Topology research


As far as I know this bug is not a bug, but rather a behavior of ZBrush. In ZB4, I could reimport objects on subtools without any issues. The key thing is that ZB doesn’t use real world units, if you import the first object, it will serve as a 1 unit bounding box. All other tools is in relation to this. It also stores the sacale offset, etc, just to make sure that on export, reimport you won’t have unwanted effects. But you gonna have. Since I use ZB4 (since the first days of the open beta :smiley: ) I haven’t have that issue Tom mentioned but it was rather annoying with ZB3.5. Yet you have to be extremely careful with ZB4 çause my colleague managed to invoke this again by removing the offsets I mentioned above. Huh

Cool mesh LaaYosh, do you use similar topology for the other projects? Like Assassin’s Creed?


This is another f*** up from pixologic, no matter how they try to put it.
Stored scale offsets won’t help either, four of us have tried to solve issues with this and kept failing.

We’ve been going through a gradial transition with the face meshes, Assassin’s Creed, Civ 5 and Secret World characters were far lighter. It was with Prince, DA2 and ME3 (and a project put on hold) that we’ve started to increase resolution, although background characters continue to stay a bit lighter. It’s still quite manageable with the right tools.


I’m gonna post something that it’s finally pretty evident nowadays,
it’s that nobody is using gollum topology(not with relevance or distintion),

if fact modern productions clearly contradict it:


nobody wants a complicated/bad topology:


Neytiri is heavily based on Gollum, only taken further, thanks to faster computers…
And they’re all using the same approach, blendshapes following the FACS system.


You might be right, a bug represented as feature. By the way check, if you have it in ZB4, and if so contact support. Recently I had no issues with working ZB4 and subtools, if you used GoZ or my GoSoftimageLite plugin :slight_smile:



that’s a different matter, rigging
and… the system used in avatar is quite similar to IMAGEWORKS™ method,

I don’t know if there is a relationship between both companies, but every studio claims to have something proprietary. That doesn’t mean much these days. not without proves, and so:

It didn’t bring anything new about topology, not by the,n not now, I’m pretty sure that gollum was in good amount, an unnecessary complicated process, that no big studio/film has cared about that much to imitate it. and because of that, there is hardly anything else to say on gollums favor as some kind of milestone. it did its work in the film, it inspired novicers to focus more on topology, that’s all.

Again, gollum topology, doesnt’have arguments, facts, proves or technical papers supporting it, to be considered seriously.

your own example posted previous posts, is a contradiction of it,
I was expecting something gollumistic.

for me this issue is over, time to move on…



Start posting some of your own work, so that we can know you’re talking from experience and not just being a smartass. I’ve been doing faces and rigging for more than six years now, I won’t keep arguing with idiots who have too much spare time. So show us something or GTFO.


read the forum rules


No, you read the rules. You haven’t contributed any help, any addition to this thread ever - all you do for years now is argue with me when I try to post advice and help.

Which is why I say it again: do something constructive instead of all the destructive arguing - or GTFO.

  1. Be courteous and polite. Show respect to the opinions and feelings of others. Use of the forums is a privilege, not a right.
  2. Engage your brain before your mouth. You are responsible for your own words and any harm they may cause.
  3. Don’t dilute the forums with irrelevant and unnecessary fluff. CGTalk is a professional, moderated forum. It’s a place to talk about all things related to computer graphics.
  4. Critiques and responses to images are to be constructive and related to improving the quality of the artwork.
  5. Posts should be in English Only.

a guy who insults deserves to be taken seriously?
a guy who FINALLY post something, a snapshot in the entire history of this thread, who’s topology directly contradicts his previous posts, all those many posts… and starts to insult another user?

a guy who has posted an vast amount of post in this thread when I have barely posted a few?
whos the smartass? whos the one who needs to say something everytime…? as if he possessed the whole truth in his words

kill that ego thing of yours that makes you thing you are better than the rest…
you do nothing more than talking for others, avatar tron gollum. weta itself has improved, and all the rest, you do the same.

I’m posting the forum rules, that clearly refers only to you.

this is a open forum, respect other people opinions, especially when you are the one here loosing control


You’re using backwards logic - the conclusion that whatever I’ve written is wrong, and then you’re trying to prove this by discrediting me. You do not offer any explanations, any advice, any experiences, any information at all. You seem appear every single time I post here, for many years now. And you do nothing else then this bickering of yours.

I’ve been responsible for face rigs for years now at an animation studio. I do a lot of research and study the works of people from all around the world who are way more clever than me, trying to understand their reasons and logic and methods, and the disadvantages too, in order to improve my work.
I share the stuff I come upon here, hoping to help others, as people helped me before, but never taking any credit for their work. I’m open to anything new and better, but I don’t see anyone posting that kind of stuff.

With that said, two more things before I go:
I’m more than willing to discuss the topic with anyone who’s constructive, but not with a troll.
And I’m fed up with this issue so I’m calling the mods to settle it once and for all, and I apologize for derailing the thread, it won’t happen again.



you keep inslulting and its me the one that should be moderated…

call the mods, I’d like to hear their opinions in relation to this forum’s rules.


Ruramuq: you started the attack with a very rude response to Laa-yosh’s very interesting posting regarding the Bay Raitt interview.
Maybe it’s a language barrier thing, but when I read your response to the Gollum post, I thought, “wow, that was rude!”.

