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Chapter 4. Modeling Details > Creating Hair

Creating Hair

You are probably looking at your character and thinking, “She doesn’t look much like what she’s supposed to....” Her lack of hair is the main reason for Kila’s unexciting appearance right now; you will be surprised at how much interest a hairdo adds to a character’s overall look.

Let’s start work on giving Kila some hair, by first loading the file you last worked on, Kila_Feet.mb. Look at the original concept artwork, or the image planes, and you’ll see that her hair is not fully symmetrical, so we will, to an extent, need to model the whole coiffure. Her hair is parted down the center, so what we can do is model one-half of the hairdo, then duplicate and mirror it, and edit the copy to have the slightly different look of the other half.

To begin, let’s remove some of the polygons from around the back of the head, the ones that will not be seen. Using Figure 4.1 as a guide, mark in the hairline using the Split Polygon tool, and then delete the unwanted polygons.


FIGURE 4.1 Mark the hairline and then remove the polygons from the back of the head.


You will only need to work on one side of the model as the other is merely a mirrored instance.

We are finished editing the main model now. Carving in the hairline gives us a starting point for creating the hair. We’ll begin with the inner layer—the hair lying closest to her face and head.

Inner Layer

We want the hair to look layered, giving it some depth. To create this effect, we will use strips of polygons starting at the hairline and building our way out.

1. Create a new polygonal plane like the one seen in Figure 4.2, by going to Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane and opening up the options window. Set the configuration to Width 0.02, Height 0.15, Subdivisions Along Width 1, and Subdivisions Along Height 5.


FIGURE 4.2 Create a new polygonal plane.

2. Move the new plane, matching it up to the polygons on the side of the head as shown in Figure 4.3. Duplicate the plane and position the new copy next to the original while trying to stay between the two vertices on the head, so the width of the strip matches the width of the polygon underneath it.


FIGURE 4.3 Position the planes to create the bottom layer of her hair.

3. Continue duplicating and positioning strips until you have five of them placed around the head. Remember, we are only working on half of the head for now, so don’t place the strips all the way around.

We now have our innermost strips for the hair; next we will create the outer layer that starts at the top of her head and drapes over the inner layer of hair. With these two areas in place, we can create other strips to place in between, amplifying the layered effect we are after.

Outer Layer

Start work on the outermost layer of hair.

1. Duplicate one of the current strips, position it at the top of the head, and rotate it by 90 degrees (Figure 4.4). Make sure the top of the strip lies at the same position as the center of the model; this point will act as the part in her hair.


FIGURE 4.4 Add a new plane above the head and curve it to follow the shape of the head.

2. Edit this strip, bending it to follow the shape of her head. You will notice in Figure 4.4 that the strip is too short. It does need to be longer, so select the edge nearest the bottom and use the Extrude Edge tool to add three more divisions.

3. As demonstrated in Figure 4.5, duplicate the new strip several times, until you have filled out the top, side, and back of the left side of her head.


FIGURE 4.5 Duplicate the top strip to create the top of her hair.

4. Looking from the side, the hair seems very flat. Manipulate each strip individually, altering the position and scale to make the hair higher at the crown than in the front (Figure 4.6).


FIGURE 4.6 Move and scale the strips to lift her hair at the crown.

Time to do a bit of tidying up. In the perspective view, look down onto your hair geometry; it should look like mine in the left panel of Figure 4.7—a bit of a mess. Before moving on, combine the upper parts of the strips and weld some of the vertices around the top, trying for the result shown on the right in Figure 4.7. Don’t work all the way down the strips; just concentrate on the top five rows of vertices for now.


FIGURE 4.7 Tidy up at the crown of her head by welding some of the vertices.

We now have the base geometry in place for the top of her hair. Create a mirrored instance to use as reference, and you’ll see something like Figure 4.8 (left). Take some time now to work on the shape a little more. It may help to snap the vertices together between the strips, but do not weld them yet. Aim for something like Figure 4.8 (right).


FIGURE 4.8 Spend some time shaping the upper portion of her hair.

The Front Hairline

Let’s now create the front hairline, filling in the gap between her forehead and hair. Remove the mirrored instance of the hair for now so we can concentrate on just one side.

1. First, hide the top layer of hair by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+H/Cmd+H. Leave the underneath visible because you will need it for this part of the modeling.

2. Duplicate one of the side strips and position it above her forehead, following the example in the middle panel of Figure 4.9.


FIGURE 4.9 Add a new strip above the forehead.

3. Adjust the vertices until you have the arrangement shown in the right panel of Figure 4.9, snapping the lower vertices to the ones on the top of her forehead.

