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Behind the Scenes: Lilium



Hello! My name is Shavonne and I’m a fashion and advertising photographer from Singapore. I’ve done photography for the last 10 years and got the opportunity to work with some really cool clients like Sephora and Lancome and have been published in magazines like Vogue.

When COVID first hit and Singapore went into lockdown, photoshoots naturally were no longer allowed. During this time, I felt a little loss but figured that if I’m unable to photograph real models, then I will just create my own virtual models!

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Learning Blender

I had some modules in school a decade ago that touched on 3D and the different aspects of it, so I understood the basic foundations of how 3D comes together. I remember really enjoying those classes, too, so I figured there was no harm in giving it a shot.

I remember watching Blender Guru’s tutorial back in April last year and trying to follow along to it at 1.75x speed so I could finish it in a day. That was my first introduction to Blender (plus setting Suzanne on fire, of course). From then on, I was in love.

I tend to have an addictive personality so trying to figure this out was all I did for months. The learning curve was really steep but being stuck at home due to COVID definitely helped my productivity level. I watched way more tutorials than I ever thought I would in my life.

The portraits

The issue with creating a realistic human face is that we as humans are so used to looking at faces that it’s very easy for us to tell when something is off, even if we can’t pinpoint what. This meant learning about anatomy, our facial bones, muscles, and fat layers, what can be shifted around and what cannot. This was very difficult to learn and is still something I struggle with.

When it came to creating the models, my inspiration was basically the faces I enjoyed photographing. I also had a folder of all the models whose features I really liked so I could reference them. The first model I created was named Kade and she was supposed to be Asian. Funnily, because most anatomy and sculpting resources I found were based on Caucasian features, she turned out a little mixed.

Then I created Lilium as I wanted a model with darker skin.

And also Lunah, my now definitely Asian model.

When I first started out, I used Daz characters as bases but, eventually, I switched over to Character Creator as I found the UI easier to navigate and easier to use. My models are all sculpted in ZBrush, textured in Substance, and then rendered in Blender. All their grooming is done in Blender, too.

It’s incredible how much information there is out there on the internet—everything I have learned has been from tutorials online. Some were free, but not all. In the end, one still has to invest in oneself to learn. Some of the tutorials I found incredibly helpful were those from Tom Newbury and Kris Costa. However, their content is based on Maya so I had to translate over whatever I could.


I recently experimented with a little animation too.

Closing remarks

I’ve been using these models to create animations and have really enjoyed it! Am currently talking to clients and brands about having them used for their campaigns etc. I’m also hoping to figure out the facial lip-syncing with them and perhaps have them available as emcees for virtual events. It should be fun!

I’m hoping to create more models with even more diversity, including skin colors, size, gender, etc.


About the Author

Shavonne Wong, Fashion and advertising photographer turn 3D virtual human model creator



About the Author

Abby Crawford

I've been a part of the BlenderNation team since 2018, producing Behind the Scenes and Meet the Artist features that highlight Blender artists and their work.


  1. Rombout Versluijs on

    Wow super nice!!!! I saw her images on twitter couple weeks ago and was blown awo. She picked up blender quite fast, amazing work! What i also really like is the facial expressions, pretty good. Her being a photorgapher really helps her with proper lighting and composition.

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