Animating a head - best subdiv configurations??

Hi all - I’m new to blender (started using it last week) and have had a go at producing a face using subdiv which I intend to animate. I’m hoping for a bit of advice…

Specifically, I’d like tips on refining the model’s topology for animation. I’m imagining that when it comes to animating a model - extra detail in particular places helps the model to deform realistically. Knowing where I should concentrate would be great.

Other than that I’d also appreciate advice on creating wrinkles. I want to keep the model light, as I’m assuming this will make animation easier - (correct me if I’m wrong??). Should I aim to use bump mapping to add this level of detail or is it best to add creases into the base model?

I’m going to work on the corner of the mouth and add the ears… but it would be great to get a quick heads up, in case I end up going down a route I need to backtrack at a later date.

Thanks in advance



The poles around the eyes are going to give you trouble when you try to animate.

Check out this thread for more detail:

As for wrinkles it depends how big they are. If you’re talking about creases that need to be animated you’ll need edge loops for them. If you just want bumps and wrinkles in the skin a normal map works well. Sculpting then normal mapping works well. Drawing a black and white bump map is the other common solution.

Hi - thanks for the quick reply.

With regard to the poles - thanks for the link, I’ve had a read through the thread.

I’ve labelled all the poles I found in the model - should I wipe them all out?

I’m guessing that [2] and [4] will need to stay… [1] and [5] can be wiped with some work, but I’m not sure how risky [3] and [6] are?


Two and four are going to be somewhere. When you have two edge loops parting company, there’s a pole. You have the eye loop and the muzzle loop (surrounding nose and mouth) splitting up at pole 4 and the eye and forehead/jawline loop splitting up at pole 2.

You’ll need some extra geometry to define the fold running from behind the nostrils around the mouth – the smile fold. This is very important in creating expressions around the mouth. You’ll probably also want another loop or two around the eye. You may want to get rid of the pole at the top of the bridge of the nose. Furrowing the brow is an important part of many expressions, and you may run into difficulty with the pole and triangular face to the left of 1.

Thanks for the tips…

I’ve had a go at shifting the proportions, and also tried to show where I’d imagine muscle and flesh mass would be by refining and adding a couple of edge loops (one around mouth, and one around eye). Could you let me know what you think?

Again, I’m worried whether any of the poles in the model going to present a huge problem when it comes to animating… but I guess I’ll find out soon enough :wink: should I try to remodel any particular areas?

@Orinoco: regarding the poles you mentioned, I’ve cleaned up the forehead - are the N-poles at the tear-duct and opposite tear-duct a huge prob? I’m going to try to get rid of the pole at the brow. One thing I’m wondering about is whether the E pole under the eye should be at the cheekbone, as it seems to be so on most refs I’ve seen; is this necessary?

I’ve also hacked up a quick ear… which isn’t final and just translated in place at the moment


Here’s where I foresee some problems:

The red shape is the lower jawbone. It moves as a block, and visually pivots at that near right angle below the ear. There should be an edge loop following the jaw (usually a continuation of a loop across the forehead) in order to get that pivoting motion to look right.

The green shape is the mouth cavity, and the esophogas leading from the back of the mouth down to the stomach. This tube defines the front profile of the neck, unless the model is obese.

Hey Orinoco, thanks - I’ll have a go at moving the E-pole back a loop… it’s good to know the reason too, thanks for the diagram.

I’m not so sure what I’ll do with the neck yet - I’m thinking about the possibility of modelling an elderly guy, because the idea of animating extra expanses of skin seems quite interesting… but I may be trying to run before I can walk.


Well, I’d read about how useful loop’s are - but I think I’m only just starting to see the light… one thing being told something and another realising it through mess-ups… finding blender has the ability to delete an edge loop without leaving a hole helped a great deal.

Neck and skull need sorting… I’ve been concentrating on the face. Need to work on the personality of the character at some stage; spent a long time working on the look of the last one, when the structure wasn’t ideal - so I’m trying things the other way around this time.


added another loop to mouth, forgot to use updated screenshot…