View Full Version : Character modelling, source of frustrations

07 July 2005, 01:08 PM
I have studied 3d graphics from more than six years, in every possible aspect, from programming theory to different programs, and finally Lightwave3D became my favorite app, that I'm using at work. I don't have any problems in modelling human-made objects, architectural design, or texturing stuff, altough I have to work a bit more to make really good images. But there is a problem: I CAN'T do human character modelling and animation, I don't have even the smallest aptitude for making human faces. I know this is probably the most difficult problem in 3d industry, but I can't model even a simple cartoon character, and I'm very worried. I think I've made the ugliest 3D characters ever! I have big plans for my future, I don't want to make forever flying logos in a small mountain town;-)
I understand this is probably a lack of talent, but I always was very ambitious, there wasn't ever something I couldn't learn by reading or practicing. This is why I've tried to compensate the absence of talent with a deeper knowledge of the software that I'm using. I exclude the use of already done models, it's not my style to use other's work. And by watching good art here on this cg comunity, the frustration is even deeper, 'cause I realize how important is character modelling in 3d industry. I don't want to risk my career by ignoring one essential aspect of CGI. The standards are very high today, in every possible aspect of 3D.

Considering all of that, what shall I do ?

(sory for my bad english...)

07 July 2005, 01:29 PM
you probably should start finding good templates of human fugures, and also trying to figure out the polyflow of the mesh watching othe people's work. here and on Spinquad you should find some good mesh examples, while there are websites with good human references. same for toons.
find template sheets of cool characters on the web . there should be always in Spinquad some good models of some toons. then, using your modelling methods simply build up your meshes. ypou could need alot of talent if you should draw templates, but not on copying and applying polyflow concepts so no prob :)

a cool book on building toons is kreti'ns 2 books from wordware publishing. he teaches you modelling simple chars, rigging, setting up for animation and all diffeernt aspects of that job with Lw.

then , there are books where you can learn animation as well for example "The animator's survival kit" a really good reference book.

07 July 2005, 03:42 PM
Hi nikopol_gfx, I agree with what Nemoid said. There are 2 places where you can get good reference for great topology for doing faces:

(this one is free, and it even shows the whole character creation. If you find that the mesh is too heavy for animation, you can use lesser polys. The important thing is that you won't have mesh problems when you animate your character)

2. "Stop Staring: Facial Modeling And Animation Done Right" by Jason Osipa is a great book if you're serious in doing facial animation.

Edit: I used to have problems when doing animation before reading silo's modeling tutorial. But when I changed my topology to the one that he's using, my deformations worked out really smoothly, especially around the armpit areas. As for the face, his topology is similar to the one in "Stop Staring", which is already great to begin with.

Rod Seffen
07 July 2005, 05:12 PM
I do nothing but character models, and the best/fastest method like others have said is to start with a low poly base mesh with good topology, or make one yourself following a tutorial, and keep it, then sculpt out your characters using drag and dragnet, add edges, bandsaw, extender in subpacth mode. If you have front/side photos of a head, all the better to see you with.
The same applies to the whole body, though you'll usually be adding armour/clothes so will have to model them from scratch, but it's great to have a good proportioned base mesh in the background to keep everything straight.
I'm just a self taught amateur of 3 years CG experience, but I do pretty well, it's not that hard.

07 July 2005, 06:43 PM
I tend to struggle myself nikopol_gfx.

I would say probably the best advice, is to switch of the computer and do a bit drawing.


07 July 2005, 07:21 PM
I agree, the best way to improve your character modeling is to do some life drawing of figures. It will help give your mind a sense of form and proportion.

If you can't go to a class consider buying a book such as 'Anatomy For Artists'.

Once you have learned the basics of drawing characters, practice in Lightwave and download as many character modeling tutorials as possible. Here is a good full character video tut which should help you.

07 July 2005, 07:22 PM
I found this to be a good source for starting out

It took a while to figure out the very first part. You see the start where it's subdivided into a 4 cross-section area, if I remember. This was done by freezing the object. Other than that it's all done with smooth shift and spin quads.

Good luck.

07 July 2005, 08:58 PM
My suggestion would be to go out and get a lump of clay and practice sculpting. :thumbsup:

It sounds like you're familiar with LW tools, you just need to improve your "vision", your ability to fully visualize what you're trying to build to a high degree of detail in your mind's eye.

Once you can do that, it becomes easy to look at a model and zero in on what doesn't look right. Then it's just a matter of knowing the tools well enough to come up with the solution to fix it.

07 July 2005, 12:59 PM
Thank you very much, guys, you're really very helpful ! It seems there is a chance even for me to do character modelling. I have to be complete.

Everybody have a good day !

07 July 2005, 03:10 PM
I am having diffiiculty on the second tut here. In the begining, the guy selects the poloygons(nose). Then a sec later, those polygons are divided into 2 straight rows. He did show how he does it? Could you please help me out here? (

07 July 2005, 04:24 PM
If I know of what you speak. I'm pretty sure what he did was spinquads. You may have to step through the video to see which polys he's selecting. It's sometimes difficult because of the way the video was done. It was recorded in 10f/s or something. As stated in the readme somewhere the entire video is done with smoothshift and spinquads, except the beginning where he freezes the object. I did a lot of searching to find that out. I originally suspected freezing but early on I was under the impression once an object is frozen it couldn't be manipulated. I don't know how I got that idea though. Going through the whole thing I Did have to keep stoping it and replaying to figure out what he was doing.
Carnera 3D also puts out a DVD on character modeling. The only problem I had with it is the audio describing it is offset from what he's doing. I suspected the tutorial was recorded in a different language and someone else was saying the interpretation after hearing what was said. That was the impression I got. A couple of drawbacks was he puts clothes on so you don't get any techniques on hands and feet.

07 July 2005, 05:13 PM

It worked! I love you guys.

I am sure lucky, I got you guys to help me out with difficulties I confront. I would never be able to do work in 3d by my self.

07 July 2005, 07:18 PM
Hi there.

Learning to model can be a frustrating expirience.
There are many ways to model a face or a body, and a tutorial can give you some help to learn this.

But you must practice, and find your own way of doing it.

There's a nice free tutorial over at ( that can give you a head start... :D

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