Sculpting Humans

I am trying to sculpt this human face in my nomad sculpt, but could replicate only about 40 -45 percent, i am posting to get some tips on how can i make the model look more realistic.

Any tips, suggestions are welcomed.

  • learner

Thank you :blush:

Learn from Character Artists like

Frank Tzeng

And Hossein Diba

Unless you’re some kind of savant, making a realistic face, just like with every other form of art out there, just takes practice for most of us normal people.

One thing you can try is to break up the face into bite sized pieces. The face as a whole is a combination of numerous shapes that come together in many ways. Start anywhere you feel most comfortable. Get a single reference image of an eye, an ear, a nose, a mouth, etc. and try to replicate it. In order to achieve realism, you need to replicate what is real. It likely won’t come out perfect the first time, which is why you do it again and again and again. Then find another image of the same area and practice that one over and over. There isn’t just one kind of eye or nose out there which is why you are practicing as many of them as you can find. Yes, it takes time, but it’s time very well spent. Eventually, you start to see the similarities and can just start adding in forms where you want them.

Once you feel like you have a better grasp of the parts, you can start putting them together to make the whole. This also has some areas that can be fun. Learning how the eyes flow into the nose, or how different fat deposits change the way the cheeks are formed over the mouth. There are so many more things to learn no matter how far you take it. It’s a never ending learning process. The more you enjoy it, the farther you’ll go with it.

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First thing i’ve noticed is you’re only using a front view for reference. You need many angles of reference all around the head, otherwise you risk the sculpt looking flat and cartoonish.

It also takes many years to make it look realistic. When I started out, I thought my work looked like a masterpiece. But as I got better, my previous works looked worse the better I got.

With every new project, I find flaws in my old projects I never noticed before. That means progression. The only way to progress is practice. And the best way to practice is to study.

Learning the human skull is the first step to realism. Learn that and you will progress much faster than blind guess work. Then you can move on to musculature, body fat and skin. Learning this will take many years.

If you don’t learn these things properly, it will take even longer. It’s hard advice but it’s the truth. I’ve found watching pro sculptors doesn’t help me with my sculpts, since they make it look easy. It only serves as inspiration and technique.

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Thanks @Bossa @SporkFuMaster @CarterTG,

Thanks for your detailed answers after Reading your replies and watching videos, i infer practise is the only key. I will surely practise and come out with great results.


Not quite. @Bossa is most correct in mentioning that ANATOMY STUDY is key.

The other suggestion to focus on details FIRST is opposite to EVERYTHING taught by ALL the art instructors in my past. ALL of them. Whether oil painting as a child, life drawing throughout adolescence or the year invested learning sculpting from Ryan Kingslien’s Uartsy/Vertex courses.

If I’m to be honest, your displayed sculpt LOOKs like you jumped into details prematurely before solidly establishing a base head sculpt. It doesn’t take an online course to point out… even a 70 year old sketching book from Andrew Loomis will point out certain proportion truths. Eye height, mouth height, chin width & nostril flares are the most glaring discrepancies in your sculpt.

Cobbling together piecemeal eye, nose, lip, ear details and THEN moving it around on a questionable head will be a painful way to advance, IMO. In fact, this blind method doesn’t cover anatomy truths that always needs to be checked on:

  • Lower lip corners subducting into the upper lip
  • Lower eyelid subducting into the upper lid
  • “The bean” at the mouth corners where certain muscles anchor
  • Muzzle shape of the mouth region

Once anatomy is understood, it’s the strongest foundation you’ll have when aiming for likeness sculpting. All of a sudden, the MULTIPLE reference pictures you should be using will make far more sense from one angle view to the next.

Lastly, I’ll point out that those sculpting from an anatomy foundation are better capable of conveying whether there’s bone structure or face fat below the surface.


You and I had far different instructors. I don’t have to cut open an apple to portray its existence in any manner. In the same way, I don’t need to know every blood vessel and vein to create a nose. Knowing that there’s a skull underneath only helps in certain areas. It’s never going to explain the full form of the nose (or the hundreds of types of noses out there as well as numerous other kinds of soft tissues that a skull can’t explain). It will give me the bridge, the rest is an art in many ways. I could go on with just about every other feature. Is it helpful to have that knowledge eventually? Absolutely. I’m not saying in any way that anatomy isn’t helpful, actually I did say that it’s a never ending learning process. It just isn’t necessary for a beginner to start at the deep end and learn it from a doctor’s perspective.

And no one stated that this is the end of the journey. Learning some forms is the start. Where they go comes next. Sure, the Loomis method is a good next step. Depends on what works best for them. I’ve looked at most of them and pick and choose what works best for me. It’s ART. There is no right or wrong way. I probably would have argued daily with these “instructors” of yours and in the end never learned a thing.

I know, but OP asked for ways to increase realism in his sculptures. If he wants to do that, then he absolutely must know anatomy. Anatomy and practice was what we recommended. If he wants to sculpt cartoon characters, then it’s not quite as important.

He is sculpting a human portrait and anatomy study is very important for that. Shapes of noses etc are the detail aspects that aren’t as important for a beginner as the foundation of the sculpture. For portraits, it’s the skull.

Without anatomy, it will never look realistic. It will be guess work instead of confident knowledge.

I know OP is a beginner, but he asked an advanced question. There is no easy way to sculpting realistic humans other than study and practice. And what better way to begin for a beginner than by learning the skull and practice sculpting it in Nomad.

And what I stated comes from more than just a couple of years of experience. After watching numerous other artists over the years trying to get better, it was never the “I just need to only study anatomy” crowd that got better first. It was those practicing the forms and not learning the names of every muscle. They were also the ones who could visually interpret their imagination a lot better because they weren’t being hindered by trying to always follow a guide book of how things are supposed to be. And once again, for the nth time, I am in no way saying that studying anatomy is a waste of time. I’ve said the opposite numerous times already. Even most of those guys eventually learned their anatomy properly in varying amounts of time. But it isn’t the only path, or a necessary first step, to get to the same destination because one curriculum decided that would be their way. Not everyone learns the same and I’m just offering a method that I’ve seen work quite well for others as well as myself.

From what you stated, by your own estimates of how I learned, I should be wholly incapable of creating a realistic human head and should only ever create cartoon sculpts of humans. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the two people who keep stating that anatomy is the first, and main, step to a multi year journey of memorization and study are the two that haven’t really posted the amazing examples of how that journey of study has benefited them. Now, I’m not stating that either of you are incapable of creating an absolutely incredibly realistic human head in Nomad, I just haven’t seen the evidence of these skills as nothing has been shared. I know that I’d certainly love to see some examples done with Nomad, using no reference (since obviously all that study has cemented the knowledge in your heads), if only to see where I need to get better.

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