I was walking down the street one night, going home after a long days work. It was a bit of a cold night, with snow beginning to fall. Everyone bustling about, getting things done so they could get home and be with their families before the storm really settled in. As I was walking, I saw this man coming towards me and there was just something different about him. He wasn’t a rich man, nor a distinguished man, may have even been homeless, but there was something about him that just seemed different. As he got closer, I started to see his face and see the many wounds he bore, words like failure, stupid, not good enough, You know, just the normal things written across all of our faces, but to my amazement, they were not wounds any more, but scars, healed and proudly displayed as some great victory won. Then I looked and saw across his forehead the word LOVED written, and I knew why he was so different. As he smiled and looked at me, I could feel the love that had so consumed him, pouring out for me as well. I knew I may not ever meet another person like him. Luckily I had my camera with me and moving quickly, I raised the camera and CLICK.

(here are the words written on his face: hopeless, fat, failure, idiot, ugly, worthless, homeless, not good enough, loser, dirt, trash, stupid - LOVED)

And that’s the story for the image

I’ve been working on this for about two months now in the middle of other things, and I think it’s time to find out what everyone thinks of it. Since it’s the first time I’ve done most of the things in the image, I thought it be good to let everyone see it along the way in case someone catches something I missed. There is still much to be done, but you can see where the render is going. I’ll keep updating the image above with the most recent render I do. I will also try to share things as I go if there is something I find out that might be useful to someone else or if someone asks how I did something. So far, except for the very basic teeth mesh, the only programs I have used are Blender and a photo editor called Photoline. The teeth base mesh are thanks to ANDREI CRISTEA:

If you would like to hear a little more backstory for the image, you can keep reading below, but if a picture can be worth a thousand words, I imagine it can also be worth a thousand interpretations as well :slight_smile: So please don’t think this is somehow the correct way of looking at it. I would actually love to hear the way you saw it if it meant something to you, but don’t think you have to say anything.

To me it’s really just about how, as people, we have such a huge desire to know and feel that we are valuable and good enough. Yet so many times in the course of life, that message is sent, often unintentionally, that you’re worthless and you don’t matter, and we kind of become wounded by all the things people say about us or the things we believe about ourselves. Whether we want to admit it or not, it’s something that we all struggle with in various forms.
Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I think it’s really why we want to be the best at something, or to be famous, or want to be like others who are better at something than we are, constantly trying to compare ourselves to them to see how we measure up. I think it’s also why we can be so arrogant and prideful at times, looking down on others and believing that we are just somehow inherently better than everyone else, when in reality we are just so broken inside, we would completely fall apart believing anything less. Or sometimes we also try to escape feeling worthless into things like drinking, or drugs, or pornography. There was a story I had heard once of someone who had a drug addiction for many, many years because of one single event that had happened with his father when he was a child that had made him feel like he was worthless and unloved. And maybe we don’t put it into these words, but it’s like, if I could only be like them, I could feel loved and valuable, good enough, and we live our whole lives trying to be like someone else just to feel loved like they are loved. It’s really not a bad thing to want to be loved, but I think the real difficulty is that the love that people give does change. If you mess up or you aren’t what someone wants you to be, you do get rejected and the love that is given pretty much always comes with some kind of condition.

Not to try and make this into a religious post, but that is really what is so different about the love that Jesus gives, it’s unconditional, it will not change. You are loved as you are, and I guess in the end I just wanted to say that knowing I am loved and always will be loved has completely changed my life. It’s such a wonderful thing to have that freedom of being able to fail and make mistakes and know that you’re still going to be loved. To be grounded in a love that’s not going to change because you mess up and isn’t based on your performance. I don’t have to be great or famous or better than someone else to be loved by Him, or I don’t have to try and get people to believe I’m more perfect than I really am because I am already loved and valuable as I am, even in all of my weaknesses and failures. It means that no, I’m not worthless, I am loved and valuable as I am, and I may not be good enough for others, but I am good enough for Him. Or yes, I may be a failure, but I am a loved failure, and that’s really what matters most. There might come a time that I am homeless, but I am still loved just the same as if I wasn’t.

