Face to Face

Damn, no post for a very long time… It’s not like I’m a lazy bastard or wouldn’t have anything new to show, I’m just too busy at the moment and most of the work I do is liable to an NDA. But here are a few models I made during the last few months. I was focused on the human face in general. All of them aren’t more than rough sketches based on different reference material. I have used a part of the base-mesh that I’m using also for all of my “full body” figures. But you could start with any kind of base-mesh, even with ZSpheres or a simple box. Of course it gets a little bit easier to work with a mesh where some basic features and mesh flows are already existent but most of the time you have to focus entirely on the shape and proportions of your model and not the mesh itself anyway.

The faces you see above have around 1 million polygons because I sculpted the hair as a part of the face-mesh and not as a separate subtool. The main proportions and the placement of the face-features or even a likeness can be already set on a very low resolution level. I think you don’t need more than a few thousand polygons to get it right. Every additional subdivision level just helps to create a smooth surface and even transitions between important landmarks. I have also studied the skull that lies underneath all muscular parts. It is prominent almost everywhere and so a basic understanding of its architecture is essential for sculpting the face. All in all my knowledge about this subject is still very loose as you can see on the examples I have posted 🙂 .

More Faces…

Working with good reference material is important when you try to make a working face. If you can come up with some pictures shoot from different angles of a static face expression, then the actual sculpting work can become pretty easy and fast. On the other hand, if you have too much reference material of the subject you try to recreate, you can get into trouble. I was watching myself switching from one picture to the other and getting lost on the sculpture because I didn’t know what’s looking right and what’s looking wrong anymore. It seems to be a better strategy to work with only a few pictures than hundreds, at least for me…

I really love sculpting the hair as a part of the head. This practice has some pros and cons. First of all, hair plays an important role as a major shape of the head and face. That’s why different hairstyles create different looking faces and people. And it feels much easier to get the proportions and placement of the face features right (size of the nose, distance between the eyes…) Of course you would have to remove the sculpted hair or build it as a separate subtool when the model is used in production. You are also able to easily sculpt the transition between the hair and the head itself. One of the disadvantages is that you need a quite high mesh resolution for detailing the hair. It’s a pain in the ass sculpting hair with too little polygons…


As always, I did some sketches before I started sculpting. For me, drawing is still the “easiest” and most direct way to become familiar with a subject. The sketches you see here, except one, are done with black ball pen on paper. I’m still in a fight with different materials and couldn’t commit to a particular working material and paper yet. So I’m using ball pen and white copy paper. You don’t have to think much about pen pressure or even an eraser. There are just you, the pen and the paper and the subject you are trying to capture. Every line has to be in place; otherwise the result looks wrong… I have also started a sketchbook but have not much time to draw at the moment.

The drawing above is a copy of one of the AMAZING pieces done by the artist David Kassan. Do yourself a favor and visit his blog: (http://kassanstudio.blogspot.com ) I wasn’t able neither to copy his work nor transport some of his genius to my piece – but I have learned a lot by doing this!

Also with drawing, the type of reference material you use is important. It can be hard to draw from a bad lit photo or a bad lit real life model. Of course I have tried to capture the likeness of the face as close a possible but I failed very often. Sometimes that doesn’t matter; more often the drawing starts to go its one way and the results can be quite interesting, even if it not looks completely identical to the original.


I did also some quick “face feature modeling” again. I have done many of this stuff last year as a preparation for my modeling reel. This type of work is still very funny to do and helps to understand how muscles and bones play together. Such speed sculpting works best in combination with extensive theoretical study of the matter.

Models for free

I’m giving away these two models (the skull is the same as the one at the top of this page). I’m not sure if they are working on every system because I have used different matcap materials per object and that could cause problems if you haven’t installed the same matcaps on your workstation; but just download them and test it. Both models are quite low poly. For the skull I started with a simple box inside ZBrush. The muscle version is the same mesh as the skull. I have used the clay-tube brush to model the muscles on top of it. They aren’t very accurate relating to anatomy and some features are missing but maybe they are useful for someone.

Download Muscle Skull (right click, save as)

Download Skull (right click, save as)

Interesting Links

Here is the obligatory link-list for this post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QP-SIW6iKY that keeps me motivated, nothing goes on without that stuff…smile
http://www.artisticanatomyblog.com one of the best blogs I know
http://kassanstudio.blogspot.com absolute stunning work done by David Jon Kassan
http://www.dorian-iten.com the blog of Dorian Iten, a young and unbelievable talented artist


  1. Helder says:

    Selwy, you always bring an outstanding information
    about your studies.
    Your work is better than ever. congratulations

  2. Fabio Paiva says:

    Man, you´re one of my greatest inspiration.
    I always open your website when I start my modeling studies…

    I don´t have to tell how much I love metallica (and play it as well.. hahah). That just made my day, really…

    Thanks for all the material. Thanks a lot.

