Any 3D he has learned has been out of necessity to make the conceptual designs he creates more efficient. For the longest time, the only 3D package he utilized was ZBrush with programs like Keyshot to render.

This is Kyle’s first time using Character Creator and SkinGen Premium Plug-in. After this project, he shared the work he has done using Character Creator, and he is constantly telling friends and peers who work in the industry and use the same tools about Character Creator 3 and how valuable it has been to his work as a whole.

In this demo, Kyle will walk you through the steps of using Character Creator 3 from the earliest steps to render out a simple image to sketch on top of to using that same avatar to send to ZBrush to sculpt and dress, then to finish back in Character Creator 3 where we resolve textures, lighting and rendering of our Cyberpunk creation.

This Master Class comes in 7 parts, each carries its own tutorial video to guide you through the entire process of how Kyle incorporates Character Creator, Photoshop, ZBrush, and other tools to create the concept art. You can find links to the other 6 tutorials below.

Part #1: Getting Started and Sketches


There are plenty of options in the 3D marketplace, but from the first time I opened Character Creator 3 was clear that it was a step beyond. A real time render window gives me an up to the second preview of my character creations. This was extremely valuable to start the whole process as I was able to find and place the female character of my choice into the scene and use some basic, yet impactful stock lighting to bring it all together. Since This was going to be the same character, I would use for the rest of the design process, I knew that whatever I sketched on top to have approved, would be fully achievable on the proportions of my avatar.


The base body render straight out Character Creator 3 that will serve as the base of our cyberpunk Android sketches.

I utilized the perspective and lighting built into the initial render to quickly sketch out ideas for her costume. This offers an efficient way to create and be creative without having to juggle a bunch of balls like blocking out the underlying anatomy for every concept.

The Sketches might not be the prettiest, but variety is the name of the game with early exploration. I want it to be clean enough that it reads and will convey exactly what I plan on doing with the final to the client, meaning I want hard surface pieces to look like hard surfaces pieces, cloth like cloth and skin to look like skin as a few examples.

After the first wave of initial sketches, completed in grey scale so the client can look at the shapes alone, I utilize the client’s feedback and some inspiration to explore some color options. I really enjoy the color palettes of any Cyberpunk universe, whether they are dark and gritty, muted with pops of neon, or an over the top ‘extreme’ aesthetic based in future street fashions and extreme sports.

I explore some refined facial details for the new features in SkinGen inside of CC3. Looking through the features, I saw there is an ability to apply decals or cuts to the skin that I figured would be perfect for the traditional cybernetic cutlines on cyborgs and androids.

I opted for a blend of the two, something with a tactical purpose but something that would stand out. Saying it now, it might sound like a contradiction, but visually I want it to look purposeful but still look sleek and unique.

I quickly blocked out some color, not being too precious with fine details, but opting for more of a graphic read, something the client can quickly look at and give immediate reactions and input to. Once we get the greenlight on the options, or make quick modifications of the presented versions, we are ready to jump back into CC3 and ZBrush!

Follow the other 6 tutorials in this series:

Part #2: Costume & Asset Creation in ZBrush

Part #3: Refining and Adding Details in ZBrush

Part #4: Generating Textures and Importing into Character Creator 3

Part #5: Lighting and Posing a Character in Character Creator 3

Part #6: Costume Variation and Texture Modification


Part #7: Comping Renders, Paint, and Finish

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