As someone who has been a perfectionist a great deal of my life, it’s wonderful to have someone that you don’t have to be perfect or good enough for because you’re already loved in all your inabilities. Not to say that I don’t do my best, but there is definitely a big difference between perfectionism and wanting to do something well. I think in the end it’s really why I was ever a perfectionist in the first place because of being so utterly scared someone would find something wrong with something I had done and reject me because of it. I guess I just find it such an amazing thing to think about that His love for me is so great that He would give His life in my place for all the wrong that I have done; to know me in my darkest and yet still love me. That’s really what is so different about an unconditional love, and why His love has changed my life and healed those wounds; there are no conditions, you are wholeheartedly loved and that’s the end of it.

As a last thing, here is the attribution for the things I am using:
Alexander Lyubavin | IMG_4487 |

The Tartan Loom | jkon |

Mix Shader By Color ID Texture (Sharp) | novellino |


One thing I am finding very useful right now is to split the models into separate files and link all of them together with instanced groups, instead of having everything together in one file. What I mean by this is I have all of the clothing in one Blender file, the head in another, and all of the lights, camera, etc. in another file, and everything that I want rendered in each file is assigned it’s own group like head, clothes, render. Then I go to File>Link, find the group I want to link, and link the groups into each blender file so I can see everything together in each of the files. Then when I want to do a render I go into the file named Render and render it from there.

 Basically, what this allows me to do is to have a very large vertex count while still using a very low amount of memory.  I don't know for sure why this is, but if I remember right from something I read a while ago, when you link an instanced group from another file, somehow Blender is able to just read a lot of the information from the Blender file on the hard disk, instead of committing the information to RAM memory.  So as of posting this, the face count is at 31,506,557 and it’s only using about 5.2 Gb of RAM.  Normally, for me at least, a face count like that would have taken 16 Gb or more and I wouldn’t have been able to render it.

Looking great, that’s some truly awesome modeling and sculpting! Everything from the facial features to the clothing is superb!

My one suggestion would be to make the negative words a little more scar-like, if you know what I mean. It could be pretty tough, but I am sure you could pull it off with your amazing sculpting skills. :wink:

Looking forward to seeing some updates!

Great, small detail I see off, the eye and mouth line appear too straight imo.

Peter G - Thank you for that. You never know how people are going to respond to things, so it’s nice to hear something positive. It will definitely be interesting trying to make the scars; I’ve never done scars before. Hopefully they will turn out. Something kind of funny though is that towards the beginning of the project, I had cut my pinky finger fairly badly, and it has healed into a scar now. So I’ll actually have a scar to look at when I work on them for the face :slight_smile:

I wanted to say too that I had a look at your projects and they really look nice; they really have nice texturing on them as well. It’s obviously not what you had planned for it, but I can totally see that freestyle render of the truck being used in some kind of freestyle animation.

JustWandering - Thanks, you are probably right. I’ll be sure to look into that when I go over the face again.

I was moved by this piece. Good work.

SandraDau - Thank you for the encouragement. That is truly humbling.

I haven’t had too much time to work on things lately, but here is another update. I have just been working on little details here and there. Small wrinkles really take a long time to make :slight_smile: I did adjust the eye a little, but it seems to more just be something with the camera being a little lower than the eyes and looking up, making the eyes look straighter than they actually are. I had a look at the mouth as well and tweaked it a little bit, but it seems to look kind of strange if I try to make it like some smiles I’ve seen where the middle of the lip goes down, then the lip goes up a little then down again at the corner of the mouth in a little bit of a M type shape. Although, I have seen smiles that are pretty straight on top, so I’ll probably just leave it for now. I’ll probably try to give it a little bit of asymmetry later, so that might change it as well. The next step is to retopologize the head, so it might be a little bit till the next update.