  3. exavi says:

    wow! I have been waiting for an update for a looooong time! what a great update! even though I guess that its better having you busy than not being at all I really missed seeing some new art from you 😉

    those likenesses are soooooooooooo goood 😉 you rock! you really capture the essence of each face you use as a reference… I hope I can do something like that someday! ^^

  4. Rudy Massar says:

    Yet again excellent work Benjamin.

  5. Christian Bahr says:

    Hey Selwy,
    an other grad Work! You are an excellent body and face modller! Done everything right and I wait in suspense what is comming up next from You! Cheers, Christian

  6. weiluntsai says:

    lovey…..lovely work..
    i dont know how to say. just awesome~
    pretty sure you’ll get good amount of freelace jobS!!

  7. Mattia says:

    great portraits! You inspire me…
    Really amazing works, as usual.
    Hey!Probably a day I will contact you for a portrait!

    Compliments and Bye,

  8. Malanjo says:

    Really nice new updates dude! 🙂
    Insane! You are a pure master of anatomy! Great Great!

  9. rhangga says:

    U r master!!! Please can u tell me the “secret” of ur mind to create that awesome artworks?

  10. Jin Sung Choi says:

    Wow, amazing! Everything looks perfect and great!! You are the artist.

  11. abdenour bachir says:

    brilliant work as always!did you manage to get a job somewhere?

  12. samar says:

    dude!! insane amount of details man…
    superb studies.. u got mad skills bro..
    keep up the great work and cheers !!


  13. Chris says:

    Great stuff man. Wonderful that you made the head muscle model available. Would be great if you could say which matcaps they are. There are literally thousands in the depository and it looks like these are baked into the model because I cant edit them.

  14. Chris says:

    Ah I can edit them sorry 🙂

  15. Matthias says:

    Der Durni isch sakkrisch guat getroffen!
    Weiter so, bin beeindruckt!!

    Dein Cousin, der Matthias

  16. Greg Strangis says:

    Hey Benjamin! Amazing job on these last sculptures you just posted!! I love the fact that there is no high frequency details, only form and yet they are so expressive and the forms are a delight to look at! Keep inspiring man!


  17. Wayne Hollingsworth says:

    Hey Benjamin, I accidently stumbled on your site while looking for Houdini tutorials. I’m an vfx artist by trade, and hard surface model from time to time. You have inspired me to take up anatomy. Going to order some books and start my journey. Great works!

  18. grassetti says:

    awesome stuff as always man.
    I want to kill myself every time i enter on this website.. 😉

    Keep it up!


  19. kiran naidu says:

    amazing works. truely inspirational.

  20. levi says:

    I like your works!great portraits!

  21. cobrelon says:

    Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday and New Year 🙂

    Thx for share you Studium Modell’s.

  22. amenk says:

    thanks for this article has made me able to use many applications in zbrush primarily about learning to face emotionally, once again thanks to Benjamin Leitgeb.

  23. jeff says:

    dude you are the man!!! stunning work awesome

  24. 张旭东 says:

    thanks! you works very NB(chinese Dialect)

  25. nightwoodwolf says:

    dude .. you are one of the best in digital sculpting … and you also listen to MetallicA while sculpting LOL … keep it up man !!

  26. Oliver Milas says:

    hey selwy, great work…how are you ? …long time no updates …can’t wait with what you come up next…

  27. Fabian Irsara says:

    Hey there! As great as luis is, really looking forward to some new stuff. How are you doing? hope to hear from you soon!


  28. Mel M says:

    Awesome sculpt man, you are a really talented sculpter, the 2nd face just after the skull look just like our president in france it’s amazing



  29. Beth says:

    i think i might be in love with you!

  30. Erik says:

    Great work Selwy!
    would you share the 5th model mesh?
    thank you.

  31. Viktor says:

    incredible work..
    i like very much that models can be milled on robot, or routers..

  32. maxi says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the images and especially the models. Learning so much from these. Respect!

  33. Federico says:

    Is it possible to have a download in the OBJ format? I don’t have a ZBrush license and I sculpt just for hobby with Blender. Thanks!

  34. MarkO says:

    brilliant work

  35. SQUARE ENIX – Modelling the Head – Jamie Fox says:

    […] 2009. Models for free [online]. Available at: http://www.selwy.com/2009/face-to-face/  %5BAccessed 3 […]

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