Hi, my name is Anto Juricic, also known as Grapix on various CG forums including the 3DTotal forum. I am going to talk about the creation of my latest work "Starfleet Officer" and what it takes to make such image.
At first I did not know what I was going to make and all I had was this interesting reference image I'd found on the internet (Fig.01), so I decided to try and use it in some way.
The first thing I did was set up a very primitive base mesh, which had enough volume for any kind of human bust. The easiest way for me to do this was to use ZBrush and ZSpheres, which are very easy to manipulate and it's almost like some kind automatic mesh generator.
After I'd drawn a few spheres, I converted them to polygons and from there it was only took a matter of minutes to shape the existing geometry into something more human-like (Fig.02).
For that task I found using the Move brush in combination with a low pressure Smooth brush to be a best choice. If you like you can further develop your base mesh by exporting the mesh to software like Maya and adding few loops around the mouth area and eye sockets.
Also deleting polygons from the bottom of your base mesh can really pay off later when you come to divide the model to a higher poly count and it also leaves more room on the UV map for visible and more important parts of mesh (Fig.02).
If it's possible, I recommend using image plains to rough out basic proportions. The most important thing when sculpting is to gain good overall proportions, along with solid primary and secondary shapes. The worst thing you can do is to rush too soon to higher levels in ZBrush and start adding wrinkles and pores without establishing good overall shapes.
After shaping the mesh to a form that closely resembled the look I was after, I started to make new and better optimized topology (Fig.03). Even though ZBrush has a great re-topology tool, I like using 3D-Coat for the task because it offers more control over the mesh.