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Art Direction for Film: Creature Design & Development

From Photoshop to Unreal Engine 5 with Ehsan Bigloo


Ehsan Bigloo demonstrates how he designs creatures for the entertainment industry. Whether you’re a character or creature designer, concept artist, digital sculptor, or simply interested in developing your storytelling skills, this workshop is a fascinating insight into Ehsan’s complete workflow, from sketch to final presentation.

The workshop begins with a detailed look at a design brief and short script based on Ehsan’s own sci-fi/supernatural horror character, “Quehsalien.” He explains his thought process when developing words into a visual narrative, and the initial sketching begins with traditional media before jumping into Photoshop, where he then lays down a paint-over to establish the basis for the final illustration.

ZBrush is brought into the pipeline to sculpt the primary and secondary forms of the design, testing the visual appeal from a three-dimensional standpoint. ZBrush also serves as a great tool for testing the lighting and mood of the character using KeyShot and creating a simple rig for the creature model for early limb locomotion tests. Ehsan also uses ZBrush for the Polypainting process while considering what the environment of the creature would be and how it would move. The final design is then rendered with KeyShot and composited in Photoshop.

Diving deep into the art direction, Ehsan demonstrates how to create keyframe artwork using real photographic plates and how to set up the lighting for creature shots, discussing everything from camera lens to color harmony. Continuing the art direction, Ehsan explores different design routes, first using ZBrush and Photoshop while offering his professional industry insights. He also uses Maya to set up a quick, non-production joint/skeleton rig and make simple locomotion tests in Maya before rendering with Arnold.

In the final stage of the workshop, Ehsan prepares the model in ZBrush and then bakes maps in Substance Painter before sending the creature to Unreal Engine 5, where he explores other shot designs and set-dressing, mood, and lighting with Lumen to bring the creature to life.

Duration: 4h 13m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Ehsan Bigloo

Sr. Concept Artist, Character FX Designer & Director

Ehsan Bigloo is a Senior Concept Designer specializing in creatures, characters, armor, costumes, and cinematic shot designs for the entertainment industry. He has worked on least 25 movies and 12 TV shows, including Men in Black: International, IT Chapter Two, Love and Monsters, Dark Phoenix, The Prey, Archive 81, Resident Alien, and Morbius

Ehsan was a one of the lead creature designers on The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power and also on Kingdon of the Planet of the Apes (2024). In addition to film and TV, he has created concept designs for AAA game companies, including EA BioWare, Wizards of The Coast, Archetype Entertainment, and Riot Games, to name a few. More recently, Ehsan worked at ASC as Lead Concept Artist on projects including the “DIVE,” “THE EYE: Calanthek,” and "Nexus" short films. 

He is currently working as a Freelance Concept Artist and Visual World Development Artist. He has worked with practical FX shops and is familiar with digital prosthetic designs and pre-production concepts for SPFX. Ehsan also has an extensive traditional art background in figurative drawing, clay sculpting, and oil painting, and specialized in surreal figurative art and human anatomy. He has always loved reading history, literature, movies and filmmaking and, growing up in the 80s, it was the behind-the-scenes insights into SFX movies like Alien, E.T., Star Wars, The Thing, and The Terminator that inspired him to become a high-end Hollywood creature designer and monster maker. 

Ehsan is a member of Visual Effects Society (VES) and Local 800 (ADG). Learn more him and see more of his work at Ehsan at ehsanbigloo.com.

  • In the over 30 years of my film effects industry experience, I have seen few new artists as skilled as Ehsan Bigloo. His understanding of traditional art and thorough knowledge of multiple digital applications and techniques have greatly impressed me. He would be a valuable member of any effects company.

    - Paul Mejias
    Special Effects Artist

  • Ehsan Bigloo stands a cut above as one of the most talented artists I’ve worked with. His ability to create awe-inspiring concept art that feels original and inspired has helped bring to life unforgettable characters and creatures across the entertainment industry. As a senior lead concept artist at ASC, Ehsan’s unparalleled dedication to the design process included in-depth exploration of a character’s purpose and motivation, allowing those discoveries to be reflected in the art. The result was an impressive portfolio of consistently stunning work that has been applauded by clients and industry leaders around the globe.

    - Aaron Sims
    Director and President of Aaron Sims Company