Portrait WIP

I know it is too late for Blending Life 2, but I am attempting a realistic self-portrait. Right now I’m just getting the head part done, I plan to model down to the shoulders. I’m fairly pleased with how the topology and edge loops have turned out so far.

I’ve gone ahead and put together a multi-layered SSS shader I got from an article by Victor Malherbe in Blender Art magazine, and made the eyes from a tutorial on blendercookie.com. This is what I’ve got so far:


This is really my first model (at least first without tutorials), and I had a few questions about the texturing part. I’ve done some unwrapping and texture creation, but nothing more complex than the eyes, and I’m a bit lost when it comes to something this complex, especially when you get into bump and specular maps. Really what I think would be helpful is just to see some examples of textures in image form. Any other tips on how to go about it would be great.

I welcome any help anyone may offer or any criticisms on what I have so far. Thanks!

Here is the wireframe of what I have so far.


I also had another question: I plan to model the inside of the mouth and the teeth. Should all of that be connected to the main mesh, or should the teeth be two separate objects? It seems like that would make it easier to model and also to ensure that the teeth don’t deform when it is rigged.

I’m also looking through the WIP forum to see if there are any helpful threads… It’s a lot to go through so if anyone knows one of the top of their head feel free to point that out.


I’m no expert, but I looks pretty good!

Thanks Texan!

Today I modeled the glasses. Here they are:


I was wondering about a couple of things. First, I used z transparency on the lenses and added a tiny bit of refraction. However, if you look at the image, it refracts the line of my face in the opposite direction that my glasses actually do. The image refracts the line to the outside of where it was, whereas in real life my glasses refract the line to the inside of where it was. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself well enough, but hopefully its understandable. Anyways, does anyone know how to correct this? Not a huge deal I guess, but it would be nice to get that extra bit of realism.

Also, I want to make the cast shadow from the frames softer and lighter so it is less distracting. The system I thought I would use is to make the original frames not cast a shadow at all, and move a copy of the glasses to a separate layer and have that copy only cast a shadow, and have a separate lamp that only does the shadow for the frames. However after I set that up I could not get it working like I wanted. I’m not sure what settings to change to get the effect that I want. Am I even on the right track, or am I making this too complicated? How can I get it to do what I want?

Sorry for all the questions. As always, any criticisms are welcome. Thanks!

Hey man, first of all, really nice model you’ve got going on, this is actually an idea ive been toying with myself for a while so its cool to see someone trying it. You say this is your first original model? wow, thats quite impressive I must say, you seem to be far ahead of where I was after moving on from tutorials. You seem to have a very good grasp of head topology, which is always a good start. One thing that would enhance your renders alot however is better lighting. Looking into standard 3-point lighting would be a good place to start, http://www.mediacollege.com/lighting/three-point/.
By doing this you should reduce alot of the shadow issues you were talking about, and also will remove that big shadow down the right side of his head. As for modelling the mouth, I would suggest selecting the inside loop of the lips and then select swaping and hide everything else. It’s then just a case of extruding, scaling etc to get it to the right shape. I would suggest finding a nice refererence image for the anatomy of the mouth, google images shouldnt have a hard time of it. Then load that into blender and match it to the right size as the rest of your head and there you go. In my opinion I would probably then model the teeth as a seperate object, just to keep it abit tidy around that area. When you come to texturing you might find it difficult to select the bits you actually need. Im not really sure what you’re on about your refraction issue, but it looks fine to me, although thats just me. Finally, texturing. It took me a long time to really get this down, but there are two video tutorials that are invaluable on this issue. Both are by Jonathan Williamson, a fantastic 3d artist. Firstly, UV Unwrapping.
This video explains very well how to do it, and any issues that might arise. As for actually texturing, there are several methods of doing this. However, if it is a self portrait you might benefit most from projection painting.
Once again, this video will lead you through how to do it with any issues. All you will need is a front, side, and 3/4 image of your head, which you probably already have if you worked from references. However it might be worth going back and taking some more just to be sure. You’re also going to need photo manipulation software. If you have photoshop, great. If you dont I’d reccomend GIMP, its like photoshop, but just completely free. Good luck on the rest of your model, I shall definately be keeping an eye on this. Hope this helped!


