Help with retopology (contains mature images)

Hello.

I’ve been sculpting a while now learning some organic modeling and have come to a point where all my models are now on hold because for some reason I can’t understand retopology (or the right way to do it I guess). I’ve been spending weeks learning and searching for ways to do a proper animation and deformation topology but just don’t understand some parts of this process.

The main goal is to get all deformation areas into loops and connect them to the rest of the body, right? For some unknown reason, whenever I try to retopologize and start adding loops the body and adding resolution, I get too many unwanted loop cuts running through the entire middle section or running to the face of the model making the model pinch and as a result I’m unable to add a subsurf modifier on top.

So I started to use the grease pencil first to mark out the main loops and areas I want to have to preserve muscle formation and deformation areas. Is there something I’m missing or have done completely wrong?

I’m trying to think how the joints should move in relation to another, what parts are flexible in what direction and where I should try to connect them to get loops down. When I start adding the retopology mesh on it, I find that I never have enough faces or or loops to get the right form or deformation down. Adding loop cuts then complicates the mesh and “brakes” the model at some point. What should I do?

Also, I once heard (or read) that when designing a topology, you should always keep in mind even numbers, so that everything is able to connect as a quad and then I wouldn’t get unwanted triangles.

Are there some predetermined pole locations that are unavoidable? I don’t know why, but I dread poles. The pinching risk of when I start texturing and assigning materials is something I’d like to avoid.

Sorry for this cry for help, but I’m at my ropes end and failing to understand this seemingly easy process.