How Do Concept Artists Make Character And Clothes?


I see so many nice characters with hair and clothes I just wonder what softwares are being used?

Are the concept artists just good at everything? Meaning modeling, rigging, skinning, cloth simulation, hair simulation texturing lighting etc…

Does anyone use character generators? (Make Human Mixamo, Manuel Bastioni and that adobe thing)

What software should I use for cloth?
What software should I use for hair?

Do concept artists stick to one pose or are the characters typically rigged to allow for pose tweaks or even animation?


Each principal software utilizes its own inherent plugins. 3ds max primarily rests on Hairfarm for hair. Marvellous Designer is a chief external software for clothes. I can’t elaborate on Maya side.
Concept artists often don’t know much beyond photoshop. But some use 3d as additional reference for precision and shading observation.
It’s somewhat of a stretch for a concept artist to know modeling and rigging. But speaking of last trends, it’s a good investment for concept designers to know a bit of 3d, and for modelers a bit of concept design. Substantially it’s a bit owerwhelming, but in the long run, it might help to stand out.


In the pipelines that I’ve worked by the time you’ve gotten the 3d hair and clothes you are talking about assets for ‘groom’ and ‘clothing’ with the wrinkles defining the ‘rest shape’
of the sim clothing only. So therefore no longer ‘concept art’.

These are geos that are close to final and often not even done by a single person to a finish state.
Marvelous Designer and/or Zbrush are good for the clothes i agree.
The hair groom can be done in anything that makes hair/fur.

For proper character ‘concept art’ I would focus more on the 2d frankly.
Most productions don’t need super detailed hair and clothes only to then rebuild them all over again as production assets.
A waste of time and money. There are exceptions to this - but they are indeed exceptions and not really a career path.


ZBrush. The concept-art need not be functional and ZBrush can do clothes and hair.


If you see amazing clothing, either someone is really good at poly modeling or sculpting clothes by hand, or more likely the clothing was created in Marvelous Designer, which is a powerful software purely for clothing design:

The difference with Marvelous Designer is that it is a fashion-design software of sorts, that relies on clothing pattern and sewing-like concepts, rather than modeling polygons around a character. Basically, clothing is created in Marvelous Designer much like fashion designers create clothes, so of course it is more powerful for that than the techniques in Max, Maya and so on.

Most Pro 3D softs have cloth and hair that works. Cinema4D for example has both. So do Max and Maya.

There are usually also various plugins for cloth, hair you can use.

As for people knowing modeling, rigging, cloth, hair, texturing, rendering and so on - yes, good 3D generalists typically know all that stuff and can do it pretty well if they learned hard and are talented.

Some people are specialized in 1 or 2 aspects of 3D - specialists. Others - generalists - often try out and learn almost all aspects of 3D to some degree.

If what is being done is just concept work, it is probably OK to use just about anything that works - character generators and such - and delivers the needed result on time.


skeebertus, concept art needs to be fast and also ready to be “Thrown in the bin” at a moments notice. In the early stages there might be 6+ separate images for the same scene/character being worked on almost simultaneously. The director will discard some, pick bits from each etc. There is no way that a concept artist messes about with dynamic-cloth and hair.


I know a lot of concept designers (we have some where I work) who will actually use cloth and hair sims in their concept art. It’s quick and dirty mind you, and they aren’t animating the simulations, but as a starting point for a series of fast paint-overs, it can be a really good “step 1”. For example, I recently had to concept a character wearing a poncho. Rather than sculpt or model the poncho, I made a grid, applied a cloth sim to it, dropped it onto the character, applied a fast wind modifier, and I had in about 5 minutes what would have been at least an hour of work (probably more) using another method.

It wasn’t perfect of course, and it would not hold up to intense “onscreen-scrutiny”, but again, as a jumping off point for paint-overs - it was perfect.