Blocking Stylised Characters Overview

Maya Modeling: Character Modeling

In This Class You’ll Access…
‘Blocking Stylised Characters Overview’ is a long article explaining the ideas behind this course and the future classes.


You’ll learn how it’s important to focus on the blocking stage of modeling and as an exercise you’re encouraged to build at least 10 characters from existing front and side reference. With practice each character should take 1 hr. This’ll be tricky at first but with repetition you’ll be suprised at how the process can get a lot easier. Watch how your form improves. Blocking really can be easy and rewarding because it’s so fast! And it’s the most important part of modeling to practice.

When it comes to workflows we’ll see why in the blocking stage it’s important not to use ‘Box Modeling’, instead we’ll want to intersect objects together roughly for clean forms and fast turnarounds.

After reading the article you see how Andrew blocks the Zanzi character in one hour, compressed to a 16min time-lapse with commentary.

The next step will be to select your reference and start blocking characters!

Running Time: 16 mins
Software: Maya 2016
Instructor: Andrew Silke

Class Time: 16 mins
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  1. ojkoorde
    September 21, 2017 at 5:36 am ·

    What is ‘3qtr ref’?

    • Andrew Silke
      September 21, 2017 at 11:40 am ·

      That’s just reference that’s not the front side or top view. Reference image that should be on a perspective camera.

  2. juliuszgrzybowski
    June 10, 2018 at 12:50 am ·

    Hey Andrew I got a question about Maya vs Zbrush approach. You said it’s faster, and positively restrictive to use Maya as it forces you to use simple shapes, while with Zbrush you can fall into a detail trap. I thought Zbrush is just as good, if not better? I am a big fan of Shane Olson (one of the creators behind Disney Infinity) and his Zbrush blockout using simple shapes is very inspiring and similar to what you describe in this exercise. Even Disney themselves (and i am paraphrasing) that Zbrush allows them for freedome, quick changes, and focus on the art aspect.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to come off as a Zbrush cowboy, I am just really curious about your further opinion

    • Andrew Silke
      June 10, 2018 at 11:03 pm ·

      Yeah good question Julius. I know Shanes stuff and I really love his approach too. Yeah, I’ve been primitive blocking for well over ten years in Maya, you can see an old tute here from 9 years back. I noticed that Shane once said that Maya is for box modeling, well I disagree that one at least! We have different goals.

      I think it’s fair to say that a gun ZBrush guy will be able to block in ZBrush no worries. But I’ve had bad results from my students, so I’ll say with some conviction for beginner intermediates blocking in Maya is a lot better.

      Simple shapes are smoother and better defined with poly modeling smoother forms. ZBrush is pretty bad at poly modeling almost all pros agree on that. Can’t handle ngons… what? No direct hotkeys for simple modeling tools… what??!! 😀 I’ve found ZBrush horrible for polys.

      Maya also forces you to stay in the block for longer which is a good habit. It also teaches you well Maya. Additionally, Maya is average for modeling if you use the default hotkeys.

      I can understand how people don’t like to train in Maya especially if they are focused on ZBrush and creating still images/3d prints. This course is the other way around, I’m focusing on Maya, because that’s where all the jobs are, they aren’t making Infinity 3d models, or stills for Art Station, there’s virtually no work in that stuff. The majority of the jobs out there, even the modeling one’s are in Maya. You just have to look at big studios like Framestore, Animal Logic, Weta the base package is Maya and then there’s a little bit of ZBrush for the fun stuff. So I’m very production/animation oriented.

      I had a die-hard ZBrush student come up to me and say after working for 4 years in various companies. “The industry doesn’t really use ZBrush, ZBrush is more for practicing forms.” I totally get what he meant, the industry does use ZBrush, but less than the web thinks or he thought. That’s all he was saying.

      So, in short, there’s nothing wrong with Shane’s approach but ZBrush isn’t the industry standard modeler it’s Maya. ZBrush is the industry standard sculpting package and there is a big difference between modeling and sculpting, so I like to make that differentiation clear. So that’s where I’ve put it in my workflow. I won’t let most of my students touch ZBrush until they have a job. Everyone gets stuck in ZBrush because it’s so addictive. But if you learn Maya first and have it as your base package then picking up ZBrush is really easy, and super fun. Good base habits first.

      • juliuszgrzybowski
        June 10, 2018 at 11:21 pm ·

        Great answer, thanks a bunch. Have you worked in the games industry as well? Are the standards pretty much the same maya to Zbrush ratio?

        • Andrew Silke
          June 10, 2018 at 11:27 pm ·

          Yeah games being low poly then that’ll all be done, Maya. It does depend on the sort of game, like are the characters carrying loads of normal map data? If so then a lot of stuff is still sculpted. Low poly modeling is generally faster than high poly. But the highend games match us pretty well. Overall yeah I’d say the percentages would be similar. iPhone games and or cutesy stuff they probably wouldn’t even have Zbrush installed. I’ve worked at a bunch of places that don’t own a single copy of ZBrush.

  3. Sunny Muthreja
    March 28, 2021 at 8:34 pm ·

    Great guide and very well structured especially with all the vast amount of information out there on the web today.

    Although it might seam very obvious that focusing on the foundations and repetition is the key.
    All those awesome artists out of already know this to some extent.

    I wish guides like these would be the standard for every course, class in schools so beginners don’t just learn the tools, the math, the science.

    Even though I knew the tools I know now why kept struggling so much in the past.
    Thank you Andrew!

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