Physis is located in the beautiful Montpellier area in the South of France. We run professional training for Digital Artists, in the form of residential short courses.

We offer technical artistic training and professional/creative development for artists. Our specialisms are Digital Sculpture, 3D modelling, animation, VFX, procedural animation, CAD and design for apid manufacturing.

Short Courses

We offer courses that are from 2 weeks, to 3 months in duration. We also offer occasional special masterclass workshops the take place over a few days.

The courses are aimed at post-graduates and career practitioners who already possess a fair degree of proficiency. We also courses suitable for those who wish to switch careers or shift their bias from technical to creative or, vice versa, from creative to technical.

Courses are designed by Dan Hughes-McGrail together with guest tutors. Guest tutors are independent artists at the top of their practice, who are invited to the centre to run specific courses.

We use whatever software is appropriate, however we have identified a bias towards particular software canons in industry and will accordingly bias our own activities towards those. The current software bias is:

  • ZBrush, Mudbox for sculpting
  • Maya for polygonal, subdivision and general modelling
  • Houdini, Maya for procedural and simulative modelling
  • Marvellous Designer, Maya for garment modelling
  • Photoshop, SketchbookPro for matte
  • ZBrush, Substance and Photoshop for texture design and painting
  • Oculus Medium for VR artistic production
  • Unreal and Unity for game engine
  • Solidworks an Rhino for 3D CAD
  • Photoscan for Photogrammetry

Physis Ethos

As a category of artistic production 3D Digital Artwork has an inherently inter-disciplinary nature. A 3D Digital art project  commonly involve the artist using the disciplines of Sculpture, painting, Illustration, VFX, animation, design, photography, simulation and even architecture. The digital medium offers artists nearly total freedom to create whatever their imagination produces. However, accessing this freedom also requires a high level of knowledge, rigour and skill.

The tuition is generally be project based, designed to take students through full technical and artistic processes in a structured way that promotes a good disciplined workflow. Through this process they encounter the kind of practices they would find in a commercial setting. All the while working towards useful and usable finished work. The finished work providing useful intellectual property that is made to industry standards and which can be used in portfolios or even subsequently licensed or sold if it is good enough. Collaborative working methods are built in to working methodologies for the longer courses.

A deep knowledge of the tools is the necessary baseline for digital artists, but operating the software alone is insufficient to produce high quality, authentic and meaningful artwork. The route to these qualities is through fine art skills. These are the manual, craft and intellectual skills that are associated with traditional fine art practices:

  • Observation – The methods of organising perception so as to experience the world without interpretation, in order to build a more accurate internal model of reality.
  • Criticality – The self reflective ability to independently and iteratively evaluate the quality and meaning of the artwork and understand it’s historical and cultural contexts
  • Theoretical Grounding – in visual perception, optics, perspective, colour theory, anatomy compositional, proportion, physics, Cultural theory etc…
  • Sketching / Mental Prototyping – The imaginative process (The best part and the main reason we all do what we do)
  • Knowledge of the visual history and the traditions you work within (or against!)
  • Research and Referencing – Filling the mind with the appropriate stuff that directs creative attention
  • Technical skills – Acquired through training and practice

The combination of these traditional skills with contemporary digital tools give an artist enormous power to create. Our purpose is to help digital artists to more fully engage with these skills and integrate them into their artistic practice. To become a fully rounded artist, with a holistic complement of intellectual, philosophical, and practical habits that will give them professional resilience and continuouos artistic renewal. 

The Place

The learning space will be divided into three areas. 

The Art Studio, The Digital Studio and The Study.

AS part of the Holistic artistic process we promote. Students will take part in activities in all three areas and taught how to approach and respect the differing purposes of each space. Each space represents the three disciplines and the differing frames of mind needed to engage in these activities. 

The Art Studio is a traditional artistic environment where observational drawing and highly concentrated sculpting from life are the order of the day. This is a necessary part of digital art training.

The Digital Studio is a classroom and lab where student are taught to use software and where they will carry out computer based artwork. It’s a pleasant space with ample desk space, with projectors and screens available. Workstations are hidden away create productive and uncluttered atmosphere more akin to workshop than a computer room.

The Study is a Library. A comfortable, beautiful, and relatively quiet space where people comfortably spend time researching, thinking and reflecting. The library is stocked with visual resources, and relevant books and Journals.

In addition, The physis approach strongly encourages a physical engagement with the surrounding environment. With compulsory physical activities and excersise

Character Design Short Courses

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Digital Artist Folio Bootcamp

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Courses by popularity

ZBrush Upskilling


Character Design


Game Art


Digital Artist Folio Bootcamp


Oculus Medium


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