Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ranting and Raving! nHair!

I'm excited about the nHair test the Autodesk people have released.  Have you seen it?

If it comes with styling tools, I'm pretty sure I'd just die of happiness.

Why should we care about this?  Because Maya hair/fur, as it is now, sucks.  And not in the fun way.

[Begin incomprehensible rant]

1.  Maya hair and fur distribution is TOTALLY UV dependent.  You have to spend hours laying out UV's if your character has full body fur.  If you just have to tweak your UV's, you run the risk of destroying your hair/fur style.  I don't want to have to layout UV's just to style hair!

2.  Styling Maya hair and fur requires the patience of Job.  It takes forever just to figure out how to do it.  In fact, I'm convinced that it's impossible to style Maya hair just using Maya hair tools.  There are no styling tools whatsoever.  Ok, yes, there are constraints, fields, collision objects (they suck)... but there are no brush and comb  to help move hair around.  Adjusting length is a pain.

There are two ways that I've come across that make for good styling (you're welcome internet):

  • Model a lo res hair volume with NURBS (the man in the example video uses curves, but my way is faster).
  • Draw guide curves on this surface.
  • Convert these curves to hair guide curves.
  • Color, texture, simulate the hair.
I commented on the video above.  This method is brilliant.  You should look at his demo reel.  (He worked on Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows pt. 1 which is so cool!!)

  • Model hair patches using NURBS.
  • Duplicate the curves.
  • Convert these curves to hair guides.
  • Simulate the hair.
While this is a video demonstrating a MEL tool that a man wrote, everything that's done there can be done manually, and he pretty much follows the method I outlined.  The great thing about this is, you can change the hair on the NURBS level and the actual hair will reflect this change.  This method takes longer, but you have the option of rigging this hair which is a HUGE plus.

I wish I could figure out how this man scripted finding the center curve for each hair section, but he speaks Japanese so I can't ask =(  Really, I'm stumped.  The center curve can't be the same value all the time, so how did he do it?!  Grr...

  • Style a series of curves.
  • Convert these curves to hair guides.

I don't have a video for that one.  I find that this is what most people do so.  This way is the hardest to me.  I don't like doing it.

The problem is, you shouldn't be forced to do any of those things.  Shave and a Haircut allows you to style and cut the hair right out of the gate with actual styling tools (taking the hint yet, Maya?).  UV's?  Fugetaboutit! Just style the hair and get to UV's later!  This isn't to say that UV's don't matter at all, but Shave does an amazing job of distributing hair when UV's still look like this:  "RTEBNHREREBTRtrntiorngreoin02942"

I'll admit that Maya's hair system is still top dog when it comes to simulation, but I don't even care at this point.

So why not just get Shave and a Haircut?

People shouldn't have to!  Maya costs 3x more than the average computer.  It has a hair system.  The hair system should work!  Shave and a Haircut is good, but if I want to style my hair with it, but simulate it using Maya's hair system, it takes an act of congress.

I'm not even going to dignify rendering with a rant.  I just hurts too much.  Just bite the bullet and get Renderman if you can.  I can't, so all my hair looks like crap.

Fur.  Oh fur.  Your UV's have to be impeccable, like the Queen of England, or your fur will look horrible.  The only way I know of to style fur is to paint maps and icky things like that.  Bleh.

[End rant]

What was I talking about?  Oh.  nHair.  I'm happy for it.  It's been on my wish list for 5 years, so I hope it does come out with Maya 2013, as well as a collapsing feature in the script editor, nFur, burn Mental Ray at the stake, and create an nCloth Deformer.  I'd looooooove that.  I'm tired of using Wrap Deformers.  They get the job done, but they're not the most accurate things in the world and you can get weird problems with them.



  1. Unfortunately, nHair doesn't contain any additional styling tools ... for now.
    Stay tuned though for upcoming releases!!!

  2. Hello! Thanks for the heads up. It's a shame that there won't be styling tools right out the gate, but I'm still super excited to play with nHair. I've been waiting for this for a while, I can't believe it's actually coming. Yay!

  3. I like this nurbs method of hair styling. Gonna go try it.

    To get the middle curve select -r nurbsPlaneName.v[0.5]

  4. Hey! Thanks for the tip. That's exactly what I needed!

  5. Thanks for these videos.
    I've been interested in hair workflows including simulating and rendering.
    A good script for styling is
    He sells a new version of his script I guess.

    Nice blog