Cool Stuff: Computer face modeling Alt.Fractals paperback - out January 2011

FaceGen Face Bank:
Mar 2010
150 faces

 Face Software |  Face Library

FaceBank for FaceGen

Sample celebrity faces

Here are a bunch of .FG files to play with. Some of the models work better than others. FaceGen's default rendering output is simple surface rendering, which means that skintones tend to look a little like they've been painted onto a surface (you tend to get a similar "look" when you hand-paint a diecast model). For "pro" image rendering, a graphics person might use FaceGen for previewing and initial editing, export a model as an .obj object file, and import it into a more advanced rendering program, which could do more sophisticated things like taking into account the effect of skin translucency to produce a more photorealistic, less "flat" image. 

And of course, to add other things like hair, and clothing, and bodies, and scenery and props. 

The grid of 160-pixel images below actually uses the 400px .jpg files output by default by FaceGen, scaled down by your web-browser – click on any of them to see them in 400×400. 

You can download the original 3D .fg source files for each image by clicking on the names further down the page, and load them into FaceGen for further tinkering. 

Preview Images
3D Model Source Files (in .fg format):


Some of these head shapes look slightly iffy, but with real people, its not always obvious what their actual head shape is underneath all the hair. For a couple of the better images here, I made a tiny tweek to the cranium width, and that made a big difference. FaceGen concentrates on trying to get the facial region right, and extrapolates the rest of the head from the facial proportions, so sometimes a series of slight errors in the facial proportions can lead to a funny-looking head. Then again, most of us aren't surrounded by bald people, and probably don't have a good idea of the what the natural range of headshape variations. I resisted the temptation to edit all the heads to make them look "normal", partly because most of these are going to end up with hair, and partly because, for all I knew, perhaps this is what these people's heads really look like under all the hair? Who knows? 

(16th Feb: Yes, Vincent Price's head really WAS that shape! See him playing "Egghead" in the Batman TV series)

Once you've downloaded one of these heads in .fg format, making these sorts of tweeks is easy. Instead of trying to decipher which FaceGen slider to use, you can simply hold down the Ctrl key and click and drag on just about any feature on the face, to pull it around in real-time. With Ctrl-Click, your changes will affect both sides of the face symmetrically, so if you think that a head looks too narrow or too wide, you can Ctrl-Click next to the temple and drag the mouse a few pixels to one side or another. Ctrl-Z is "undo", and "redo" is Ctrl-Y.

Have fun! 

PS: the same disclaimers apply as on the previous page: I don't know SI, they don't know me, and if you use anyone's faces commercially without permission from the people whose faces they actually are, their lawyers will probably track you down and have you shot. Nuff said.

External Links:
  • FaceGen – @  Singular Inversions – "smart" face creator/manipulator, highly automated. They're nothing to do with me! The free version lacks .OBJ export
  • Poser – a full-figure modelling and animation program. Poser is probably the the best-known "computer mannequin" program
  • DAZ 3D – a free program that reads Poser files. DAZ make their money from selling add-in computer models for people to use within the program..
  • Blender – a free generic 3D modelling program (but with a notoriously long learning curve due to the "quirky" user-interface).
  • Wikipedia: Anatomical simulation – a useful category that I created on Wikipedia
all original material copyright © Eric Baird 2007-2009