Human: Realistic Portrait Creation With Blender

On Sale! by CG Cookie in Training


How do I unzip the source files (.zip.001, .zip.002, .zip.003, etc)

The .zip.XXX is not an incorrect extension; it's evidence of a split archive. These are ideal for preserving file structure when unzipped, which is important for .blends to maintain their external file links (textures, ref images, etc.)

To successfully unzip a split archive, ALL split parts need to be fully downloaded and stored in the same folder as its counterparts. From there programs like 7zip and Winrar can unzip them correctly as shown here:

Please see the Documentation section for more info about this!

Do you offer any feedback through this learning process?

cgcookie.com is the learning community that surrounds HUMAN and all courses in our library! There’s Q&A under each video, graded exercises, a forum, and discord - All of which have regular instructor presence. If you're interested in educational support like this, I recommend a CG Cookie membership. That's where I focus my support efforts for people going through our courses.

We don't offer the same level of support to Blender Market customers that buy our courses as standalone. We will offer technical support (like if there's a download issue, or how to unzip the compressed files, understanding file structure, etc). But educational support for questions about techniques presented in videos, clarification on tool usage, brainstorming alternative methods, feedback for students' progress, etc - that kind of support is dedicated to CG Cookie members.

When does the 25% discount end exactly?

Since the course released Nov 23rd and the BFCM sale runs from Nov 26-29 and also features a 25% discount, we decided that the pre-sale price will remain in effect through Nov 25th. On Nov 26th the price will increase ($79 for the course, $149 for the bundle) but the BFCM discount will bring it down to the same presale price. On Nov 30th the price will be$79 for the course and $149 for the course bundle with no discounts.

Are the techniques taught in this course applicable for rigging and animation?

To be clear, the end goal of this course is static portraits. BUT the techniques are definitely conducive to rigging and animation. The second chapter covers retopology (for optimizing our sculpture and preparing it for high-poly detail sculpting) where the mesh structure is deformation-friendly.

Most of my professional experience leans toward animation so I rarely teach something that can't work that way. The only major components not taught in the course are teeth and a tongue.

Do I need a drawing tablet to follow this course?

Technically you could use a mouse but it would be a challenge. I actually prefer a mouse for brushes like Grab and Snake hook most of the time (for more precise movements). Still a drawing tablet is highly recommended.

I can't say it's 100% required, but the pressure sensitivity and more artistically-inclined mechanics of a tablet make for far more enjoyable experience when sculpting and painting textures.

I wrote an article about tablets on our blog if you want more information.

What will the full price be?
The full price of the course will be $79 and the course bundle will be $149
Do I need a supercomputer to achieve detail like this?

You don’t need a supercomputer but PC specs will make a difference with any high fidelity projects like this. I'm not a hardware expert (even if I was there's way to much hardware variety to say definitively) but in general I recommend a mid-to-high end desktop or high-end laptop for effectively creating portraits of this caliber. In every way we're pushing Blender to its limit from sculpting in the 10's-of-millions of polygons, hi-res texture painting, complex material networks, hundreds of thousands of hair particles, and large 2K Cycles renders. My wife's 2017 MacBook Pro does not do well here.

For reference: My PC used to record this course has the following:

  • GeForce RTX 2080
  • AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X 16-Core Processor (3.50 GHz)
  • 32 GB of RAM
Can this course really teach me to create realistic portraits well?

Yes! I would not have spent 2 years consolidating 15 years of experience, researching, practicing, rehearsing, and recording this course otherwise. If I can do it, you can do it

You mean if I watch HUMAN one time I'll be able to create portraits like this?

Maybe, but not likely. The reality with any complex creative process is that practice makes progress. Art and craft is not a matter of following a long list of instructions to achieve a perfect result. The teaching is crucial. But practice is just a crucial. This course will teach you everything you need to know about portrait creation but it can't force you to practice. That's what you need to bring to this experience.

I strongly recommend you approach HUMAN the same way I approached teaching it: slowly. That’s right: If you’re not still watching this course 24 months later you’re doing it wrong.....No no, of course not! I just mean that it's best if you sit with this course a while. It’s not a movie; it’s a series. Let it marinate in your mind and embrace the guarantee of repeated practice.

Specifically I recommend watching through the whole course once casually; no Blender open and maybe not even at a desk. Do it on your couch with popcorn at 1.5-2x speed (because, let’s be honest, 25 hours is a lot). The reason for this casual watch is for you to get a bird’s-eye-view of the complete workflow before attempting to follow along. Seeing the big picture first will give much-needed context to the plethora of small tasks and techniques.

