Secrets of Swimsuit Babe
by Jimmy Chow, Hong Kong


Making an attractive woman is always a goal for most CG enthusiasts. It’s also true to me. After a few years’ learning, I think it’s time to make one myself. Apart from attractiveness, I also want it to be a full body character, have long hairs; long legs, healthy skin tone, wearing high-heel shoes, and I want to avoid nudity as well.

The costume of the character would need to show most of the body. The types to choose are lingerie and swimsuit. I decided for the latter after I came across some Jantzen’s swimsuits in a magazine. The one I adopted is its 2007 design and it can be found in its website

The character would be fictitious. I didn’t want it to resemble anyone. Because I wanted to make a perfect looking body and did not want to be hindered by anyone who is not necessarily perfect. In that case, I could also be relieved from spending too much time to pursue likeness indefinitely. Moreover, the character would be a westerner and have blond hair. There was no sketch of pose or facial appearance as this was just a personal project. There was no need to get approval. The software’s I used were Maya 7 for modeling and rendering, ZBrush and Photoshop for texturing, and Shake for compositing. The project is documented in three sections: Modeling, Hair and Rendering. Hair requires special treatment as its modeling and rendering are very different from the rest of the scene.


Objective - To make an attractive woman, the facial features as well as the body must be well proportioned. There’re rules for well-proportioned face and body. They can be found in most drawing books. Refer to the list given on the last page.

Approach -
Here I’m going to do usual polygon modeling. There’ll be no subdivision modeling as mental ray can’t render subdivision surface. I won’t try ZSphere modeling in ZBrush which I don’t think would work for me.

There are basically two different approaches for polygon modeling: box modeling and patch modeling. The former starts from a cube or sphere which is then “sculpted”. You’ll rough out the overall shape and then increase density gradually until you’ve reached the final shape. The latter starts from a small polygon patch which may be converted from a NURBS patch or may just be a square or cube, which is a rough shape of a local feature like lips or eyepit. You’ll then extrude edges or faces repetitively until you’ve modeled the whole shape. My approach is a hybrid one: I use different techniques for different features in the face and body.

My goal is to create a model having a good topology up to the level which is good enough to make it look attractive. In other words, details like wrinkles under armpits and those on top of knuckles and knees are not necessary to appear in the model. They’ll be delayed until after I’ve finished rigging and rendering. They’ll probably be realized by applying displacement map to the model in later stage. But render time will be compromised for sure.

Moreover, I’ll not eagerly pursue all-quad model and edge loops because I don’t see why they’re necessary. But a neat topology is composed mostly of quadrangles so I’ll try to make the model nearly all-quad as much as I can for this technical reason. Later when I need to import the model into ZBrush, I’ll simply smooth it once and it’ll be all-quad. Although edge loops are not necessary, edge flow is important to make a model look natural. The reason is obvious because a natural looking model can deceive your eyes such that you can almost see the underlying muscle and bone structure.

Finally I’m not going to paint texture like painting game characters. I’m trying to produce natural looking flesh out from modeling (with proper shader tuning of course) so that I don’t need to do painting to emphasize structure. You can see how much I have achieved it by looking at the final image. The result looks more natural than those which rely heavily on painting.

Techniques - Throughout the modeling process, there’re some points to be aware of:
  • Avoid straight lines
  •  Avoid regular structures
  •  Use enough vertices to describe contours
  •  Make lively contours
  •  Keep referring to references
Straight lines should be avoided for obvious reason. But what are regular structures? What I mean here are cylinder, sphere or other primitive like structures. Some people make the neck and limbs like cylinders. The edge flow in cylinders does not match the muscle flow at all so they should be avoided. If you use ZBrush to model with its ZSphere technique, it will generate these regular structures. That’s why people have to retopologize the model outside ZBrush. But there is a structure in the body which can be made directly out from primitive. They’re the breasts. In order to break up the regular structures, one technique you can employ is “spin edge”. It is depicted as follows.

This is a way to change edge flow so that it’ll match the underlying structure. To quickly execute this action, you can use the script called OMT_to_spinEdge in Open Maya Toolbox

Beware of the contours or outlines you’re making. Keep rotating the model in 3D space to observe the contours. They also govern the density or the polygon count of the model. Contour is composed of vertices. The number of vertices necessary to construct the contour affects their density and thus polygon count. Lively contours are those appear in living things. Try to understand the reason why they appear the way they are. Observe their curvatures and how they change directions. Try to apply the result of your observation in your modeling. There’s no rule for it as contour construction is the major contributing factor for the style of artists. Some drawing books do emphasize the significance of contours and show demonstrations. Refer to those Appendix section in the end.

Always refer to references and instructions in drawing books as much as you can. References can be photos, your body or someone’s body. But they must be of high quality. Use photos of beautiful ladies exclusively. If your body is not beautiful, it cannot be used as reference. Otherwise, the model will likely to be distorted from being attractive. An example is the gastrocnemius (back of the lower leg). It is large and prominent in most people’s legs. If you follow those legs, your model will look terrible. A beautiful gastrocnemius should appear slim and is not prominent from side view.

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