Here is a model of my first completed high poly head sculpt. I decided to go for a Star Trek theme and model a bridge officer via ‘the next generation’ style. Reference images from and various uniform images from replicas were used as templates for the final sculpt.

First a basic mesh was created and blocked in using Maya (only main and basic features were important). The completed mesh was then exported into ZBrush for further detailing where various brushes were used to add more details. All of this was done starting from the lowest subdivision and gradually working up until the final sculpt was completed. After that was completed, I went ahead and added some tertiary details to mesh (pores/wrinkles/moles/etc).

After I was satisfied with the sculpt, displacement and normal maps were generated for rendering in Maya. These were applied to a low poly mesh exported from ZBrush to Maya for texturing. Applying the displacement map was a bit of a challenge but I eventually got the hang of it (I still feel that a lot of detail was lost between my final Z sculpt and the final rendered model but I hope to improve on this for future projects). All of the texturing was done in Photoshop using image references applied to UVs that were created in UVLayout. This was my very first attempt at using sub-surface-scatter (SSS) and multilayer materials. As for the lighting, a simple 3 point set up was used with basic raytrace shadows.

In addition to the default sculpt, for animation purposes, there were 18 additional morph targets (blendshapes) that were made and exported. These were then applied to the rig to add even further control when animating. As far as the rigging is concerned, it was a very basic setup which had controls for the neck, head, eyes, mouth and tongue (basically a hybrid of bone driven and blendshape driven attributes).

Once everything was completed, the animating could begin. This was by far the funnest part. The scene I selected was a turbo-lift conversation between Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data (replaced by my head model). Basically each component was animated separately and in passes which got more and more specific with each one. Now while I was animating, I noticed that it could have been easier to if I made better morph targets (more specifically, if I understood blendshapes a bit more and made better choices, I could have gotten a cleaner animation with far less). Either-way, the process was very fun and educational.

After I was satisfied with the animation, I rendered everything out (in mental ray) and used Premiere to composite the final animation. The scene had a decent amount of dialogue to lip-sync to, but more importantly, it was also at the right angle (showing only the shoulders and head). Using Photoshop, a new background was made to replaced the original in each scene. Then it was just simply layering elements until a final composition was made. The original audio was also a bit distorted and had to be separated and cleaned up in Audition (also new ambient folie was added to better fit the new scene).

Check out the gallery to view test renders/main texture maps (there were about 30 maps in total so I only posted the main ones). Also check out the interactive model along with the final animation and turntable below. For ‘SketchFab’ controls, click on ’3D Viewer Help’ (the ‘?’ icon).

Software Utilized: Autodesk Maya, Pixologic ZBrush, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Audition, Headus UVLayout