Imaging and Data Visualisation – Reflection

Imaging and Data Visualisation has been a brilliant module, ranging from the projects to our tutor who was always there to give us a hand and to explain things to us individually. The projects set were creative and allowed us to experiment within Maya and also within Zbrush/Mudbox. It was nice to be given the chance to work on a project individually with the 3D head portrait. Taking some individual time to focus on one skill was very beneficial as there was no feeling of having to please someone else.

Throughout the module I have learnt quite a bit in Maya. One of the most useful skills I’ve learnt is how to adjust the render settings in preparation for rendering. During the floating city project we had difficulties setting up various parts, some things were just not working out. But since we had to sit and go through everything to discover what the problems were, we learnt a lot about the process and when it came to rendering the next time, things were much simpler. During class we were set various tasks within Maya, even though they seemed simple, I found them very difficult. It is challenging trying to keep up within class as it moves quite fast although if more time was spent in Maya self-learning during my free time, it would be easier. Hopefully next year I will be more organised in that way so as not to fall behind in class.

My modelling in general has developed although I still need more practise as I haven’t modelled anything I am proud of. After having spent some time in Zbrush I do prefer it over Maya. Hopefully during the rest of the course I can use Maya and Zbrush together to create intricate sculpts that can be animated whist learning more about their interfaces and the workflow used between the two programmes.


Retopologizing Clare’s Head

So, this wasn’t as simple as I thought it was going to be! Its difficult trying to keep each face four-sided and even more difficult having good flow. I’m not sure if my final results are good or bad. Comparing my head topology with others, mine is very off. I tried my best!! The ear was especially difficult and as you can see from the images seen in the slideshow below, there are a few odd triangles here and there. Hopefully more practise will help in getting head topology correct.

Total number of Faces : 5215

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Sculpt that Blob – Part #3

Adding hair seems like a challenge but I’m looking forward to trying it out. I will document my progress in this blog, it probably won’t be pretty but its worth a go!

I will take some advice from this video tutorial below,

So an update on the hair sculpting, I gave a go at sculpting the hair yesterday and ended up getting frustrated as I wasn’t getting the shapes right and it looked very rigid. I have saved a copy of this file but at the moment I have decided to research a bit into the fibermesh feature in Zbrush. Fibermesh seems like it could do a good job but I ran into the problem of the length of the hairs not increasing so I will have to take another look into it to try and sort this problem. Another option could be to bring the model into Maya and try rendering some hair using nhair.

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At the moment I don’t see much likeness to Clare but I’ll just continue on and try to change things near the finish line.

Update : It is now deadline day and I haven’t got the hair sculpted or made in Maya due to a really heavy cold. I’m quite disappointed that I never got the chance to get the hair sorted but at this point I just need to get it finished. I can hopefully return to this sculpt of try a new one with hair during the summer.

Sculpt that Blob – Part #2

I reached the stage where I needed to get the simple shape of the eyes in, although I didn’t want to use a sculpting tool to build the circular shape as I don’t trust myself to get it perfectly round, id decided I needed to add two spheres. This proved to be challenging and after a while of searching I found a good tutorial that clearly explained how to go about adding in spheres using the subtool and then Zplugin for mirroring and merging.

The helpful tutorial for adding eyes in Zbrush is below.

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As Clare wears glasses I figured if i modelled a simple pair of glasses that these would help improve the likeness of the overall sculpt. After I imported and resized them in Zbrush I realised that I had made the frame too thin. I can hopefully bulk them up in Zbrush.

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After having imported the glasses, I now need to change the shape of the frame, adjusting them so that they are less angular and more round. I will also have to adjust the positioning of the temple of the glasses to correctly fit behind the ear. Once I have made these adjustments I will continue to work more on the facial features, mainly the mouth, eyes, and cheekbones.

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After a few hours extra work I have tried to re-position the glasses and change their shape a little. So far I feel it is going well althoughI’m not sure if it looks enough like Clare. The eyelids are quite hard to successfully model, more practise is needed.

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I successfully got the temple of the glasses behind the ears. Although they are not perfect, Im not too worried as the parts that like off or have been a little distorted will be hidden by hair. Next step is to add some hair to this head!

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Vimeo. (2017). 0208 adding eyes to your sculpt (Zbrush season 2). [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2017].


