Got a face you have to render? CG faces are hard. Of course, some are harder than others so I’m introducing the “How Hard is Your Face” test.
How Hard is Your Face:
- Does it have real human proportions (vs. creature-like)
- Is it light-skinned (vs. dark skinned)
- Is it younger (vs. older)
- Is it attractive (vs. ugly)
- Is it a woman (vs. a man)
Of course, ALL faces are hard. Any time someone does a good CG face that moves, it’s a real accomplishment. That being said, some are harder than others.
Ask yourself those five questions and give yourself a point every time you say yes. If your answer is 0 it shouldn’t be too bad, and if you answer 5 then you’re screwed. In general I’ve found that shots of realistically-proportioned light-skinned cute 20-something women are much harder than stylized creature-like dark-skinned ugly old men.
Looking back, the first CG face that most people say “worked” was Gollum. You could choose other ones, but he’s a good benchmark. So how hard was Gollum to do on the scale?
- Creature-like proportions. +0
- Got dark skin. +0
- He’s over 100 years old. +0
- He’s not exactly cuddly. +0
- Gollum was a dude. +0
Gollum was a big 0 in the difficulty, which shouldn’t be surprising. Of course he was a huge accomplishment. But it should make sense that the first big CG face success was on the easier end. You have to crawl before you can walk. Let’s do another one.
Next up I’m going to Benjamin Button. Personally, I thought it was incredible. You could nitpick a few shots, and some of my friends thought it got a little “creepy” at times but I thought it was great. How hard was he though?
- Realistic proportions. +1
- Light skin. +1
- An old man. +0
- Empirically, he’s an attractive guy. +1
- Dude. +0
So Benjamin button gets a 3. But solving the “Head Problem” is still a long ways away. In particular, getting women to look good is sooooooo much harder. That one should probably be worth two points.
The main reason I got inspired to write this was because LA Noire is coming out. One silly discussion that will inevitably begin is which characters look better than others. Certainly, artist talent and time spent will play a huge part on how good a certain head looks. But the ugly old black dudes will probably look better than the young hot white girls simply because they are easier to do.