Blender Human Character Documentation

General discussion started here:

Work starts here.

To shortcut the other thread, I’m planning to spearhead an effort to get a section on the Blender wiki about human(oid) character creation. There was a lot of ideas of how to go about it and what to include, but it seems that a main stylised/toon-ish character worked the full way through from concept to rendering is the way to go. Added sections at the end would carry the character process through to more realistic humans. Side topics like orcs and humanoid aliens would be included later if there is time and effort to spare, probably through timelapses that make use of the techniques taught already.

Not finalised, but this is the plan so far.

Seeing as one needs to make a start somewhere, this is the first look at the main character, keeping in mind that much more documented work will go into the design, including variations in outfit, colour, etc, a front and side sketch and a timelapse of a finished concept painting.

One such example of trying more variations that I did today.

Variations will then be looked at for what fits the character best - what is practical for them, what they would want to wear etc.

Here is the rundown on the character’s background

Worked Example – Adventurer

Role – adventurer, freelance deck hand on airships / crews, never had a ship of her own but aspires to one day.

Character traits – curious, a bit cheeky, ambitious, eager, resourceful, looks for opportunities, people person, has a knack with technology without being a full blown engineer/mechanic, loves new gadgets and toys.

Skills – not a great fighter but she can hold her own if need be, quick on her feet, nimble / athletic from all the outdoor work and general ‘adventurer’ stuff she gets up to – exploring caves, running from bad guys and gals. Able to talk her way out of most situations with charm and quick wit and would rather do so than start a bar fight she can’t win.

Other details – early to mid twenties, female, travels fairly light but carries some gadgets and such around that she may need at any given time

Backstory – not much really needed in this case as this is a standalone character without a larger story to fit in to, but for the purpose of the exercise (and because it’s fun)… Has been seeking adventure from an early age, often ending up in trouble of some sorts, resulting in her being very street smart rather than academic. Still quite intelligent. Got her first job on a freighter. After a few months on the job, the freighter was ambushed by ‘Sky Pirates’. Most people look down on them for the obvious reasons of theft and so forth, but given her love of mischief she saw them in a more positive light, although not heroic or anything. Continued on from crew to crew, making many friends and contacts in many ports and cities. She has a disarmingly friendly and down to earth way about her, but not overly flirty or anything like that. Two years ago on a salvaging expedition, her vessel crash landed in a storm and the crew struggled to survive. Her skills saved them all and she began to make a bit of a name for her self, word spreads pretty quickly amongst the various crews as they all frequent the same ports. One final icing on the cake was that they managed to find some treasure and artefacts from a clan in the mountains thought to have perished in the harsh conditions. This clan in their golden age lead the way in airship technology, but their pursuits often differed with the increasingly market driven economy around them, so they withdrew from society to set up their own small set of outposts in the frozen mountains. The character now longs to find them and gaze upon their outposts with the hope that they are still alive and well, with a few hundred more years of advanced gear to play with… Not enough cash to put her own crew together, she takes whatever jobs get her closer to these regions and is often in trouble with captains for wandering off too far, ‘borrowing’ small aircraft and other equipment for searches, but her growing reputation and skill make her too valuable not to employ.

World setting / genre – Similar to earth – mountains, rivers and all that. This character’s particular section of the world is split between a large expanse of massive (200 metres or so) high forest areas and mountainous regions to the north. As there is little in the way of flat terrain to build cities on and the trees are generally too dominant for smaller settlements to simply remove, cultures have adopted a more vertical way of life, living in huts built in and around the canopies with airships being the most common form of mass transit. Other devices such as hang-gliders, small aircraft (think Crimson Skies the game) and the recent advances in jetpacks are becoming more common, though the masses still generally cling to the cheaper options they can afford. Larger cities have cleared trees for more substantial building settlements, but because even they started out smaller, the vertical aspect remains the same and the world’s first floating city is coming into it’s final stages of development. This sort of environment could hopefully lead to interesting artwork and further idea generation without locking it into sci-fi, steampunk, fantasy and similar genres, but rather allow for a mix of them depending on the personal tastes of the artist(s).

New post - last one was getting really bulky.

