Michael Knowland, Designer in London, United Kingdom
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Michael Knowland

Verified Expert  in Design


London, United Kingdom
Toptal Member Since
July 17, 2020

Michael is a lead character artist who has designed characters on the award-winning game The Last of Us for Sony Playstation and created detailed blendshapes on the Avengers: Endgame film at Framestore. He specializes in creating realistic characters and creatures for gaming, film, and simulation with believable textures, deformable topology, realistic anatomy, and hair.


Work Experience

3D Character Art

2023 - PRESENT
Arrowhead Games Studios
  • Performed 3D character high-poly 3D modeling followed by conversion into low poly with real-time textures.
  • Assessed the art concept to construct new 3D models to be used by characters.
  • Provided feedback and received feedback to implement characters to work with the project's technical limitations.
Technologies: 3D Character Modeling, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Maya

Senior 3D Character Artist

2021 - 2022
  • Designed a new 3D-character type used as a basis to extend into the project with additional modifications.
  • Created props and moveable parts for certain characters to be shared with other characters.
  • Created new outfit and texture designs to build more unlockable character costumes and content.
Technologies: Unity, Substance Painter, 3D Character Modeling, Adobe Photoshop, ZBrush, Maya, Plastic SCM, 3D Art, Game Art, Character Design, 3D Games, 3D Modeling, 3D

Freelance Character Modeller

2021 - 2022
  • Created high-resolution 3D characters and converted them into low-poly textured real-time versions that go into the Unreal Engine and can be used in Ubisoft's in-house engines. I used concept art and references provided by Ubisoft.
  • Sculpted, textured, and executed a unique and animated character part clearly defined by the client with multiple concepts.
  • Created a unique texture that could be used on other character assets as a tile in substance painting.
Technologies: 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, ZBrush, Unreal Engine, Substance Painter, Photoshop CS5, 3D Art, Game Art, Character Design, 3D Games, 3D Modeling, 3D

Character Artist

2019 - 2021
Heatblur Simulations
  • Designed realistic high-poly simulation characters and converted them into low-poly versions that utilize baked normal maps.
  • Rigged the assets onto the unreal engine skeleton after skinning the assets with 3DS Max's tools.
  • Created PBR textures in Substance painter and work with the team in integrating them into pre-existing Unreal Engine materials, as well as designing my own in keeping with the vision of the project.
Technologies: Substance Painter, 3ds Max, ZBrush, Unreal Engine, 3D Art, Character Design, 3D Modeling, 3D


2018 - 2019
  • Modeled a spider using Zbrush and Maya through the base mesh to completion that went into Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  • Modeled detailed muscles in motion on the Incredible Hulk for specific shots in Avengers: Endgame, such as tendons moving in the body and tensing muscles. I sculpted an animation of an ice cream scoop being consumed by the Hulk.
  • Modeled various environmental assets, from shards of broken glass and Hawaiin cliff sides.
Technologies: Autodesk Maya, Nuke Studio, ZBrush, 3D Art, Character Design, 3D Modeling, 3D, Video Editing

Senior Character Artist

2014 - 2017
Avalanche Studios
  • Sculpted details into the faces and outfits of five different cinematic characters in the video game Just Cause 3, and nuanced their faces and added textural details. This game won over 20 awards.
  • Modeled a functioning wingsuit that unfolds from the main characters during real-time animations.
  • Added enhanced anatomical proportion, fur detail, and texture to the animals in Just Cause 3.
Technologies: Substance Painter, Adobe Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, ZBrush, 3D Art, Game Art, Character Design, 3D Games, 3D Modeling, 3D

Lead Character Artist

2011 - 2014
Naughty Dog
  • Modeled the lead characters of the video game Last of Us through sculpture, texture, materials, and in-game topology.
  • Developed new facial animation technology by helping a facial rigging expert introduce two-way wrinkle maps to express subtle nuances.
  • Organized the team's character assets in terms of schedule and technical limitations by producing spreadsheets and illustrated plans.
  • Mentored other team members by demonstrating the anatomical reference side by side with their work.
Technologies: Adobe Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, ZBrush, 3D Art, Game Art, Digital Creative Direction, Character Design, Visual Art, 3D Games, 3D Modeling, 3D

Character Artist

2011 - 2011
Frontier Developments
  • Modeled high-poly textured character outfits, faces, and hairstyles for a realistic game. Converted these into real-time low-poly characters in the in-house engine.
  • Modeled, textured, and configured real-time fur simulation on jaguars, brown bears, and sun bears for the Kinectimals video game.
  • Modeled, textured, and configured real-time materials for a hermit crab and bunny rabbit, who lived in the surrounding world, to be added as background wildlife of some of the Kinectimals environments.
Technologies: Adobe Photoshop, 3ds Max, ZBrush, 3D Art, Game Art, Character Design, 3D Games, 3D Modeling, 3D
2006 - 2009

Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Games Design

Staffordshire University - Staffordshire, England


ZBrush, 3ds Max, Maya, Photoshop CS5, Unreal Engine, Substance Painter, Adobe Photoshop, Mudbox, Nuke Studio, Autodesk Maya, Pixologic ZBrush 4R8


3D Character Modeling, Texturing, Modeling, 3D Art, Game Art, Character Design, 3D Modeling, 3D, Animation, Rigging, Character Rigging, Creativity, Visual Concepts, Visual Art, 3D Games, Level Design, Ornatrix, Unity, Plastic SCM, Animals, Anatomy, Backlog Grooming, Game Design, Digital Creative Direction, Illustration, Concept Art, Video Editing, 3D Animation

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