One of my colleagues suggested for me to make a portrait. I then set my target on Liu Yifei, a young Chinese actress. She is now quite famous in China, which makes it very easy to find tonnes of reference images on the Internet. I eventually found one image of her from a TV show. The level of details of her costume totally amazed me, and so I decided to take that as my final reference.
Although the details are focused on her hair accessory and dress, you can't call it a good character without having a good facial mesh. I started the head in Softimage XSI, using around ten photographs to check the resemblance from different angles. When I had about 80% resemblance, I used the final reference for adjusting mainly small areas that helped to form her facial expression (Fig.01-02).
I didn't know much about ZBrush and didn't have time to learn it for this project. So, I used my old technique and modelled all of the folds on her dress (Fig.03-04).
The hair accessories was not hard to make. I modelled two objects: a round shape and a sharp shape. After duplicating those a couple of times, I located their final position by rotoscoping (Fig.05).
The character is almost totally camera based; most of the elements are modelled and rigged for that camera, and that camera only. Therefore, objects like her hands were modelled in natural pose, then rigged afterwards to match the reference image. I ignored every spot where the camera could not see, to save time and trouble (Fig.06-07).