After your initial viewing, I recommend practicing each chapter by itself at least twice before going to the next. So for chapter 1 you should sculpt at least 2 heads from scratch. For chapter 2, retopo and detail two separate times, etc. The unfortunate (or fortunate?) rule of practice is that the second attempt is always better than the first, third is better than the second, etc. Trust me I HATE this rule. But I only have experience that proves it to be true. The more you practice each chapter the better your final result and the longer-lasting your education will be.

Will HUMAN be released on http://cgcookie.com?

Yes, active CG Cookie members will be able to stream HUMAN when it becomes part of the CG Cookie Citizen library on November 23rd, 2021. They can stream all prerequisite courses as well.

If you're not a member, and not interested in subscribing, you're able to pre-order the HUMAN course and/or the HUMAN bundle option that includes all of the prerequisite content.

Why not just use Metahuman?

Metahuman is a great tool! But it’s for people that want believable digital humans fast and easy. CG portraiture, the art form, is not terribly interested in fast and easy solutions. This course is much more a deep dive into the art form than it is about fast and easy.


Another way to look at it: Metahuman doesn’t produce character artists any more than Guitar Hero produces guitarists. The drum machine has yet to eliminate the drummer. Ikea hasn't eliminated hand-made furniture. On and on the examples an go. Likewise I don’t expect Metahuman or AI will ever eliminate the art of hand-crafted CG portraiture.

Does the course feature any addons or other software besides Blender?

HUMAN is based 100% on stock Blender. The only addons I used are included with Blender that simply need to be enabled. No Zbrush, no substance, no 3rd party addons. I use Krita briefly as an exercise example and DJV View to playback an image sequence example but neither are required.

Which version of Blender is featured in the course?

6 versions of Blender are featured in this course, from 2.82-2.93. Blender updates rapidly and 2 years is an eternity in Blender dev time. Ideally the whole course would be recorded with a single, most up-to-date version but it's impossible. Even spending a few months recording a course is risky. More than once I've published a course only to have a new Blender version released the week after; sometimes the day after. This is simply the nature of working with and teaching Blender.

I wrote an article about this and recommend 2 ways of dealing with it:

  1. If software inconsistency seriously hinders your learning process, I recommend using each version of Blender according to the video. Thankfully blender.org maintains download links for all official releases. This hoop to jump through may be a bit annoying but it will essentially make software inconsistency a non-issue.

  2. So long as you have intermediate familiarity with Blender, you shouldn't have much problem navigating the whole course with the latest version of Blender. Some interface things have changed, some buttons added here and there, but it's nothing a quick google search won't clarify. Every concept taught in this course is not only relevant to all featured Blender versions - they're also relevant to other 3D apps. There's no reason a Maya user couldn't follow this course and learn applicable techniques for their software of choice. 3D apps are just tools and they change often. The concepts transcend tools and time.
Should I understand facial anatomy before watching HUMAN?

Any preparation like this will only help your learning experience. BUT I designed the course to NOT require prerequisite anatomy knowledge. Throughout the course anatomy is highlighted and explained with images and the anAtomic reference model that’s included with the source files.

What kind of head should I create?

This question is a fun one. If you’re interested in HUMAN you’re probably already imagining the endless possibilities of characters you could create with these skills! So which one do you do first?


It’s a fun question but one without a perfect answer. I’ll answer in two ways: First, of course you can consider matching the kind of head I create in the course. For some it’s more effective for learning to try and match exactly what’s happening in a tutorial course. This is totally fine and valid, especially for first-timers. Personally I would love to see portraits of all ethnicities, genders, facial structures, and hair styles be created out of this course!


Which brings me to my second answer: For those undeterred by one more layer of challenge, I recommend creating a portrait that looks similar to yourself. Not necessarily a self-portrait, because I’d rather avoid the pressure (and potential frustration) of likeness from the beginning. Just someone with similar skin color, complexion, hair type, eye color, etc. The reason being that you can serve as your own reference. Whether you decide to take high res photos of yourself or keep a mirror at your desk, frankly you’re an unlimited resource of ideal nature.


This is why the portrait in the course, whom I’ve named “Colin, looks similar to me: Caucasion man with glasses and short hair. Once we’ve successfully created a portrait that looks similar to ourselves, then we’re better prepared to branch out and achieve portraits of various ethnicities, genders, body types, etc. 


A problem with this approach is that not everyone taking the course looks like me. For those that do not, you’ll have to face the potential challenge of translating caucasion-specific techniques to match your own traits. This means there will be some gaps to fill in along the way. It’s very doable for the initiated but it could also slow one’s progress.

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Sales 1900+
Customer Ratings 6
Average Rating
Dev Fund Contributor
Published about 1 month ago
Software Version 2.82, 2.83, 2.9, 2.91, 2.92, 2.93
License Royalty Free
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