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(Finished) Help to improve my sculpt [Cyberpunk 2077 Fanart, Kerry Eurodyne]

Edit, finally done. Scroll to latest reply to see more pics. :)
Or view in Artstation: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/0nqWEG

Been practicing likeness sculpts for a while now, and always getting stuck at the same step. I keep making tiny adjustments here and there. But in the end I might even erase some of these adjustments just to make new ones. Endless cycle! So I guess it's time to ask for other people opinions.

What am I not noticing? There is something off in the face but can't really figure it out. I did some overpaint, and fixed eyes to be a bit lower. But that's all I noticed. Now when I look at it again I think it's the eyebrows. So I guess it's something around the eyes.

Critique Needed! :)

Sculpted in Blender btw. If that is something to note. And still wip, as you can see from clothing.


  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi high dynamic range
    How are you measuring the proportions of the referencec photos you're using?
  • birb
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    birb interpolator
    I don't advise to sculpt facial hair into the mesh when using Blender. You need a way to hide it and other extras so they won't tempt you to avoid big fixes in an effort to preserve the work already sunk in those details. Never let yourself get too precious about details; they're details, they should come last.

    Blender has no sculpting layers support afaik and the workaround, shape keys, is incompatible with methods that alter the mesh resolution so either keep hair/eyebrows/beards as separate meshes, color or particle hair emitted from a hidden haircap. You need to try each method to pick the one with the drawbacks that annoy you less.

    I'm short on time so I made an unannotated paintover to illustrate the changes if you don't mind; it's a bit rough because my tablet drivers went bonkers and I can't restart at the moment. It's based on screecaps from the internet since I'm not familiar with characters in the Cyberpunk game yet.

    Your biggest issues are the plane transitions—not that proportions can't be fine-tuned because they can, though the only one I changed was the mouth position given it's way too low. Eyes are of extreme importance in a likeness, and by eyes you should also think of immediate areas surrounding them, including eyebrows and eye sockets. Yours are off. The eyelids have barely any definition, either too thin or smoothed or at wrong angles. The medial canthus of the eyes are too sunk in while most people have a noticeable angle difference between it and the lateral ones:

     If you place them at the same Y depth the eyes will easily slide into uncanny valley territory. The eyeballs seem also too forward in socket while this character seems to have a bit of an epicanthic fold going on—you need eyelid depth to depict it.

    Lastly, you'll notice I threw hair and makeup at the final stages. Doing this when you're fairly sure of your structure will let you spot minor deviations needing correction instead of hiding them, so it's a win-win.

    That's it! I hope it helps and sorry about being brusque due time constraints. You're pretty close, you only need to give your planes a bit more attention.
  • GreenFirefly
    Thank you so much Birb for your comment! It really made me realize number of things. I kept going back at it a lot.

    And for Panda's question. I mostly eyeball stuff after I have gotten the basic stuff in it's place. 

    I tried to fix few things, but once again I started to get stuck adjusting small things over and over again. And somewhere in the way I got a bit lost. Now it's already really late here, but I wanted to post quick update to tell that I'm still trying. Trying again tomorrow, need a break so I can see the mistakes again.

  • GreenFirefly
    Another update! Slowly getting somewhere closer. Learned hard way that I should have taken a break yesterday earlier already. Really helped looking at it differently now.

    Just created quick mask to help visualize his face with makeup and facial hair. 

  • GreenFirefly
    This project turned out much bigger than I ever planned. In just few days I even trained myself to use zbrush. (Really liking it actually. Always wanted to try it.)

    Anyways. There is big difference, but I really don't know what to do next. Been struggling for hours now. I am going in circles, and zbrush's undo actions show it. There is like 3 really similar looking steps, which I kept destroying and redoing. 
    He has bit of a stylized look at the moment. I think it's because of eyes, nose and lips are too big? Is there any easy way to scale those down in zbrush? Without a lot of fixing.

    I would love to hear thoughts, because currently I am willing to give up completely. 

  • birb
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    birb interpolator
    I feel the version in the previous post is closer to the original, but it could be the material and focal length throwing me off.

    How proficient at 2D painting are you? You need to step back when you start to run into circles then iterate through possible changes quickly when you return. The way I go about this is to take a screenshot, load it at photoshop side-by-side with references and do a quick paintover not unlike the one I posted of what needs to change. If you're struggling with anatomy also gather some planes of the head photos and mixed references of different people with similar features to the ones you're having trouble with. This will give you a solid goal to work towards and in case of anatomy struggles, deepen your understanding of it at the same time.

    Know your weaknesses so you learn what you need to improve and what you can quickly workaround. E.g.: I have a harder time judging something grayscale. At this point I'd have already thrown a quick color texture on it to help me visualize the features—I don't sculpt with it on, but I turn it on when checking progress. Bonus points for making clear what's albedo and what's a real plane change. I also take cues from the light when analyzing images, thus using light to guide me when doing a likeness; that means creating a good or similar light setup and jumping from ZBrush back to Blender (GoB!) from time to time to check progress.

    Check the current project I'm sharing on my sketchbook for an example of what I described above. I mean, I suspect it's a highly unorthodox workflow that would have wiser artists running me out of town =), but it's pretty flexible. Some technical details I didn't mention in those posts:

    1. I split the sculpt window in 2 screens: main one with clay shading, tools and overlays, the secondary with lights and HDRI on Eevee and no overlay (or wireframe when pushing vertices in a quad mesh) to check progress and other angles in real time.

