Skin Texturing and Shading in Mari and Arnold for Production

Skin Texturing And Shading In Mari And Arnold For Production

When you first start out, the process of painting and shading skin in CG can be a daunting undertaking, riddled with both technical and artistical challenges.

This course will take you through the entire process from A to Z, teaching you a production proven workflow for creating skin textures and shaders used by professional vfx artists in studios all over world. We will delve deep into both the technical aspects of the workflow, as well as the creative thought process behind our decisions.

This workflow for texture painting is one that I have personally used on anything from small local commercials to Hollywood blockbuster feature films.

My hope for this course is to leave you with a thorough understanding of how to paint and shade CG skin for any type of character, as well as the confidence to undertake whatever personal or professional project you wish going forward as a character artist.

Main Topics

  • Introduction to Mari’s powerful painting tools and node graph
  • Using skin scan textures to projection paint detailed skin displacement and color maps
  • Hand painting control and utility masks in Mari for added shader complexity
  • Whiteboard lessons explaining file formats, displacement technicalities and the UDIM workflow
  • Building a complex node based skin shader in Arnold from scratch

While I do try to cover every part of the tools and techniques we use throughout the course, this is not a Mari or Maya fundamentals course, and some prior knowledge of working with 3D software is recommended.

Included materials

The full head model with Zbrush displacement maps are included with the course! As is the Maya lighting scene used throughout the lessons. What is NOT included are the skin scan textures. I use a multi channel set purchased from in this course but the workflow should be applicable for most types of skin scan sets on the market. You will need one texture set for displacement, and one for skin color (these do not have to be matched and can come from different sets).


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  • Great Mari Introduction

    I had never touched Mari before, but this course did an excellent job explaining the software. The instructor makes sure to explain his thought process throughout the course and explains different use cases for settings and workflows. I also appreciate that the repetitive parts of painting the textures are sped up and kept minimal. Especially for the price, this is a great course.

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    • Thank you so much for the kind words and for taking the time to review the course, Sara! I’m very happy you found value in the lessons and will definitely keep what you’ve highlighted in mind when producing other courses in the future.

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