Here's my second attempt at a digital portrait. I think the results are a lot better than my previous version. As before it's based on a Character Creator 3 base mesh with textures mostly created in CC3 skingen. Still, most of the work happened in Blender: the hair, brows, and eyelashes are all particle hair where I spent way too much time trying to perfect them. At some point I had an idea to use FaceApp to replace the hair with an AI generated one, and then it was a process of refining my 3D version until it looked better than what an AI could provide. Particle hair was also used for facial hair and for some loose strands in the shirt. Those are subtle details but they really add up for realism.
First I worked on a version with a neutral expression and then again uploaded the results to FaceApp and generated a smiling expression there. Then I used that as a reference for sculpting the same expression. That also required tons of trial and error.
Using AI as a guide for realism really seems to pay off, especially since my 3D model has no real person as a reference. It will be part of my workflow in the future too. Next time I will try on different hair styles using AI before even starting to model one.
Everything was rendered in Blender with no post process except for the background and a slight shadow added under the top eyelid. And some noise to break the solid background color.
All comments and feedback are welcome. I find there's still lots to be learned.