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Visualarium Master Class

with Kris Costa

This Master Class will not focus on the creation of a particular character. I'll be providing you with the techniques to
create, but you're free to pick your favorite subject. I'll be demonstrating the tools and explaining how they can be
used to help you to create your own artwork.
This is not an anatomy class. This is a walk through based on how I create things, where I'll guide you every step of the
way, from the base model all the way to the final render. If you're interested in learning anatomy, there are many
classes exploring this in depth. Still, I will provide you with reference books/links that might help you to improve your
anatomy skills.
You're the biggest responsible for your own success. The more you produce artwork, the better you will get. Ask
questions, dedicate yourself, work hard and you will reach your goals.
You're free and encouraged to create any character you wish, in any style you prefer, but in case you are looking for
ideas, here are a couple of suggestions. Pick one word from each color group, stick to the plan and more importantly:
have fun!


Modern Man

Humanoid Creature













Lesson 1: The Skull

Structural Variations
Deconstructing the form (Planes and Simplification)
ZBrush Demo Hands On

Home Work #1: Sculpting a Humanoid Skull

Based on the given references, choose and model 3 different humanoid skulls using simplified forms.
If you have the time, feel free to take the sculpture further. These sculptures will come handy later on

References:,, anatomy books, drawing books, AnatomyTools reference models,
Google etc

Lesson 2: The Face

Quick Recap of Lesson 1

Form and Rhythm
The Facial Muscles
Primary and Secondary Forms
Eye modeling
ZBrush Demo Hands On

Home Work #2: Sculpting the Face

Incorporate the main Facial Muscles to the base skull model using Zsketch or any other technique of
your choice
Incorporate the primary and secondary forms to the head model in progress, concentrating on the
Rhythm and the way the forms are flowing
Model and place the eye geometry

References: a mirror, ZBrush's pre-loaded models, Ryan Kingslien's videos on face anatomy, Anatomy books,
AnatomyTools reference models, Google etc

Lesson 3: Anatomy of the Skin

Quick Recap of Lesson 2

Different qualities of the skin
Skin Deformation
Wrinkles, Pores, bumps and scars
Creating Skin Alphas and Brushes
ZBrush Demo Hands On

Home Work #4: Sculpting Detail

Create your own set of skin alphas
create a set of custom brushes
feel free to test them on your model, but we will be only using those once the body is complete

References: a mirror, pictures of your own skin, magazines, books, google etc

Lesson 4: Body Anatomy

Quick Recap of Lesson 3

Neck and Torso
Arms and Legs
Hands and Feet
Surface Anatomy
ZBrush Demo

Home Work #5: Modeling the body in three stages:

block primary forms defining the planes first
refine it using secondary forms while paying close attention to the rhythm
add fine detail, including but lot limited to veins, bumps and bruises, scars etc

References: art books, anatomy books,, AnatomyTools reference models, Google etc

Lesson 5: Pose and Silhouette

Quick Recap of Lesson 4

Zbrush/Maya Demo
Maya Joints and and Weight maps


Home Work #7
Pose your character making sure it shows the action clearly. Improve the anatomy around the
deformed areas. Add a little base to support your model as if it was a physical sculpture.

References: books, action figures, magazines,, Google etc

Lesson 6: Character Development

Quick Recap of Lesson 5

Story Telling
Establishing Character
Facial Expression
Composition Techniques
ZBrush Demo

Home Work #7: Add drama through facial/body expression, model some accessories to support the story and
apply at least three composition techniques
Add asymmetry, veins, scars etc

References: books, magazines, movies, Google etc

Lesson 7: Texture and Shading

Quick Recap of Lesson 6

Zbrush/Maya Demo
Choosing a Color Palette
Texturing with Polypaint
Uvs Using ZBrush and Maya
Polypaint to Textures
Maya and Vray Shading: Skin, Eyes and other materials

Home Work #8: Paint textures and create the shaders in Maya (or any other software you're familiar with)

References: art books, magazines, movies, Google etc

Lesson 8: Lighting

Quick Recap of Lesson 7

Photography concepts and real world lighting
Using VRay to mimic a real world studio lighting setup
HDRI and Domelight
Planes vs. Area Lights
Studio Background
Render Settings
Optical Effects

Maya Demo Hands On

Home Work #9: Developing you Own Lighting Setup

try to recreate in maya/VRay some of the real world lighting setups you find, including light
placement, intensity, background plane etc. and run some render tests using it

References: photography books, Google etc

Lesson 9: Rendering your Final Image

Quick Recap of Lesson 8

Fibermesh to Maya/VRay render
Final render: Rendering in Passes
Reassembling the passes in Photoshop
Maya Demo Hands On

Home Work #9: add hair, render, comp and share your final work.

Lesson 10: Finishing up!

Quick Recap of Lesson 9

Portfolio Review and Feedback
Final Considerations

Final Home Work: non-stop creation!

Suggested References
Anatomy for The Artist, by Sarah Simblet
Artistic Anatomy, by Dr. Paul Richer
Atlas of Human Anatomy for The Artist, by Stephen Rogers Peck
Strenght Training Anatomy Second Edition, by Frdric Delavier
An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists, by Fritz Schider
Cyclopedia Anatomicae, by Gyrgy Fehr
An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists, by W. Ellenberger, H. Dittrich and H. Baum
Burne Hogarth's Series, by Taschen
The Face
Facial Expressions A Visual Reference for Artists, by Mark Simon
The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression, by Gary Faigin
Heads, by Alex Kayser
The Complete Guide to Light, by Mark Cleghorn
Monte Zucker's Portrait Photography Handbook, by Amherst Media
The Photographer's Eye, by Michael Freeman
Beyond Portraiture Creative People Photography, by Bryan Peterson
Eyewitness Art: Composition by Sarah Kent
A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition, by Margot Schulzke
Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers, by Marcos Mateu-Mestre
Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography, by Bryan Peterson
The Simple Secret to Better Painting: How to Immediately Improve Your Work with the One Rule of
Composition, by Greg Albert
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, by James Gurney
Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting, by Ian Roberts