3D Stylized Head Tutorial


There is no 'one' right or wrong way to model a head. Everyone seems to have a technique they prefer, but there is a vast number of different ways that a person can choose to tackle the problem of modeling a head in 3-dimentions.

I think that one of the earliest things that I started trying to model was a head, and I can tell you that I made a LOT of very ugly heads. I think that it was the 12th or 13th time that I modeled a head that it actually looked okay. So if this is your first time trying this, and it doesn't come amazing, don't worry. This is one of those things that takes practice to get right.

I've used lots of different techniques to model heads. It seems like I was trying a new technique with every head for a while there. The technique that I'm going to use today is the one that I've used on the last 3 heads I've modeled, and I personally think I've gotten the best results with it.

This is not the only/best way to do this! If you try this, and it doesn't work out for you, don't loose hope, there are plenty of other options to try


Modeling without reference is possible... but in my opinion, it's kind of stupid. Sure, it's possible for someone to model something amazing without using a single bit of reference. But I bet they would have gotten it done quicker, and without having to fix things nearly as often if they'd just taken some time in the beginning to prepare.

Modeling a head without using any reference is probably just a very quick way to get frustrated.

For reference it's usually a good idea to use a photo of a real head. Sure you can draw a head, but it won't be as accurate as a photograph, and will be more likely to mess you up at some point.

But this tutorial is for modeling a stylized head. Something more along the lines of anime. For this I would usually just go off of a drawing, however this time I'm doing something a little different.

Not too long ago, I found a website (http://dreamofdoll.com) and I FELL IN LOVE with the faces of the dolls. The second I saw some of the photos of these dolls, the first thing that came to my mind was "I wanna model that!" So I saved the pictures and they have rested on my hard drive ever since.

When I was asked to make a 3D Anime Head Modeling tutorial, I remembered the pictures and decided that this was a good opportunity to put it to use.

So This is the head I choose to model

Not only is it a straight front shot, it's also got a perfect profile shot. It was perfect reference for modeling. But it still needed some prepping.

There are some important key things to take into account when preparing modeling reference.

1. The images that you put into Max need to be the same size as each other. If one image is 400x412, the other one needs to be 400x412 too. Not only that, but they need to be lined up to each other perfectly. The head needs to be the same size, the noses need to be aligned, the eyes, the chins, the mouths, etc

Take your two images side by side and rotate and scale them until they are the same size and are lined up properly

Quick Tip: In Photoshop, turn on rulers by pressing Ctrl+R. Click on the top ruler and drag down to create a horizontal guide line. Click on the left ruller and drag across to make a verticle guide line.

Make your two images so that they're still aligned, etc. These are the final reference images I ended up with



Quick Tip: Avoid having a white background on your images! If you draw your reference images and have it on white paper, darken the image in photoshop so that the background is grey. If your photos have white backgrounds, do the same. When you have objects selected in max, that object's wireframe becomes white. If the image you are using as reference has a white background, it will make it very difficult to see the object over it!


I'm using 3ds max 7 for this tutorial, HOWEVER I garuntee that the tools and steps I will use will be the same in just about any version. I use editable poly (I'll explain what that is later) so if you have a reeeally old version of max (like... version 3 or something) then you won't have the same options. It only has editable mesh/patch/etc. But version 4,5, & 6 have the same tools I'm about to use (I know because I used all of those versions and I did things the same in them as I do in this one). And I can just about garuntee that these things will still be the same when version 8 comes out. So no worries about versions

Side Note

If you do not have 3DStudio Max, there is a free version called gmax. It's released by descreet, the makers of 3dsmax. I haven't personally used gmax, but I understand it's quite similar to 3dsmax vs4.

Open 3ds max. First thing we're going to do is setup our reference images. The screen should be divided into four screens. One that says Top, Front, Left, and Perspective. If all you see is one large screen, go to the very bottom-right of the screen, and click on this button:

Okay, so if you see the 4-way split screen, click anywhere in the one that's labeled "Front"

Now from the top menu (File, Edit, Tools, etc.) click on Views > Viewport Background... or press Alt+B. This will open the viewport window. Under Backaground Source click the "Files..." button and open the reference image for the front. (This should be the larger version of the image above, that has the lines drawn on it).

IMPORTANT! Next, make sure Match Bitmap is selected, and check the Lock Zoom/Pan option. Once done, click ok

Repeat this step for the Side viewport. First make sure you click in the viewport labeled Left, press Alt+B to open the viewport background, etc.

Checking the Lock Zoom option, freezes the images with the viewport so that you can move around the the image will move with it. If you do not check this option, the image will stay in place while you move around, rendering it just about totally useless.

Okay, so now we have our references images imported to max. Let's get started with the actual modeling!


For this face, we're going to work all in the front viewport first, and after we've gotten a fair distance, we'll move to the left and perspective viewports to add depth to the face.

I don't usually plan out my edgeloops, but I've gone ahead and done it for this tutorial to help show what we're aiming for

The above image shows the sort of geometry we're aiming for (mind you it'll end up more detailed then this, but this is just a vague guide). When you make your model with these loops in place, it makes it easier for the model to be animated later if you so desire (it'll deform more accurately with proper edge loops in place) but it's also easier to get a more accurate shape, if you model with edge loops too.

The loops around the eyes and mouth is where everything begins. The lines coming down from the nose and around the mouth are also hugely important for later animation and deformations, but even if you have no intention of animating your face, these edges will still help improve the shape of the model greatly.
Let's get started.

First click in the front viewport and click the viewport toggle button in the lower-right corner of the screen. This will full-screen the front viewport an make it easier to work there

In max, on the far right-hand side of the screen is a menu section. At the top are several tab-buttons. The first tab is called Create and it's icon is that of a little mouse cursor. Make sure you're on this tab.

