Let's face it. Recreating yourself digitally has to be, at least in part, an exercise in vanity. It's also a way to learn about morphs and the art of morphing; and oddly enough, human perception. And it's a lot of fun.
This is the third time I've attempted digitally recreating myself. I first tried to use Posette (the default Poser 4 woman), but the result only bore a vague resemblance to me. The second time I used Victoria 2, and achieved a character that was recognizably meant to be me, but was somewhat a caricature. My third attempt, which is the subject of this article, was done using Victoria 3 (V3), but the general principles can be applied to other Poser figures.
I recommend working from a photograph. I've tried using a mirror but I was never satisfied with the results. I used a professional quality photograph; however, a photograph taken with a digital camera would work just as well. The next step was to scan the print into Photoshop. I created a new image, with my photo on one side and a blank white space on the other to use as the background image in Poser. I saved it as a jpeg at a size that would fit into my Poser workspace.
For the next step, I opened Poser and imported my prepared photograph as a background image. I loaded Victoria 3 and injected all the head morphs, including the expression morphs. Then I tried each of the Ethnic Head Morphs and Face Shape Morphs, both in the positive and negative dial direction. This was done to see which V3 face morphs appeared closest to mine, I was only interested at this point in achieving a very general resemblance.
I'm going to take a slight detour from morph dials here to talk about lighting, focal length and textures. Try to match the lighting in your original image to the lighting in Poser. This may not seem terribly important at the beginning, when you are just trying to get a halfway decent likeness, but it becomes extremely important towards the end when you are making very minor tweaks to perfect the resemblance. You should also adjust the focal length. Most portrait photos are done at a focal length of 80-120, so try setting your Poser focal length to 100.
Ideally, it is best to have a texture based on the same photo that you are using as a reference; however, using a texture that has the same general complexion and coloring will also do. The exception to this is the eye textures. To make your image appear realistic, it is important to use eye textures created from the actual eyes of the image you are working with. In my case, the eye textures I used are V2 textures that I created (for an entirely different character and converted to V3 textures using DarkWhisper's texture converter) with eye and lip textures taken from photos of myself and some additional hand-painted details.
Getting back to the morph dials, Now that I had V3s face shape looking as close as possible to mine, I worked down each morph dial (including the expression morphs). Trying each dial both positively and negatively to refine the likeness. I don't know of any way to shortcut this trial and error process. It is tedious but necessary. At the end of several hours of this, I had a V3 that looked a bit like me. I saved the dial setting in the face library [Daio V3 WIP1], and saved the Poser document as DaioV3, and rendered - making sure I anti-aliased was clicked.
I think it is very important to take breaks from your work, to get other people to provide input. I posted my render in the Poser forum at Renderosity and waited for constructive comments.
Fortunately, I received a lot of helpful comments. This is the stage where the unavoidable vagaries of human perception come in. Different people noticed and pointed out different things. One might notice that the bridge of the nose isnt quite right. Another might comment on the shape of the lips or the height of the eyes. Some will point out things youve already noticed, but others will bring up points that you might not have noticed. Thats why it is very helpful to post your working versions and let other people comment on them. After reading and considering all the comments, I opened my DaioV3 document making the suggested change, saving the attempts along the way as sequentially numbered Face Pose files. This is what I finally came up with. Closer but still not quite right.
At this point, I needed custom morphs. Specifically, I needed a morph to raise the left eye slightly and narrow the philtrum and the top of the lips. Additionally, a morph to gradually widen the nose bridge. If you are handy with magnets or 3D modeling programs, you may be able to make the morphs you need yourself. I, on the other hand, had to ask for help. I posted my plea for assistance in several places and, luckily two excellent modelers, Cin- and jaager, agreed to help me by creating the custom morphs that I needed.
Going back to my image, I added the custom morphs. The resemblance was getting very close, yet something just wasnt right. My face is very square and morphing it using the Square Face dial was not giving me the look I needed. So, I scaled the head x value to 103%. I posted a new version and considered the comments I got in response. Just a little more tweaking needed. I found several helpful morphs in the V3 male pack. To make sure everything lined up, I created a render and manually created a split screen image in Photoshop. This allowed me to make sure everything was lined up properly and in the right proportions and showed me that I needed to move the mouth and nose up.
I saved the final face file. After turning the smile morph dials to 0, I spawned a morph that I called DaioV3. Why did I spawn a morph when I had already saved the face settings? Two reasons: One, I had used a couple of the expression morphs in the creation of my digital twin, and I wanted to be able to use expression poses created by other people without it changing the character face. Two, I had used literally dozens of morphs to recreate my likeness, and it is a lot easier to add one morph to a base figure than dozens. Additionally, it makes the cr2 file much smaller and less memory intensive.
So, starting with a blank V3 model, I loaded the DaioV3 .obj as a morph, applied the textures, injected the expression morphs and added the smile. Then I rendered it. Using the original reference photo, I erased my real face and, after a little color correction, added the render of my digital clone. And, voila, there was my digital clone in all her glory.
It took me about 3 weeks to get my digital clone to the point shown in the last image. Nevertheless, I found both the process and the results to be well worth it. It's not a perfect likeness (the nose is still off), but it is recognizably me. Now I (or at least my digital clone) can borrow Vickys clothing, try on different hairstyles, ride unicorns or simply cast smoldering looks at the camera .
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my venture into digital vanity, And, I hope to see your digital clone in the galleries soon!
I really enjoyed this article in the magazine, and it's good to see it again here. Although I've never made the attempt, the story of your process is inspiring. I must also say, I enjoy seeing your clone show up in the galleries; she is so very distinctive among all the Vicky lookalikes. It's kind of like looking at a celebrity photo and having that feeling of familiarity as if you sort of know that person. Thanks for sharing the technique and the ongoing images. :)
Quite great!... and also meaningful of V3's limitations now! The problem seems to grow harder and harder if you try to reproduce a coloured person with very strong ethnic features. A friend of me who is at Renderosity is trying to do with my comic book heroin (also starting from V3), Silvia, who is Asiatic and it's a big headache!