Just over a week ago, I started the last section in the Complete Blender Creator Course, a series of online lectures on Udemy that I had begun taking and blogging about since last summer. Section 8 (31 lectures, 7hr+40min), The Human Head, was anticipated to be the most challenging for me on a personal level as I have struggled in drawing humans ever since I was little. That is, I could never seem to draw out accurate anatomical features and/or proper body and facial proportions. However, I believe there is definitely a learning process to this. And so it is my ambition to do well in this last section as to hold my head up high!
The first thing I learned when it comes to modelling the human head is that good mesh topology is critical, especially if the model will be rigged and/or animated. To begin, three constructions methods were advised for modelling the human head: box modelling, poly-to-poly, sculpting. These construction methods were used throughout the course in the previous sections and it is easy to see how each would have its own advantages and disadvantages in section 8. In any case, the instructor had chosen the box modelling approach and I simply decided to follow suit.
Next, we were given the freedom to choose and use our own reference pictures in order to create the base mesh. The base mesh can then essentially be used later as a template to model various different human heads which is analogous to the base chess piece used to construct different chess pieces way back in Section 4. After pondering about it for a while, I decided to model using reference pictures from a character in one of my favourite animated shows. This character goes by the name of Chagum from the novel and anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Seirei no Moribito):
It is to be noted that the above reference pictures were not ideal for 3D modelling purposes as the character is shown tilting his head slightly towards one side in both instances. Rather, it is essential that orthographic images are available which show the front and side of the head. Because drawing them myself was not an option (due to my aforementioned lack of ability in drawing humans), I did fortunately manage to procure some. After drawing out edge and face loops on the front reference image (outlined in orange) – a crucial consideration for 3D face modelling which I will explain in a bit, I proceeded to create the base mesh:
To create the base mesh using the box modelling approach, the mirror and subdivision surface modifiers were applied to a cube and geometry was extruded outwards to form the general head shape along with facial features via proportional editing. Afterwards, the first tool introduced was the grease pencil which was somewhat useful in order to map out where certain facial features would be located on the mesh:
Next, the eyes were defined using the knife tool. It turns out that having edge and face loops is a requirement for good mesh topology. My understanding is that having these edge/face loops allow independent control over increasing the LOD (level of detail) for various facial features and areas of the head at a later stage:
Finally, in order to give some definition to the mouth, I had just learned to use the rip tool. Along with the knife tool, another face loop was used to construct the mouth. Again, this way, greater detail can be created in and around the mouth area eventually.
Obviously, my 3D model of Chagum still has a LONG ways to go! I just thought I’d update the blog a bit sooner (as to keep it shorter as well). Anyway, I hope all of you enjoy today’s blog post and can get some sense of how much time, effort, planning, and consideration it takes to construct a human head in 3D. I look forward to updating everyone on my progress again real soon!