Click on the button called Plane (if you don't see a button called Plane, first make sure that the first of the top buttons 'geometry' is highlighted, and if it is, then make sure that Standard Primitives is selected in the drop-down menu)

In the front view, draw a rectangle around the head. (don't worry about it being perfect yet).

With the Move Tool selected, go down to the bottom of the screen and type in 0 for X

If you made your reference image correctly (or if you're using mine) this should center the plane right down the center of the reference image.

With the plane still selected, go to the Modify tab (it's the button directly next to the create tab we were just in). The Modify Tab is where most everything happens. The drop-down menu that says "Modifier List" is where you'll find most of Max's tools and features.

Right now the object is still a pimitive object and it has parameters that can be changed. You should see settings like Length, Width, Length Segs, Width Segs, etc. I set my Length Segs to 6 and Width Segs to 6 to start. It made the plane look like this:

Next we'll convert it from a primitive to an editable poly mesh. Right-Click on the word Plane in the modifier stack and you'll see a menu appear. Choose Editable Poly. This will change the modifier stack. You will loose the option to automatically add more virticle or horizontal segments, however you can add them manually now and will have control over individual vertexes, etc

Click on the little + button in front of Editable Poly and the sub-object selection options will appear. Select Polygon.

Select one half of the polygons and delete them!

Now click on the drop-down menu "Modifier List" and go way to the bottom and find the modifier called "Symmetry".
The parameters in Symmetry are very simple. Choose the Mirror Axis, in this case it should be X. If you see nothing, check the Flip options. Now it should look just like it did before - squares on both sides of the face. The difference is that now, any changes you make to the left side of the face will automatically happen to the right.

Click back down onto Editable Poly... ah! the other side of the plane disapeared again! No worries. There are several buttons directly under the modifier stack, one of them is "Show End result Toggle On/Off". If you click on this button, even if you're working at the bottom of the stack in the editable poly modifier, it'll show the end result with all of the other modifiers applied to it.

Quick Tip: If you're aiming for high poly modeling, a great way to work is to apply a Mesh Smooth modifier to the end of the stack, but work in low poly. You can see how the model will look with the high poly end result, but still have the ease of working with fewer vertices and edges that comes with low-poly modeling.

Start move some vertices around to match the edge loops we're aiming for. Right now we're only working in one dimention, so it's still just a flat plane, but later on, we'll start pushing in and outwards and giving depth to the face.

Okay, so 6 edges isn't enough to get much done is it? You want to add some more edges in and it's pretty easy. There are several ways to add in more geometry. One is to connect selected edges, another is to cut edges. Right now we're in vertex sub-object mode, but we need to be in Edge mode, so select it from the modifier stack.

Select and edge and click the button that says "Ring". It selected all of the ledges paralell to it in a row! If you click the button that says Connect, it'll create edges going along the center of all of those edges. If you select an edge and click on the button the says "Loop" it'll select all of the edges in a straing line. These selection tools are quick and easy ways to select groups of edges. You can also do it manually. Click on an edge and hold down the Control key as you click on additional edges. If you select a group of edges and click Connect, it'll create new edges connecting all of the selected edges.

Another way to create new edges is with "Cut". If you click and drag on a blank space around all of the buttons in here (for example, click and drag on the empty grey area under the Ring button) you can scroll up and down in the options area. (there's a lot more than you see at first!).

Down a little bit, under Edit Geometry, you'll find a button called Cut. Click the button and try clicking around the plane. It'll create edges as you cut. Add edges, go into vertex mode, move around some vertices, and try to match the loop guide.

If you need to remove an edge, click on it and click the Remove button. Removing an edge leaves a verticie behind, and you have to remove any extra verticies too. If you remove a loop of edges and then go into vertex mode, you'll see a string of verticies were the edges were. Select the verticies and click the remove button to remove them.

Not only can you connect edges to create new edges, you can connect verticies as well. Select two verties that are diagnol from each other and click the connect button. It'll create an edge between them.

This is what I've got at this point

I pretty much just followed the image reference. I added a bit more around the nose because I know they'll be nessecary in a moment. The nose is a hard area to prepare for, it's one of those things that I tackle mostly when I've got depth to the face already and working in perspective view.

So lets move into the perspective view and see what we've got so far! Press the "P" button, or click on the viewport toggle button in the bottom-right of the screen. Then click in the perspective viewport and click the toggle button again. Either way, you should end up with the perspective viewport, full-size on the screen. Now you can rotate around the plane and look it over

If you do not see the lines you've cut into the plane, in perspective view, press the F4 key on your keyboard. It'll toggle between showing the lines and not showing them. If all you see is a wireframe, and not a shaded view, press the F3 button. It'll toggle between wireframe and shaded view.

Okay, so all that work, and all we've got is a plane. This next part is the hard one. It takes lots of time and a lot of little fixes to get the depth right.

So lets switch back to the 4-way view. Press the viewport toggle button once so you see all 4 views at once. In the side view, select all of the verticies and move them forward so that they're at the tip of the nose

In the front view, deselect the vertex on the center tip of the nose, and two of the center forehead vertexes. In the side view pull everything else back a bit. Deselect some of the other center verticies as you see fit and pull back some more. Continue this till you have a profile of the center of the face completed. (don't look in the perspective view, it'll just screw with you. We'll mess with that a little further down.)

Now that we've got the easy one done (the center profile), pull the mass of verts back forward and start working your way out from the center. Gradually, pulling further back. It'll probably help if you pull some key parts back early. For example, grab the outer border of the face and pull it back so it gives you something to work towards with the middle.