4. Bring back the geometry that makes up the top of her hair by pressing Ctrl+Shift+H/Cmd+Shift+H. Now snap the upper vertices of this newly added forehead strip to the front section of her hair (Figure 4.10).


FIGURE 4.10 Snap the upper vertices of the forehead strip to the front part of the outer hair layer.

5. Now combine both pieces of geometry—the hairline strip and the front parts of her hair—and weld the vertices at the front, making a single, solid object.

6. To complete the front hairline area, you need to hide the rest of the model, making just the hair visible. This time, instead of selecting all the geometry and pressing Ctrl+H/Cmd+H to hide it, we can simply isolate the hair.

To do this, select the upper piece of hair and go to the Show menu of the active view. Move down to Isolate Selected, and choose View Selected. You should now be presented with just the top layer of hair, as shown in the left panel of Figure 4.11.


FIGURE 4.11 Isolate the top layer of hair and extend the front.


The Isolate Select command is very useful. For example, you can isolate components such as a selection of faces rather than whole objects.

7. Continuing on, you need to extrude the lower edge at the temple (Figure 4.11, middle). This edge must be brought down to meet the bottom of her hair (Figure 4.11, right).

8. Weld the side vertices of the extrusion to the first row of vertices closest to them on the existing hair, and then adjust the vertices to create a better shape (Figure 4.12).


FIGURE 4.12 Weld the bottom vertices and then adjust the shape.

Adding Volume to the Hair

Un-isolate the geometry so you can see the face and head again. You do this exactly the same way as you did earlier to isolate it: Choose Show > Isolate Select > View Selected, so that it is unchecked.

Now we will give the outer layer of hair some more shape, getting rid of the dome it currently resembles. After that, we’ll work on the rest of the hair, filling it out and thickening it to give it more volume.

1. As shown in Figure 4.13 on the left, select the bottom row of edges and collapse them.


FIGURE 4.13 Collapse the bottom row of edges.

Because you did not weld the vertices on the lower areas of the strips, when you collapse the edges they will form spikes as illustrated on the right in Figure 4.13.

2. Move up to the next row of edges and, editing each one in turn, scale them in slightly. Do this for the next row, too, until you have long spikes running around her hair, as shown in Figure 4.14.


FIGURE 4.14 Scale the edges in, to create long spikes.

Apart from some final tweaking, our outer layer is complete. It needs additional work, moving the vertices to randomize the shape, but we won’t do that until all the basic geometry is in place. Now we must fill out the hair, making it appear thicker, giving it more volume.

3. Using the strips on the inside layer, do as you did with the outer ones. Select the bottom edges and collapse them, then adjust the upper edges until you have long, sharp polygons.

4. Duplicate these edited inner strips, creating a total of 17, and position them between the outer layer and the head.

When you’re finished working on this side of the head, you can create a mirrored version to see how the hair is looking overall. Begin by selecting all the pieces of geometry that make up the hair on Kila’s left side. Press Ctrl+G/Cmd+G to group them. Open up the Duplicate options, make sure that Instance is not selected, and click Duplicate or Apply to create a mirrored duplicate of the group (setting the Scale value for the X-axis to –1).

Kila’s coiffure should now resemble Figure 4.15. For now, the hair shape is acceptable. It still needs more work, but let’s leave it for now and go on to create the left side of the hairdo (Kila’s right). It will be different from the right side.


FIGURE 4.15 Fill out the hair with additional pointy strips.

Developing the Left Side

The hair on Kila’s right side hangs down, but on the other side the hair is tucked behind the left ear. To start developing this side of the hairdo, first hide the inner strips so you can concentrate on the outer layer of hair (Figure 4.16).


FIGURE 4.16 Prepare the hair for more work by hiding the inner layer on Kila’s left.

1. Select the vertices shown in Figure 4.17b, and weld them all together until you are left with a single vertex (Figure 4.17c).


FIGURE 4.17 The steps for tucking the hair behind the ear

2. Move this remaining vertex up to roughly the spot where the top of the ear should be. Then proceed to work on refining this area of the hairdo until the tucked-in look is correct (Figure 4.17d).

3. Combine both the left and right sides that make up the top, outer layer of her hairdo.

4. Bring back the inner-layer strips you hid earlier, adjusting them to fit the new tucked-in arrangement. You will have to delete some of the strips that no longer fit the shape.

At this point, you have basic geometry in place to use for Kila’s hair. Keep working on it until you are happy with the overall shape.

Organizing the Strips

To keep things in order, we will now organize the strips used to fill in the hair, combining them into individual horseshoe-shaped layers. In this arrangement, not only will they be easier to work on, but applying a texture to them will be less difficult.

