View Full Version : Using Geometry as a guide form to create/ style "Toon" Fiber Fx hair?

Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 12:48 AM
Hi folks I wish to create a fun hairstyle, where the strands and hair style fill the geometry area of a mesh sculpted hair guide as well as flow downward to the bottom and curl up in a helix. I've attached a quick sketch to show what I mean in this example.

I wish the hair to seem naturalistic i.e to visually read as hair whilst at the same time having a fun toon sculpted feel like the hair of a cartoon character. In that sense I'm more interested in achieving a directional hair flow over a guide form

I found a tutorial video for poly strip feather creation on a pigeon where Ahmed Alqadi - used Strand Modeller with tools 1 and the uv bias and direction bias to flow the feathers over the geometry - would this be in your opinion the best way to achieve the result I'm after i.e to create poly hair strands with a texture and alpha?

Or - would it be better to use Strand maker to turn sculpted geometry in to isolate the vertical flowing guides down and around the helix curl at the bottom?

I'm a total newbie to Fiber FX and currently making my way through Willam Vaughan's great Fiber tutes so any help by experts with regard the best route to go down from experience would be much appreciated.

05-12-2012, 05:39 AM
Why not just create the hair as a solid mesh and use a texture to get the hairs?
You could UV map the hair texture onto the geometry.

Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 12:47 PM
Many thanks Larry I think that may be the best bet as at the moment I'm spending far longer working out how to do something rather than actually doing it :-)

Out of interest is there a way to get long chain splines to conform to the inner volume of encompassing geometry i.e generate long 2 point poly chains and fit them within an enclosing form? I'v had great success in the best getting splines to bgconform around the outer shape of background geometry as guides for rail cloning link chains around forms.

05-12-2012, 04:44 PM
Id probably create the hair using spline patching. :)

05-12-2012, 05:14 PM
Your sketch intrigued me enough to try it. Here's the result:


This was created in just a few minutes using FiberFX with only two guides. The guides are just two Lightwave curves created in Modeler and converted to hair guides using Steve Hurley's Sherpa (http://www.hurleyworks.com/products/lightwave/modeler_plugins.html) plug-in. This frame took about 30 seconds to render on my pokey laptop.

I think if you use a few more guides you could get it to look closer to your sketch, which should be fun and really easy to animate using SoftFX.

I'll upload the scene file in just a minute. Feel free to ask questions.


05-12-2012, 05:19 PM
Here you go. Good luck and have fun! :)

05-12-2012, 05:26 PM
If you want to give it more density, create one or two shorter guides inside the thicker upper region. This should keep the ends from getting too thick. To make it easier to manage and edit, consider making the internal guides a separate object and applying FFX to it as a second layer. (I typically use 2 to 4 layers of FFX for a hairstyle.)

To make this hairstyle more fun, try twisting it along the guides--you can do this in the FFX panel.


05-12-2012, 05:30 PM
That came out pretty nice Dennis :)

05-12-2012, 05:38 PM
Thanks, Larry. And welcome back! :)

FiberFX has come a long way in the last couple of releases. At work, I've been full FiberFX R&D mode for the past few weeks, and this week we started using it in production at work. So far it's working out great. A few quirks still exist but they're easy to work around, and the important thing is that it looks good and renders reliably now.


05-12-2012, 05:56 PM
I should explain some of the settings:

Using Clusters is a good way to build up coverage and density. Be sure to make sure the radius is large enough to offset the additional fibers.

You may have noticed that Random Length is set to a negative value. This seems to make the longest fibers only as long as the guide and the rest shorter than the guide. If you enter a positive value, it seems you will get the the opposite effect.

When using guides, make sure you have Gravity set to 0%, otherwise Gravity will pull the fibers away from the guides. If you want the guides to be affected by Gravity, you need to use SoftFX or ClothFX. (In a future release, we should be able to do this using Bullet Cloth.)


05-12-2012, 07:44 PM
Thanks Dennis!
Glad to see FFX has improved dramatically since I last used it. :)

Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 09:41 PM
Wow, an amazing result - putting my convoluted efforts to shame.
Many thanks Dennis I had no idea you could achieve this effect particularly how the strand reduces along it's length. I shall endeavor to study your kind attachment to understand the process better.

I'm using 9.6 - will this be an issue?

Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 10:20 PM
Hello again, here's the result I get in Lightwave 9.6 with the settings in the scene.
I sadly can't seem to repeat your great result .

05-12-2012, 10:49 PM
Oh, man....yes, using 9.6 will definitely be an issue. Sorry, I assumed you were using 10.1 or higher. :(


Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 10:55 PM
Back again,
if I deactivate the fiber fx object with it's settings as loaded and reactivate I could get close to your results Dennis but no where near so good. I've attached my settings so you can see. Setting the Random Length to a negative value would not work for me.

I also found it tricky to get a good symmetry between both strands?

I wonder if yourself or someone else could confirm whether this may be a 9.6 thing?

Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 11:01 PM
Oh, man....yes, using 9.6 will definitely be an issue. Sorry, I assumed you were using 10.1 or higher

I am for the time being stuffed :-) I'll have to get an external to load up Snow Leopard as a bootable OS to run 10.1 as well as get in touch with Newtek for a new dongle for 10.1.

Can I still get good results in 9.6 Dennis or would you say that 10 is really the only place to start from?

