Female model countdown: 3D update

Hi, I’m Matthew, one of the 3D artists working on the new Female Model for Complete Anatomy! 👋 Today I’ll be following on from Ashton, who last week discussed the research that went into the female model. I will be specifically talking through some of the 3D challenges we faced in producing the female model. 

Uniquely female

When approaching the skeleton, we wanted to make sure it was uniquely female. We did so by using dimensions typically found in females and established the correct carrying angle in the arm, and the Q-angle at the hip. This ensured anatomical landmarks and proportions were placed correctly. 

I learnt early on that the pelvic bones are often taught to medical students as containing the key skeletal differences between males and females. 

The female pelvic bones have unique differences such as: 

  • An inferiorly facing sacrum along with a corresponding increased curvature of the lumbar spine 
  • A wider but shorter ilia 
  • A wider pubic angle, which all contribute to a larger, more oval bowl with more volume than that of the male – which is of course important for childbirth

However, I also learnt that these are not the only major differences between the male and female skeleton. 

Many differences are also found in the skull, such as: 

  • The brow of the frontal bone is less pronounced 
  • The mandible is narrower, and delicate compared to the broad square jaw found in the male. 
  • The mastoid process is much less pronounced, and attachment sites for muscles are less roughened. 

An inside-out approach

With the skeleton in its correct position, we began modelling and texturing the skin, giving form and character to the model. 

Normally, we would do this after the musculature was in place, but as this was a brand-new model, we wanted a clear goal to aim for so that our model was both anatomically accurate, but also aesthetically characteristic of the female form. 

And so, we worked on both the superficial and deep structures of the model at the same time, continuously cross-checking our work with one another, making sure everything was fitting correctly and adjusting where necessary.  

Underrepresented, but now ready to be understood

Although a large amount of our work went into sexual dimorphism throughout the whole body, most of our time and effort went into the female specific organs such as the reproductive system and breast tissue. 

One of the first big challenges for us in creating a full female model, is that our model stands in the anatomical position, but in a lot of textbooks, female reproductive anatomy such as the genitalia, is represented in the lithotomy position – where the model’s legs are spaced apart. Using the anatomical position, we had less space to work with, but still had to clearly communicate the detailed anatomy of this region.  

After many review stages, we feel that we struck the correct balance of the two and maintained the detailed anatomy while keeping visual clarity. 

Compared to previous illustrations and representations of the clitoris, we made sure that we represented the classic J shape appearance found in research papers and scan data. This seemed like a simple task at first and on its own it was, but actually… it was just the first step in correctly representing the surrounding anatomy. We took this opportunity to model the external genitalia, along with the vaginal canal in full to make sure we could accommodate the correctly shaped clitoris.  

We started by using measurements to establish and maintain the correct relationships between the structures of the genitalia, such as the frenulum of labia minora, the caruncles and importantly, the urethral orifice and the unique relationship of the anterior wall of the vaginal canal.  

We made sure to preserve the relationship of the genitalia with relevant pelvic structures, most notably the pubic symphysis and suspensory ligament, a point of anchorage for the clitoris. We also created a natural drop in the pelvic floor due to gravity, which contributes to the partial closing of the vaginal canal by the anterior wall.  

We also had to consider not only the more visible, superficial surfaces, but also the negative space behind them – working hard to maintain visual quality AND clarity. We chose to remove any spaces between the vaginal canal and external genitalia, creating what appears to be one continuous, joint structure – but still has all the necessary individual features. 

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more complex, we decided to add sagittal and coronal cross-sections. We think this paid-off well as it allows our users to view the internal surfaces of the vaginal canal from any angle. 

Even more detail

Along with all these additions, we have also created micro models for the clitoris and ovary. These highly detailed models will help our users get a clear and in-depth understanding of these extremely complex structures.  

We also updated the breast tissue, which has received improved visuals and accuracies, even including details such as the greater distribution of lobules in the inferior portion of the breast compared to the superior. 

We quartered the breast tissue, so that we could represent cross sections typically seen in anatomical texts – giving our users the option to view it from different perspectives. 

Between the research and inventive modelling techniques, I and the team sincerely hope that you enjoy learning human anatomy through our new female model, a model that we feel is in equal measure, is accurate, detailed, and easy to learn from. Be sure to keep an eye out over the coming weeks when this groundbreaking update will be available to download.