Character Head Modeling in Blender: Part 2

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by Jonathan Williamson | August 2009 | Open Source

This is the second part of the two-part tutorial by Jonathan Williamson. In this tutorial, we are going to look at how to model a character head in Blender. Along with basic modeling tools we will also focus heavily on good topology and how to create a clean mesh that will deform well during animation. To read the first part, click: Character Head Modeling in Blender: Part 1

Modeling: the ear

Ask just about any beginning modeler (and many experienced ones) and they'll tell you that the ear is a challenge! There are so many turns and folds in the human ear that it poses a modeling nightmare. But, that being said, it is also an excellent exercise in clean modeling. The ear alone, once successfully tackled, will make you a better modeler all around.

The way we are going to go about this is much the same way we got started with the edgeloops:

  1. Position your 3D Cursor at the center of the ear from both the Front and the Side views
  2. Add a new plane with Spacebar > Add > Plane
  3. Extrude along the outer shape of the ear

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

We are working strictly from the Side View for the first bit.

Use the same process of extruding and moving to do the top, inside portion of the ear:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Watch your topology closely, it can become very messy, very fast!

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Continue for the bottom:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

The next step is to rotate your view around with your MMB to a nice angle and Extrude out along the X-axis:

  1. Select the main loop of the ear
  2. E > Region
  3. Before placing the new faces, hit X to lock the movement to the X-axis.

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

From here it's just a matter of shaping the ear by moving vertices around to get the proper depth and definition on the ear. It will also save you some time editing if:

  1. Select the whole ear by hovering your mouse over it and hitting L
  2. Hit R > Z to rotate along the Z-axis
  3. Then do the same along the Y-axis, R > Y

This will just better position the ear.

Connecting the ear to the head can be a bit of challenge, due to the much higher number of vertices it is made up of in comparison to parts of the head. This can be solved by using some cleaver modeling techniques. Let's start by extruding in the outside edge of the ear to create the back side:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Now is where it gets tricky, best to just follow the screenshot:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

You will notice that I have used the direction of my edges coming in from the eye to increase my face count, thus making it easier to connect the ear.

One of the general rules of thumb when it comes to good topology is to stay away from triangles. We want to keep our mesh comprised of strictly quads, or faces with four sides to them.

Once again, we can use the same techniques seen before, and some of the tricks we just used on the ear to connect the back of the ear to the head:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

You will notice that I have disabled the mirror modifier's display while in Edit Mode, this makes working on the inside of the head much easier. This can be done via the modifier panel.

Final: tweaking

And that's it! After connecting the ear to the head the model is essentially finished. At this point it is a good idea to give your whole model the once over, checking it out from all different angles, perspective vs. orthographic modes, etc. If you find yourself needing to tweak the proportions (almost always do) a really easy way to do it is by using the Proportional Editing tool, which can be accessed by hitting O. This allows you to move the mesh around with a fall-off, basically a magnet, such that anything within the radius will move with your selection.

Here is the final model:

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery

Conclusion

Thank you all for reading this and I hope you have found it helpful in your head modeling endeavours. At this point, the best thing you can do is...do it all over again! Repetition in any kind of modeling always helps, but it's particularly true with head modeling. Also, always use references to help you along. You may hear some people telling you not to use references, that it makes your work stale and unoriginal. This is absolutely not true (assuming you're not just copying down the image and calling it your own...). References are an excellent resource, for everything from proportion, to perspective, to anatomy, etc. If used properly, it will show in your work, they really do help.

From here, just keep hacking away at it, thanks for reading and best of luck!

Happy blending!

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Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery Create photorealistic 3D architectural visualizations of buildings, interiors, and environmental scenery
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About the Author :


Born in Kansas on January 12th, 1989, Jonathan Williamson has been dabbling in art ever since he could hold a crayon. He was always sketching but when he turned 14 and discovered 3D, things became serious. Since 2003 he has been completely immersed in the digital arts and has never looked back. For the last four years his focus has been character modeling and design. He also actively works to pass on the skills he’s learned by producing training materials for his software of choice, blender.

Jonathan has been very active in the blender community over the years: he helped organize and present two blender conferences in Montreal, one blender conference in New York, and returned two consecutive years to North Carolina to teach alongside fellow Blender-artists at a Summer camp for junior-high students hosted by Red Hat Linux. He has also been featured in two publications on Blender.

For more information visit: http://www.montagestudio.org

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Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)
Great by
This is even better than the first part of the tutorial, it is a got to read for any one using Blender.
awesome!! by
its awesome I found it best in all blender head modeling tutorial.. thanks for posting...

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