Having trouble modelling characters that are smooth and perfect

I’ve been trying to learn character modelling, but have been having trouble. I am mainly doing this for renders, and apply a subdivision at the end to make them smooth.
My characters always come out lumpy. I try to adjust the vertices to smooth it out, but it’s always very manual and never looks perfect.
I tried a new technique that I saw in a tutorial where you model around the eyes first, but that made it hard to fill in the rest, and I always end up with sunken eyes, and weird subtle lumps.

Here is a picture of my latest attempt, with the low-poly reference.

Here are the pre-subdivision vertices https://i.imgur.com/aZWUlEq.png

Here’s an example of something closer to what I’m going for: https://i.imgur.com/WX8cHkv.png

It’s like all the edge loops are in perfect lines, and make nice smooth circles in 3d.

How do you model around the eyes but still get the rest of the model so perfectly round and smooth looking? Any advice or links to recommended tutorials (that have more explanation and examples than just one person walking through one model) would be great.

For in-depth assistance, post the mesh itself.

Hi Jim,

I’m not a character modeler but maybe this can help. I find it easier to work with a mirror modifier and then keep it low poly so I can easily smooth out areas using the sculpting mode. Keeps it a little cleaner. Hope it helps. Looks like you were on the right track!

Squirrel.blend (661.1 KB)

Here is my model, though I don’t think it’s salvagable, I’m mostly looking for techniques to use so I can try again.

I’ve tried starting with a box as well, but I still end up needing to do lots of loop cuts, which then need to be adjusted manually, which leads to it becoming lumpy. I also end up needing more detail in places like the nose, but the knife tool creates weird triangle faces that tend to mess things up.

Try to keep more even face sizes. The contrast between the narrow faces around the eyes and nose and the bigger faces makes that unevenness more obvious.

I was able to smooth it out a bit with the smooth vertices tool (and lots of hand tweaking).


I think I will try again with the eyes starting with a 16 edged circle, so I can keep the faces more similar sized (and less long and rectangular. I was just afraid too many faces would make it harder to deal with.

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I’m not much help here, but FWIW, I think that looks pretty darn good.

Perhaps you could circle what you find problematical?

I’m more happy with that latest attempt, and I’ve since found that starting with a subdivided cube was much better for getting a smooth shape. The eyes are still a little problematic since it’s hard to get them smooth in subdivisions, but it’s better than before.

By looking at your model its far too simple and you need double the spans to create that smooth form you’re going for. Also keep in mind when your modeling characters like this you are not relying solely on the subdivision modifier to create that smoothness. Ideally you would want to create a surface that is smooth enough to get the forms and details fleshed out, then apply the modifier to help sell those details later on.

Theres quite a lot of information out there now a days and its a pain in the butt to filter out all the garbage that is associated with it but I can give you an example that taught me about topology.

Hippydrome (Pixar td) published an amazing book called The Art of Moving Points back in 2013 which covers articulation of the body and face. It does have stylized character examples which is perfect for someone looking to become a stylized character artist. Theres also examples of pixar characters floating around the web that shows their facial topology (Pixars Brave has a few of Merida and her parents).

Hopefully the examples here give you an idea of what to go for:


When I try to add more points they tend to get more and more misaligned creating small hard to fix bumps. Do people usually use smoothing tools?

Here was my latest attempt which came out a lot better, due to starting with a subdivided cube: image