Now that we've got the easy one done (the center profile), pull the mass of verts back forward and start working your way out from the center. Gradually, pulling further back. It'll probably help if you pull some key parts back early. For example, grab the outer border of the face and pull it back so it gives you something to work towards with the middle.

At this point it's actually starting to look like a face. Just a little further to go. Keep pulling all of those flat verts forwards and back until the entire face has been laid out in the front and side views.

So this is what we've got right now! We can finally start working in perspective view and cleaning up things. The weakest parts are the mouth, nose and eyes. They need more detail than the front and side editing could give us

Let's start with the mouth. In the perspective view, loop up on the face from the bottom and check for any pointy areas. Smooth out the lips and chin (and nose while your at it) so that nothing is coming to a really sharp point in the middle. Smooth the lips out so that they're pretty gradual, and get the indent in the center in there.

If you want some more definition in the lips, us the cut tool and add in some more edges to get a softer curve in the lips. If you're aiming for a lower-poly count, this is probably enough. (I'm going to add in some more definition). As you work, remember to switch back to the front and side views to double check your work and make sure you're not getting too far away from the reference images

Also, if your face is going to be animatable (open the mouth, etc.) you'd also want to add an opening here. For the sake of the tutorial, I'll go ahead and do this as well.

Okay, if you didn't add detail to the lips, you'll need to add a little to the center for this. Select the innermost set of faces on the lips and click the Inset button. Now since we're using symmetry, it's going to create some extra faces in the middle but we'll deal with that. Adjust the inset slider so that it's about halfway into the faces you selected. Click Okay

Select all of the inner faces including the extra middle ones it made and Delete them

Select the verties on the top and bottom of the opening that aren't centered and move them to the center. (the left image) Next go to edge mode and select one of the edges of the new inner mouth. Click the loop button and it should select the entire inner edge.

When you have an edge selected and hold down SHIFT, you can move/rotate/scale that edge and instead of moving the selected edge, it'll actually create a new edge and do the adjustment to it. So with this ring of edges selected, hold down the shift key and move them back, into the head. It'll create a new set of faces going back into the mouth.

Pull it back, scale these edges taller, hold shift and pull back another row, etc. Do this several times. If it makes it easier, turn off the "show end result" toggle in the modifier stack. This will remove half of the head from view and you can look at a cross section of the head and plan the mouth cavity better

Don't forget to widen it but make sure that the inner mouth cavity never goes outside of the face. Also, make sure that the center of the mouth stays along the center of the rest of the head. If any of the end verties aren't along the center of the head, there will be a hold in the head when symmetry is turned back on

Smoothing Groups - Q.) Why do some parts of my face look all flat and faceted, while othe parts looks smoothed over? All the new stuff I add from inset and from creating new faces all look all flat. what's up with that? A.) The answer is smoothing groups! When doing high-poly modeling, you rarely bother with smoothing groups, but when you're doing lower-poly modeling, it's a nessecity! Go into Poly select mode and select your Entire Face. Now scroll way towards the bottom in the editable poly parameters area and find the thing that looks like the image below. Click on one of the numbers (any one, I usually start from 1 and work my way down as I add more groups). So click on 1. Now all of the faces are smoothed together. They're all in group 1

One thing I like to do is give the bottom of the upper lip it's own smooth group so deselect everything and just select the upper lip area. Now in the smoothing groups area, unclick #1 and click #2. Now there is a hard edge along the outer part of the lip, but the lip itself is smoothed. Smoothing groups can be very useful in lower poly modeling. It can create edges and give better definition to areas where there is little poly-information

Next we'll move onto the nose. A nose can be difficult to get the correct shape with, so it's not something you should just breeze through. Don't worry if you don't get it right the first few tries.

We'll have to cut in some edges, and probably extrude a couple faces to get the right shape here. Forst lets make sure that the existing geometry is shaped good so we can get started without too much trouble

I selected several edges along the face and nose. The plan is to add edges that follow this path. The reason I selected all of the edges leading up to the eye instead of just selecting the nose ones I actually want to add stuff to is to avoide dead-end edges. The image below demonstrates an edge that end in the middle of another edge. Leaving an edge end like this creates messy geometry and deforms very poorly when animated

I had to cut in a lot of new edges in order to get enough verticies to work with and get the detail I wanted.

Key things to remember to take into account:
Make sure the bridge of the nose doesn't get pointy! Add another row of edges along the center of the nose so that you can keep a smooth curve along the entire center of the nose. Don't let the nose get to skinny either. Remember to go back to the front and side views and compare your model's progress to the reference images.

The outer part of the nostril extrudes from the side of the nose. You need to make a couple of rings on the side of the nose so that you can pull these verticies out and maintain the correct shape

So after a lot of adjusting and cleaning, this is what I ended up with. I'm showing you my progress from multiple perspectives so you can get a better idea of how I shaped the various masses. If you're aiming for a slightly more simplified/stylized version of a nose, feel free to limit the amount of detail you put into your model

So this is my current status. The only remaining blemish is the eyes. Even though the eyes on the original doll, look large... they don't look this large. This looks more like an alien than the face I'm aiming for, so I know there is going to be some adjusting to do

First thing I did was cleanup the loops around the eye. The part selected in red in the image below is the actual eye socket area. In a moment we'll be pulling this back into the head to make room for the eye. Around the eye socket are two primary loops. One will be responsible for pulling out the eye lid, the other for pulling back. Compare the red line (the outer curve of the lid) with it's counterpart in the profile view. Now see how the blue line pulls back and creates the thickness of the lids

Next thing we need to do is to create the eye socket. Select the inner eye area like I have above and find the button called "Bevel"

and click on the little box next to it. This should open a window and a preview of the effects it'll do to your model sill show up on the mode lfor the bevel settings, make the height a negative number (pull the slider's and watch it's effects on the model for best results) so that it's pulling back inside the head, and make the ouline amount a positive number so that it's increasing the size

Click the APPLY button, NOT OK. This will apply the current bevel and start another bevel from it. For this one, make the height an even larger negative number to pull it back into the head even more, and make the outline amount a negative number, to shrink the size of the face. Click okay and move, scale, and rotate the faces until you feel that the cavity is a decent shape. Then go into vertex edit mode and try to round it out some. Cut in some new edges and connect some verticies to help you get the shape better.

