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Behind the Scenes: Elf Bust



Hi, my name is José María Barbenza. I'm a 29-year-old freelance 3D artist from Argentina. I've always liked all aspects of 3D, but I specialize in 3D modeling, sculpting, and texturing.

From a very young age, I worked in film and short film productions, which helped me gain strong experience in the 3D world. Then, I started working freelance for film productions, series, video games, and commercials. I've been using Blender since 2011, and I've always loved its great flexibility for all areas.


I have always liked The Lord of the Rings, and I wanted to do a project related to it. As soon as I had the time, I did it. I was inspired by the elves in the movies as well as the stylized elves in the Dragon Age video game.

I decided to mix styles and create a semi-realistic elf with a blend of realistic and stylized features.


First, I always start with a rough blocking of what I have in mind and then add details in a specific order. I began by sculpting the head and then re-topologized it using traditional Blender tools.

Next, I used the high-poly model to add more details, such as skin texture and tweaked it to create a normal map and displacement map for the high-poly to low-poly mesh conversion in Substance Painter.

I also added the eyes and a teardrop.

After finishing the head detailing, I proceeded to model the clothing and ornaments.


I used Substance Painter to texture the model.

For the skin, I like to hand-paint it by combining different colors until I get the right one.


First, I posed the bust and prepared the camera. Then, I used Blender's particle system and divided it into parts:

  • Facial Hair
  • Eyebrows, Eyelashes, and Beard
  • Hair and Braids (I used HairNet for the braids so that the particles follow guide curves)

It is a complex and tedious work, but it's important to get the details right. It was probably the most time-consuming part of the project.


This stage is also long. I make lighting tests until I find the right shape, correct errors and details.

In this stage, I also added the crown that I modeled with curves.


Thank you for reading. I hope it has helped you understand the process.


About the Artist

José María Barbenza,
a Senior 3D Artist / 3D Modeler from Argentina. Currently freelancing in film productions, video games and commercials.


About the Author

Avatar image for Alina Khan
Alina Khan

A self taught 3d artist, who seeks to excel in the computer graphics field. Currently a freelancer and the editor for the 'Behind the Scenes' at Blender Nation.

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