Realistic Violin Character

This is a work in progress so go easy on me. :face_with_monocle:
I modeled the character and violin vertex by vertex with references. The violin is based on the
Stradivari Messiah model. The violin is all PBR generated textures except for the pegs and the string holder hand.

The character’s eyes need work around the edges. They look too dry. I haven’t been able to
figure out an effective way to place a water line that deforms around the moving eye lids
without clipping occurring. The character is ready for animating fully rigged with great deformation. Only the facial expression shape keys aren’t finished. Tell me what you think you would change or add to make it better.

PS: She is wearing this particular outfit to show the detail of the texture work and the overall sculpt shape I created. The outfit is PBR generated with zero image textures used. This is supposed to be just art.

Latest render:

With HDR:

Eye rig is almost done. All it needs is a few shape key tweaks.
The eye up close has its issues. I ponder of a way to make
the edges look like they are holding water because they look too dry.
Edit: Found a way to make eye sockets look like they aren’t dry:

It was a painstaking procedure. I duplicated an area around the eye so it kept
the weights and modifier affixes. I then proceded to redo all the eye socket shape keys
with it. There are 12 shape keys for both eyes and all of them are controlled by drivers and variable expressions based on the rotation of each eye ball bone. The eye also has a lattice to cause a lump in the eyelids where the cornea bulges. It’s simple and seems to work well.
Updated: My latest walk cycle animation with no motion capture and only armature coordinate key-frames.

This is only a hobby for me and unfortunately never got a degree in graphic design or art.
Thanks to Youtube I have been able to learn Blender over the past 11 years since 2.49 on my own.
My art here may have specific proportions deliberately used as reference to possibly make it have
an attractive look. You can decide. :neutral_face:

The pentagons were used as rough estimates. Keep in mind this is in orthographic view and the proportions may not look natural at this infinite focal length.

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Something looks off on the face texture. I think its a combination of my displacement map and
the fact she has no wrinkles on her forehead and blemish’s on the face.

I’m not really sure.
Right click and select open image in new tab to zoom in and see what I mean.

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Her face is too pink while the rest of her skin has an uniform golden undertone. Because color is relative this is throwing your perception off.

So, some small aspects of this work could use extra love. I’ll address some later, but first I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to study real people with similar looks to what you’re trying to represent then different as well, to build a solid visual library. It doesn’t matter if you’re not going for realism, it doesn’t matter if you’re aiming at “artistic” representations. The key to stylize anything is understanding your subject. This is the foundation of art.

First you understand the underlying phenomenon behind the look of anything, things like “why this cheekbone is shaped this way?” or “why does this skin tone contains these hues?”.

Then you try to reproduce these things, putting into practice what you have learned to check if you truly grasped the thing you’re studying.

Then, finally, you exaggerate, switch or omit phenomena to achieve deliberate stylization.

I’m saying this as someone who is both self-taught and a painter by trade, so make of that what you will.



The first thing that jumped at me was the hair. I suspect the root diameter is too small, making it look synthetic. Lighter hair colors tend to have thinner shafts, but that’s not the case here. I’d expect to see thicker hair for this shade. First tip: It’s easier to get away with thicker-than-real hair than thinner.

Also complicating the matters are the growth patterns. The hair is standing up the roots in a very unnatural manner. Even when using hair with fewer steps you can alleviating this by going in particle edit mode, selecting roots and the next hair key, subdividing once then brushing the hair back so the roots stand closer to the scalp.

The hair is also all pulled back when real hair tends to grow downwards. I’d expect to see an S shape here. Lastly, the hairline is a perfect curve while real hairlines tend to be more jagged. With that face shape I’d expect to see it recede immediately over the temples, get closer to eyebrows over the temples and do a soft S when approaching the ears.

Mouth and Jawline


The second important detail that seems off is her mouth. Her lips sit notably forward on her face, yet there’s no volume variation underneath them, suggesting a lower jaw that juts really forward, with lower teeth resting over her upper teeth as shown in the gif. The lips are also pretty narrow, barely reaching the inner corner of the eyes, looking like if plucked. Most people’s lips reach close to the middle of their eyeballs.

Neck, Ears and Eye Sockets


This neck curve seems off to me, and so does the transition area that exists between eye sockets, nose and forehead (eyebrows inner corners). Noses don’t go all way up to the forehead in straight lines, they blend in the socket curves, more or less following the shape of inner eyebrows. The way it is right now suggests a frown, making she look concerned or irritated. And the ear looks squished, pretty tall and thin.