05-12-2012, 11:01 PM
With 9.6, you could probably get that scene to look correct with different settings but even if you got it to look right, you may run into other issues when rendering animations. Once again, I'm really sorry to have lead you down that path.

Yes, IMO, you'll need Lightwave 10.1 or later if you want to use FiberFX, especially in animations. Starting with version 10.1, FiberFX got a lot of internal improvements which made it more controllable and reliable.

With Lightwave 9.6 your best bet for rendering fibers is probably Sasquatch or to fake fibers using nested shells or polygonal strips with transparency or clip maps. (Transparency maps looks better but you may have to use clip maps depending on the depth.)

Alternatively, you could model the character's using solid geometry and surface it with deep textural fx--for example, you could 'carve' the hair into the surface using normal maps and give it a nice sheen using 'velvet' shading tricks. IMO, this is probably the easier approach and, if you design it well, the result could be very pleasing. I could suggest a few methods if you like.


Mr Mouse
05-12-2012, 11:26 PM
I could suggest a few methods if you like
I would greatly appreciate any pearls , yes please.

Dennis, you been most kind in taking the time over my issues. I had no idea until you posted your results from v10 just how paltry my endeavors have been and that 9.6 may indeed not be up to the job. I've been slogging hard at it all day and into the wee small hour trying different approaches. Your advice is most timely and I shall heed the advice to divert to other methods for the sake of my sanity.

I had been considering using ZBrush to import guides as my next avenue of investigation but again shall desist if 9.6 is the issues.

05-12-2012, 11:30 PM

I just saw your fixed 9.6 version of the scene. Pretty neat! Have you tried a negative value for Random Length? I'm not sure how it behaves in 9.6 but in 11.0.1 a negative value will make the fibers full length and shorter; a positive value seems to make them full length and longer. This behavior may not be obvious at first but it makes sense after you've played with it and see how it work. If it works in 9.6 like it does in 11.0.1, the effect is very important for this hairstyle because it helps makes the hair more dense at the base and thinner towards the end.

I hope you can get this to work for you. I know other users have had problems with FiberFX in 9.6 but I think that was mostly when using surface based fibers or the editable guides system in Layout, so maybe you'll be okay if you stick with externally modeled guides and using the right settings. (As you found out, FiberFX settings for 11.x are not compatible with 9.6.)

Good luck!


05-12-2012, 11:34 PM
Dennis is right about 9.6 fiberfx. I tried many time to use it in production and it was way too buggy. The latest versions seem far more stable and reliable. :)

05-13-2012, 12:00 AM
One more thing to be aware of for FiberFX in 9.6: there may be an issue with flickering shadows (which I believe was fixed in 10.1.) If I were you, I would run a series of 'proof-of-concept' tests before investing too much time with FiberFX in 9.6 on an actual character. The ball with the couple of guides you have now might be good enough to test viability--maybe add a pill shaped body to catch cast shadows. Try increasing density and/or adding more guides, move the ball around, and render the animation with a basic light kit and minimal AA. If it looks good, try something more complicated, like adding SoftFX or animate bones along the length of the guides for secondary animation, and see how this looks in a rendered sequence.

You really should test the tool through the whole process before committing it to a character--it would be very frustrating if you put a lot of time in designing the hair, only to have the render fail in animation. If the proof work, then it may be safe to try this on actual characters; if not, it's best to move on to an alternative method. Either way, it's a good learning experience, and if it fails with a proof, you won't have lost much time.

Sorry, I hope I don't sound too discouraging. FiberFX has been giving me good results for in Lightwave 11 but I simply don't know how it will perform for you in 9.6. Let me know what happens.

BTW, I'll put together a few simple examples of the alternatives I mentioned and post them sometime tomorrow. I'll have to create these in 11 but the techniques should work fine in 9.6.


Mr Mouse
05-13-2012, 12:05 AM
Dennis and Larry again many thanks. Great advice.

I just saw your fixed 9.6 version of the scene. Pretty neat! Have you tried a negative value for Random Length? I'm not sure how it behaves in 9.6

it didn't behave well at all :-)

I think I may just use a uv solution - maybe polystrips. But maybe uv's will be the only way to get that sweet sharp point at the bottom as it curves back in.

I've attached where I was going until your results showed mine up for what they were :-) I was using Modo v3 as I found it quicker to select the edges down the form - converting them to curves and then getting Lightwave modeler to turn them into 2 point poly chains but as you can see from even two strands let alone strands around the whole form - things got messy as they curled at the bottom and not at all sweet and pointy like in your example.

05-13-2012, 12:14 AM
Going back to your 'fixed' 9.6 version: if symmetry becomes an issue, you could try importing each side as a separate object, and give each guide with its own FFX settings. This way, you can dial in whatever settings necessary to make both sides look similar.

I won't blame you if you given up though. :)

I'll write more tomorrow regarding non-fiber solutions.


Mr Mouse
05-13-2012, 04:55 PM
Going back to your 'fixed' 9.6 version: if symmetry becomes an issue, you could try importing each side as a separate object, and give each guide with its own FFX settings. This way, you can dial in whatever settings necessary to make both sides look similar.

Great suggestion Dennis.

Not given up - just rallying for another try after such deflation :-)
Today I feel somewhat burned out :-)

05-14-2012, 02:43 AM
Sorry, no post tonight. Mother's day threw me off. :p

I'll try tomorrow.