Modeling a Human - Man, this is frustrating!

Ever since I decided to make CGI animations, I pay attention to humans in other CGI movies, and noticed that most of them tend to be cartoon-y rather that realistic (for obvious reasons).

I have been using MakeHuman, which are pretty detailed.

So, finally, I decided to create a human from scratch and go for the cartoon-y look. I told myself to not put more than a week of effort into it.

As of now, I’ve been working on it for three weeks and I’m still not happy with it.

DANG! This is hard!

Thanks for listening.


Welcome to the 3D world of frustrations and success! Human are a daunting thing to get right and animating them without Mocap is even harder!

I am sure in the future(if we have one of course)they will laugh at our archaic technology!


Thanks polynut for the “Welcome”.

Maybe I should have mentioned that my quest began sometime around 1997. LOL!

But…, after trying to write my own 3D engine in DirectX (I’m a programmer), I got serious about it in 2014 with Blender as my tool of choice.

I’ve got a few examples on “Yute Oob” at





I just couldn’t pull it off, so I borrowed ears from a MakeHuman human. Oh…, and also used a MakeHuman skin texture - So, there goes my “from scratch” intention.

Oh well, yet another learning experience from life’s rich pageant.

First time i did human anatomy i almost fall on the ground crying but now i am OK doing anything with regular proportions but don’t ask me to do an overweight guy or girl i would again get very frustrated.

Practice make the world of difference but as a game developer i am not going to do only human sculpt so i need to cut the corners short a bit sometime.

Here he is so far…


are you using any photo references?

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I tried to start with just a sphere - one of the eyes. Then mirror,mirror, extrude, extrude, etc. until I had something to start with. Really wanted it to be freehand, from scratch. But, I caved and appended ears and skin. So, No. Tried to do it without ref’s. Very frustrating, but have learned a lot.

Sorry, but so far he looks like




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Well it’s not a bad start and a little smoothing around the eyes would help attenuate the harsh crease. Smooth brush again on nose ridge would help greatly just lower the brush strength and same goes over cheek + a little snake hook brush to rectify over all shape of the head and you should have a decent humanoid head.

My last human head was the tall man from the Phantasm movies , not finish yet

This has nothing to do with modeling or sculpting. You need to improve your understanding of human anatomy. Without a proper conception it will always be hard. Imagine that you are trying to build a house. How would you go about it? You do not just start stacking bricks together, there are a lot of other steps you need to do prior.


Trying to model without reference is just silly. Professional artists use reference constantly. Every professional character modeler I’ve seen in my career keeps images of whatever they’re working on right next to their 3d viewport. If they’re working on the feet, they have foot reference images from all different angles on the screen. Same with hands, faces, hair, clothing, boots, gloves, rings, weapons, etc., etc. I’ve never seen anyone model blindly.

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I will blame my “silliness” on being a Virgo - and quite anal. It takes me hours to dust a room that anyone else could do in 10 minutes.

I just wanted to create a “Simple” human character, without using MakeHuman.

Not “South Park” simple


But, “Train Your Dragon” simple


But once I got going, I kept tweaking this and that… until I realized that simplicity had been thrown out the window - because I just can’t help myself.

And so, now I’ve got a mediocre character that could have been created in MakeHuman, which was what I was trying to avoid.

And so it goes…

Making a stylized character is a whole skill on its own. If you want to do it, you should use some stylized characters as reference, or even read and watch some videos on how to do it.

And again, there is seriously no shame in using reference. I was shamed out of using reference as a child and I feel like it set me back years as an artist. Reference is really good, and important, and literally every good artist uses reference. None of us will ever make anything as beautiful as life, but we can only get closer to it by studying it.

You can internalize your knowledge of anatomy and such eventually to a degree that you dont really need to be looking at a photograph while you work on something, but you need to spend a lot of time to get to understand it first. We’re talking years, or decades.

I’m not looking for “as beautiful as life”.

And I’ve been at this since '97.

Please see above.

Alright, nevermind. Sorry I brought it up.

A lot of people already said it, but it really need to be emphasized: ALWAYS use as much references as you can, no matter how simple of a character you want to make. Just looking at a single image of the human anatomy and following the general musculature will improve your sculpture immensely than just doing it from imagination.

Another point is that you said to have spent three weeks already on this single project without much improvement. At this point I would suggest you try to wrap it up as it is, take what you learned from it and start a new fresh project. It may sound counterproductive, but getting stuck doing the same thing for too long is a terrible way to improve.

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Doing it from memory won’t take you anywhere. You can’t learn new things about anatomy like that beacuse you are just redoing of what you have in your head. And the image inside your head is wrong.

Doing faces is tricky even with references. Huge part of our brain is responsible for face recogintion and thats why begginers put more effort in parts that are most important, eyes, nose and mouth, even wrinkles and completly leave parts like forehead or basic proportions. Just like your sculpting.

If you can’t redo a face from a photo, then there is really no point in trying to do it without one.

By the way, drawing is easier and much faster then sculpting. If you really want to do things from your memory/imagination, you may want to first draw a sketch and then try to sculpt it


Thank you all so much for your thoughts. It has been both enlightening and entertaining.

So …, references … you’re right. I should take them much more seriously.

With that in mind I will begin here




And see how it goes.