I decided to create 3D portraits of people I love. I'm using Maya 2011 and ZBrush.
First of all the reference, a couple of photos to use as guide. I decided to to model the initial geometry in Maya because it's easier to navigate the viewport. This is quite important because it's all matter of proportions. Before importing the photos as image planes, I altered the front view in Photoshop to match the perspectives.
On the right, the initial shape I modeled in Maya. I started from the side view drawing the profile and extruding the rest. During this stage I prefer to turn on a smooth mesh preview to see possible problems. I think I spent 3 hours, more or less, to model this shape.
When this work was done, I decided to create the UVs. I used UV Master, a free plugin for ZBrush which lets us create very efficient UVs for our models in a few steps.
On the right all the photos have been painted on my model. I exported the texture to make further changes in Photoshop. For example, I decided to erase the hair and the eyelashes because I want to create them in Maya. The UVs I created with UV master allows me to reimport the fixed texture.
After that, I will export the model to Maya to create a hair system and render the model with Mental Ray.
fantastic free tutorial by Alex Alvarez (Gnomon). The biggest difference is that I used a marble texture for the veins, Alex used an effect from Maya. Anyway the veins are really small and I don't think I'll zoom on them.