Request for critique: female portrait

This is a study of using exclusively cycles for a portrait. In my book it is nearing completion and I would like to know what do you think. Tennis racquet by Jamie

My first impression is of a very well-done wax sculpture, a Madam Tussaud’s if you will. This isn’t a slam, they were very good! Some things to think about:

The geometry of the hat is much too perfect, it lends an air of artificiality.
Her skin is virtually blemish-free. I make this mistake, too, and have found that adding a few small imperfections can greatly help perfect believability.
There is no perceptible pores structure in the skin. This contributes to the “waxy” impression.
Variation in skin tone & coloration due to subsurface veins, etc., could be more pronounced. The ear in particular looks a bit plastic because it’s all of the same hue and tone.
Musculature of the neck is too bland, need more definition of the various muscles that tend to stand out in the neck, particularly in an athlete.
The color transition on the lips is very sharp, could use a little softening, even if she’s wearing lipstick.
Eyebrows look painted. Well-painted, but they need dimensionality. Tough to do with cycles, but I’ve found ways to convert particle strands to polys that work fairly well if done carefully.
Her gaze is intent, as befits someone in a game like tennis, but it isn’t matched by her apparent stance, and so looks kind of false. Even if the rest of her body is mostly hidden, its stance determines the set of the shoulders and neck and the angle of the head in relation to these, so it’s important to have it solidly implied in the image.
Overall modeling is good, if lacking in specific detail like depth to the ears, nasal creases, nasal/labial folds (or at least a hint). Proportions are excellent imo, I like her slightly long & patrician nose. Jawline & cheeks (zygomatic arch) could show a bit more of the underlying bone, again, important in a lean figure like an athlete.
Racquet & court all seem too perfect in terms of colors and materials, though the stringing of the racquet is also off in terms of spacing, I think.

Overall a very good job so far, but needing some pushes into greater detail and consideration of the figure in its environment and implied action.

@chipmasque – thank you, very thoughtful critique, very helpful too. Pores and blemishes are there, but I guess they are too subtle. They are better visible when you see it full size. The rest describes problems perfectly.

Yes, at full size I see hints of blemishes but they are very subtle. Pores I see not at all. Keep in mind that the size of skin texturing like pores varies with location, if you’re trying for a highly accurate depiction. Small blemishes in surface relief, even if not specifically colored as with a mole, can also help.

Think its the top lip, Just way to sharp for too long. It needs softening and more texture like you have got in the bottom lip!

@chipmasque - I tried poly- eye lashes so far. For poly-brows - are you able to comb them first and then convert to mesh objects?

@olliebb - thank you for your advice

Right now it’s a little bit difficult to place the exact location of the racquet. My first perspective told me that she was holding a 6 inch racquet because of it’s placement. Is she supposed to be holding it in her armpit? Perhaps you can make this a bit more clear.

Yes. Your lashes look pretty good if a little short but that’s as much person preference as anything else.

To convert particle strands to polys, I first set the strands (usually by hand, one at a time), comb them, and generally get them looking right as if to be rendered in BI (BTW, there’s good progress being made on getting particle hair into Cycles). I then use the “Convert” button in the modifier stack to generate a mass of polygon strands, one for each parent and child particle strand. This does not destroy the particle system, BTW, so you can retrace the steps or re-groom if needed. HINT: Put the hair particles on a mesh separate from the main beauty mesh of the head – I use faces cloned from the beauty mesh. That way you can easily hide the particle emitter mesh while keeping the beauty mesh in view. Not necessary but sometimes convenient.

The converted poly strands won’t render because they are only vertices & edges. To create faces, I select them all and Extrude in a single axis, choice of which depends on the model orientation. This extrusion needs to be very small, as it sets the diameter of the resulting strands, but don’t make it too small or the strands won’t render properly. The exact amount to extrude is dependent on the scale of your model.

Once the initial extrusion is made to create renderable faces, I use the Solidify modifier to create the remaining faces of fully-rounded strands. A Subsurf modifier following the Solidify will round things out and create blunt points for the strands.

With the Solidify & Subsurf modifiers enabled, try a UI render. If the strands look too fat, you can Select All and use Smooth Vertex in Edit Mode to thin them out a bit. Use this carefully because it also shortens the lengths slightly. Better to get your extrusion as close as possible.

Texturing these strands is tedious but not difficult, and you can use the same approach for poly eyelashes a well. Disable the modifiers, select all the strands (now thin flat extrusions), and Unwrap them using “Follow Active Quad”>Length. The unwrapped UVs then need to be manipulated a lot, but it’s a way to unwrap all the strands at once that allows you to apply an alpha texture to each that fades the tips of the strands to a nice point. Details of how to do this depend a lot on the results of the unwrap. My alpha texture is basically a long thin white “spear” shape that’s blurred on all edges and tapers at one end, white on black. In the UV editing you can collect all the faces that correspond to the tips of the strands and arrange then so the taper is applied to them only. Other faces get aligned to the rest of the texture’s “shaft.” The goal is to get the tips of the rendered strands to both taper and fade out so their polygon nature is less apparent.

I’ve tried a bunch of ways to do “dimensional” eyebrows with polys and so far this seems to work best, though it does take some work to accomplish.

@chipmasque – wow this is an impressive procedure for poly-hair! Thank you for explanation, I want to try it even if cycles hair is around the corner to see how it works.

Good point, holding by armpit is probably the most logical explanation

It works pretty well:

This is from my “Nezina:The Token” scene, and is much closer-in on the face than I intended, so there’s a lot that I would adjust if doing a portrait*, but you can see that the brows & lashes conversions are not quite as convincing as good particle hair, but better imo than most painted (or photo-sourced) renditions that are applied flat.

This is the “strand” alpha texture. I arrange the UVs so the tips and roots fade out a bit, though in this rendering it doesn’t show extremely clearly.

*I’d fix some of the hair grooming on the brows and adjust the opacity of the eyelashes, they fade a bit too much, and reduce the definition of the skin textures, they’re a bit too blotchy for a close-up, but worked fine in the full-figure scene.

That is a fantastic model you’ve built. The only problem that I can see is that “she” has a blank robotic-looking stare. I wouldn’t feel too bad about that, this issue is a serious area of focus for CG experts. It’s hard to fix without a motion capture setup using a real person to drive it. People have a very subtle ability to discern facial expressions in others. Various estimates say that there are about 4 dozen or so muscles in the face that are responsible for facial expression. I imagine that you would have to take all of these points into account in order to pass a CG model off as a real person.