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Thread: Hair and Fur Tool workflow between LightWave and Blender

  1. #1
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Hair and Fur Tool workflow between LightWave and Blender

    Quote Originally Posted by MAUROCOR View Post
    Thank you, guys. I am glad you liked the video.
    Fiber FX isnīt perfect but is so much better in lw 2012019 comparing to the old versions. It is stable and allow to create very nice fur/hair.
    Letīs keep pushing it forward.

    Another sample, using fibers.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5bUlI5UKPE

    I like some of your later female characters, nice in almost all aspects.

    Well fiber fx, I will try and get back to that too again, when I am up for the longer rendertimes.
    I am not here to promote Blender per say, but I wonder if you ever tried the blender hair systems? seems they should render much faster and perhaps with even better quality.
    Then again you have your workflow that seem to fit you nicely, just wanted to give you that advice to at least try the blender hair out.

    You can use Lightwave hair guides that you make either by spline curves and convert with strandmaker, or use modeler fiberfX ..or grow the hair in layout and convert there to polyguides, then send these guides to
    blender and use blenders hair rendering system, for that you need the hairnet addon, it doesnīt work for blender 2.8 yet though, (2,79 works) but you could always just save it out as a blender file and then load in blender 2.8 I think.
    https://github.com/Jandals/HairNet

    So any hairguide you can create in Lightwave modeler, or in Lightwave layout, can be used in blenders hair rendering system, you can also continue to tweak the guides with combing, or add child hair with curls, braids etc.

    Then you have the other option, use any hair style created and modified in blender, and send it to Lightwave to render with fiberfx, for that you need to convert the particle system in blender to polychains, save out as obj, once in Lightwave copy the edges from the obj and paste in back, but delete the mesh first directly after copying, they should then work to render in Lightwave.

    In my experience, both blender CPU and GPU options seem to be rendering faster than Lighwaves CPU option only, where GPU is much faster, but can reach a limit depending on quality and mesh density.
    Apart from the actuall renderspeed in blender, I also think the hairshaders are much better and yielding more realistic hair, I like how easy it is to mix the hair relflection shader, with the hair transmission shader.

    That said, your hair renderings with Lightwave is excellent.

  2. #2
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Re: hair sculpting for LightWave/FiberFX...

    In my earliest FiberFX jobs, I adapted Stuart Aiken's old spline cloning techniques for Sasquatch to FiberFX. At the time this was a game changer for me...but the tools and techniques we have nowadays are so much better.

    I use FiberFX off and on at work (mainly 'Trolls' scrapbook stuff,) but it's been a little while since I've had to create a complicated hair style for FiberFX. IMO, the native Edit Guides tool works very well for shorter hair styles. It takes practice to use it effectively and once I got the hang of it, I find I can get what I need very quickly. For longer hair, being able to use splines from Modeler is a good approach too. I still use FiberFX Modeler in Modeler too; this tool feels really dated now but it still has its uses.

    For longer and sculpted hair styles, I still think FiberMesh in ZBrush is a good system for Lightave's FiberFX. FiberMesh takes even more practice to use effectively. Even if you think you know ZBrush really well, using FiberMesh is practically a whole other skill to learn. Tip: The key is to use Polygroups to separate the hair into multiple regions that you can work on individually without affecting the others. Also, when you're just learning, be prepared to reset the fibers and re-comb/brush hair strands many times before you get what you want. This will seem tedious but it does get easier and predictable the more you do it. Back when I was learning, there was hardly any learning material available for FiberMesh but I think there's a lot of video tutorials on YouTube now.

    With FiberMesh, there is also the LightWave workflow to consider: to apply FiberMesh in Lightwave for Bullet dynamics, you need proper UV maps and weights, and for that, you'll want to get OD TransferMaps (part of ODTools) or Weighter 2. I've long felt these are features that should come with LightWave natively, especially if you work with hair and long fibers. This is probably going to be true with any third party program you use to create guides for FiberFX.

    All of these methods have a steep learning curve and require a lot of practice to do well. I think many users want something that generates unique hairstyles almost automatically but I'm not sure there's anything that really works that way.

