Making of Manolia
by Stuzzi, France Web:

making of manolia


I do appreciate the special mood of the studio’s photography’s. I thought it could be interesting to reproduce this feeling in CG. Even if I haven’t practice this exercise before, I believe it has already been done by talented artists. Rather than taking inspiration from them I prefer to take advice of the photographers about how to set up the composition.

Modeling and UV

I started from an existing low poly mesh. The morphology of this base has already some interesting features. This starting point could save me a lot of time later once I’ll need to block a nice silhouette. Because I don’t have much time to finalize this illustration, anything that can speed up the process is welcome.

The Essential is to keep the topology as even as possible. We can have some exceptions though. As far as I’m concerned some edges could be pinched at this production step. It helps me as references plus adds some more irregularities at some strategic localization. This allows me not to subdivide too much once sculpting with Zbrush or Mudbox. I always keep in mind to optimize stuffs to make the rest of the process easier by limiting the resources. I don’t believe whether it is the number of polygon which makes the model; it is more about exact features and of volume.


I already know the overall look of the final illustration. As I know which parts are visible at the end, for evident reasons of optimization I remove the backfaces -almost the half of the head. I’ll have some more definition with UV’s, Render process and speed up my ZBrush’s performance.

In this case, the level of detail of the displacement shouldn’t be too high. There is a fundamental difference between high and low frequency. The data of these levels have to be stored into a specific map for an optimal use. Once subdivided, I consider that in most cases the female face shouldn’t exceed 300K polygons.

I use the transpose tool to adjust the neck rotation. Brushes like inflat and move, allow me to block quickly tendons and muscles. Some news features of Zbrush can be useful to modify the topology if the edge flow is not matching with the fine details. Sometimes the retopology tool of Zbrush appears not intuitive enough; I believe some other alternatives ways exist to recover details from an arbitrary mesh. I like to combine different approaches and software’s.


I try to add details with subtlety. Adding too much detail without a proper adjustment could alter the realism of the model. Some artists prefer to exaggerate the details in order to make them obvious but I think that it’s better to leave it as it should be in the real life. We just need to feel that something happen with the surface. I paid attention to give a feeling of weight and materials at this step. The bones and cartilage tend to be solid whereas the fleshy parts have rather a perturbed surface.

Here is the level of displacement. I’m satisfied with its definition and its visual effects latex mask look.

At this point the morphology of the character is distinct. The curvature of the nose and the eyes sign a Eurasian type. Hopefully the pulpy mouth will add some more glamour. The facial expression is strengthening with the subtle opening mouth. The neck will take a large part of the picture; the finest details appearing under the skin will add some more fragility to the character. A sphere is used as a reference in order to make sure that the shape of the eyelids is consistent. It can be benefit to break rules and stereotypes. I mean that we see often recurrent morphologies in computer graphics. I take time to refine the imperfection and turn it as a characteristic. Anything that is not common may accentuate the nature of the character no matter if the nose is too short or the eyes not as big as it should be.

facial expression

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