Ellen Ripley from Aliens

Hey everyone,

This is my first post here. I’ve used ZBrush for a while, and I’ve done quite a few things in it. This picture of Ripley from Aliens is one of my more serious attempts creating a realistic portrait. It probably needs some more tweeking, but for now I’m pretty happy with it:

The model is sculpted from a sphere using DynaMesh. I’ve used Softimage to manually retopo the model, and then finished it using ZBrush. Since Softimage is canceled I’ve recently started to learn Maya. I took this as an oportunity to learn creating hair using XGen and this is the first project I’m using Maya for (previously my models have remained hairless, since I don’t get along with Hair in Softimage). All hair is done using XGen, the main hair is done using the Tube Groom tool. I did some research before starting and since I’m new to Maya, I modeled the tubes is Softimage, basically by extruding polys from a low-res scalp model onto spiral curves, which in turn are bent on other curves to allow the tubes to be styled in a controlled manner (I found that you need to put the UVs of the tubes’ base vertices close to 0,0 to make sure that XGen generates the guides in the correct direction). I modeled the tubes this way to make sure there are no overlapping geometry at the base.
Every tube is styled one by one in Softimage. The spirals are parametric throughout so I’ve randomized their length and amount of spins to give a less uniform look. In XGen different modifiers are applied, such as Clumping, Coil, Noise and Cut. Eyebrows and lashes are created in a similar manner , but by manually placing guide curves instead of Tube Grooming.
All textures are hand painted in ZBrush and Photoshop.
The model is rendered with displacement maps in Maya using Vray and for the skin I’m using VraySkinMtl. Colors are edited in Photoshop.
I’ll upload some screens from ZBrush, Softimage and Maya later on.

Thanks for watching! :slight_smile:




Here are some screens from ZBrush, Softimage and Maya:

ZBrush Model:

Hair tubes in Softimage:

View in Maya:

I see likeness, but I think you can improve a bit the general shape. Nose, ear postion, the forehead. I did that liquify version to show you.

Hi Scote,

Thanks for your feedback. I agree with some things, but overall I think your liquified version lost most of the likeness, in my opinion. I think you’ve also made her a man. Regarding the smaller head, her head is kind of large though, but maybe it needs to be a bit smaller:

In the Zbrush view, the head is tilted slightly backwards, which maybe makes it look like the mouth needs to be moved in, here’s a rotated verision:

Not sure about what you’ve done to her nose, I’m struggling to see what you see, but don’t understand either view, perhaps I’m wrong.
Here’s the image I looked at the most as reference:

Thanks for taking the time, I’m going to look into the things I agree with! :wink:



Here’s a rendered side view:




Ok, well her eyes are almost out of socket now. You should maybe revisit

Agreed. Thank you.

I accidentally posted an old side-view render without eyelashes and eyebrows, so I’ve edited that post now.

But your hair job is neat

Thank you, glad you like the hair, and I appreciate your input!
You got me thinking and I think my proportions are quite off, I’m gonna try to change a few things.
One thing I’ve really started to suspect is that in the photo I refered to when I said her head is large, she’s actually (I think) wearing a bald cap with hair underneath, maybe it’s a promotional picture and she’s not really bald at the time of the photo. I don’t know, but her head really looks bigger there than in other photos where she’s bald.
Anyway I started to do a mockup myself in Photoshop, it’s not in any way perfect yet, but I think the proportions are more correct. Basically I scaled up the face inside of the head with the chin as the center of scaling. Also I did some research on head sizes. I found a wikipedia article with a study of average head sizes for men and women. Turns out my scale is pretty much ok, but the facial proportions are off. The eyeball size I’ve looked up previously, and according to what I found, most eyeballs are pretty much 24 mm across. This is where I am at the moment:

I think that you should revisit the cranium shape, something is off. Try to match it with this picture.

Great hair!


That photo you linked to in Alien 3, she was wearing a head prosthetic due to re-shoots after the main shooting had finished, as her hair had grown back. Her head isn’t that large! Great hair render.

Thanks for your kind words regarding the hair.

@Jakub: Thank you. Yes, that’s actually one of the pictures I’m looking at. Will try to get it right. :slight_smile:

@Infinite: Yes, that’s what i suspected, if you read my previous post, that’s pretty much what I thought was going on, that is regarding the prosthetic, didn’t realize before. Thanks for confirming, I apprecieate it! :+1:

Yah I use 24mm eyeballs also. Every model you should do in the futur should use the same eyeballs mesh. Because it’s the only element on a face that is universal on every human.

Here’s an updated screen from ZBrush. Still a WIP, but this should be more accurate, I’ve matched the model to photos from different angles, but still some work to do.

Yah the head is just better. Still think the nose need to be more wider and she miss some forehead. I did a head ref image for you. I plan to use it myself some day




Hey, thanks! That’s very kind of you!

Here are som new re-worked screens from ZBrush and a render showing where I am at the moment. The render is without eyebrows and eyelashes, I’m going to remake them from scratch since they don’t fit the model any more.

In Maya I tried to export the hair style and import it onto the modified scalp model without success, I didn’t manage to export the collection including the guides from XGen, so I tried morphing the scalp shape into the new shape, hoping that the hair style would follow. This worked pretty well, but I had to increase the number of hairs because the skin showed through too much. This might have resulted in the hair looking like a wig. I’ll have to tweak that, I think.
Overall I think the face looks more human and more like her with better proportions. I found that it was hard to match her nose from the pictures where she’s older, but I learned that the nose tip drops with age, so I figured that’s what’s going on. Also the mouth and nose changes a lot between different expressions, so I went for the expression I’m looking for. Still some work to do, but I hope you like it so far.


I have finally had some more time to spend on this model. Here’s a new render:

Different angle: