CG Education
So you see all of these art tutorials below, and are probably asking yourself where to start? Well, first it might be a good idea to understand a bit about my personal art process, which I've broken into 20 stages. Below are lessons (both text and video) that explore these different stages. No matter whether you're a concept artist, matte painter, modeler, shading and texturing artist, whether you're doing vfx, animated films or videogames, there's probably something here you'll find useful in your own work, so feel free to explore just the stages that interest you, or follow my full 20 stage process by first clicking on Art Process Overview. Enjoy!
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Theory And Techniques
Short lessons that outline a technique, tip or trick, or other art theory.
Art Process Overview
1) Art Philosophy & Ideas
2) Research & Reference
3) Composition
4) Text
5) Shape Language
6) Patterns
7) Silhouette Sketch
8) Rough Sketch (aka Quick Sketch, Line Drawing, Initial Sketch)
9) 3D Sketch & Cameras
10) Photo Sketch (aka Photobashing)
11) Color Scheme
12) Color Sketch (aka Color Brief, Color Rough, Value Sketch, Color Preliminary, Color Thumbnail)
13) Detailed Sketch
14) Compositing (aka Image Assembly)
15) Rough Rendering (aka Rough Painting)
16) Lighting & Rendering
17a) Modeling 17b) Sculpting
17c) Model Assembly

18a) Shading & Texturing Introduction 18b) Shader Theory 18c) Pattern Theory 18d) Pattern Placement (UV Mapping, Projections, etc) 18e) Pattern Storage & Texture Baking 18f) Pattern Creation 18g) Material Theory (Shaders + Patterns)
18h) Materials (Shaders + Patterns)
19) Final (aka Final Painting, 2d Painting)
20) Tweaks

Practical Application
Watch me use the theory above and apply them to larger projects.
7) Silhouette Sketch
9) 3D Sketch & Cameras 10) Photo Sketch (aka Photobashing)
14) Compositing Layer Breakdowns

18) Shading & Texturing

Final (aka Final Painting, 2d Painting)

Oct 17th 2014
Revised Blended Box Mapping a bit in light of the fact that the CameraMapGemini plugin has not been recompiled for more modern versions of max.

Oct 16th 2014
Added a bit of extra info to Worn Edges Using A Distorted Vertex Map.

Sept 27th 2014
Added a new tutorial called Using Details To Make Something Look Big.

Aug 12th 2014
Added a new video tutorial called Exploring OpenSubdiv in 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1.

Aug 3rd 2014
Added a new video tutorial called Designing An Epic Starship Part 3: Detailing The Upper Level.

Aug 1st 2014
Added a new tutorial called Lens Packages

July 27th 2014
Added a new video tutorial called Designing An Epic Starship Part 2: Detailing The Trench.

July 13th 2014
Added a new video tutorial called Designing An Epic Starship Part 1: Choosing A Form Using Silhouette Sketches.

July 5th 2014
Added a new video tutorial called Texturing A Robot Hand.

June 21st 2014
Added a new video tutorial called 3D Sketches As A Base For A Painting.

June 12th 2014
Added a new tutorial called False Color Textures

June 3rd 2014

Added some extra tips and better formatting to Reducing Memory Usage To Render A Memory Hungry Scene

May 4th 2014
Added a new tutorial called How To Use The soulburnAssetLoader (SAL).

Apr 7th 2014
Added a new tutorial called Structure And Naming Conventions For Materials.

Mar 24th 2014
Added a new diagram to How Do I Shade / Texture Stuff?: Shading Pipeline Overview. Added a link to a new video on Blended Box Mapping. Added a new real world photo to Tiled Floor Material.

Feb 19th 2014
Added a new opinion piece called Go To School Or Learn CG At Home?. Updated my How Do I Shade / Texture Stuff?: Shading Pipeline Overview lesson with a bunch of new info, especially on pattern placement methods and pattern storage.

Feb 17th 2014
Added a new tutorial called Switchers And IDs, Which To Use When. Updated my other 2 switcher lessons and my texture baking lesson with the new info.

Feb 7th 2014
Added a new video lesson called Subdivision Surfaces Using Support Edges (The Basics) . Added a few more examples to my Procedural Noise lesson. Added some more info on MaterialByElement to my Randomizing Patterns Using Switchers lesson.

