Learning retopology, should I start with Hard Surfaces or Organics?

Question Modeling

Hello! I am attempting to create my own model from scratch and using many of the techniques across several of the courses available I have been able to create a mid-level sculpture, which I plan on retopologizing and then use multires to create a high poly model to bake normals from. I'm currently on the retopo step and I'm having some trouble figuring out what direction I should be heading with it. The intro to retopology course covers mapping loops on a hard surface, and even using triangles to hold shape due to the model being a hard surface and not having deformations, and while I've tried to map out some loops on my organic model I'm not quite sure where I should be putting my poles. In the modeling bootcamp there is a great example of a head and showing that poles are used for redirecting loops and that n-gons and tris are bad for deformation, so I am avoiding using them at all if possible to make an all quad mesh as I would like to rig and animate this character.

991fac1372292ee0842ab0a9831646fb.pngI've  decided against using the nose to chin loop here, and at the moment I have a loop for the mouth, and eye. The Brow line leads naturally around the horn and around the jawline and in that area it gets a bit busy with the neck so I will likely be using a pole.

If I understand correctly, poles are used to "cut-off" loop cuts that may be made further down the line during retopology, so my thought is that I should probably try to isolate the head when it is finished?

annotations.pngHere you can see my markings for some of the details that I am looking to preserve, which is where I should be putting face/edge loops in to keep the areas fidelity in a lower quality mesh. The angle gets a little busy around the bottom of the jaw as the pencil from underneath the chin/chest area starts to bleed through the model but the face is fairly readable here I think. I'm not too confident that the markings are even correct, which is sort of where my problem is.

Do I just leave this until I better understand retopology workflow and practice on Hard Surfaces as they have cleaner/more defined areas, and then come back when I'm more experienced?

Am I overthinking this entirely? I had made some significant progress on a different save file for this guy, but there were many many poles as I was connecting up my loops. I was not planning out where to put them at all, but it didnt look bad. My concern was how the poles would effect deformation in weight painting, and I havent found anything that really goes into that.

I had heard (I think from FlippedNormals) that some advice for beginners is to take on a project and follow it through until completion, and I am now fairly comfortable with sculpting, and I have previously done walk cycles in blender as well, but on a low poly character that was box modeled, I have not taken a full character from base to sculpt to retopo to texture to rigging. I feel like this is a necessary point for me to get through so that I can dive into learning how to create textures/using shaders, but I feel a bit stuck.

Any advice would be a godsend here, thanks.

  • aythem replied

    I dont seem to be able to edit the post at the moment, but another consideration I was wondering was if the base mesh itself needed to have more work done on it to add sharper/more obvious edge flow?

  • Adrian Bellworthy replied

    Hey aaythem,

    It is a excellent idea, and highly recommended to plan your retopology as you are trying to here.

    Have you tried the husky exercise at the end of the mesh modeling bootcamp?

    It is a priority to have a ring of edge loops around the eyes and mouth, and any other moving parts (joints in the legs, around the neck etc.)

    From there on its basically a jigsaw puzzle adding pieces to join it all together. 

    The placement of any poles is ideally suited to areas which will not get deformed or stretched when animating, the top of the head or centre of the chest for example.

    Another great course you should take a look at is Creature Modeling for Production, chapter 3 covers retopology.

    It is ok to use tri's in some areas. On a model like this on the end of the horns for example, or claws, if the model has claws. 


    Hope this helps.

    @jlampel there used to be an image of the husky puppy with the main edge loops colored in red and blue on the exercise page, its no longer there. I thought this may be a good image to reference here.

  • John Sanderson(procyonlotor) replied

    You are probably overthinking it a bit. Poles are where your loops will diverge from one another. You want to be careful having them in places where lots of deformation may happen, especially in multiple directions. Think about where the most deformation will happen on your model and plan to have loops there. You can get away with more than you think and you can edit your topology even in the rigging phase if it just isn’t working. The loops you sketched out I think will serve you well enough. I would move forward with that. 

  • aythem replied

    AAdrian I will definitely check out the Creature Modeling, I had not seen that course. I did use the image of the husky for reference while beginning this project and I do remember even earlier using it for reference once upon a time before I was a member here. I have not done the exercise however, and I'll probably take a stab at it to get some more experience. Thank you!

    pprocyonlotor Good to know. I'll probably try to get a bit more comfortable with some of the concepts and then see just how much I'm able to get away with when rigging. Thank you!

    1 love
  • Mark Smith(me1958424) replied

    about poles... you said... If I understand correctly, poles are used to "cut-off" loop cuts...

    poles are used to change direction...

    there are 2 kinds of poles that are useful in 3D, 1) nose poles (3 sides)  2) extrusion poles (5 sides)


    strategically placed they can change direction of your loops...

    when you understand this idea you will be well on your way to understand retopology

    hope this is helpful

  • Jonathan Lampel replied

    It looks like you're off to a good start and I'd agree with the other's advice above! The only other thing I'd mention is that you can get away with far fewer polygons than what you have now. Beginners almost always overcomplicate the topology, and understandably so because it looks better while you're working, but it makes everything take way more work than necessary on top of it already being hard to learn. Keep the retopology as simple as possible and let the subdiv do the work of smoothing everything out. Good luck!