Pilot - organic sculpt in blender - WIP

Here is the latest render. If You are interested in the journey, please read on :slight_smile:

Now how it has started…

This is my first attempt to sculpting in blender and to digital sculpting at all. I did few things in clay some time ago, but I consider myself a noob in that matter. Sculpting took me about 6 hours. The main shape is nearly established. Next step would be refining lips, eyes and nose with some good reference images (didn’t use them for the first stage of sculpting).
Render and lighting made in blender, which is new to me, so the quality is not top notch.

Any advise\critique welcomed.


This is breathtaking. I wouldnt even dare to post my sculpting attempts haha. Bravo!

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Awesome work.
Did you sculpt on the skin details with a texture?

Thank You :slight_smile:

For sculpting I’ve used “clay strips” only. I think it gives a nice feel to the sculpture, it reminds me a bit of a real clay. I would not call it details, rather tool marks ;). I will be slowly smoothing things out and adding some details later on.

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Time for some exploration around the eyes. I wanted them to look goatish-cephalopodish-alienish… Mainly having fun sculpting and texture painting.


I think that “little details” such as this new treatment of the eyes is extremely important, from a storytelling point of view. (With this latest visual introduction, you just now introduced story.)

As long as your character looks “sufficiently exotic,” and yet “sufficiently human,” and then “left-to-right symmetrical enough not to give the cinematographer a heart attack,” the audience is pretty-quickly going to tire of your artistry and will want to get to the story beyond it.

If this shot were a passing-shot leading immediately to “a plunge into his/its eyes,” then this immediately-riveting complexity will be enough for “the pass.”

If you want it to be a compelling single frame, however, I think that you will need both to simplify the eye-image while also making it asymmetrical. I can’t suggest just how you might actually do it.

Thank You sundialsvc4 for Your input. I agree 100%. We are made of stories. Our consciousness, our memory, our thought processes are mainly stories. Working on a character is a great journey, as the story behind the creature reveals itself. It’s like working on a living thing, which can evolve on itself, not just following our initial thought, but expanding it.

Probably You have seen the experiment “The Heider-Simmel movie”. It tells just enough about how much energy is delivered by the story, not by the form/visuals.

Going back to “Pilot”, I don’t know where this project will go. Ideally I would like to make the whole character, rig him, put into environment and animate few frames. I want this to be a playground for learning 3D. Will see.

ps. Sorry for my english :wink:

The way those facial protuberances flow by following the crests of a supposed underlying bone structure is so nice! You managed to extract some pretty elegant curves out of a regular human anatomy base. I also really like the eye both in terms of sculpting and material.

Would you have any tips that don’t involve “get a new computer” to get a better performance when sculpting in Blender? I mean, if you’re using it to sculpt the fine details.

Thank You for Your kind words birb.

Unfortunately I have no valuable tips for You. I’m totally new to 3D and blender. I have bought myself a new laptop recently (mainly because of interest in 3D), it’s not a beast (i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, Geforce GTX 1650), but it handled what I have done by now. The eye is about 0,5 mil. faces, and the head is now about 1,8 mil. faces. While sculpting I’ve been using Dynotopo gradually setting resolution to higher. Few times I’ve remeshed and started again with a bit higher resolution.

To be honest I think that 2 mil faces is a bit too much for my machine, I feel some lag time to time. So probably sooner rather than later I will have to search for some info about optimizing worklfow.

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So I placed some more details on the face, mainly round the eyes. I don’t want this character to have eyebrows, want to replace them with some kind of skin structures. Little bit touch up round nose and lips. Also smoothed out sides of the head adding some more detail. I’m not quite satisfied with the results. They appeared pleasant in viewport, but when rendered they lack something. They definitely need some more love.

Now this model is about 5,3 mil. polygons… and I’m starting to have some pretty bad issues regarding performance. Lag is starting to influence the way that blender is “fallowing” my sculpting. Did some little research and found no information on how to solve the problem.

If anyone has any idea how to handle polygon dense objects in Blender, please don’t hesitate to join this thread.

I have thrown the head into zbrush for further sculpting. When the amount of polygons goes higher than 2-3 mil. it is unable to sculpt for me in blender. I did some cleanup round the eyes, I consider them done for now. Added detail on the sides of head and around lips. I feel lips are to flat now, so definitely need to correct them. After sculpting went back to blender for render.

Tell me if You like to see renders with those small updates, or You better like to see “milestones” ?

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I personally don’t mind the small updates. I love to watch an artwork evolve, plus the little insights into your process are interesting.