Just as a side note, if anyone one is trying to do expressions, one book that has really helped me can be seen here: It’s really very thorough. It also has good reference of more natural expressions that aren’t overly acted.

And here is the previous image again since I’ll be replacing it at the top.

There is one thing I wanted to mention in case it might be an encouragement to others and that is that I have never actually done pretty much everything in the sculpture before. I think the only thing I’ve done before are head sculptures, and even with that I’ve never done wrinkles, older people, open mouths, or expressions. Now I have sculpted other things before and done some excellent sculpting tutorials that I know have helped quite a bit (some of them can be found for free now here:, but I guess all that to say that it is just kind of extraordinary the things one can do if they would only try. And really, a lot of the time, just getting over the fear of trying something you’ve never done before is most of the battle.

Well, the retopology is done.

There were a few tools I wanted to mention that really helped out a lot. If anyone else has any retopology tips, feel free to share as well. Right now, the tools can all be found together in this add-on: It can be a bit daunting to use at first with all of the buttons, but the main sections I used are circled below and can be found when in Edit Mode.

The first one that was really nice, particularly for fairly dense meshes like this one, was the CurveStretch part of the MCurve section. Basically this will take a selected edge loop and create a spline with only a few control points for the edge loop to follow, which means you can control a large number of vertices with only a few points, as can be seen below.

The next one was the Vertex Distribute part of the Edit section. This is basically the same as the “Space” part of the Looptools add-on, which will evenly space a selected loop of vertices, while still keeping the vertices on the original edge line. This worked well for keeping things evenly spaced after I had extruded out a line of vertices that would connect to another part of the retopologized mesh. It was also very handy to use with the section called Mesh Sculpt Brush, which allows you to use a brush similarly to the sculpt mode brush to grab or smooth vertices. If I had a section of vertices that seemed to be getting really uneven as I was retopologizing the head, I would use the vertex distribute on the border edges to get the border vertices even, then use the Mesh Sculpt Brush with the locked boundary option turned on to smooth out the other vertices into a grid.

Which brings me to the last section, the Surface Constraint section. To get the mesh brush working well, it is also best to have the Surface Constraint turned on, which adds a shrinkwrap modifier to the retopologized mesh to keep all the vertices next to the mesh. This section also has a really nice feature when you click the little car symbol that will apply the shrinkwrap, then add another one each time a vertex gets moved, which has been very handy for cylindrical areas as well as in areas the vertex snapping doesn’t work very well. It does mess up sometimes, but all in all it’s worked well.

Looking forward to seeing the model with materials, interesting idea bw.

Renderluz - Thanks, so am I :slight_smile: Hopefully it won’t look too strange having all the scars. It might be a couple weeks before I start that though; I thought I would at least try modeling things like pores for the face even if they don’t work out in the end.

The pores are done, for now at least. I thought I would add the SSS shader with a basic skin color before I tweak them further. So that will probably be the next step as well as modeling the scars.

The way I decided to do the pores in the end is similar to the way I’m doing the clothes in that I first created a model, then rendered the model using a camera set to orthographic and saved the depth pass as a 16 bit image. I circled the pore sculpts that seemed to work out the best below.

Doing it this way, you are able to create a small section of very detailed pores with the pores being the correct distance apart, then modify it to suit the ways the pores change on the skin in different areas. One thing to make sure of though is that the outer areas are near the highest point of the final sculpt, that way when it’s applied to the model, it’s mostly just the pores that are going down instead of the entire square. Otherwise you get a lot of little square shapes when applying the texture to the model.

After rendering the depth pass, I created an image that would fade to pure black along the outer edges of the pore texture and put it on top of the depth pass so that only the pore area would be subtracted with the brush.

Then I added that image to the texture slot of a Clay brush and set the brush to subtract. I also set the spacing to 45% and turned on Random in the Texture settings, as well as turning off pressure sensitivity for the brush.
As you can see below, this actually made it surprisingly easy to add the pores to the model because I could just kind of paint the pore texture on without having to worry about the texture being applied twice in the same area. With random turned on, it doesn’t look tiled either, even though only one or two images were used for each section. After the pores were applied to the model I further changed them using things like the Contrast brush or the Flatten brush.

