First Completed Humanoid Character Model in Blender 3D

Milestone! Booyah!

Humanoid/cartoon model in Blender 3D.

Been sweating this process for a while, but it feels good to complete a humanoid model in Blender 3D finally. It is basically a cartoon but "humanoid" sounds so much cooler, doesn't it? It was created completely adhoc without the benefit of a preliminary character sketch which would have probably saved a lot of time, but the goal was to get something out the door and learn (a lot!) in the process.

The actual mesh is probably a mess under the hood and may not be easy to animate, but I definitely learned a lot of lessons here during the construction. The main question answered was how to start a model based on the default cube. Watched a lot of "modeling from a cube" videos online, but none of mine earlier attempts worked out in practice until now.

The Power of 8s

I learned that starting with the default cube "smooth" subdivided twice was the best way for me to begin creating the humanoid/cartoon character head. By the time the modeling was completed on the head, the mesh had four additional vertical loop cuts to help with detailing the features. I also used both mirror and subdivision surfaces modifiers and set the shader to smooth in the Transform panel.

Default cube smooth subdivided twice.

Why was the value 8 important? Well, 8 edges/faces make a decent cylindrical shape with subdivision surface modifiers applied. The default cube subdivided twice yields 8 edges/faces at the midpoint of hemisphere in this case and provides enough starting geometry to begin modeling the facial features when using the mirror modifier.

By the time the facial features were finished, there were 16 vertical edges at the midpoint of the hemisphere of which half of those were used to extrude the neck and the torso. Essentially, this would be the same as smooth subdividing the default cube 3 times. For the shoulder, 4 faces were removed from the torso and the resulting 8 edges were "sphere-ized" and then extruded to form the upper and lower arms. The legs were also extruded from eight edges as well after first creating some faces to form the groin area.

The base mesh with mirror, subdivision surfaces, and smoothing.
Close-up showing the 8 edges making up the arm and hand.

Final Thoughts

From what I've learned so far, it makes sense to limit the number of vertical subdivisions to facilitate connecting the head to the neck to the torso, and then having sufficient faces to extrude the arms and legs. The base mesh after modeling using this philosophy resulted in less than 1000 vertices. After applying the subdivision surface modifier at 2 levels, the vertices ran upwards of 30k. That is why you can get such a smooth surface with so few actual polygons.