I’m not planning to earn any money from this. Which means two things - I’d love help (which some people have offered already, much appreciated) and this will take a while…

As far as help, if you are working on a character (modelling, rigging, texturing, etc) take progress shots and such, write what helped you and what you could have done differently. If we get enough together we can have separate smaller case studies to broaden the learning.

Anyways, more to come. When it comes.

When I start creating my own character I will be sure to add it to this, taken from a newbie’s perspective, for newbies.

But that’s a long way in the future. Good luck! It’s a really really great idea!

yay! This is great news for me, I currently have 3 human characters in various stages of completion. I’m still relatively new, but I’d be happy to contribute to the side character sections, and maybe help you think of questions to answer in the main sections. But I’m really only in the modeling stages, because am having trouble knowing where to even start with the rigging or texturing phases. Let me know what I can do to help you.

I don’t know, but it seems like you’re planning on writing all this yourself; it doesn’t seem like there’s much for other people to do besides send in ideas right now, I dunno if this is going to change at some point.

I’d be happy to help write some of the documentation. I learned a lot from my (still unfinished sadly - but I got busy doing other stuff) female character. I’m sure I could stitch some of the WIP shots of her into a case study of sorts. If you can identify specific parts that you think others could help with writing, that’d be great.

Started in on Blender Girl 2.5–a blatant rip-off of MCHammond’s Blender Girl 2 that he stopped working on–with the plan to screen shot as I go and release the model after its finished.

I don’t really work in a way that would be good for a loop by loop tutorial but can document the stages and write something up like my long winded WIP threads that nobody reads.

Any ideas for a standardized format for screen shots? What I’m thinking is something like this and then crop out the buttons panel later on in the gimp.


@All - cheers! I’ll explain more on help in a bit…

@ZombieJohn - I should have been a little more specific as it does read that way.

At this point, I plan to write up most if not all of the stuff to do with the main stylised character, giving the documentation a continuous feel for the bulk of it. However - if people offered for certain sections, I might do the design / concept bit (seeing as I started already), the modelling and the texturing. Then someone could come in and do the rig, someone else could do the lighting and rendering and so on. Same goes for the ‘realistic’ section. I’m trying to improve, but I know there are people in the Blender community with better anatomical knowledge than me.

As I’ve started the first section on the design / concept part - what sections would people be offering to help with out of all the rest (including modelling and such). I might still be tempted to do the modelling part myself, but at this rate that section could easily be split into modelling the character and modelling the outfit - even if the outfit was mainly condensed to timelapses and focus was taken on something simpler like the tunic or a boot, etc.

I was keen to make a start to show I’m serious about leading it and then get an idea of interested helpers from there. But several people are offering already so it might be wise to start blocking people in for certain parts.

So - two things for now if you would like to help.

  1. Have a look over and see what could be changed / tweaked / added or subtracted to so we know what workload we are dealing with

  2. Looking over that same document - where do you think you could best give a hand? If someone else has typed modelling or texturing for example - they are popular skills, but are also large sections, so write it down for yourself also.

Finally - there will always be help needed for proof reading, checking that authours are not doing something the long hard way when a shorter way is there and they don’t know it yet… etc.

@Uncle Entity - I don’t exactly go loop by loop anyway, I start from the eyes, add the nose and work out from there, sometimes loop by loop, sometimes poly by poly.

Great idea on standardising the screenshots, hadn’t thought of that. I keep a pretty similar layout to the default .blend shipped with Blender anyway. However, 2.5 will change how it looks at least with icon sets. I don’t think it is that much of an issue to wait until 2.5, but if need be I would mainly worry about screenshots of the work and we can add shots of button panels later if there is a need. Most buttons will get noted in the text anyway.

Front and side where possible and angle views where necessary I guess. Not really much standardisation you can do otherwise without getting really picky about it. As for resolution - as big as your screen and we will probably have to shrink them for the wiki anyway.

Finally - don’t underestimate how many people read these sorts of threads. I looked at this forum for nearly two years before joining and posting. Your ‘Keira Redux’ and ‘Keira’ threads are on their way to 3000 views between them. :slight_smile:

Well, I’d like to take a shot at rigging, and I’d be happy to do some modelling as well. There are a couple toplogy ideas I’d like to share as well.