Next we're going to make the eyeballs. It's important to make the eyeballs before we go any further, since from here out, we'll be shaping the eyelids to fit around the balls more smoothly

Go back to the Create Tab and click on the Sphere Button. Make a sphere about where the eye should go. Go back to perspective view and move the eye around till it's in place. Now chances are that it won't fit at all at first. You'll have to adjust the radius of the sphere and make it larger/smaller (most likely larger... much larger than you would think) and move it around a lot to find a way to make it fit better

So this is where I ended up. Don't worry if the eye sticks out a bit from the head in some areas. We'll be adjusting the head itself in a moment to compensate for that. When adjusting the sphere, try to get one of the sphere's pole's to be at the front-center of the eye. (see the red circles in the image above) This will make it easier to make the eye and texture it later on

Select your head model and return to the modify tab. Go to vertex mode and begin adjusting the shape of the eye so that it deforms around the eyeball better. Go back and adjust the position and size of the eyeball if you have to. Continue this until you are satisfied with the shape of the eye.

When you're satisfied with the position of the eye, duplicate the sphere for the eyeball Select it, have the move tool selected, hold down shift and click on the move arrows, but don't drag anywhere. A dialog will appear asking you to name the new object. You can if you want, it doesn't really matter at this point. Now, with the move tool still selected, go to the bottom of the screen under the timeline where the X, Y, and Z axis numbers are. Put a "-" sign in front of X if it's a positive number. If it's a negative number, remove the "-". If this doesn't move the eyeball to the other side of the face, undo it, and try changing the Z value instead.

Now the eyeball should be in the correct location, however it isn't rotated properly. Choose the rotate tool now. You will probably need to negate two of these values to get the sphere in the correct position. Try them each until you get it right.

It's a good idea to check back with the front and side references and views every now and then. Right now since we've got most all of the big things worked out, it's a good idea to just go over the entire face and fix anything that you don't like. Make adjustments to chaks, debth of eye sockets, chin, etc. Just fix anything that doesn't seem to look quite right in perspective view. Pay attention to the flow of the edge loops. Anything that doesn't seem to be flowing in a smooth curved line, could probably be changed or adjusted to work better

Once I'm satisfied with the face I move onto building the remainder of the head and neck! So that's next.

First thing I did was select the edges around the outer-edge of the face, and while holding down shift, I pulled them back, just once so that I was up against the ear. The jaw curvs inwards towards the neck so I went into vertex mode and adjusted the jaw line inwards. I created some new faces and built in a chin.

To get the mass of the back of the head, I simply created a sphere. Go into the side view, go to the Create tab and make a sphere and fit it to be the size of the head. Reduce the number of segments considerably, but make sure it's an even number when you're done. We're going to be cutting off half of this sphere and connecting it to the rest of the face. If there's too many segments it'll make it more difficult to connect the two properly

In the Modify tab, all it says in the modifier stack is "Sphere". Right click on Sphere and choose Editable Poly. Expand the Editable Poly stack and select Polygon. Select half of the sphere and Delete

Now go into vertex mode and start moving verticies around to match the face a bit better. Delete any additional faces you feel the need to. Weld Verticies together to combine them and reduce extra edges


Okay, so this is what I ended up with. Now we'll combine the two objects and actually weld the verticies together.

Select the face mesh, click on editable poly and find the attach button in the parameters under the modifier stack. Click the button and it'll turn 'on'. Now click on the back of the head and it'll become white. It is not attached to the face and they are one object. Click on the attack button again to turn it off and go into vertex mode.

Switch to perspective view and examine the model. Chances are need to move some verticies around before they're close enough to each other. Do this first and get the verts as close to each other as possible before you start welding. When you have two verticies and choose to weld them, it'll average the distance between them and make that the location of the new single verticie. We want to keep the verts were the face border is, not the location of the sphere's edges

Once you've got all of your verts lined up and adjusted to a point where you're happy, select all of the verts and click the weld button

Pull the slider up so that the verts that are near each other weld together, but not so high that it starts pulling unwanted verts together.

The sphere that we attached to the head had a different smoothing group than the face did, so you'll probably want to go into polygon mode, select the back of the head and set it to the same smoothing group the rest of the head is. This step can actually wait till later, since we'll have to do it again soon anyways, but I tend to do it as I go since it helps me see the model better.

I went back to the side view and cute in the shape below to prepare for the ear. I also selected an edge, held down Shift, pulled it down to create a new polygon to complete the connection with the jaw. Remember to weld the verticies of any polygons you create this way

Now select the polygonal faces at the base of the ear and click the little box next to bevel. This time we want it to go out, and for the new face to be larger, so height and outline ammount both need to be a positive numbers

Click OK and go back to the left view. Move the selected faces back and scale/rotate them any that you feel is nessecary.

In Perspective view, I also rotated the ear forward since it is not a flat shape coming out from the head. This left the back of the ear very flat, and with large polygons I wanted to define better. I selected the edges just along the back side of the ear and clicked connect. The new edge between them gave me more room to curve the back-side of the ear some. I connected the ends of the new middle with the front of the ear on the top and bottom

Now, depending on how high or low poly your interested to go, you could leave the ear as is, or add more detail to it. Generally I'll leave the ears pretty low-poly and just put the detail in as texture. I'll add one more bit of detail to it, before I finish though.

