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This series will provide you with a solid introduction to character modeling in Blender, as you work through the creation of a detailed female character step by step.
1. Setting Up the Image Reference
Download the blueprint images for the face.
Launch the Blender application. You will see its default preview, with a camera, a cube primitive and a point light in the scene.
Before we start modeling, we have to remove the camera and the light from the scene. So select the Camera and the Light by pressing the Shift key and Right Clicking on each, and then press either the X or Delete key. A popup menu will appear in the viewport, select the Delete command to remove the selected objects from the scene.
Now we need to setup the reference images in the front and the side viewports. So go to View > Front or press the 1 key on the Numpad to jump into the Front viewport.
Press the N key to open the Properties panel of the selected viewport camera as shown in the image below. Here you can set the values for the front camera properties.
Turn on the Background Images button and then click on the drop down arrow to expand the properties. Click on the Add Image button and then on the Open button.
This opens the browser window. Go to your local hard drive and select the reference image file.
Next, click on the All Views button and choose the Front command from the fly out menu to display the image in the front view only.
Following the same process, we will import the side profile image into the left view. So go to View > Left or press 3 on the Numpad to jump into the Left viewport.
In the property settings panel, click on the Add Image button and then on the Open button.
Click on All Views and choose the Left command from the fly out menu to display the image in the left view only.
2. Starting to Model the Face
While in the Front view, Right Click on the Cube to select it. Then click on the Mode button and select Edit Mode in the Modes List as shown below.
With the Cube selected, press the A key to select all the cube's vertices.
With all the vertices of the cube selected, press the Delete key on the keyboard and then select Vertices in the fly out menu.
This action deletes all the vertices of the cube, but you will still see a single orange colored dot in the viewport. Now, click on the Object Modifiers button and then on the Add Modifier rollout button. This will open the modifiers list.
Select the Mirror modifier from the list.
Click on the Object Display button and select Wireframe display mode.
Go with the default settings for the Mirror modifier. And now we will start modeling the face in the front view.
Zoom in on the right eye in the Front view. With the Control key pressed, keep clicking around the eye outline as shown in the following image.
With the Shift key pressed, Right Click on the start and end vertices. Then go to Mesh > Edges > Make Edge/Face, or press the F key to connect the vertices together.
Now we will extrude the edges to expand the topology of the mesh around the eye. So click on the Edge Selection mode button to jump into Edge selection mode.
Select all the edges by pressing the Shift key and Right Clicking (or press the A key twice) to select all the edges.
With the outline edges of the eye selected, press the E key or click on the Extrude Region button to extrude the selected edges. Press the S key to scale the extruded edges and drag the cursor a little bit outward.
After extruding and scaling the edges, go to Vertex selection mode again.
We now have to arrange the outer vertices properly, as shown.
With the two upper corner edges selected, Extrude them by pressing the E key and then move the edges up.
In Vertex selection mode, arrange the vertices properly to align with the mirrored mesh.
Press the A key to select all the vertices.
Jump into the Left view by pressing Control-3 on the Numpad.
To see two (or more) view panels at the same time, click and drag on the Split View Panel button as shown in the image below. Change the split viewport to Front by going to the View > Front command or by pressing 1 on the Numpad.
Now, select the two corner vertices and move them back according to the side reference image to make the eye outline a rounded shape.
With the upper and lower pairs of vertices selected, arrange them according to the rounded shape of the eye shown on the reference image.
Just like this, arrange the nose vertices in both the front and left view panels according to the reference images.
Press the 5 key on the Numpad to jump into the Perspective view to check the mesh.You can also change from wireframe mode to Shaded mode, by pressing the Display Method Mode button at the bottom of the screen.
3. Blocking the Nose and Lips
Extrude another edge from the lower eye and drag it towards the nose area.
Next, select two more edges and then Extrude and move them down to the lip. Also arrange the vertices in the left and front viewports according to the reference images.
Select all three upper extruded edges and go to the Edit panel, click on the Subdivide button and keep the Number of Cuts value at 3. This will add additional edges to the mesh.
Through the same process, I have also subdivided the other parts of the mesh.
Now, arrange the vertices carefully in the Front view, just as I have shown below.
To weld the vertices together, select two corresponding vertices and press Alt-M. In the fly out menu, select At Center to merge the selected vertices.
Using this technique I have merged all of the corresponding vertices together.
Jump into the Perspective view by going to View > View Perspective (or by pressing 5 on the Numpad) to add some more detail and arrange the vertices to create a realistic sense of depth for the face.
Select the two edges indicated below on the upper nose and Extrude them twice. Move the extruded edges down a bit towards the lower nose.
Jump into the Front view and merge the corresponding vertices together as shown in the following image.
Also arrange the extruded vertices according to the side reference image in the Side view.
Extrude the two edges along the upper lip a little to create a thin outline for the lip.
Following the same process, Extrude the side edges of the upper lip outline towards the center of the face and then move them up to the nostrils as shown.
Again merge the vertices using Alt-M as we did previously.
Now, we have to make the area around the tip of the nose. So Extrude one edge and move it down to the lower nostril as shown.
Also Merge the corresponding vertices together.
With the two verticies indicated below selected, click on the Subdivide button and keep the Number of Cuts value at 1.
Turn on Edge selection mode and Extrude the two edges, and then drag them to the lower nostril as shown.
Merge the corresponding open vertices together to cap the open area.
For detailed deformation and sculpting, we need more edges. So with the four edges indicated below selected, click on the Subdivide button and keep the Number of Cuts value at 1.
After subdividing the edges, adjust the vertices around the nose tip according to the reference images.
Next, we will use the knife tool to split the faces. So with the Knife tool selected, Left Click on the edges we want to split and then press the Enter key to finish with the knife tool.
Again, adjust the mesh's topology in both the Front and Side views.
With the Knife tool selected once again, connect the three edges indicated in the image below. A triangulated face will be created in the process, but don’t worry about it. We will take care of it later. Press the Enter key to finish with the knife tool.
Adjust the vertices and mesh flow according to the nose surface as shown.
While in the Perspective view, use the Knife tool once again to create one more edge loop to add additional detail to the nose.
Create another vertical edge loop to add detail to the nostril hole.
Now Insert three more cuts around the lower nostril to add detail.
Adjust the vertices to form a proper space for the nostril. Then jump into Face selection mode and select the nostril face.
With the nostril face selected, press the E key for the Extrude command and then Extrude the nostril face inside the nose to create a hole.
4. Adding the Subdivision Modifier
We have now completed the nose and upper lip's outline. You can check the model out by going into Object Mode.
With the mesh selected, click the Modifier button on the tool panel bar and then on the Add Modifier button. Select the Subdivision Surface command from the list.
After applying the Subdivision Surface, increase the View value to 2. You will see the increments of smoothness being applied to the mesh in the viewport.
The higher the Subdivision view value is, the smoother the mesh will be.
Once you have checked the smoothness of the mesh details, set the Subdivisions View value to 0 again.
We have now completed the first stage of our character model. In the next part of the series, we will move ahead from here and complete the rest of the face.