Jan 7th 2014
Added a new lesson called Switcher For Specific Patterns On Specific Objects

Jan 5th 2014
Added a new lesson called Scratch Patterns Using A Scratchboard.

Dec 16th 2013
Added a new lesson called Texture Baking: Baking Patterns To Use In An Incompatible Render.

Dec 10th 2013
Added a new lesson called Randomizing Patterns Using Switchers.

Dec 9th 2013
Heavily modified all of my Metal / Reflection related tutorials, so: Reflections and Highlights, Anisotropic Reflections In The Real World, Anisotropic Reflections In CG Software, Chrome Material, Brushed Metal Material, and Gold Material. All of these tutorials had been written awhile ago, back when the industry was still shifting from scanline techniques to raytracing, so since most of us today are using raytracers, it made sense to update them a bit and add extra examples for mentalray and Vray.

Dec 6th 2013
Added a new material and accompanying tutorial called Dirty Rusty Decaled Painted Worn Metal. This is the same material I showed off at this year's CAVE conference / Autodesk University 2013, and it's the main material I use to shade anything that's metallic, painted and grungy (ie, almost all of my stuff), and it's all ready to be applied to your models. If you need a robot, a weapon, a guy in power armor, construction equipment, etc, and you want give it high quality texturing without the need to set up UVs, this is the material for you (currently Max/Vray only).

Nov 30th 2013
Added a new example at the bottom of my Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Shapes lesson.

Nov 25th 2013

Added a new video lesson called Weathering A Model: It's All About Erasing The Dirt.


To see all the educational videos I have available on Gumroad, visit

Check Out My Youtube Channel For Free Tutorials:

Check out my Gnomon Workshop DVD:
Hard Surface Shading And Texturing With Neil Blevins
"Neil introduces his pipeline for shading and texturing hard surface models. The pipeline can be used for any highres models, such as models for photoreal fx work, animated feature films, ride films or videogame cinematics. In Part 1, he discusses reference gathering, how to make a visual details list, and common shaders. Then he outlines all of the major methods for placing patterns on your surface, their advantages and disadvantages, and ways of creating patterns, including procedurals, photo manipulation, and hand painting. He breaks up the lecture with practical demonstrations in Adobe photoshop and 3dstudio max using the Scanline, Brazil and mentalray renderers, and stresses how the theory can be applicable to your 3d application and renderer of choice. In Part 2, he uses the theory and pipeline from Part 1 to shade and texture a 2000+ object robot character and simple environment using 3ds Max, Photoshop and Brazil. With a focus on texturing thousands of objects fast and efficiently and theory that is useful in any 3d app or renderer, this intermediate level course is sure to add many new tricks to your personal arsenal."
Contains over 5.5 hours of content

  • (07.29.03) Oregon3d Brazil Class, Siggraph 2003 in San Diego
  • (07.30.03) Discreet Booth Brazil Talk, Siggraph 2003 in San Diego
  • (08.13.08) Autodesk Master Class Shading Talk, Siggraph 2008 in Los Angeles
  • (05.28.09) "The Sets Of Wall-e: Trash Planet", End User Event 2009 in Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • (05.29.09) "Shading And Texturing Hard Surface Models", End User Event 2009 in Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • (12.04.13) "Shading and Texturing Environments, Props and Robots", Autodesk University / Cave Conference 2013 in Las Vegas
I contributed one chapter to "Digital Art Masters Vol 3"
  • (Pages 218-221) Mouths To Feed III
In this article I discuss how I went about creating the image, including reference material, early modeling WIPs and various modeling / photoshop tips and tricks. Check it out at
I contributed 3 chapters to "3DStudio Max 3 Magic". The chapters are...
  • (4) Mixing Maps To Create Complex Materials
  • (6) Lighting Effects: Rim Lighting and Diffuse Glows
  • (9) Shaders And Highlights
Other authors in the book include Brandon Davis, Eni Oken, etc. Check it out at
For "Inside 3dsmax4" I did one chapter...
  • (22) Scripting In A Production Environment
This tutorial discusses how to create complex scripts, as well as tips for approaching writing a script, how to organize your ideas, etc. The rest of the book deals with how to light, model, etc from real production professionals in the film and game industry. 

Other authors in the book include Kim Lee, Brandon Davis, Ian Christie, etc. Check it out at

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