Sure! Much appreciated. I’m seeing some sections as a very collaborative thing - general topology discussion being a good example.

I can offer my BlenRigvideo tutorials. I´m working on a new version of the system, things are going slow though because I´m still busy with a feature film, but when I get done with it I´ll start working again on BlenRig. I´m planning a step by step tutorial on rigging new models.

jpbouza - thanks once again! Your method is a very interesting one (with more bones, less shape keys and such) and will benefit many to have it explained alongside the other methods.

I am currently doing some stylised rotations for my own personal take on wonder woman I should start modeling this weekend, I will keep an eye on this thread and contribute what ever I can, got my paws on the stop staring book so I really want to make something good.

@jpbouza I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I was working on a hulk sculpt, check my signature that I wanted to retopo and use as a personal learning tool to learn some advanced rigging so I will definately be making extensive use of your rigs.

Well, this is a bump I know, but seeing as I had kind offers of help before I really even got going, I figure I’d better reassure people I haven’t forgotten this idea. Things have been progressing in the past month or so that are exciting (for me) and need a fair bit of time and attention. Some of it might have the benefit of broadening my knowledge on characters to share through this wiki project anyway…

Long story short - I still plan to make this happen when I learn to balance my time better with what I’ve got going on. A passion for Blender and character work doesn’t die that easily…

tell me about it – sarcasm high

Interesteen stuff. I’d like to see yall go through with it. I’m afraid I can’t be a whole lot o help though. I kinda stink. :frowning:

I actually recently start a little robot/mech thing with a vaguely humanoid form. I’d be happy to throw it out here if it turns out to be anything like what ur lookin fer.

Couple o thoughts (er…questions) though:

  • What’s the deal with all the intense background storyline stuff fer the character? Seems like overkill. :spin:

  • When it comes to characters, why do CG ppl gravitate toward anime-ish-super-fantasy-hyper-cool-overboard-awesome-sexy-extravagant-dramatic stuff? You the look I’m talking about; kinda WOW/D&D type stuff (totally random example). Your character is kinda lookin that way already–even in the storyline a little. It’s kinda…cliche, and…well, a little…nerdy? (HAH! I amuse myself…) :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Might it be better to just render the 3D viewport instead of using screen capture and then triming it down? This seems simpler and you wouldn’t have to worry about the interface changing (or highly customized interfaces).

  • Why do yall keep saying “Cheers!”? I mean, I know it’s prolly cuz yer from Europe or down under or whatnot, but doesn’t “WASSAAAP PPL!” make more sense? :cool:

Anyway, keep at it…

-blue :smiley:

Umm, because we’re not all 13 year old suburban white boys? Also, generally speaking, the common form isn’t to butcher the Queen’s English with some pseudo-text message babble…spell checker is your friend.

And what the hell is a WASSAAAP? PPL I assume is people.


Whoops, forgot the reason I was posting in the first place.

Once I get everything straightened up from my Ubuntu upgrade and can use blender again I can help out with some stuff. I have some screenshots from my last character but was kind of slacking on keeping a detailed step-by-step record. I might make a new body for my first Manga Girl since I’ve learned a lot about topology in the meantime or maybe start on a new project, who knows.

Character development is like symphony composition in the modern era. Your work will always be forever compromised/enlightened by those that have gone before, every single note in the audible hearing range has been struck, every combination thought of and tried through and through, to the point of belaboring it. But let your character be infused with a thousand souls of your own choosing, Your creations be nothing more than an expression of self, encompassed in a world derived from observation and experience, with due credit expressed, and ultimately…rendered.

P.S. God save the queen.

Wow. Vicious. :stuck_out_tongue: Really cold dude. Them’s fightin words! :ba:

So, to return fire: Why yall still doin the whole queen thing? Haven’t we moved on yet?

Oh, and BTW, “WASSAAAP!” is not “pseudo-text-message babble”. It’s a phonetic spelling of an exclaimatory greeting properly spelled “what’s up.” :yes: