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The Art of Iconic Creature Design

Photobashing and ZBrush Workflows with Aaron Sims


There are many approaches for designing characters for the screen. Industry veteran Aaron Sims details two of his tried-and-trusted workflows for creating iconic concept designs for film and TV, using Photoshop and ZBrush. As well as guiding you through his production-proven techniques, Aaron shares his thoughts on the importance of conveying personality and character through designs and shares some of the key lessons he’s learned over his 35-year career.

Beginning with a 2D workflow in Photoshop, Aaron walks through his personal approach to visualizing a mutated character, using photo-bashing techniques that skillfully cut, splice, and warp multiple layers of human, creature, and organic elements to craft a completely unique design. Discussing the reasons behind his decisions at every step, the lecture details not only how to master photo manipulation for incredible results but also why the techniques and outcomes are his chosen workflows for likenesses, prosthetics, and digital augmentations.

Today, artists can create any creature or character imaginable with the tools at their disposal. The second part of the two-hour workshop dives into ZBrush to develop a fully realized and dimensionalized alien character. Explaining why this approach serves well for full-CG characters, Aaron shares his ZBrush workflow, from base mesh to final bust, discussing the importance of anatomy, how to create points of interest in 3D designs, and how to push the envelope to create designs while still creating something an audience can relate to. The 3D workflow concludes with rendering techniques in KeyShot, pushing the settings and playing with various lighting scenarios, before finalizing the design in Photoshop.

Duration: 2h 06m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Aaron Sims

Art Director

Aaron Sims, the mind behind some of this generation’s most unforgettable cinema creatures, began his career over three decades ago as a special effects artist working alongside industry icons Rick Baker and Stan Winston (Evil Dead, Gremlins 2, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Men In Black). His pioneering techniques in the world of visual effects influenced the face of character and creature design in Film, Television, Games, Previs, and VFX early on in their application (A.I., Constantine, War of the Worlds, Big Fish). In 2005, Aaron Sims Creative was formed in order to bring together a wide range of the world’s most talented concept and visual effects artists and create memorable characters, creatures, VFX, costumes, and key scenes (I am Legend, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spiderman, Clash of the Titans, The Conjuring, Stranger Things). Aaron's unparalleled skill and dedication to consistently creating stunning content for all platforms of visual entertainment has led ASC to become the premiere boutique studio for creature and franchise design & development.

  • " Aaron Sims is the consummate industry professional in that he consistently marries his considerable artistic talent with the powerful technological tools of today, producing work that not only meets the demands of time-sensitive production schedules, but also never fails to impress. "

    - Stan Winston
    Stan Winston Studio