Detail head creation tutorial - I need your feedback


hey guys, I’ve recently been working on a rather large research document/tutorial which covers all aspects of creating a photoreal head, from modelling through to compositing. Now unfortunately I’m rather behind schedule and I have to write up my report on it tomorrow and in that I need to include some feedback. I was wondering if anyone here could quickly scan through what I have and let me know what they think.

     [7mb PDF download](
     It's worth bearing in mind that this isn't exactly a completely finished document so some sections aren't done and it isn't proofread.
     edit: Added a different image, looking back I prefer the older render


White background Pic

     [i]Render of my female head model loosely based on the actress Scarlett Johansson[/i] 

One final thing, you may find this tutorial useful in conjunction with [THIS](


oops, just realised the title should read “detailed”

Anyway, i’ve updated it to a pdf version which should now read correctly on all computers plus I’ve fixed a LOT of typos, see first post for link.


thanks for sharing matt,

I just had a quick browse over it… looks fairly thorough and usefull, lots of good examples/suggestions.




From my initial impressions I would second the John’s comments and add that the tut successfully attempts to be a good summary of what one would accomplish after spending a lot of time and efforts to gather and put together those essentials from scattered pieces of info found in books, video tuts, and the web.

I downloaded the tut and started to read but it’s too long to read all at once (just a quick look over all of it) but read thoroughly till this quote:

“If you do decide to use polygons then it is essential you model with smoothing in mind (particularly when working on organic surfaces), a polygon surface should be periodically checked to ensure it smooths correctly without losing its shape or volume.”

    And I would like to make a comment here.

I’ve seen this in the instructions of a lot of tutorials, stated in books, and demonstrated in videos, This is something I always wonder and never found the answer of the question: Why on earth somebody has to model and at the end or periodically check the smoothed result, while Maya has excellent tools like smooth proxy and subdiv which allows you to see your final result all the time during the modeling process. I always model smoothed objects in their smoothed appearance by either poly proxy or smooth proxy and I haven’t found one single reason of not doing so.
In this way I don’t plan a path for successful smoothing – I just see the wrong steps right away interactively and quickly gain experience about how the smoothing is affected.

One reason would be performance that may have been valid in the past but I never had a problem with creating relatively complex models with a computer that I’m ashamed of:sad: and plan replacing soon:).


i just had a quick look. it looks great.

just if you don’t mind can i share the link in another forum?


John Homer - Thankyou :slight_smile:

Emil3d - “From my initial impressions I would second the John’s comments and add that the tut successfully attempts to be a good summary of what one would accomplish after spending a lot of time and efforts to gather and put together those essentials from scattered pieces of info found in books, video tuts, and the web.”

I’m very glad you said this as this was essntially one of my primary goals/reasons for writing, there is a lot of great free information out there but there’s a surprising lack of centralised information, you can learn a lot by reading through all 130 pages of the body topology thread but it seems slightly inefficient to recommend to all inexperienced people that they do that.

with regards to the polygon smoothing thing I’m sorry to have offended you with it ;). I only really meant that it if you do model in polygons without using a smooth proxy or subdivs then you should periodically make sure that it smoothes correctly instead of checking for the first time at the end and it becoming a distorted mess. I initially learned with a polygon->poly smooth approach which is something I’ve kind of stuck with, I probably should use smooth proxy’s more but I find I don’t need them. I probably should mention smooth proxy’s in an updated version but I would need to do a fair bit more testing before I can make a comment.

MSB - Please do link to this on other forums, I would like as much exposure as possible :). My only request is can you either get people to post comments here or give me a link to where you are posting it so I can get more feedback.

Also, sorry if this post doesn’t make a lot of sense I’ve just come through an all nighter finishing my report and I’m not currently 100% lucid.


bump, i’m currently trying to sort out an html version as I know one large unwieldy pdf isnt ideal.

