Overview

If you've already started to experiment with Sasquatch using the QuickStart guide, you've gotten an idea of how to use Sasquatch and just how fast, useful, and simply cool it is. But after you get past your initial experiments and excitement, you'll really benefit from reading about every part of Sasquatch and experimenting with each feature.

Fur vs. Hair

Sasquatch has two methods of making fibers, "Hair" and "Fur." Neither mode is really named correctly, because they can can both make much more than just hair and fur. The differences between the modes (how Sasquatch decides where to put fibers and what shape to use for them) gives them complementary abilities.

Sasquatch's Fur mode distributes fibers on the surface of your object. These fibers grow out of the polygons themselves. A single triangle might grow a layer of fuzz with millions of fibers! You can control the Fur and Surface Fibers density and locations where the fibers are added, but you don't have to individually specify the location of each fiber or clump.

Sasquatch's Hair mode places fibers using a different strategy, growing fibers along simple guide geometry (which may be just a few two-point polygons) to determine the placement and shape of the fibers. A single guide might add a single fiber or as many as 10 million, depending on your choice of settings. You can build your own guides to make any hairstyle you wish, and also animate the hair using any tools, including bones, Motion Designer, Messiah, morphing, or plugins.

The main difference between Fur mode and Hair mode is where and how fibers are placed. Fur is distributed over the surface automatically. Hair gives you precise control over the location and shape of every fiber or group of fibers. It's best to think of Fur and Hair modes as being automatic and manual modes for making fibers in Sasquatch. You can really use either mode for anything you wish! In fact, short hairstyles are often best done with Fur mode. Fur mode is definitely easier to set up, but Hair mode gives you the most custom control. You can read much more about each mode in the Fur section and the Long Hair section on page. Most Sasquatch controls (like color, shading, and clumping) work with both Fur and Hair modes, but some are specific to one mode or the other.

Adding Sasquatch to Objects

It's very easy to set up Sasquatch to make Fur. (You've probably already done it by the time you read this!) To apply fur to a LightWave object, simply add the Sasquatch displacement plugin to it. You can add more than one copy of Sasquatch to the same object in order to make different fur styles on different surfaces. Or you can even add multiple fur layers to a single surface, perhaps mixing short coarse fur with a second layer of long, fine fibers.

There's no limit to the number of objects that can have fur or hair applied to them at one time. There is a small RAM cost for each instance (about 50 bytes per object vertex) but for most objects this is far less than a megabyte.

The Sasquatch renderer is located in the Sasquatch pixel filter. You need to add it to the scene for the fur to render.

By default, Sasquatch will apply fur to the entire surface of the LightWave objects it's added to. In the simplest case, you can just apply the Sasquatch displacement filter to your object, add the Sasquatch pixel filter, and render, and your object will show default brown fuzz growing on it. You've already done this in the QuickStart.

Making hair is slightly more involved, since you first need to build (or load) guides to show Sasquatch what shape you want the hair to follow. This is explained in the Hair chapter, and also in the Hair Strategies section which talks about making guides themselves. While making guides requires more knowledge and practice than fur, after you learn the basics you'll find it's extremely easy to make complex hairstyles.

Some Initial Advice

Sasquatch has a lot of controls and it takes a while to get used to them all. But that time is well spent since you'll learn that you can make a huge variety of appearances. Like LightWave itself, Sasquatch rewards experience and experimentation.

A useful rule for designing fur or hair is to keep things fast. It's easy to make better looking hair by increasing antialiasing and shadowing options, but this slows down rendering. Whenever rendering is slow, you'll have to wait longer to see the effect of your changes and your impatience will prevent you from tweaking your images to perfection. Keep resolution and antialiasing low for your tests. Leave shadowing off until you need it. A 20 second render is frustrating, but a 2 minute render makes it too difficult to really adjust controls properly. You can turn on the best antialiasing and shadows occasionally but don't use them all the time, especially when you're first setting up the basic fur on your object.

For careful control of fur, the S panels are invaluable because they allow you to paint image maps of attributes like density, fiber length, and combing strength. It may be easy to ignore them at first, but as you master Sasquatch you'll find that the versatile control of S~panels makes the difference between a cool appearance and a perfect one.

Previews

Sasquatch has a real-time multithreaded preview which interactively shows changes in color, texturing, and shading. It does not show the effects of geometry changes, however. It's very similar to LightWave VIPER mode. Previews take extra RAM (about 20 MB for most scenes) and must be specifically activated to see the effect. This is done in the pixel panel.

Activate this button and render one frame. Sasquatch will render more slowly than normal, and output a very low quality picture which you can simply ignore. After this render, you can visit the main Sasquatch interface, which will now show a realtime preview of any color and shading changes you make. You can even preview the changes in S~panel texturing without having to re-render.

Every instance of Sasquatch will be shown in the preview, and you can visit each instance without having to re-render. Remember that only color and shading changes are shown! Geometry changes like length, density, curling, and combing require a new render to view.

Don't ignore the preview when you're changing the look of your hair and fur! It's easy to render full-resolution images, but the interactivity of the preview is well worth the slight amount of effort it takes to activate.

There are two limitations of the preview with regards to shading settings. First, changes to Direct Lighting are not shown. Second, specularity from multiple lights is not 100% accurate. To save memory, Sasquatch uses a kind of "specular average" to show the shape of highlights. This compromise is usually quite good (and saves literally 25 MB of RAM per light!) but if you're making specularity glossiness changes, it may be slightly inaccurate. If you need a perfect preview, you can render a real image to test glossiness, or simply use a single light in your scene temporarily. In practice, this limitation isn't even noticed unless you're trying to match highlights to a photograph or something similar.

Abilities and Limitations

Sasquatch can do a lot but it's not perfect. It's been tricky to integrate it completely with LightWave, and we're very proud of how well it works. But, of course, no software is perfect and Sasquatch still suffers from some limitations.

The biggest limitation is that Sasquatch fur and hair do not show in LightWave reflections. This is especially annoying when you have an animal above water and you want to show its reflection in the surface. The best workaround is to use a compositing program to manually add a reflection in a second pass.

Sasquatch's effects do show up behind transparent objects, but don't bend from refraction. This is described in the Rendering Section. This isn't a major limitation for most scenes, but it can be confusing if you forget and look at hair through a refractive glass goblet. Sasquatch works great for scenes where you have hair visible through a transparent windshield, sunglasses, or helmet visor.

LightWave doesn't support multithreading in many parts of its renderer, including pixel and surface plugins. We have some workarounds (which essentially disable multithreading whenever the plugin "talks" to LightWave) but it's usually best to turn off LightWave multithreading completely and avoid even the potential for problems. Internally, Sasquatch is fully multithreaded.

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