Making a realistic and lifelike human character is one of the hardest tasks in 3D graphics. For a long time it was known as the “Holy Grail” among 3D artists in the community. The reason why this skill is so desired, is the possibilities it gives you in the movie or advertising industries. Imagine you could create fully artificial digital actors and make the audience believe they are real. So real that there would be no questioning it. We are all familiar with the best examples out there – Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean or the alien species in Avatar.
There are a vast amount of techniques and tools developed to aid this process. Geometry composed of millions of polygons can be easily molded like clay to form the shape of a character. The 3D model then is linked to skeletal systems that enable artists to animate the body. Complex rendering algorithms calculate how light spreads in the scene to simulate physically accurate shadows and illumination. Shading procedures are then used to compute how textures react when light hits the surface. Rendering engines imitate details of human skin to such an extent that even the scattering of the light under the skin is taken into account.
Above all that, the artist has to convey the personality and make the audience believe that it is a real person. That’s why some 3D characters look so strange – technically all the skin and shading details are correct, but something is lacking in the character. Sometimes the expression is unnatural, or the traits of the face are too perfect. When 3D characters look “almost ” like actual human beings, it can cause repulsive thoughts, the experience often colloquially said as the uncanny valley.
Anyway, new software and ever growing computing power enables artists to create computer generated characters you would never guess it is not a real photo. Here are 40 of the most interesting and photorealistic 3D characters in the community to date.
Gallery of Characters
Captain Jack Sparrow / Johnny Depp made by ZhiHeng Tang
Portrait of President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev made by Oleg Koreyba
,,The Revolutionary” made by Kris Kelly
,,Ayco” made by Chris Nichols
,,Bernadette” by Stephen Molyneaux
,,The Portrait” made by Luc Bégin
Although he looks a bit exaggerated, it was made from a reference of a real bodybuilder Markus Ruhl.
,,Jonas” by Zbynek Kysela
,,Portrait attempt” made by Alex Huguet
Korean actress Song Hye Kyo by Max Wahyudi
,,Far and Away” by Stanislav Klabik
,,Painter ” by RenPeng Dong
A fan art of a character Joker (actor – Heath Ledger) from the movie Dark Knight.
,,Muriel 2” made by Mauro Corveloni
,,Apocalypto’s Middle Eye” made by Peter Zoppi
,,An elderly curmudgeon” made by Rokly Wang
,,Hold Hakka Woman” made by Salvatore Ferracane
Portrait of an Old Man made by Tony Reynolds
Varvara made by Denis Tolkishevsky
Sad woman made by Kleber Darcio
Slayer made by Guang Yang
Actor Tommy Lee Jones made by SiYoung Lee
Old woman made by Ivan Ozyumov
Girl elbow stand made by Alexander Tomchuk
Portrait made by U Ri So
Mage made by Joel Mongeon
Chris made by Redragon
Artist Addy Rose made a portrait of her boyfriend in 3D. Here is the tutorial of how she created this image.
“Old Detective” by James Busby
Old man made by Anto Juricic
Pink Amazon Portrait made by Rebeca Puebla
Evil Witch made by Sven Geruschkat
Inspired by Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
Young Chimp made by Hyejin Moon
Not entirely a human but nonetheless one of the best CG characters of our ancestors.
All For Now
3D technology is evolving so fast that soon digital actors maybe replacing the real ones before too long. When it will be? Only time will tell. Tell us, how many of the images above could you not tell apart from a photo?