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Retopology in Blender (Beginners Guide)

As the industry is moving towards Blender, more and more studios are now putting Blender as a requirement on job descriptions because it’s becoming a very reliable full-package software.

Why Blender for Retopology?

Blender is a free software and I think I don’t need to add any additional argument to why use Blender. But nonetheless, Blender has gone a long way now and the new versions of Blender are now way more stable and up to industry standards.

Retopology in Blender

Blender has a large community of artists and Devs backing it up because it’s a free software so many people use it and because other alternatives are quite expensive especially for beginners to afford, Blender becomes the number 1 choice for artists and small studios.

Blender Retopology Process

The blender retopology process is very straightforward, I will walk you through the steps I take to set up a mesh for retopology let’s dive straight in.

1. Add a Plane: the first thing we do is add a plane, hit shift+a in the keyboard that will bring up the add menu, select mesh, and then Plane.

Blender Retopology - Add A Plane
Add A Plane

2. Adjust The Plane Position: Bring the plane closer to the mesh you want to retopologize and position it right on top of it, to do that use the shortcut G for position, R for rotation, and S for scale.

Blender Retopology - Position The Plane
Position The Plane

3. Add Mirror Modifier: since we want what we do on one side to be mirrored on the other its good to add that from the beginning, head over to the Modifier Properties tab on the right side and click on add modifier and then choose mirror.

Blender Retopology - Add Mirror Modifier
Add Mirror Modifier

4. Adjust Mirror Settings: use the eyedropper and pick the mesh you want to retopologize as the center mesh that will take the mesh pivot point and mirror following that pivot (so make sure the original mesh has the pivot centered to mesh center).

Then the last thing is to check the clipping check box so that whenever a vertex gets near the center it’s merged by the mirrored vertex and they don’t overlap.

Blender Retopology - Adjusting The Mirror Modifier
Adjusting The Mirror Modifier

5. Turn On Snapping: this is a very important step, in order for our newly created plane and mesh to follow through the mesh we want to retopologize we must turn on snapping and choose the right options in the dropdown.

Turn Face snapping on and check on these features:

  • Project Individual Elements
  • Align Rotation To Target
  • Project Onto Self
  • Affect: Move, Rotate, Scale should be on as well
Blender Retopology - Turn Snapping On
Turn Snapping On

6. Add ShrinkWrap Modifier: In order to actually see our mesh after turning Snapping on, we need to add a ShrinkWrap Modifier, again head over to the Modifier Properties tab and click on add modifier and then choose ShrinkWrap.

Blender Retopology - Add ShrinkWrap Modifier
Add ShrinkWrap Modifier

7. Adjust ShrinkWrap Settings: use the eyedropper and pick the mesh you want to ShrinkWrap to, Choose Above Surface for the Snap Mode and then play with the Offset until you see the plan at a good distance from the mesh.

Finally make sure you turn on “On Cage” which it’s the triangle shape icon next to the ShrinkWrap icon, this way you can easily see your retopologized mesh at all times.

Blender Retopology - Adjust ShrinkWrap Modifier
Adjust The ShrinkWrap Modifier

8. Start Extruding: so now you have everything set up in order to start the Retopology process, to test things quickly use, Ctrl+Right Click on the mesh to extrude following along with your mouse clicks.

One Last tip, by you, you have 2 meshes on top of each other and they both have the same color so something I like to do is go to the shading menu on the top right and then choose Random in the color section this will give each object you have in the scene a random color.

Blender Retopology - Shading Color
Random Shading Color

Blender Retopology Shortcuts

  • Ctrl+Right Click on the mesh to extrude following along with your mouse clicks.
  • Shift+D to duplicate a face and then with G move where you want
  • F to fill the gap between 2 edges
  • Ctrl+X to dissolve an edge (Delete it)
  • Ctrl+R to Create a loop of edges

Retopology Map Flow

So now you have your scene set up and you know all the shortcuts you need to finish your first Retopology, but where do you put polygons? in what order? what is the flow?

If you want to know more about where to place your loops, what Poles and N-Gones are, and where to best place them.

I have created a separate blog post covering that and I have included a FREE Retopology Map that I use on every Face retopology that I do, sort of a guide so I can finish quickly and no guesswork is involved.

Here you can check out more about that Blog Post: Retopology Guide

Blender Retopology Addons

Of course, with every process in Blender, there are additional add-ons you can add in order to speed up the process and for retopology, there are some really cool ones.

Some of those addons that caught my attention are in the list below:

  • Retopoflow 3 – Retopology Toolkit For Blender – Link
  • Quad Remesher – Auto Retopology – Link
  • SpeeRetopo – Fast Retopology With Blender! – Link

Conclusion

Retopology in Blender is quite simple and straightforward, the steps are the same as you take in every 3D software you want to Retopologize in but the button names and menus are different.

Hopefully, you find this step-by-step guide on how to set up your mesh for retopology in Blender useful, if you have a specific question you can always send me an email and I try to help as much as I can.