Eyebrows and Eyelashes


I don’t feel they have a natural shape for this facial structure, and the hair itself seems pretty homogeneous and long. They feel both too far apart and ending too deep into the temples. I expect to see more strands in the lower inner part of them, and sparser and thinner hairs as it progresses to the outer areas. I 100% recommend to look at lots of different eyebrows. It can be surprising how their growth patterns vary among different facial structures.

The eyelashes are also really homogeneous, too dense and thick on the lower eyelid and too thin on the upper. They should clump together and vary in length.

Skin Hue and Texture

I expect to see at least 3 major skin hues/saturation variations on a face, with temples, cheeks and jaw tinged differently. We can use artworks where the effect is exaggerated to great effect to better see this detail.

(A self portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck and The Cradle by Berthe Morisot)

I usually use more yellow on the temples, pink/red blush on cheeks and blue/green on the jaw. Applying the same concept to 3d after adding a bit of red blush to her shoulders:


Here are two common facial flush patterns:


And I think I see some veins on her texture, but they don’t follow exactly the most common facial density patterns. I’d be something more like this.


Here’s the overpaint with some of these considerations applied:


I hope this helps! I actually worked on a similar 3d facial structure, I can share a shot for stylization reference if you wish.


Thanks for the feedback! You’ve got some great points.
I will definitely try some of this.
I will post a fixed picture in a day or so since I have a little time now to work on it.

Here is my progress with your tips so far:

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Here is a larger res with a better HDR map:

At this resolution you can start to see the pixelizing failure of my 6144x6144 texture.

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Here is another render:

How does the shader look? Is the SSS okay?

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So when I get a shot like the one below a green hue shows up around the areas where there is mesh behind like the eyeballs and teeth. I realized its only noticeable when the light source is mostly coming from behind. It seems as though its a sub surface scattering phenomenon. I hand painted my sss map and it helps a lot but its still kind of an annoyance. Can anyone explain the render engine technicalities that cause this?

I fixed it by adding an RGB separation node.

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Hi, it’s a great improvement. You need to study walk cycles, the arms always move forward opposite to the legs, left leg right arm, right arm left leg with a slight delay. good luck.

Yeah the arms look terrible I agree. Luckily they’re easy to fix compared to the legs. The height of the feet, knee and hip rotation all works together as well as the root and bob up and down of the body as one walks. So many parts of the body work together which is why its hard to do without motion capture.

I fixed the walk cycle armature coordinate keyframes. It’s better now. But its still a w.i.p.

I just realized I forgot to make the left knee swing out on the switch.

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There is an improvement on the arms legs coordination, but still a long way to go. here is a good reference:

Thanks for the reference video.
This should be better:

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My subsurface scattering level looks good everywhere except the lips.
Whats a good technique to mitigate overdone areas? I’ve seen sss UV maps that mask part of the lips. Whats works here? Blender is slow at baking thickness maps and it still would bake the lips thin.
The inside of the mouth is a closed mesh so why does the sss penetrate through making it seem as though the dark area inside the mouth isn’t dark?

Just noticed I have a seam under the ear on the texture :expressionless:

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An SSS map is generally the way to go for finer control. It’s super simple to setup too. I think what you can also do with lips is to model a little bit of a cavity inside the mouth to close it off properly, and push the top and bottom lips closer together, so that the ‘seam’ of the lips is much further inside the mesh, and the light can’t hit it. Generally, I’d say having the top and the bottom lip directly connected isn’t the best idea. But that’s from my limited knowledge and experience.

Also, a quick little critique if I may. I think her cheek bone is a little too high towards the ear. I think that area should be a lot smooth as it transitions to the ear.

Thanks for the tips. I will try remodeling the mouth to make less of a cavity behind the lips to see if it helps as well as thicken the overlap.
Concerning the cheekbone, I was looking at this female skull as reference for cheekbone shape:

I then changed some topology on the side of her face.

Does this look more anatomically correct to you or?


Fixed it:

It was a shader node issue as well.

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Looks quite good, but I´ve never seen a girl at the beach playing violin in a bikini :man_shrugging:

@Johnhaens Neither have I. Here are some indoor renders.

Maybe you’ve seen this before then… :face_with_monocle:

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The face is looking a lot better since you made the changes!

I don’t know whether you’re still working on the hair, but I would consider tightening it up a little towards the back, as currently it gives a slightly elongated look to the back of the skull.

For a ponytail, it is much easier to - at the very least - have separate particle system for the actually ponytail. It gives much finer control. For a character I did, I had like 11 different particle systems to better control it. Just something to consider.

Is there anywhere we can buy the completed model? This looks perfect for a vtuber project that I’ve imagined and toyed with for a while… an AI with limited human understanding outside of peer-review journal articles.