One area this idea didn’t work very well for was the neck or areas that you can see a kind of flow in the lines of the skin because if you try to put those lines into the pores sculpt, then use the random trick to make it not look tiled, the lines go all different directions instead of just one.

So far, what I found to work best for these areas is to use the Crease brush at a very small radius and create the lines first, doing the stroke in kind of a banana shape as well as straight in different directions, then adding the pores in the same way described earlier. You can kind of see the strokes in the outer areas in the images below. After this I used the Contrast brush to deepen the lines and pores to make it look more like skin, then the Magnify brush in different areas to make some of the creases a bit larger and add variation.

Although, you’ll have to take all of this with a grain of salt :slight_smile: because, as I had said before, I’ve never actually done any of this before, so I don’t know if it actually looks right in the end. It does seem to look nice in the viewport though :slight_smile:

One last tip I wanted to share just because I’ve never actually seen anyone use it before is being able to hide portions of the sculpt by using the Mask brush or the B button, and then going to Hide/Mask > Hide Masked, which really speeds up the viewport when working on very dense meshes. So even if the entire sculpt together might be 20 or 30 million faces, if you hide the faces that you aren’t currently working on, it’s possible to sculpt with the speed of only a few million faces. So you can make things very detailed while still having the speed of normal sculpting.

Looking good! Thank you for sharing this technique, as I still find detailing in Blender rather difficult.

You’re welcome! It is definitely a challenge getting things to look right. It seems to always just take a lot of trial and error and starting over as well.

To actually do the painting, I used the basic idea of building up layers of colors, like what was in the tutorials above. As a real world reference, you can see this variation in color pretty well in this image from Episcura where there are kind of splotches of reds, yellows and skin tones:, but it probably does depend on the face as to how noticeable these are. For the bulk of the texturing, I found this image of paint splatters to work a bit better than using a round brush: You can see the portion of it that I used below, but it seems to work pretty well to create that splotchy kind of look when used with a strength of about .3, or .6 in some cases, with a little bit of jitter. The viewport result thus far can be seen below.

One thing that was surprisingly difficult was knowing what color to start with as a base color since skin doesn’t really look right without all the variations close-up and picking a color from a photo didn’t seem to work either since the skin would already have the variations in it, as well as change according to the lighting conditions it was taken in. It also seemed to give a much more red color than skin seems to have. So the way I ended up finding a color was to zoom the view out a ways until all of those things wouldn’t be seen on a person in real life, then pick a color that looked natural at that distance.

For the test lighting I used this free VHDR image: I had seen an article I while ago that he had done on CGarchitect where he talked about getting the full dynamic range of the sun in an HDR image using some of the ideas in this article: So I figured that by using this I would probably be able to get the most true to life lighting to test out the skin shader, and it would also be easier to see if something was really wrong with it since I ‘m use to seeing people in sunlight.

One last thing I wanted to mention was that while I was looking for anything that talked about painting skin, I ran across a tutorial found here: about adding freckles to a photo in photoshop, and in the tutorial, the person used a photo of granite for the brush in order to get the different shapes that freckles have. I had to do it a bit differently in the end, but the idea seems to work pretty well. The image I used can be found here: The way I used the image was to isolate some of the larger splotches into about 6 different brushes and added a little bit of blur, then traded off between the brushes to create the larger areas of dark skin. Then I isolated the smaller splotches from the rest of the image and made them into another brush to create the smaller spots. You can see the way it looks in the viewport below.

And I guess that’s it; hopefully someone will be able to find something useful in all these notes :slight_smile:

Damn, thats amazing.

Blade113 - Thanks for the encouragement! Though I’m sure it could be better, I’m a bit surprised by the result as well :slight_smile:

Looks great already.
I would change 2 things; if you don’t mind