Create Stylized Character Portrait

What’s going on guys! My name is Hieu, I’m a 3D generalist for Danbee Company. I have worked in 3D films and games industry for 4 years. In this short tutorial, I’m very pleasure to share with you a small workflow of how to create a stylized character portrait. This character based on concept art by Dodo Huang.

Understanding topology

Working with character, it’s really good to spend a little time to understand the anatomy of the model such as face, hair, clothes so you can create a smooth edge flow where you might add animate to them later.


I totally created this model by using Maya. I blocked the character using primitive polygons such as Cubes, Cylinders and Spheres. I usually start creating a head by cube primitive, cylinder for body, leg, arm….

But it’s all up to you. You can choose any type of polygons you think that will help you model faster.

Nowadays, To speed up your work, you can use base character model from Zbrush or Mudbox then modify them by using sculpt tools to make it look like concept art. It depends on how difficult the model is.

UV Unwrapping

Before jump right into UV Unwrapping, you need to know how to make your UV beautiful and optimized as much as you can. So I suggest something that I take care of at this stage.

– Try to use all area of the UV map.

– Increase resolution UV shells of parts those have a lot of details, or easy to see.

– Try not to use too many seams and hide seams at parts those camera doesn’t focus on.

– Arrange UV shells have the same base color together.

– I usually separate UV into multiple UV map. Such as 1 UV map for Head, 1 for Hair,1 for Eyes,1 for Cloth. So I can adjust material of it easily.

I use UV Toolkit in Maya 2017 p3 or Maya 2018 for UV unwrap.

First of all, I usually use Planar Projection to create UV. After that, I use Cut and sew Tool to create UV shells. Then use Unfold UV to unfold UV shells. Finally, I set all UV shell have the same Texel Density and push that into UV map. Remember increase or decrease resolution of UV shells properly.


Then create layer mask for each and paint on them. I usually use basic brushes and setting shape dynamic and transfer to pen pressure properly.

Another way to create texture is using AO, and add all details in black and white. After that using Hue/Saturation to Colorize them. This technique is applied for color variation.

Finish texturing stage


Depending on how difficult it is to pose. In this model, there is only the areas around mouth need to pose a little, so I use soft selection and move tool to create as concept.

Others, you need to create skeleton, bind skin your model to skeleton and set weight for that. Final pose your model by joints to get desired result.

That’s it. I really hope this short tutorial will help you all understand more our workflow of making an asset.

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