Photorealistic head (step by step)

UPDATE - Current status:

At the beginning I started with a base sculpt of my fictional character head:

It’s a “base” sculpt and some corrections will be fixed later (at retopology stage).


Looking good, brother. <3

looking good.

Ok, as for now retopo stage is finished. Eye sockets, jaw, ears have been corrected. Facial asymmetry was added. Here is the result:

And some wires (it’s not perfect but but retains all the characteristics of the base sculpt):

Next steps soon! :wink:

first tests of SSS skin shader with basic (noise) displacement (HDRI lighting)

Eyes are ready to go. I spent couple hours on them - they are made without textures, only nodes (color ramps, noise etc.)

Wow, looks very stunning WIP! And I would sure love to see that eye node setup. Very good indeed.

Ok UV done and here is a first skin shader test - I prepared 3 maps diffuse + bump + spec (they need to be improved but only for testing purposes its ok i guess)

Looks good so far.

That is looking really good.

This will be a great learning thread I think for a lot of people. I’m really impressed with the eyes right now. Is there a reference image you are trying to match or utilize?

may i see the node set up for the eyes?

I will post nodes for eyes as a tutorial soon. The most important rule is to think that your object is made up of many layers. Each layer is different - converter with noise and for example math: mix or two separate shaders connected with factor ratio for example based on noise. Color ramps works here as a layer masks.

Thanks, as a reference I used This project contains best eye closeup’s I’ve seen.

Maybe (not)useful tips:


  • google “head proportions”
  • if you dont bake normal maps from the model - avoid high level of detail because your model after retopo may differ widely from the base
  • pay attention to the proper placement of eyes (they should be embedded deeply enough)
  • remember that eye lids are not perfectly thin and in some cases (man, old people) cover large part of eye
  • lips are not ( especially for men ) strongly outlined
  • crisp & pinch tool can be very useful + inflate in sculpting eyes and lips
  • don’t try to do perfectly beautiful face

Most frequent mistakes (I my opinion):

  • line of eyes is too flat
  • often the case that the whole face is too flat
  • eyes are not embedded deeply enough
  • jaw too small in relation to the rest of the head or eyes are too big
  • high level of detail only in certain places
  • lips are too big and moved forward


  • google “face topology” for wires references
  • in the real world perfectly symmetrical face probably doesn’t exists, so try to make some “noise” especially in the area of ​​the jaw, nose, ears, and eyes (be careful with the last one if you’re going to animate, I think it can be problematic)
  • of course use shape keys for above (and be careful which shapekey is selected when you are going to edit your mesh)
  • avoid triangles as you can :wink: especially for animation
  • don’t worry about triangles in areas that are not visible
  • try to balance wire density and level of detail
  • start retopology in three areas at the same time - eyes, nose, lips (but that’s just my suggestion)

Dee EYES! I loves them!

Nice head, good job !

Thanks! I’m still working on diffuse texture (results in first post).

eye + hair test… hmm i think specular map should be improved

Needs pours and obviously eyebrows. then a fine coating of about 1 million tiny hairs all over it.

Oh I think I will hunt you down and hug you if you make a nice normal map generator. The only one I know about is crazybump and well you have to buy that. Can’t even find it on torrent sites.

That black box made me lol.

Oh that’s one of the best CG faces I’ve ever seen. Already.

nice!!! :slight_smile: