Character Production from Scratch

Character Production from Scratch

Guillaume Tiberghien shared the essential tips on full character creation: philosophy, composition, texturing, posing, and much more.

Intro & Personal Philosophy

My name is Guillaume Tiberghien. I was literally born with a Nintendo controller in my hands and I’m from  Montreal, Canada. Currently, I’m a character artist and art manager at the outsourcing company Keos Masons. I have been in the industry since 2005 and worked at Ubisoft and Eidos on some of the main franchise like Deus Ex and Farcry.

My philosophy behind characters is the readability of forms and purpose of design language. Before getting started on a project I ask myself a lot of questions. I approach 3d modeling as if it was a traditional medium taking out the guesswork as much as possible and trying to find a clear vision. Still, I’m open to finding new avenues in the process that I would not have thought about.

Sculpting the Shapes

Probably the most important thing in my work is to focus on big shapes before getting into details. I will usually build every element of the character roughly to get proportional relationships. I will evaluate and then refine, keeping everything at the same level of detail. Throughout that process, I will keep an eye on the silhouette and where I want to direct the eyes. I bring the model screenshot into a 2D software. From there, by painting over it. I will figure out how I can be more daring, make the character more expressive, the silhouette more pronounce, break the convention of proportions and find something interesting or simply get closer to the original concept.

My main philosophy behind creating a topology for an in-game character is to use polygons to influence silhouette or deformation. For a long time, I added polygons where it was not necessary and would overcomplicate things. Another thing to make your characters read is to model edges with a slight angle. 90 degrees angles do not work well in normal maps. If your edges are wider the light will traverse the edges and make your volumes pop.


Colors are something I just recently feel like I started to have a grasp on. It can be quite overwhelming. As for sculpting, I try to focus on bit forms until they seem successful before I go into details. For personal projects, I do not use a BPR pipeline. I want to evoke the materials but if I want to give a certain effect or bring the attention I will tweak materials to my liking.


For presenting a character in a portfolio my advice is to pose your model. It takes a little time comparatively and will give personality and make the viewer connect with your art. SaIdly I understand that in production we often don’t have time to do so but it would go a long way. Something else I like to do is to put more than one characters on screen. This tells a story by the interaction between them.


As for tips for what to do to enter the industry as a character artist, I would say it’s rare to be a character artist from the start. Companies are looking for a specialist in tools like Marvelous and Substance Designer, this might be your foot through the door. Don’t isolate yourself with your portfolio work. Ask for feedback you might have lost perspective. Anybody is an anatomy specialist without knowing it. It’s up to you to filter what they say and figure out how you can improve your work with that information. Social events are also surprisingly important. Get yourself known by the industry and be nice and open-minded and people will remember you. Good luck!

Guillaume Tiberghien, Character artist & Art Manager at Keos Masons

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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