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Modeling the rest of the head

Now we'll finish modeling the head. It will consist of several extrusions and moving lots of vertices around.

  • AltRMB Template-RMB.png to loop-select the outside edge, as in Head vertices to extrude.
  • E to extrude, as in Head extrusion 1.
  • Move vertices so they're a little closer to the same plane (Adjusting vertices).
Head vertices to extrude.
Head extrusion 1.
Adjusting vertices.

  • AltRMB Template-RMB.png to loop-select the new outside edge, and extrude this new edge as in Head extrusion 2.
  • Now let's do a third extrusion, but not on the whole edge. This time, select just the middle four vertices and extrude them straight backward as in Head extrusion 3.
  • Switch to Rear View (Ctrl1 NumPad). Adding the Ctrl to the hotkey for Front View (1 NumPad) gives us the opposite (rear) view.
  • Move the newly extruded vertices toward the center of the head with G. Thanks to the Mirror modifier and Do Clipping, they can't go any farther than the center plane (Merging the back of the head). Once they get to the center line, they snap there and essentially merge with the centerline.
Head extrusion 2.
Head extrusion 3.
Merging the back of the head.

  • Close off the holes by making faces: select four vertices at a time (RMB Template-RMB.png) and create a face out of those vertices (F). See Finishing head 1, Finishing head 2, and Finishing head 3.
Finishing the head 1.
Finishing the head 2.
Finishing the head 3.

Making the inside of the mouth

The next step is to close up the mouth. To do that we'll have to extrude the lips inward to make a "pocket" that will form the inside of the mouth. We'll use a new feature, AltB, to work on the inside of the mesh.

Clipping the view.
  • Switch to side view (3 NumPad).
  • Clip the view by pressing AltB and dragging a box around the lower front part of the head, LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm. (Clipping the view). Clipping the view is a valuable tool for working with complex meshes. It is a way of hiding parts of a mesh you don't need to see. It might take a little practice to figure out how to get the view you want, but once you figure it out it's very helpful. You can always hit AltB again to restore the view.

Lips selected in clipped view.
  • Now rotate the view to see the inside of the head.
  • Loop-select the lips with AltRMB Template-RMB.png, as in Lips selected in clipped view.

Extruding lips backward.
  • Switch to Side View in Wireframe mode (3 NumPad, then Z). This is so we can extrude backward and see how far back we're going.
  • Extrude the edgeloop straight back (Extruding lips backward).

Closing off the back of the mouth.
  • Switch back to Solid mode so we can easily see the faces we're about to make (Z).
  • Starting from one end of the extruded edge loop, select four vertices at a time and press F to make a face out of them. Make several faces to close off the back of the mouth, as in Closing off the back of the mouth.

Loop cutting the inside of the mouth.
  • Make a loop-cut (CtrlR around the inside of the mouth, as in Loop cutting the inside of the mouth. This will allow us to give the mouth enclosure more volume.

Shaping the inside of the mouth.
  • Shape the inside of the mouth, as in Shaping the inside of the mouth:
    • Enlarge the newly loop-cut vertices
    • Narrow the newly created faces at the back of the mouth
    • Lower the back of the mouth.

Closing the mouth

  • Make two more loop cuts:
    • One on the front of the face (A loop cut on the front)
    • One on the inside of the mouth (Another loop cut on the inside of the mouth).

By having several vertex loops close to each other like this, the transition between face, lips, and mouth will be more distinct.

A loop cut on the front.
Another loop cut on the inside of the mouth.

Now we're ready to close the mouth. This is basically just grabbing vertices and moving them, but there are a couple of things you should be aware of:

The final character is going to have the Subsurf modifer applied (it will be "subsurfed") to make it look nice and smooth. Meshes look different depending on whether they are subsurfed or not. It's possible that the mouth might look closed with Subsurf turned off, but once we turn on Subsurf the mouth opens a little. The trick is to make sure the mouth is closed when the mesh is subsurfed. To do this:

Modifier stack buttons.
  • Use the Subsurf modifier buttons and apply it to the editing cage (remember the gray circle on the right side of the Subsurf Modifier? See Modifier stack buttons). If you don't turn on subsurf in edit mode, you'll find that it's difficult to know when the mouth is fully closed.
  • Now select vertices and start closing the mouth. As you're closing the mouth, you'll have to move the vertices in several edgeloops. You'll get a better shape that way.
  • Try to make the expression of the face "bored". We will be forming mouth shapes and expressions later on, and it's best to start with a face with no expressions - so no smile or frown or anything on the shape we're building now.

The series of images below shows the progressive closing of the mouth, with Subsurf turned on in Edit Mode. When moving the lips, I grabbed the vertices just inside the mouth, not just the lip vertices. First the top lip was moved down, then the bottom lip moved up, and then the sides of the mouth were brought in a little bit.

Closing the mouth 1 (Lip vertices, as well as nearby vertices inside the mouth, are selected.)
Closing the mouth 2 (moved the top lip, along with the vertices just inside the mouth, downward).

Closing the mouth 3 (moved the bottom lip upward).
Closing the mouth 4 (moved the corners of the mouth down and inward a little to get rid of the faint smile).

Final adjustments

Subsurf modifier turned off. The upper lip appears to be pulled over the lower lip.
Fixing the extreme angles on the upper lip by moving nearby vertices.
  • Turn off Subsurf in Edit Mode, by using the buttons in the Subsurf Modifier. Now we can see the underlying editing cage, as in Subsurf modifier turned off. Note that the upper lip of the editing cage appears to be pulled down past the lower lip. You can't even see some of the lower lip vertices, because they're covered by the upper lip.

That's OK! A subsurfed surface is always smaller than its editing cage (picture a sheet hanging from the vertices of the editing cage). We want the mouth to be closed when it's subsurfed -- in other words, we want the subsurfed faces to touch each other. In order to do that we have to overcompensate by pulling the un-subsurfed upper lip over the lower lip vertices. By editing the mesh as we did earlier with Subsurf applied to the editing cage, we didn't have to guess how far to pull the upper lip down. We were able to edit it directly.

Now with Subsurf still turned off, you can see a dark area around the upper lip. This dark area is often caused by extreme stretching or bending of the editing cage. This often happens if you shape your mesh exclusively with Subsurf turned on.

To fix it, either add more vertices or move nearby vertices closer. Luckily, we made that loop cut a couple steps back to give ourselves more vertices to work with.

  • Move the second row of vertices in the upper lip down a little (as in Fixing the extreme angles), this will smooth out the mesh.

The finished face

Finished face 1 (Ortho view).
Finished face 2 (Perspective view).

The finished face looks like Finished face 1 and Finished face 2. The difference between the two that (1) is in orthographic view, and (2) is in perspective view. You can switch between the views with 5 NumPad.

Orthographic view is the default view. In orthographic view, all planes in the view are perpendicular to each other - there's no perspective, no "vanishing points", no taking distance into account. Ortho view is handy for when you want to transform vertices only in one plane, when you want to model mechanical objects, or when you're trying to be more exact in how the vertices are moved.

Perspective view is a "real-life" kind of view - distance is taken into account. It's also the default view for the camera, so when you render a project the final image will be in perspective view. This view is more realistic, and is useful for getting the final shape of objects.

Don't forget to save a version with F2-+ NumPad-↵ Enter!

That's it! Now you have a face with enough geometry that you can animate facial expressions. Next, we'll create a body for the character, before moving on to rigging and animation. Get ready for more extruding and moving!

You can download the .blend file for the finished head here:


Next: BSoD/Introduction_to_Character_Animation/Neck_shoulders_and_arms

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