Return to polygon mode and select the front flat of the ear. Click the box next to the Bevel button and make the new bevel go out form the ear a small bit, but have it shrink inwards to create a rounder edge. Click the apply button and this time bring it into the ear to create an indent

And this is what I've ended up with. Next I'm going to extend the next down from the head some, but that will probably be the last major modeling change I make to the head.

At this point you should have everything connected so there is just a single hold at the base of the head. If you need to bring part of the back of the head down to connect with the jaw, do that first by selecting the edges at the base of the back, holding down shift, and pulling them down to line up with the rest of the face. Weld any verticies that need to be welded and once you're ready select the edges surrounding the entire opening at the base of the head.

Go into the Left viewport and while holding down Shift, drag down to create new polygons. Do this several times so that you've got several rows of edges to work with.

In vertex mode, move the verticies around so that they fit the shape of the neck better. Switch to front view and pull verticies inwards so that it fits the shape of the neck from that view.

Go into Perspective view and adjust anything that doesn't look right. Cut in new edges around the jaw if you need to, to define the shape better

The final model! We have now modeled a head from scratch, starting with nothing but a plane


Okay, so now you've got this bland head model, lets add some life to it!

First step is to layout the UVs. UVs are texture coordinates in 3D Space. When you "layout the UVs" it's like taking the 3-dimentional model and 'unwrapping' it into a flat picture so you can paint the texture. I'll try to explain what it all means later, lets just get started

First we need to open up the Material Editor by pressing the "M" key on your keyboard. In the Material editor look for the little grey square next to the word Diffuse. between the two is a grey rectangle. If all you wanted was to make a solid color, you could just change this, but we want to apply a map to the diffuse slot, so we click on the button

when you click the button a Material Browser window will open. Double click on "Bitmap" it should be at the top of the list of options.

Now it'll open a regular windows file explorer. Open the Checkboard file from above. There is a button along the top part of the material editor that looks like a box with a checkerboard pattern on it. Click this button. This is the "Show Map in Viewport" button. If it is not highlighted, then you will not be able to preview your map in the main max windows.

Next click the other button shown in the picture above. This is the "Assign Material to Selection" button. If this button is greyed out, make sure that your head model is selected, then click the button.

Wah! It just got all crazy looking didn't it? That's because right now the UVs for the head are all screwy. they haven't been laid out properly and that's what we're going to do next.

First we're going to collapse our Modifier Stack. right click on the word "Symmetry" and choose Collapse All. Now instead of two halves, we just have one solid object.

Go into Polygon Selection Mode and select all of the neck. Make sure your selection is the same on both sides and that you aren't missing any polygons and that you don't have any extras selected that you don't want

Now click on the Modifier List drop-down menu and scroll waaay to the bottom and find UVW Map.

Under Parameters choose Cylindrical. Scroll down a little further to Alignment and choose X (or whichever one gets the cylinder to be facing up and down)

Now the real purpose of applying the Checkboard Map is to get scale fixed before we get too far. In my model (and most likely yours as well) the checkerboards currenly appear squashed. What we need to do is to get them to look as much like perfect squares as possible

In the modifier stack, expand the + in front of UVW Mapping and select the Gizmo. Now you can control the mapping cylinder. Press F4 to turn off the wireframe and you should be able to see the map as it's applied to the mesh. Now, using the scale tool scale the cylinder up or down until most of the checkers look like squares

Now right-click on UVW Mapping and choose Collapse All. We have now applied these UVs to the model. If you go back into Polygon mode, the neck polys are probably stil selected. I find it simlifies my life if I set material IDs to each section I apply a different UVWMap to, since it lets me select them much easier later on. So scroll way down in the polygon parameters to the area right above the smoothing groups area we used earlier. The section that says Polygon Properties: Material: Set ID: Set the ID to something like 10. Chances are that none of the other polys are already set to 10, so it's a good number.

Now lets select the rest of the face. A quick and easy way to do that is to go to Edit and Select Invert.

Now everything else is selected! But that means there are a few things selected that we probably don't want right now. Specifically the insides of the eye sockets and the inside of the mouth. So lets deselect those areas.

It's probably easier if you turn on "Ignore Backfacing". It's a checkbox option towards the top of the polygon parameters area. If this is checked, your less likely to select or deselect something you don't want to

If you have trouble deselecting the mouth faces, try going inside the back of the head. You'll be able to see some of the mouth faces much easier this way.

When you think you've got all of the inner eye and mouth faces deselected zoom back out and look around the whole head to make sure you haven't accidentally deselected some faces on the back of the head or something. Reselect any faces you need to and once you're sure you've got them all apply another UVW Mapping modifier. (click on the Modifier List Drop-Down menu above the modifier stack and scroll way down)

Just like before set Mapping to Cylindrical, and change the algnment until the cylinder is facing up and down

Click the button called "Fit" directly under alignment. This will fit the cylinder to the head in this axis. Next expand the + in front of UVW Mapping and select the Gizmo. Now scale the gizmo so that the checkers are squares

I often rotate the cylinder a little when I do the actual face. I try to meet the angle of the face a little like the image above.

Next right-click on the UVW Mapping modifier and choose Collapse All. Go back into Polygon select mode and scroll down to the Polygon Properties / Material ID section and set the material ID of the face polys to 9.

Now we need the remaining polys to be selected (the inner eyes and inner mouth). The easiest way I see at this point is to selection inversion (Edit > Select Invert) and then deselect the neck polys manually. This way all that's left are the inner eyes and mouth

These polys won't really be seen in any sort of clear way so we don't need to pay attention to their maping much. This is mostly just to keep them seperate from the rest of the face.