1. Hide everything except the strips of hair (Figure 4.18).


FIGURE 4.18 Hide everything except the strips of hair.

2. Switch to the top view so you are looking down on the strips (Figure 4.19, left). It looks like I got a bit carried away, rotating the strips to fit. First, using the Rotate manipulator, alter the rotations so the strips appear as flat lines in the top view. You will find that the same axis needs altering for each strip.


FIGURE 4.19 We want to move the strips so they follow a more organized structure.

3. Position all the strips so they follow a curve, making three concentric curves in total. Add more strips if you need them to complete the curves.

4. Combine the strips that make up each curve so that you end up with three separate horseshoe-shaped objects (Figure 4.19, right).

5. Switch to the perspective view and isolate the outermost section of hair. All you should be able to see is that particular piece of the geometry (Figure 4.20, left).


FIGURE 4.20 Level off the top and adjust the vertices to tidy up the geometry.

6. Scale the top row of vertices down the Y axis so that they all lie on the same level. Just using the basic Scale manipulator is sufficient here because you do not need to have an exact scale. Then weld them all together, making a complete strip running around the top. Do this again for the next row down. As needed, adjust the remaining strips to tidy up the rest of the geometry. Figure 4.20 (right) shows what you’re aiming for.

7. Repeat these welding steps for the other two, inner layers until you have something close to what’s shown in Figure 4.21.


FIGURE 4.21 Weld all the layers’ strips.

Now unhide the rest of Kila to see how things are looking. As you can see in Figure 4.22, I’ve started to shape the outer hair somewhat, by curling the ends up very slightly and refining the overall shape. Notice that I have added another strip for a loose strand at the right temple.


FIGURE 4.22 Current view of Kila with hair

Refining the Hair

To complete Kila’s hair we will now spend some time working on the inner-layer strips, bending the bottoms out to follow the strands in the outer layer. We’ll also add some more volume by twisting the strips at the bottom.

Because we have been working in layers, the first step is easy. On the first inner layer, select the lower row of vertices and globally scale them outward. Move up to the next row and do the same. Continue this process on the other inner rows, curling the hair slightly outward at the bottom.

To fill the hair out a little and thicken it up, we now need to twist each strip slightly, like turning the slats of a venetian blind.

1. Select every other edge on each strip (Figure 4.23, left and middle). Then scale them across the X and Y axes, bringing them in toward the middle as shown in Figure 4.23 (right). Select only the bottom two edges of each strip; do not scale the top.


FIGURE 4.23 Twist each strip to fill out the hair.

2. Repeat this process on the next layer, this time selecting the opposite edges so that the effect will be reversed.

3. Finally, scale the third layer in the same way as the first.

All the refinement work left to do now is to work on the overall shape, trying to fill in any large gaps between the strands of her hair. Take a look at Figure 4.24 to see an example of the end result.


FIGURE 4.24 Work on the overall shape of Kila’s hair.

For now, do not combine all the elements that make up the hair. Just clean up the scene and save your work as Kila_Hair.mb.

Quick Cleanup with the Outliner

If you open up your Outliner, you may notice that a lot of groups and empty nodes are starting to appear; you can also see these in Figure 4.25a. Most of these elements are unnecessary and only bump up the file size. Let’s clean them up.


FIGURE 4.25 Use the Outliner to clean up your scene.

1. Start by selecting in the Perspective view all the pieces of geometry you want to keep, and press Ctrl+G/Cmd+G to put them into a group. Figure 4.25b shows the new group named group3.


The easiest way to select what you want to keep is to drag a selection lasso over all of the geometry in the view.

2. In the Outliner, click and hold the middle mouse button on the new group, and move it up until it exists in the world root (that is, outside of any other groups), as seen in Figure 4.25c. As you move the group over another object, two lines will appear above and below the object; these indicate that if you let go of the mouse now, the group will be placed within this object. If a single line appears, it indicates that letting go of the mouse button here will leave the group in the world root.

3. You know that you’ve included everything you need in group3, so you can now select the other bits and pieces as shown in Figure 4.25d and delete them.

Obviously, it’s very unlikely that the items in your Outliner will exactly match the ones in Figure 4.25, but this does not matter. In deciding what can be deleted, just look for items similar to the ones highlighted that are outside the group3 group.

4. You may also notice that a few new cameras have popped up (persp1 and persp2, for example)—the result of our having imported items earlier. Select and delete these. Do not delete the four main cameras (persp, top, front, and side), but feel free to remove any others.

5. Finally, rename group3 to Kila and save.

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