That looks great, I like the detail especially the red in the ears. Looks like light hitting the blood in the ears. I don’t know jack about rigging but it’s got to be a pain in the ass to link up the inside of the mouth and teeth right, I’d do it seperate. Also try raytracing the glasses and making the spec a bit harder, the light looks too soft. And the shadow on the tip of the nose looks too straight, maybe if you round out the mesh the light will curve around. Looks great though nice job on the eyes.

The guy above me has some good tips, you can’t go wrong with tutorials by Jonathan Williamson.

Thanks for the help mike! I actually have a degree in art so I think that helps me with a lot of the proportions and drawing. I’ve done many self-portraits, but the extra dimension is something I’m not used to dealing with. Likeness is 85-90% there so far and I’m still tweaking.

You are right my lighting needs help, I actually have a three point set up already but I had turned down the fill when I was working on the material so I could see how darker shadows would look, and I forgot to turn it back up again. Fixing that did help with the shadow problem some but I think I will want to take it a bit further, as generally the shadows from my frames are barely noticeable at all. I’m going to leave that alone for now though.

Here is what I’m talking about with the refraction:


The red line represents how blender renders the refraction, and the green line represents how my glasses actually change the contour. I realize this seems really picky and there may be no way to fix this, so again I will leave this alone for now, at least until someone suggests a solution.

Thank you for the links! I wasn’t sure where I was going to put the seams but this helps alot. I had hoped to avoid projection painting though. Most of what I plan to do with blender involves creating characters I have no photographic references for, so I wanted some practice with hand painting textures. Really one of the main reasons I’m doing this is for practice. I figure I better try making something I can actually see before I try doing stuff out of my head. Be that as it may, I may get frustrated and decide to use projection painting after a while. I’ve got a while before I get that far so I have time to think about exactly what I want to do.

Also, thanks for the tip on how to do the mouth, it was quite helpful.

Nano: Thanks! I actually had noticed the spec on the glasses, I’m experimenting with different shaders to get a better effect. And I spent an hour or so working on the nose and it looks much better. I’ll post another render when I get more done.

Been working on the neck and shoulders. This is actually as far as I’ll go, eventually I will probably make a base for it as if it were a statue. Now I am working on the mouth and teeth.

As always, any suggestions welcome.


Looks great only critique is that hard shadow by the right eye.

Yes that shadow has been bothering me as well. I tried a few things to reduce it but finally decided just to leave it alone, at least until I’m done modeling. Meanwhile, I discovered that environmental lighting helps that part alot. Not sure if I want to use it for the final render but it helps for now.

Do you have ambient occlusion on?

Yeah I do now (not in the renders I posted though). But again its temporary, I’m just experimenting with different settings. I’ll decide later if I’ll use it for the final render.
Modeling section almost done, hopefully start texturing tomorrow.

I’ve decided the modeling is good enough so I’m moving on to other things. Today I have been playing around with textures, hair and rigging (mostly just familiarizing myself with different features). Anyways, just in playing around with the particle settings, I can foresee a problem when I actually start to do them for real. How do you define where edge of the hair is when that edge doesn’t line up with any edges on your model? I know how to place hair fairly accurately in particle mode, but then when I add children I can’t keep them inside the area I want them to be in without making it look patchy. What is the best way to overcome this? The best way I can think of right now is to have separate objects as emitters behind my mesh, at least for the eyebrows where I need especially tight control.

I wish you could have a texture image to control particle density, instead of vertex groups.

Have you seen this tutorial on using weight paint to place the hair?

Yes, but it only helps if I have edges right where I want the hair to stop.

Ah I have no idea then :p.

Moving this threat to Focused Critiques, here.