About the lips, I agree they’re too flat now. I have this weird trick to determine what the philtrum is supposed to look like and the general shape of the cupid’s bow in the upper lip: Use the nose as guidance.

Imagine the “mustache area” was made of smooth clay. You got the general lips shape, it already protrudes forward, but no philtrum indent or cupid’s bow. What it would look like if you could take the nose off and press its bottom against the area? Where the clay would go? What sort of curve the nose would leave behind?

Told you it was weird! But most people’s lips seem to respect this rule of thumb. Compare… dunno, the lips of Tom Cruise with Lupita Nyong’o, paying attention to their noses shapes and sizes. Your sculpt’s nose added to the philtrum you already created suggest a different cupid bow, one with at least some curve that would be horizontally wide, maybe even a more pronounced vertically as well one if his this is his neutral face and not a expression of anger/disgust.

Well @birb … it went graphic :wink: thank You for Your input. I can imagine using nose as a stamp, very nice idea.

I tweaked lips a little bit, they look kind of proper now. I still wanted them to look a bit flat, you know, bit like Clint Eastwood attitude lips. But I’ve added a little bit of volume to center part of upper lip, and a divided volume to bottom lip, creating the the curve, where lips are close together. Also modified bottom of a nose and cupid’s bow a bit. You know how settle it has to be when working on a face…

Other stuff I’ve changed is I’ve extruded nose bridge. Wanted to nose be like broken at some point in time, flat near the nose bridge, but still, it was too flat for my taste. I’ve also relaxed eyes. As You’ve noticed they were a bit “angry”. I would like to animate the face, so needed to relax them, but without touching the ornaments. Hope it looks better now. I’ve also put some detail around the face and neck.

It is still mirrored, so the nexst step is to unsymetrisize it, maybe take a deep breath and do unwraping and thexturing/shading.

Thanks @birb for Your interest in this topic :slight_smile:

ps. Do You think that uploading renders from the same camera with the same lighting is a good idea? On one hand it is better to see the changes, while on the other hand is a bit boring :wink:

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Okay, one more little step forward. Added some asymetry, and little bit of teeth :baby:

Wow, I’m impressed by your thread. I really liked to read through all the improvements.
I can’t really give you a lot of advice, like birb is doing, but one thing I’d like to mention about your last update. The change of the mouth with the added teeth, gives a whole lot of a different feeling to the pilot. First I imagined him (or her?) as a calm personality. Maybe flying a cargo spaceship with a lot of serenity. The new facial expression gives a more aggressive feeling and I somehow get the feeling now, that it’s more likely a pilot of a fighter spaceship. This might have been intended and regardless I’m really looking forward seeing more progress (and maybe learning one or two things from it).

Thanks for kind words @FrankFirsching . It was a bit surprising to me how much the feel changed, when I’ve opened the mouth. I think that asymmetry also give him more realism. Before he was very static, nearly like a machine/droid, now there is more drama, more “humanity”.

I see him as an old man, or maybe rather mature than old, like 43 human-years-old. A guy who has seen a lot, and knows that if something needs to be done, it’s gonna be done. He gets his hands dirty with not much hesitation if it is for the good cause. His mind and body are trained for long distance abuse, but he is wise enough to use rather mind than the body. And soon there will be a job for him, personal affair… something that will make him risk more, than he ever did. He will confront with the world that is more complicated than the world, that he was raised in. Things are more confusing nowadays, and everything he has is the old codex, which gave him good advice for so many years… will it be enough…?


okay, this time it was waaaay too painful… It was hard to direct the flow when the volumes changes radically, like on the sides of the head. Even with the references sometimes it’s hard to imagine how the loop should behave and how to blend it to the rest of topology. Also the mouth is very close to the “bony” structures and loops get very thin.

I’m starting to “feel” it, but it’s definitely not easy thing right away.

I would like to try rigging and animating this sculpt. Can anyone tell me if the retopo is any good now?
I would be grateful for any input.

ps. Don’t take the left side in consideration. Sculpt is asymmetrical, and retopo is still with mirror modifier.


Okay, so after the struggle with baking normals for the Pilot, they went quite well. But I’ve decided to do some testing for Pilot’s skin shader/texture. I’ve made a quickie face-like shape in zbrush to make things easier. Please meet mister toothie. He will be a playground for Pilot’s skin design.

Sculpt made in zbrush, texturing and render in blender.

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Made some progress with surfacing. It’s not perfect, but surely a step forward. Bump, color and roughness maps made in blender.

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