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After my latest collaboration with Groundwork Animation, I decided to add new skills to my profile.

I mainly work with heads as a senior groom TD with a strong passion for hyperreal human hair. Until now, for my personal projects, I bought the models from 3DScanstore, but this time, I decided to sculpt them by myself, starting from scratch.

So, I made Mike Tyson's head's digi double and prepared it for production use. The model has a clean topology and 7 LOD (12K to 50Ml poly):​​


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The approach was production-driven, so I used all the techniques and tools I knew to complete the job in a reasonable amount of time. This is not a masterpiece to showcase on Art Station but a production-ready model. To be clear, I could have started from a sphere, but it made no sense since I could use a tool like Face Builder to block the general shape more quickly and precisely.


The same is true for textures. I used my refs for the albedo map and projected them on the mesh using Substance Painter. I aimed to increase my sculpting skills so I could not waste time painting them from scratch. This will happen for the next model.

You can download the model for FREE and use it for personal projects and tests:

I think it is worth quickly sharing my modeling approach since having issues and finding solutions is very common in production. It's also the best way to improve your skills and discover new tools.                   


The first step is blocking the general shape. A long time ago, I fell in love with Face Builder, a Blender/Nuke plugin to quickly model a head deforming a base mesh using some reference images:​​


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After some work, this was my starting point for ZBrush:

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With that base mesh, I started the sculpting process, using many photo references, my anatomy knowledge, and Uldis Zarins's anatomy for sculptors' books.

As for painting or drawing portraits, the most important thing is to identify the critical features of your character. In my case, these were:

  • the nose

  • the top eyelids

For the nose, most of the work was done; for the eyelids, some more was needed:


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Other than that, I wanted to add some other details to get the displacement or normal map. So, after some days of work, I ended up with this more detailed and close to the refs model: 


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To add the "wet eye" effect, I created the mesh using the model in Maya. This is a key feature for adding realism to your character's eyes.


To perfectly stick this shape to the eye and the eyelids, I used the quad draw tool in the modeling toolkit:


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But at this point, I discovered something went wrong with the eyes:


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For some reason, they were different in size and position, and since I also groomed (in Houdini) lashes and brows, I had to find a quick way to fix the problem of deforming all the subtools in one go.

Luckily, ZBrush has a great tool called Transpose Master. You can find it in the ZPlugin menu:


Using it, I was able to "combine" all the pieces into one single mesh, deform it, and return all m subtools with the new shape.

At this point, I had to create a clean topology. For this task, I used ZWrap, another tool I fell in love with long ago. Once you install it, you can find it in the ZPLugin menu.

As reference mesh, I used one of 3Dscanstore's heads. This way, I could get the same topology, Polygroups, and the 7 LOD (12k to 50Ml polys):


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As last step, I projected all the details of my sculpture to this clean mesh:


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​I used Marmoset to visualize my model and render the turntable for the first time.

Texturing and rendering were not the main goals of this project, so to get the best result quickly, I used the Marmoset scene included in every 3DScanstore head package and changed some maps.

For this reason, the zip file contains only the albedo and normal map. You can buy one of the heads' scans here to get all the other textures.


Especially in this case, this one is the most important, but painting textures takes a lot of time, and getting a realistic effect is difficult. In a production environment, you have to get the best result as quickly as you can. For these reasons, I used my refs to paint/project the color using Substance Painter.

The challenge here was to get rid of the highlights and shadows and the tattoo (for the right side) since I wanted to use the nice high-resolution image I found:


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Luckily, I spent many years doing photo retouching and using Photoshop tools, I was able to get a clean albedo map


For the top and back part of the head, I also used 3DScanstore maps:


Displacement/Normal maps

I used a mix of sculpting (not getting the displacement map from ZBrush) and normal maps. For the latter, I modified the 3DScanstore texture:


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Reflection maps

For these, I made some simple tweaks to adapt them to my model.​


Back at home, finally :)

As a senior groomer, I could not resist adding some facial hair, but since I wanted to render using Marmoset, I kept it very simple. ​He always changes his style as a sportsman, but maybe those mustaches, with their density and distribution, are recognizable.

I did the job in Houdini, exported everything (mesh + grooming) as fbx, and imported it in Marmoset.


I used the setup that comes with every 3DScanstore head package. I chose PNG in the rendering options to have more control and no compression, imported that frames in Resolve and rendered the final turntable from there.

This is the final result:​


This model is my starting point as a pro modeler. The next step will be attending Sefki Ibrahim's latest character creation course to push my level further and have a production reference.

Writing tutorials is a great way to improve your skills and review your working routines. Sharing knowledge with the community is crucial and I encourage you to do the same.

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