It’s a bit of a cheeky question but does anyone have any suggestions about how I can get decent exposure on this tutorial? I’m not really sure how to go about doing it, I’d like to get as many views and as much feedback as possible - partly for myself and partly because it should help me get a better mark ;).


nice tut, Matt
it’s realy a amazing concepts tutorial … i am realy missing somthing like that …
it will be greet … and thanks for sharing this with us …

by the way … i knew about your tutorial from MSB … :slight_smile:


wow, sounds like you really found it useful, thankyou :).

I was hoping to spend today converting this to HTML but instead spent most of my time fixing my website after randomly crashing it… However I have emailed 3dtotal to see if they’d be interested in hosting it, I also looked into Highend3d but their tutorials are limited to 5 pages ;).

Also, I apologise for this but I feel obliged to make sure everyone is aware of my head generator tool as well, it’s kind of part of the same package.


Hi Matt really great and useful stuff :thumbsup:

Please check your PMs



Yep, that about covers it…

…all of it!

I gave it a quick readthrough (“quick” still took me 20 minutes) There’s some extremely valuable information in there. I only have a couple of comments.

First, on the girl model, the bump is still too strong, especially on the nose. I think it’s really hindering the realism of the image. Other than that, great example. She looks a lot like Scarlett.

second, I disagree with your comment about never using translucency. I’ve had quite a bit of luck with it when used right. My technique is to create a red lambert shader and turn the diffuse to black. I put the shader near the top of my shading network (can’t remember the blending mode off the top of my head- add I think?) I then use a transparency map to determine what areas should have more or less sss. It’s not the best option when compared to sssfast shader, but a decent low end solution.

I’ll give the paper a more thorough read when I get home. I want to make sure I glean all I need to from it.



heh, good to see some more replies cropping up, at the moment it’s a bit of an unfinished document. I intend to go back to it in a month or two’s time and update it with proper hair, eyes, eyelashes and perhaps more importantly animation. Also looking back I can see a lot of areas on my model which can be improved (the eyes are terrible) so hopefully the update will look better too.

Requiem - Thanks for the honest crit, I’ll look into the nose when I go back to it, as for the translucency thing that’s some interesting information, I’d always assumed that given the primitive nature of maya’s translucency it was pretty useless, maybe I need to have a bit more of a play around.



I’d like to take a look, but it seems like the site is down. Is it a problem on my end?




I didn’t mange to read the entire tutorial yet but so far it seems very good.

Just the fact that you are describing all the different ways of doing the stuff , pros & cons without being biased.

Your tutorial is really GOOD - please keep it up dude …you’ve got a fan here :slight_smile:

I gotta love this quote from Emil. I was doing the Joan of Arc Maya tutorial and there it keeps saying to go back and check the smooth time and time again. Was also wondering what the reason was as smooth proxy would be such a BETTER option :slight_smile:

Cheers !


Great work Matt. Excellent document.

I did smile when I read this though

…Steven Stahlberg (a semi famous character modeller…

I would have just gone for “famous”, (“well known” at least - depends on the audience I guess). Nothing “semi” about that guy!


okay, wow — 30min of just skimming ---- geez, that’s a whole lot of everything…

yah, there are a few grammer errors —> p.55, under pics, repeat of words (i didn’t really look for any, i just happen to notice that)

looks great so far, good advice on the hair :thumbsup:

i look foward to seeing your updates — and perhaps when i have time, i will invest more of it into thoroughly going through your article

thanks for sharring


[left]Wow, unbelievable helpful guide, many thanks for sharing it mate :thumbsup:
I also found parts with little misspellings but it’s not so bad. Overall there is plenty of highly compressed knowledge in it and I think that everybody can find some essential information in it. Me for example, I am pretty much aware of the techniques involved in character creation, but this guide had some new ways of doing something for me. It’s a pretty good summary for beginners as well as intermediate and professional artists. Very valuable piece of work I think.


Edit: Even though I mainly work in Max it’s more or less applicable for every app.


Yes, thanks for this great resource!
full of valuable information!

Thanks for sharing!


Nice work. just glance throught it, can catch most of them.
again nice job and thanks for sharing.


Matt: Excellent work! Very well done and thorough. You’ve obviously put in a ton of time on this. It’s also good to see you have correctly linked and credited everyone who’s work/research was involved.