Click on the Modifier List and scroll down to UVW Mapping. This time we'll stick with a regular Planer map, so you don't need to change anything. Just right-click on UVW Mapping and collapse the stack. Go back into Polygon mode, scroll down, and set the Material ID of these faces to 8.

Now we've setup the mapping the entire face. Next is to lay it out in the unwrapper.

Click on the Modifier List drop-down menu again and this time choose Unwrap UVW.

Extend the + under Unwrap UVW to see the Select Face option. Now below the modifier stack in Selection Parameters find the thing that says Select MatID. Type in 9 and press the button. It selected the face! (Now you see why we set this up! It makes it so much easier to select these things).

Under Parameters click the BIG Edit button. This will open up the Unwrap editor window.

It's sort of a cluttered mess at first and it's hard to figure out what's what - especially with that checkboard texture in the background. There's a small button along the top bar of the Edit UVWs window that looks just like the checkered box we saw in the Material Editor. Click on this button once and it'll turn off the checkboard background image. Now it'll be much easier to see.

Choose the move tool and move the face UVs out of the 1x1 box (that's the square that everything is inside right now. Back over in the Selection Parameters section, type in 10 in the Select MatID box and click the button. Now the neck is selected. Drag it off to the side so that it's not overlapping anything.
And finally select the eye and mouth stuff and pull it off somewhere too

Lets deal with the eye and mouth stuff first. The eyes should be identicle to each other. Select one of them and go to Tools > Flip Horizontal. Now move the eye over top of the other one so they are taking up the same mapping space. If you want, you can drag a selection around both eyes and press Ctrl+W to weld them together

One thing that you have to take into consideration when modeling for games, is texture space. You have a limited amount of space for your textures so you have to be as conservative as possible. Of course, this isn't something you have to worry about at all if you're modeling and texturing just for render or for movies.

Because of the concern for texture space, things that are symmetrical are usually only textured for half of it, and the other half is flipped and overlayed with the first half. Faces are one of the things that are usually cut in half since a face is usually symetrical down the center.

Of course if you want to do something like have a scar on one side, or put little stars over one eye or whatever, then you'll need to keep the whole thing laid out and texture both sides of the face as a whole.

If you have plans for your face to have some asymetrical aspects to it, you may want to keep it as a whole unit, other wise you'll want to do what I"m about to do for the neck. The neck os definetly going to be mirrored as I see absolutely no reason to keep it whole, so I'm going to flip it right off. First select half of the neck, right down the center. We need to break these UVs off before we can flit it, so press Ctrl+D to detatch them at the seam. Next go to Tools > Flip Horizontal, and move it overtop of the other side so that tey line up. Select the whole thing and Ctrl+W to weld the two sides together

Now the neck takes up half the space it used to. Space that can be used for far more important things.

Next lets focus on the face since it is the most important part. Since the mapping was cylindrical, it left the top of the head all messed up. There are most likely some faces all stretched out and going some weird-which-way that's causing the texture to look all screwy there. There isn't much we can do to fix the stretching because of the nature of flatening 3-dimentional objects, but since this is the top of the head and there will most likely be hair on it, it really won't matter much.

For now we just want to get the UVs a little cleaner then they are right now. If the top of the head has a polygon that's all stretched and stringy, pull it uv by uv to form some retangular shapes. This is what my initial cleanup on the face has resulted in

The polygons along the very top are veeery stretched, so if I had any important texture information there, it would look very icky. Fortunetly, it's the top of the head and I plan on having hair cover it, so it doesn't bother me.

There are a few areas on the face that overlap that you may want to clean up some. Most specifically the nose area. The nostrils extend out but the uvs are unwrapped flat on from the front of the nose. Because of this any texture applied to the nostril will appear exactly the same on the faces behind it. This can make it difficult to texture around the nose

Select the parts of the nose that are being overlapped in the back and try to pull them outwards so that none of the polys are covering others. Try to be as gradual and subtle as possible when distrubing the UVs around the area so as not to create too many distortions

when I deselected the eye sockets, I left a small inner rim connected with the face UVs so that I could put in a gradual fade to the redish inner eye socket. This part is also overlapping a lot of the eyelid UVs so I'm shrinking it down into the eye area

I also needed to pull out some overlapping UVs around the back of the ear, but I don't usually worry about this area too much since you rarely see the back side of the ear anyways.

At this point I've decided that I'm going to prioritize texture space over asymmetry. I'm going to mirror the face over so I can have more room for details on the face itself.

I selecte half of the face, detached it (Ctrl+D) flipped it horizontally, and moved it overtop of the other side

The primary point to this is the 1x1 square. Everything has to fit inside that square when we're done. Once you've finished laying out and adjusting all of the UVs, you have to resize and move everything so that it all fits inside that square. If I left the face as one long object, I would have to leave it at its current size to fit it inside that square simply because of it's width. Now that the entire head is much smaller, I can increase it's size and it'll still fit inside the 1x1 square. I can shrink down the other, less-important areas and fit them around it. This gives me much more texture space for the face than I would have had otherwise

I ended up deciding to connect the head and the neck since it didn't generate much deformation and it would reduce the number of seams I'd have to deal with when actually texturing. I made sure to leave an open spot available in the map for the eye texture. Since the eyeballs are seperate objects, I have to apply their UVs seperately.

There is no feature in any of the current releases of Max and dump a texture from the UVs automatically. There are plugins for it, but I'm not going to assume that any of you have those plug-ins, so I'll just tell you how to do this next step the manual way.

Maximize / fullscreen the UV window and zoom into the 1x1 square as close as you can get. Now press the PrintScreen button on your keyboard. This will save a copy of your whole screen into windows clipboard. Go into Photoshop create a new image file and Ctrl+V (paste). You should now see the UV screen you had up just a moment earlier.

