Head Sculpt


We had to model a class member’s head for our next Imaging and Data Visualisation task. We were required to make their likeness in a 3D sculpture and then use retopology to reconstruct their head in Maya.


For this task I modeled David’s head (images below).

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After following many of James Taylor’s tutorials, I was about to follow his Maya Head Sculpting guide… However, after watching multiple class mates struggle with this process and have to restart in Mudbox. I decided to avoid it and focus on the Mudbox modeling from the beginning.

Here was the Maya tutorial I considered using:

I mainly tried to figure it out myself without using a tutorial. However, I listened to this James Taylor sculpt video (below) during part of the sculpting process to find out which tools were best to use.

For achieving the rough shape, I used mainly a combination of the tools below at varying strengths and sizes.

  • Wax Tool – For Adding Material
  • Foamy Tool – Taking Material Away
  • Grab Tool – Movement/Placement Of Material

Here are a few images of the rough blocking out stage…

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Below is a perfect example of the reference image errors. It is particularly visible within the failed ear attempts (while using the reference images on front/side planes). As you can see, as I fixed it for one image, it messed it up as soon as I switched camera angle.

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At this stage particularly is when I realised that my reference images weren’t great. They are both at angles and were difficult to match up evenly. Therefore, I later started to create it more by eye with the reference images at the side of the screen. Personally, I found this a lot easier to manage and work with.

However, here is another failed attempt at the ears using reference images (yet still a better attempt than the previous one).

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Once I started making it by eye and not relying on the camera planes with the reference images is when I feel it began to look more like the subject (David). I actually took new reference images as well which I didn’t use on the camera planes.

I just couldn’t seem to take the photos correctly though, but by this stage it didn’t really matter an awful lot as I was quite far through the sculpt already. Therefore, these images sat alongside the others at the side of my screen as references during the sculpting process.

Image Reference

Anyways, I redid the ear and adjusted the face some more. I decided to block in the hair for a reference to help place the ear and other features.

Blocked in hairBlocked in hair_02

I found this to be very useful in the placement of the ear and other features. It really just brought it all to life and created a resemblance closer to David.

I used the same tools that I mentioned earlier throughout the entire sculpting process. However, some other tools were key in achieving the smaller details and finishing touches. Such as:

  • The Pinch Tool – Creating curves and receding facial features e.g. Lips, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Cheeks.
  • The Smooth Tool – Removing rough surfaces/edges/bumps/marks.
  • The Flatten Tool – Removing rough surfaces/edges/bumps/marks.

Here is the final Mudbox Sculpt:

Head Rotation

Taking A Break

As you can probably see, I prefer working with more exaggerated proportions in my art. This can be seen throughout almost all of my artwork. Therefore, while taking a bit of a break from trying to achieve a close to realistic likeness sculpt… I decided to make a few caricatures out of the sculpt. This started as a joke as I was sitting beside David, the “sculptee”. However, they developed into a few rather interesting quick caricatures. Here are three of my favourite…

The Evil Cartoon Character

The Clown

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The Green Goblin

All of the above are obviously not likeness’s of David.

However, they were entertaining to make and were quick models made as I went along with no other references.


The topology, unlike the Sculpt, required a tutorial for me to understand, in fact, a couple of tutorials. Unfortunately, I came to this conclusion the hard way resulting in a few unsuccessful topology attempts. However, I learned from my mistakes and moved on.

After researching and talking to several class mates, second years as well as my tutor. I built up a small library of topology reference images and videos to look at and follow. Some of which were good, some of which weren’t as good. However, here are the ones that I found most useful…

I printed out a few reference images to ensure I was following the proper workflow in my topology.

Image sourced from Wiki.Polycount.Com

Image sourced from 3DTotal.Com

Anyways, on to the re-topology…

I decided to keep my character with the hair in the topology. I felt that this would make it more visually interesting to look at and work with.


Here is the initial face topology without the ears. I tried to keep it reasonably low-poly to begin with. At this point, it is sitting at just over 1200 polygons.

After getting the main facial features done I went on to work on the ear. The tutorial I used as a reference, sort of skipped through this section and didn’t cover it very well… So I sort of had to work on it myself with no guide. It went rather successfully with the first ear.


However, the second ear was where I had issues, due to the other side not being completely symmetrical, it created a number of errors which I tried to fix but it didn’t work properly.


I kept the first ear that worked and then I deleted and replaced the verts and quads in the second ear.


And this was the end of my Lower-Poly Mesh Topology.


However, when shown with the actual head sculpt alongside/beneath, it lacked a severe amount of detail and didn’t match the contours of the sculpt well enough for my liking.

At this point it was sitting at 1426 faces/polygons, which was nowhere near the limit of 10,000 polygons. Therefore, I created a higher-poly sculpt as well from this one.

I went on to add much more detail to the mesh through edge loops and other tools. Smoothed out the curves and relaxed the verts into place. Allowing them to settle on nicely and fit the curvature of the face more accurately. I added in such things as a hairline and a better detailed surface.

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Below is a rotation of the Higher-Poly Mesh Topology.

Here is the finished head sculpt topology with around 6000 Polygons being used…



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