Hair Strategies and Techniques

Like fur, there are no rules for creating hair and wigs! It takes some practice to get the "mind set" to quickly and easily manipulate guides in Modeler, but it becomes easier with every project. We're happy to share some of our inhouse "Hair Tips" again here, but we expect that you'll create your own favorites!

Your familiarity and skill in LightWave Modeler will help with every step of hair creation. The advantages of "sculpted" hair does make it harder to start making it on your own. But the rewards are well worth it, and once you get past the "learning wall" you'll be making amazing things.

Guides Everywhere

Sasquatch grows its long hair from guides that are constructed in LW modeler. These guides are segmented chains of 2~point polygons and can be built in several different ways. Sasquatch requires that each guide have at least two surfaces in order to determine a direction in which to grow the fibers. Wigs are constructed by generating multiple guides using a variety of modeling tools.

One convenient way to make a single guide is to first create a spline curve, either by using LW's Sketch tool or by manually laying down some points and then hitting Ctrl~P to create a curve. It's best to keep the number of points to a minimum, since it's much easier to control the shape when there's fewer points. Most of the time you can get by with 4-6 points. It's a good idea to shape the scalp end of the guide into a slight hook shape so that the end of the guide is buried into the polygons of your character head. This prevents hair from appearing to grow out of empty space.

If you're planning to use ClothFX for animation and collision detection, it's wise to add one or two points near the tip end of the spline so that when you rail extrude your 2 point poly chain, it has more segments near the area most likely to have collisions.

You can twist your guide into any imaginable shape using Modeler's vast supply of built-in tools. The most commonly used ones will be Stretch, Bend, Twist, Vortex, Magnet, Dragnet and Taper.

When you're happy with your spline's shape, you can transform it into a Sasquatch guide in several different ways. One method is to copy the first point in the spline and paste it to another layer. Run the points2poly plugin that's included with LW to convert the point into a single point polygon. With the original spline in a background layer, use the Rail Extrude tool to create a chain of 2 point polys along the contour of the spline. Use "Uniform Knots," and Modeler will create more segments where's there's more points for use with Motion Designer as mentioned above.

Once the guide is created, you need to give the root end a different surface name. An easy way is to just select the segment nearest the scalp end and give it a surface name like "root" or "base." Invert your selection and give the remaining polygons another name like "hair" or "fibers." Sasquatch won't grow hair on the "root" polygon, so if it's long, you may need to use a different approach. Copy the first point in the "root" end of the chain and paste it into another layer. Run the points2poly plugin again to convert the point to a single point polygon. Now that it's a polygon, you can give it a unique surface name as above. Cut and paste it back in the layer containing your guide and merge points.

Useful Plugins

A free plugin that is especially useful for interactively converting splines to chains of 2 point polygons is Sherpa which is available for download at HurleyWorks.

LW's subdivide tool doesn't work on 2 point polygons, but there is a trick to allow you to further subdivide your guides or groups of guides if need be. Use the Extrude tool on any axis to extend the chain a tiny amount (like 0.00001 m) in one direction. This creates a set of polygons which can now be subdivided. After subdividing, merge points using a Absolute Distance slightly larger than the distance originally extruded. Run the Unify tool to eliminate the co-planar polygons.

There's many ways to populate your head with guides once they're designed. One fun tool to use is Point-Clone-Plus which is included with LightWave. Copy your scalp polygons to an empty layer and hit "k" to kill them. In another layer, sketch out a little curl shape and convert it to a Sasquatch guide as described above. With the scalp points in the background, run Point-Clone-Plus with some random rotation and scaling and you've got an instant Afro.

More Techniques

Rail Cloning is another method for creating wigs. With 2 control splines, you can create the classic "bob" hair style in minutes. First create a spline that follows the top contours of the head running from the front of the hairline to the back where the skull begins to slope downward. Add another straight spline around neck level to control the length. With these two curves in the background, rail clone a guide hair along the curves using Uniform Lengths, 20-25 should be enough. To fill out the back quadrant of hair, take the last guide toward the back of the head and clone it a dozen or so times around it's scalp end point using the proper heading rotation so that it covers 1 side of the back of the head. Use LW's Mirror tool to create the other side of the wig. Use the Magnet tool to touch up the shape where needed and you're done.

Another strategy is to build patches or clumps of guides and rail clone or hand place them on your scalp. You can build up libraries of different types of hair patches and reuse them over and over on different projects.

Still another method is to create a flat subdivided plane above the head and attach chains of 2 point polys to it. Use Modeler's tools to shape the plane into a wig and and then kill the polygons leaving the poly chain in place.

ClothFX can be used to shape wigs. Position some guides into a flat plane and place them directly above your character's head. In ClothFX, turn on collision detection and gravity, and the guides will conform to the shape of the head as they fall. Save transformed and tweak the wig with the magnet tool in Modeler.

Layout tools can also be used to shape your wigs. Use IK chains of bones to bend and shape the guides which can then be brought back into Modeler by using LW's Save Transformed feature. The Taft Collection's Hoser and LW's Deform tools can do the same thing without bones or IK. Make strips or patches of guides in Modeler extending out from the x-axis. In Layout, place the base of the patches on your model's head and use these tools to bend and twist the guides and save transformed.