And btw, Bay Raitt and his Gollum character was so groundbreaking and so influential that dismissing it the way you do is extremely unfair. The beauty of Gollum is that Bay did what he did with Gollum using thousands of polys instead of millions and without real sculpting tools. Things are different today with Mudbox and zbrush and a more even polyflow with more similarly sized quads is the desired working method. But that doesn’t mean we can’t admire and learn from what Bay Raitt did.

Laa-yosh, please keep posting, I for one have learned a lot from your posts. Thank you.


Well, the comparison between those three models is actually an interesting question, if we don’t start with a conclusion… The following are just my own thoughts, in no way the definitive stuff on any of these models or the thoughts of the people behind them.

The Gollum mesh was fitted to the sculpted concept maquette from (I think) Jamie Beswarick, based on the previous version and a sketch from Christian Rivers. The edges follow the facial features both in the neutral pose and in all the possible extreme poses of stretching and compression, in order to accommodate all deformation using only blendshapes.

The Neytiri mesh is - most likely - fitted on a concept sculpt, either digital or digitized, and the edges are based on all the possible extreme poses again. All the dynamic facial wrinkles are created using just the vertices in this model, probably sculpted in Mudbox, and the actual rig is once again based on the FACS action units and corrective shapes to fix overly distorted combinations.
The two main differences compared to Gollum are that, first, today’s computers are 15-20 times (or more) faster then what we had in 2001-2002; and, second, that Neytiri is a young, beautiful female, with tight, smooth facial skin, whereas Gollum is an old, emaciated person with sagging skin, that has permanent folds and wrinkles even in the neutral pose. I strongly believe that both the old na’vi characters in Avatar, and the more extreme faces in the upcoming Tin Tin movie, will be more similar to Gollum then Neytiri, although with a much higher polygon count, thanks to the faster computers of today.

Clu’s model in Tron is something we know less about, but from what I’ve been able to gather, the rig works like this.
DD has built all the individual basic expressions in Mudbox as multi-level sculpts, down to the pore level details. These are based on their scans of the current day Jeff Bridges, provided by MOVA , but obviously altered a lot to make him look 35 years old, using various photographic references and at least one sculpt by Rick Backer.
They have all the shapes exported from not just the lowest level, but from several others, so the same face rig in Maya can load at least two, maybe three different levels of geometry detail, depending on what the animator wants for his viewport playback. If you look at the DD behind the scenes movie, you’ll see at least two different versions of Clu’s head in the wireframe overlay shots.
The final renders use displacements for most of the wrinkles and folds, except the nasolabial (smile/sneer fold) which are created from a large set of expression specific texture maps. Since they have more than a hundred different blendshapes for their expressions, I guess this means that they also have more than a hundred different displacement maps. For every single rendered frame, a Nuke compositing tree is calculated to generate the proper, frame-specific final displacement by blending these individual expression specific displacements.
(I can dig up some links to support the above tomorrow, at work, if necessary)

So, the mesh is more generic, because it does not have to accommodate all the deformation, a lot of that is only represented in the wide set of displacement maps. I also think that they are not using corrective shapes to fix A+B combinations that are problematic, but rely on some procedural tools to redistribute the polygons over the surface to kind of simulate the skin’s behavior (and considering that they have 100+ shapes, a lot more then FACS, they may cover the more extreme A+B combinations with some of those). This is a different method from what Weta has used on both Gollum (except for the wrinkles on the bridge of the nose, which used a single animated displacement map) and on the Avatar characters, which relied on just the base mesh for everything. I also believe that this is the same approach that they’ve used on Benjamin Button.

What I would really like to learn more about are ILM’s facial models and rigs used on the house elves in Harry Potter (assuming that they did Dobby in part 7), the creatures in the Spiderwick Chronicles, and of course Davy Jones in POTC. We do have a long thread here on CGTalk covering Davy in which the modelers indicate that they were using blend shapes as well, but I’m not sure if it was FACS based. I’ve also seen a short movie on youtube that had the Davy face in zbrush; you can’t see the wireframe but you can still pick up some of the poly faces there.

I also have a short but nice video of Gollum talking which I’ve uploaded to youtube.

You can see how the edges move around as a result of the base FACS shapes and the corrective shapes fixing the (probably) messed up combinations. Goes a long way to explain the topology, I guess.


Finally got my hands on “The making of Avatar” book… and haven’t got the time to read it right now :wink:

Has some stuff about the facial rigs, Jake wireframes… looks cool.


Ideal topology


Framestore did both Dobby and Kreacher for HP7. The team won a VES award for Dobby last week. Congrats to them. :slight_smile:

As for blendshapes on Avatar, the majority of the work was done in Maya (often utilising Artisan), not necessarily Mudbox. It allowed the facial team to easily dial in and out the blendshapes and see how they’d perform.


Ouch, I don’t find Artisan to be that user friendly, all the other sculpting apps are much more handy and I regularly export-import stuff just because of that. Well, whatever everyone prefers, I guess… :wink:


Yeah, nor do I. Though I really wish Autodesk would develop it further/improve upon it somewhat. It’s nice to be able to keep certain things under one roof so to speak.