Looking into Retopology

Retopology looks like a very interesting task, it looks fun but is more than likely tedious and difficult. Before doing some research into what retopology does and how it helps with texturing and animation, it was a term unknown to me. It seems like a process that will save you loads of time in the long run if done correctly. CGCookie states that retopology “is the act of recreating an existing surface with more optimal geometry. A common use-case is creating a clean, quad-based mesh for animation, but it’s also used for most any final object that needs textured, animated, or otherwise manipulated in a way that sculpted meshes are not conducive to.”

When looking at retopology in accordance with a human head you have to think about the different muscle groups of the face, neck etc… So it seems to be quite beneficial to know some facial anatomy or if not, to have an escorche type image on hand to take reference from.


The image above shows the normal head model on the right and the retopologized version on the left. The image is taken from toast man’s Deviantart (link found in references). As you can see there are more edge loops around the mouth and eye areas, this is due to these areas having plenty of muscle movement. Topology is also useful in helping to create expressions. I would assume that if you have a base understanding of how to retopologize a head correctly you could bring these skills into maybe a humanised character design/creature design and play about with adding extra edge loops to allow for greater, strange or eery expressions. I’m really looking forward to learning more about this process and giving it a try myself. I know I won’t get it perfect my first go but you have to start somewhere. 🙂

When looking into tutorial videos on how to retopologize, Danny Mac’s videos are everywhere so I have given the first video in the series a watch and it seems exactly what I need. I was also reading through some forum chats on the topic and came across a guy who suggested to take a look for a man named Johnathan Williamson who had worked on a retopologizing series years back. I searched in CGCookies archives and found them! You have to sign up for a free account but it’s worth it as the videos cover not only the head but the rest of the human body, amazing. I have the link here, for anyone interested.

This video below is another good one where you can just watch someone using the quad draw tool in Maya for the topology of the head. Quite useful as well, watching how he decides where he will make the points in order to keep everything a 4 sided quad and not triangles.



The image above is great in highlighting the main edge loops around the eyes nose and mouth. The escorche image below was made by artists Adam Skutt and I think it is quite interesting, although not extremely easy to distinguish the muscle groups, it is nice to see both the exterior and interior of the face side by side.



References (2017). Human head. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2017].

CGCookie. (2017). Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Pinterest. (2017). [Aporte] Practicando con la retopologia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2017]. (2017). // Ecorche by Adam Skutt / Character – [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Apr. 2017].

Sculpt that Blob – Part #1

Our new project is something I can’t wait to get started on.

Our new head sculpt project is very exciting and is something I can’t wait to get stuck into further. At this point I have started my sculpt in Zbrush by saying down a rough head shape and then building on top of it whilst looking at my first hand photos of my lovely model, Clare.


Since Clare wears glasses I have also taken some shots of her with them off.

I have given Zbrush a try a few months back but since then I have forgotten how the interface works in areas, it is quite difficult to remember what all/any of the buttons do. My life is full of buttons these days…and I keep pressing the wrong ones. Below is a screenshot of my first hour spent on the model. I love sculpting and aim to get Clare’s head looking nearly identical to her, in shape and detail.

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I have set up the image planes for the front, left and right sides of Clare’s head. At the moment I’m finding this quite awkward and may delete these and just sculpt by looking at the photos on a different monitor. I feel I am taking too much time trying to get things perfect at the beginning when this is not needed until after I get the basic portions matching correctly.

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Link to Clare’s McMurray’s Blog –

3D Portraiture – Digital

Whilst researching into digital head modellers I came across Julien Kaspar. Kaspar’s work has a great sense of originality and detail that I can take a lot of inspiration from. His characters emit a lot of personality and the sculpts themselves have some semi-realistic/clay-like textures that I love. Examples shown below.

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I would like to sculpt hair on my model so I looked a little into some good head sculpts that display great technique.


Image Courtesy – Vimal Kerketta

Kerketta’s sculpt’s shown above display a good level of detail in the hair area. When sculpting Clare’s head I will hopefully spend time trying to get a good amount of detail in the hair.

For sculpting the hair I will take advice from an online article that explains which sculpting tools would help to texture and create hair. (Found here) The work flow begins with building up the starting shapes possibly using clay build up and then using brushes such as dam_standard or slash brushes.

The video above is a great example of how to sculpt stylistic hair and may be handy to refer back to when getting into the hair section of the head.