March 12, 2013 - Comments Off on Intermediate Modeling

Intermediate Modeling


It was pretty busy term at AnimSchool, this article is to summarize the character that I created in the Intermediate Modeling class with Brien Hindman.

brien_hindmanWho’s Brien Hindman?

What do you expect from a guy who has more than 10 years’ experience in the animation industry? Being a student under Brien means a lot, I was so lucky to be one of his students in this term. Brien is currently working as a Modeler at Disney Animation and previously was a Senior Modeler at Blue Sky Studios, he worked on Frozen (2013), Wreck It Ralph (2012), Epic (2013), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), Rio (2011), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Horton Hears a Who! (2008), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), and Robots (2005).
Without any doubt I learned from him amazing techniques in cleaning the mesh, finding quick solutions and become much faster in modeling. Plus I got very constructive critiques that improved my work and pushed it the next level. And as I have good experience in sculpting characters using ZBrush, Brien gave me the confidence to start moving the vertices inside Maya and working on high-res models.
As all of us know, modeling is a little bit dry if you want to teach it, but Brien keeps talking and throwing jokes from time to time, so you will never get bored in his class. And finally Brien loves goats, so model your character as a goat and you will get “A” grade :D


[youtube video_id="KZdSed0_2O4" width="100%" height="auto" player_id="player1"]

“Eyad always went above and beyond with every assignment during my class. He's an excellent modeler, and one of the best I've had the enjoyment to instruct. He was always extremely polite and followed instructions very well. He'd be a valuable asset to any studio looking to build a team.”
April 1, 2013
Brien Hindman, Modeler at Walt Disney Animation Studio

Intermediate Modeling Class

The main focus in this class is to create a character that looks appealing, rig friendly and has the best/cleanest topology. Also the class covers deconstructing 2D posed character design, realistic vs. stylized proportions, putting characters back into pose and rendering turntables.


Finding the Character Design

I decided that I want to model a female character from Disney, some of the characters that were in my mind, Pocahontas, Princess Jasmine, Megara, Ariel, Captain Amelia and Jane! I brought Tarzan the movie in Full HD format and I watched it, I found that the movie contains very good references for Jane, from facial expressions and body acting, so I have chosen her! I searched for the movie artworks in Google and I found some cool line arts for Jane, I took some screenshots from the movie, and made a sheet contains everything about her.


The Body

We started by building the body construction from simple shapes by finding the joints pivots, then we start defining the body forms. And since the hands have a lot of geometry, we explored the best ways to reduce the geometry in preparation to attach them to the wrist, and Brien also discussed the golden ratio and how it applies to fingers length.


The Head

The head is the most part I love to sculpt and model, I always start by sculpting different ZBrush sketches, which take from me almost one day. At the end of the day I choose the sketch that I liked most, and I send it to 3D Coat. I make a very quick topology for the head, then I send it to Maya, and I start refining the shapes, adding the eyes and eyebrows which are very important so you can get the feel of the character. For the topology, I use Hippy Drome topology (, which I really love, and it’s a very good topology for creating facial expressions.


The Hair

As I do with the head, I start by sculpting sketches in ZBrush to define the hair volume; since it’s the fastest method to see the hair results. When I feel that I reached a good point, I take the sculpted hair to 3D Coat, and I start creating a low-res version of the hair. I draw the topology with the flow of the hair and I do a lot of smoothing. After that I take the model to Maya and I start cleaning it. For the hair lines, I create NURBS curves, then I extrude cylinders on them, and I use the soft selection to re-shape the hair.


Clothing the Character

I start by extracting the cloth from existing body mesh, and re-modeling them. The most difficult part was her dress from the bottom; I start by drawing a top view shape in the Photoshop, I took the image into Maya, trace a curve over it, duplicate it and make a loft. After that I start shaping by moving it between Maya and ZBrush.


Putting Character into Pose

Simple FK chain created to pose the model, and I just added some IKs on the feet to make them sticky on the floor. I made so fast skinning, posed the model, then I re-modeled the destroyed mesh shapes.


Lighting the Model

So many people asked me about the lighting setup that I use in my renders. First of all, I use Mental Ray for my renders. I start by adding a spot light as a key light which will cast shadows on the model. Then I use area light to fill the dark areas. And finally I start adding directional lights, and do render tests.
I render an ambient occlusion pass separately, and I combine it with the color pass in the Photoshop. I used to attach a Mental Ray photographic lens to the main camera, it gives me more freedom to play with the lights contrast/intensity in the scene.


General Review

Each Tuesday and Wednesday there is modeling/rig general review session provided by Dave Gallagher the founder of AnimSchool. With over 16 years in the animation industry, Dave will take your model, and will give you the most extensive and amazing critique ever. Dave sat with me around hour and a half, he given me the best critique I ever got in my entire life, he showed me the topology problems in Jane head, and he suggested modification to make her look appealing. The model changed 360 degrees after his review, from a normal model to a model for a feature film.


Special Thanks

To Brien Hindman, the amazing instructor
My classmates, Jonathan, Ralph and Pablo
Ahmad Suhwail my co-worker at Rubicon for his continuous support
AnimSchool Family – Dave, Isaac and Diane


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at


Feel free to download the wallpapers below: (More coming soon!)

Wallpaper 01 – Full HD 1080 – File Size 318K


Brien Hindman, Vimeo Channel:
Hippy Drome:

Published by: eyadtv in Articles

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