Using the rectangular marquee selector, Select around the 1x1 Square and Crop the image. Select the Magic Wand tool and go to the top menu where you can adjust the settings for the tool. UNCHECK Anti-aliased, and Contiguous. Now zoom into the picture and click on one of the white lines. It should now select every bit of white in the whole picture. If there is any green, make sure to click on one of those areas as well (hold down Shift while clicking on any additional colors so that it adds to the selection instead of creating a new selection

Now create a new layer and fill the selection with a dark color (I usually use a dark blue).
Delete the layer below (the one with the screen cap of your UV window) We don't need it now. The image should now look something like this

Duplicate the file (Image > Duplicate) and Flatten the image (Layer > Flatten Image). Save it as a .bmp or .jpg and go back to 3ds max.

Close the UVW Unwrap window, right-click on the Unwrap UVW modifier in the modifier stack and collapse all. Now press the M button to open the material editor. In the checkerboard texture, click on the button next to diffuse that now has an M in it. The top section is labled Coordinates. Under it is Noise and then Bitmap Parameters. Right after the word Bitmap: it has the location of the checkerboard image. Click on this box and it'll open the file dialog box. Now instead of the checkerboard, find the image you just saved from photoshop.

Click oK and Wa-La! Now you're model should look like it has the wireframe applied to it. This shows that whatever you paint onto those areas of the bitmap will appear onto those areas of the actual 3D object.

You have successfully laid out the UVs and prepared for making the texture

Okay, so we're about to start actually making the textures. The key to making good textures is using good photo source. Even when you're making an anime character or whatever, you should still use photographs for your textures. There are some amazing texture artists who manage to create beautiful things from scratch, but those people have like... a decade of experience and have amazing painting skillz. If you honestly think you're one of those people, go for it, otherwise, I recommend you get some photographs. One good place to look is here: www.fineart.sk.

I'm providing you with a .zip file with a few image I selected as being useful for face texturing. I didn't use all of these, but I used some of them for this tutorial. You can go through them and pick what you want to use.

Click Here to Download File - 1.15MB

If you're aiming for a cell-shaded character, then this is not the way to go. Cell shading should not be built into the texture, it'll only look cheap. Find yourself a good cell-shader like Illustrate! or see if you can stand Max's "ink & paint" (it's built-in shader for cell-shading). This tutorial is going to focus on a more realistic style of texturing

I started with this photo of a girl. The nose and lips lined up and fit well from the very start, so it seemed a good candidate. After I'd lined up the key important areas (nose and mouth) I used the polygonal selection tool to select all of the unwanted stuff (the shirt, hair, etc.) and deleted it

Next I selected a largh area around the eye and copied (Ctrl+C) it. I Pasted (Ctrl+V) it and created a new layer. I moved it to the eye area of the texture map and use Free Transform to scale, distore, and rotate it into position. Free Transform should be under Edit > Free Transform or Ctrl+T. What I'm aiming to get isn't the eye texture itself, but the eyelids and skin around it. I'm actually going to paint over the eye, pupil, etc. in a moment so don't worry about it being in place as much as the eyelid and skin

Using the eyedropper, I grabed a dark redish-brown from the shadow of the eyelid. On a new layer, I painted over the center of the eye UVs (the part from the inside eye socket) so that I'd cover up any white from the original eye photo

Use the eraser to soften the edges of the eye skin layer so that it blends better with the face skin layer under it. Use the smudge tool with a very large brush setting and strength around 50-60% to push and pull skin tone to different areas of the face that are still white. The main problem with using the smudge tool is that it smooths out any skin texture and we want the skin texture to remain intact as much as possible. So while this does get the colors and tones where we want them, it destroys the texture so we'll have to come back over it with more source in a moment

The 'RubberStamp' tool is actually very useful when doing texture work. Go to the layer that has the nose and mouth on it. While holding down Alt click on a section of the cheek that has very little shading. Now release the Alt key and click a little further away in a white area. It paints starting from where you clicked and held Alt.
It's a good idea to duplicate your image every now and then, delete the UV guide layer, flatten it and save it overtop of the texture you currently have applied to your model. When you go back into max, it should update the texture and you can see the progress of your texturing so far

Frequently, when I go to make adjustments on a photo layer, I'll actually duplicate that layer and work on the duplicate instead of the original. If whatever I do turns out good, then I'm fine, if I mess up, I can just delete that layer and I still have my orginal to go from again.

Duplicating layers is also handy for other things. On this I knew I wanted to be able to keey the eye lid photo layer seperate from the rest of the face for a bit longer, but I also wanted it down there for smudging and using the rubberstamp tool to continue the skin tone around more of the face. So I duplicated the eye area, merged one of them down onto the rest of the skin layer, but left the duplicate seperate and ontop. Now any smudging I do below won't show up since the part I care about is safely duplicated on top

I often turn the opacity down on my UV reference layer so I can see under it better. I also frequently just turn it off while I'm working on certain areas.

At this point I was getting ready to put in an ear, so I got some ear reference that was close enough to the skin tone that I could settle for it. First I just pasted it onto the texture without worry as to where it would go. The skintone match isn't perfect so I'm going to need to do some color adjusting to get it closer before I start to worry about blending things together and placement

First I opened up the Hue/Sat editor (Image > Adjust > Hue/Saturation) and adjusted the hue slightly to the right (adds more yellow) adjusted saturation up more (adds more color) and lightened it some. I closed that and then opened up Brightness/Contrast (Image > Adjust Brightness/Contrast) and lowered the Brightness some (lowring brightness is not the same as adjusting the lightness with Hue/Sat. If you become comfortable with the differences you'll know better when to use one or the other). And finally I went back into Hue/Sat and added a bit more saturation.
At this point I felt that the new photo of the ear and side of face was close enough to the original skin tone that I could work with it

Now I was ready to start Free Transform on the image to rotate, move and scale it into place

Since I didn't just copy the ear, I got the side of the face as well, I can use some of that to crestore the skin texture to the smudged areas from earlier.