    2. If freeforming like that I use dynotopo (or dynamic topology) with a fixed, manually controlled resolution. Quads break and force you to go up in resolution at inconvenient times making it not only harder to sculpt major shapes cleanly but resulting in a heavier mesh. You can project details in ZBrush onto a quad mesh when you're sure you won't need to do big structural changes anymore.

    3. Blender's Elastic Brush is your friend. I like it very much to adjust proportions. When needing to resize or rotate something I may jump into Edit Mode and maybe proportional edit (connected vertices) or maybe just smooth out the breaks afterwards in the sculpt.

    4. Planar brushes are awful in Blender. Resign yourself to doing something blob-ish here + proportions adjustments, refine in ZBrush.

    5. I've been painting an actual texture when doing the quick color previews lately. It may sound insane to do so when the dynamic sculpting breaks the highpoly UV, but projecting details textures exists for this! Bear in mind I'm talking about painting quick textures: Waste no more than 15min on it then use Blender to bake it from old to new sculpt when needed (a bonus is having a color preview for clients, which is nice). Another option is to vertex paint and use data transfer modifiers to project to the updated mesh. I've also been painting those in Blender because between Eevee and procedural nodes you can get something good really fast. The only thing slow is Blender's interface, hah.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi high dynamic range
    Don't eyeball proportions.  Use the shape of the eye, at least, to measure how many "eyes" away somethig is from another element.  The head is X eyes long, the lips are Y eyes wide, etc.

    Professionals still measure. Or, they should be measuring still/
  • GreenFirefly
    Still on this project!

    Just took a small break after realizing that I didn't really progress. Thank you birb and Panda for you replies. It really helped me to realized the current state I am in. 

    So I went back to the basics. Studied Zbrush like an maniac and read a book and really tried to figure out anatomy better. It was really hard to realize that my strong 2D background was throwing me off. And in 3D likenesses you can't really "cheat" like in 2D. Just a tip for anyone who is struggling with it like I did, forget everything you know about 2D. Haha.

    So yeah, here is my current sculpt. Now I'm back again making small adjustments and then just reverting back. And that's why making this update now. I feel like I'm currently really close already. I just need to make a really small change somewhere. And why I revert back is because I do it too much. (Ears are still needing to be done and I think the back of the skull is bit too far.)

    This was suppose to be really small fanart project. But now I won't let it go before I am really happy with it. That's why I also created full body for him. Posting it later once I'm happy with the head. So let me hear your thoughts. I am really looking forward some feedback as I am really trying to improve here. 

  • birb
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    birb interpolator
    There's a marked improvement in the top of the skull, hair volume and temples! The hairline might be tad too low but I think you got plenty room to adjust it later.

    I'm not so sure about the glabella-brow area, and the lips volume and sharpness though it's not your fault, I have a hard time reading this type of matcap when a sculpt reaches this point. You might want to soften the nasolabial fold crease a bit (not sure due the mat) and make sure its tail next to the mouth is aligned to the last 1/3 of the eyes in the next pass, matching the moustache shape to it, as the moustache is contained within the folds in the refs.

    Depending on how comfortable you are with quick and dirty texturing it might be worth giving him a quick skin texture with procedural AO and roughness in the near future then throw him into a scene with real lights and shadows to do a more 1:1 evaluation against the references.

    Drop me a PM if you're not familiar with semi-proc Blender skin and feel like trying my lookdev node tree then.
  • GreenFirefly
    Oh Kerry, why is your face so hard.

    Time for posting again. I always decide that on a certain day I'm gonna write a post. Kinda like a deadline for myself, to work harder and then take a step back to really look at my work.

    Once again I'm feeling that I am getting closer, but there is some really small thing that I'm not getting. His face has some roundness and at the same time it's kinda flat. Forehead vs mouth. Around the mouth area mostly. That is something that I'm really struggling with. I know that I would really benefit from getting really good side profile reference, but it's really hard to find one with good lightning and angle.

    And then the full body that I was talking about in the last post. If there is something completely off please let me know asap. What I noticed while writing this post is that his legs might be a bit too thick and wrist too thin.
    Please ignore his hair. I already have real-time hair done, so this is just for the sake of it.

    Phew. What I have learned from this is that next time I will use base mesh. Sculpting everything from scratch, face, body and clothes, is really time consuming. And learn marvelous designer. 

  • GreenFirefly

    Been a while but finally, I call this project done! What a great learning experience this has been. I wrote a full breakdown of this project which I am planning to post later. I thought it was important for me to write down all I have learned, and maybe it can help someone else at my level as well.

    I am certain (and I know) there are many things I could improve. I am pretty happy with how he turned out and I can see my style in this project as well. But I think it's now time I move on to another project instead of doing small changes forever in this one. New challenges, new learning experiences...But of course, I am happy to accept feedback though! 

    Thank you for all the help(especially birb!) and also to everyone else who viewed my work :)

    More pictures can be found in Artstation: www.artstation.com/artwork/0nqWEG

    This is an unofficial fan work and is not approved/endorsed by CD PROJEKT RED.

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