Small update: I continued the torso from the previous chest modelling, wrapped it around to make a cylindrical shape, and then joined the back to the neck to create the shoulders. How? By copying the steps, no questions asked!
The shoulders are a convoluted mess of topology loops that I still don’t quite understand.
I decided, thus, to take a bit of a break and get to really wrap my head around 3d topology, at least around the basics. The way decisions are made is still a dark, obscure, written-down-on-a-manuscript-inside-a-medieval-monastery thing to me.
As long as I follow the tutorial I get the correct result, but what’s the point if I don’t understand the decisions that were made, and why were they made? So my first journey into this deep hole of enigma was the facial topology. I found a very handy explanation of the face mesh from Sintel, that Blender short film that got the relatively new program under the spotlight as a serious option for an open source 3d software.
From there, I was able to hand draw the way the loops surround the face, and eventually came up with some sort of system to remember it.
To me, the most important points in a face topology are the ones marked with stars. They’re called the vertex poles, because they define the change of direction in a mesh from a square reticule to a complex, 3d volume. Without vertex poles there’s no much that can be done in 3d besides basic geometric objects. So as long as I remember where in the face are these poles, and how to get to them (i.e., how many loops do you count from the inner corner of the eye to the pole? How many loops between that one and the next one?), this could be created with a fair chance of working out. I’m still doing tests and trying out some things, so I’ll upload these experiments soon.