For the ear I had to do a lot of adjusting to get it to fit on the model correctly. You'll probably have to be switching back and forth between max and photoshop frequently.

The quickest way that I've found to resave my texturemap file for max is as follows:
I leave the texture.bmp file open in phothsop, minimized. Everytime I want to test to see how my texture looks in max, I turn the uvref layer off in my main .psd file. I make sure I'm currently selecting one of the visible layers, I select all (Ctrl+A) and then I Copy Merged (Edit > Copy Merged |or| Ctrl+Shift+C) This will copy the entire visible image to the clipboard and you can go to your texture.bmp file and just paste the whole thing in. Flatten and save and now you can view your progress in Max

From this point I just kept smudging and rubberstamping the skin around the head, trying to maintain some consistency and avoiding blotchyness. I grabbed a bit more skin reference from another photo source, did some hue/stat and bright/contrast adjustments to get it to match the skintone and I used it for the neck.
I didn't worry too much about the back of the head since I usually cover that up with hair

I don't honestly see it being all too important a step with this particular model, but I'm going to cover this step because I use it with all my other texture painting.

Whenever I want to add in shades or highlights to a texture I NEVER do a direct burn/dodge onto the texture itself. If you do that, you can't smudge, erase, or adjust it without messing up your texture image underneath. So instead I use adjustment layers.

Click on whatever layer you have directly underneath your UV reference layer - it doesn't matter what it is, all that matters is that it's 2nd from the top.

Now Click on the adjustment layer button at the bottom of the layers window. A menu will pop-up from that. Choose Hue/Saturation... from the list and it'll create a new layer and bring up a Hue/Sat window. Pull lightness way down so everything is dark, and adjust the hue slider a little to one way or the other - but just a small amount.

Click OK. The way an adjustment layer works is with Black and White. If you look at the layer itself, the little adjustment icon is all white right now. We need it to be black so Go to Image > Adjust > Invert. Now your whole texture looks normal. If you choose the paintbrush tool, you can only paint in greys. White to Black and anything between. If you pick a grey around the middle and paint on the layer, it'll put in about 50% of the hue and lightness changes you set before. Paint with white and it does the full 100% of the adjustments. Every layer underneath the adjustment layer is affected by it, but you can paint, smudge, and mess with this one as much as you want and it will never physically change the laters below it

I use adjustment layers all the time for painting in cloth wrinkles where there are none, when I'm texturing clothing. I usually have one or two darkening adjustment layers and a brightness layer (I usually use a brightness/contrast adjustment layer when I want a highlight adjustment).

There isn't too much need for these sort of things right now, but it can still add some more depth and detail to the image if done properly

Skin should also be less evenly colored than just pinks and yellows, so you can get some nice effects with skintone if you have an adjustment layer that adds a tinge of blues to it. You can get some very nice varience if done right. Just experiment until you find techniques that you like and are comfortable with.

To finish off this texture, throw some dark redish colors where the interior of the mouth and the remaining eye interiors are. Maybe make it a little blotchy if you want. Chances are slim that these areas will be seen so you probably don't have to put much effort into it.

The last step is the eyeball itself. Since the eyes are seperate objects, but I want them on the same texture map, I actually put the texture down first, before even mapping the eyeball objects themselves

Go back into Max and select one of the eyes. Go to the Modifier List, Scroll all the way down and apply the UVW Mapping modifier. If the eye was rotated and you have the circular poll right at the front of the eye like I suggested earlier in the tutorial, then the planer map should be applied properly. Go to wireframe view (F3) to see the mapping gizmo. This is just setting the texture to planer and flattening it from the front. Collapse the stack so that it's just an editable mesh. Open the material editor by pressing "M" and click on the material that you have applied to the rest of the head. Click the "Apply to selected" button we used earlier to apply this map to the eyeball. Now close the material editor, and with the eye still selected, Click on the Modifier List drop-down and go to Unwrap UVW.

Click the edit button and you should see something like the image below

Right now the eye is over the entire map, but we only want it over the small area where the eye actually is on the texture. So select it and scale it down and move it into position.

If part of the sphere goes over some of the skin in order to make the pupil large enough, don't worry about it. That part of the eye probably won't be seen anyways. Avoid it if possible though

This is what my UVs ended up being. We're done with this eye, but we aren't going to collapse the stack yet. There are two buttons under the Edit button. Save and Load. We're going to make use of these now. Click the save button and name the file eye.

Now collapse the stack and select the other eye. Press M to open the material editor. Apply the main texture to this eye. Close the material editor and then, Apply a Unwrap UVW modifier to this eye.

Click the Load button and open the file you just save for the other eye. Wha-la! You've got the eye textured on this eye too.
You may need to click the Edit button and make some little adjustments, but it should be pretty close at this point

Well, this pretty much finishes up texturing the head. Some small part of me wants to continue the tutorial onto the hair, but I honestly doubt I will... I'll probably make hair for this head, but I don't know if I have time to make a tutorial for it.

My goal with this tutorial was to teach people techniques that they can use on a wide variety of things, and not just a tutorial on 'how to make this one specific head this one specific way'. Those tutorials never seem to do people a lot of good.

I hope you got something out of this and that it'll help you in your future modeling endeavers. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, I'd love to hear from you. You can drop by my message board and send me a PM or note me on DeviantArt. I don't post my email on the net because I get spammed too mcuh.

My DeviantArt page is http://athey.deviantart.com

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