    That said, I would love to see better and easier tools for styling hair for FiberFX. If anybody knows of any new tools, please post links!

    I still haven't taken the time to learn Blender but my interest was renewed with version 2.8 because of Grease Pencil and the improved UI. I haven't tried any hair stuff yet. Just wondering, has anybody had success using Blender's hair sculpting tools (like Hairnet mentioned in Prometheus' post) with FiberFX?

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    Re: hair sculpting for LightWave/FiberFX...

    In my earliest FiberFX jobs, I adapted Stuart Aiken's old spline cloning techniques for Sasquatch to FiberFX. At the time this was a game changer for me...but the tools and techniques we have nowadays are so much better.

    I use FiberFX off and on at work (mainly 'Trolls' scrapbook stuff,) but it's been a little while since I've had to create a complicated hair style for FiberFX. IMO, the native Edit Guides tool works very well for shorter hair styles. It takes practice to use it effectively and once I got the hang of it, I find I can get what I need very quickly. For longer hair, being able to use splines from Modeler is a good approach too. I still use FiberFX Modeler in Modeler too; this tool feels really dated now but it still has its uses.

    For longer and sculpted hair styles, I still think FiberMesh in ZBrush is a good system for Lightave's FiberFX. FiberMesh takes even more practice to use effectively. Even if you think you know ZBrush really well, using FiberMesh is practically a whole other skill to learn. Tip: The key is to use Polygroups to separate the hair into multiple regions that you can work on individually without affecting the others. Also, when you're just learning, be prepared to reset the fibers and re-comb/brush hair strands many times before you get what you want. This will seem tedious but it does get easier and predictable the more you do it. Back when I was learning, there was hardly any learning material available for FiberMesh but I think there's a lot of video tutorials on YouTube now.

    With FiberMesh, there is also the LightWave workflow to consider: to apply FiberMesh in Lightwave for Bullet dynamics, you need proper UV maps and weights, and for that, you'll want to get OD TransferMaps (part of ODTools) or Weighter 2. I've long felt these are features that should come with LightWave natively, especially if you work with hair and long fibers. This is probably going to be true with any third party program you use to create guides for FiberFX.

    All of these methods have a steep learning curve and require a lot of practice to do well. I think many users want something that generates unique hairstyles almost automatically but I'm not sure there's anything that really works that way.

    That said, I would love to see better and easier tools for styling hair for FiberFX. If anybody knows of any new tools, please post links!

    I still haven't taken the time to learn Blender but my interest was renewed with version 2.8 because of Grease Pencil and the improved UI. I haven't tried any hair stuff yet. Just wondering, has anybody had success using Blender's hair sculpting tools (like Hairnet mentioned in Prometheus' post) with FiberFX?
    Sucess as it works..yes.

    A bit tricky perhaps till you know how to do it, remember that if you sculpt a mesh a flat sheet or similar that is to bee hairstrands with the hairnet plugin, once it is created, the hair is just a kind of particle hair I think, and those strands is parented to the actual hair cap mesh, so if you move the hair cap mesh, the strands will follow, but not the mesh you created it from, that means you should click on the haircap mesh and go to the modifier tab and there you will have hairnet convert, that will convert the strands to polychains, then you can delete the mesh used to "sculpt the hair" directly before you export to obj format, or delete three kinds of meshes in lightwave later, both the haircap mesh and the strands will all be in one layer, so you would just have to seperate them with select connect and copy and paste, preferably select connect on the haircap mesh and use select invert, and the cut and paste to itīs own layer.
    Make sure you scale the mesh and strands to a proper scale before sending it to layout, so the fiberfx is adapted correctly from scratch.

    I do not even have to use strandmaker on the hairguides first, they seem to work by default wich is great, previously when I created particle hair without hairnet, I had to copy the edges in edge mode and paste back and delete the strands that was polys so fiberfx wouldnīt crash, but I am not sure if it has somethign to do with hairnet or 2019 version..have to check.

    Then itīs just a matter of applying fiberfx as usual.

    One thing I need to try in blender, that is using dynatopo sculpt and the snake hook, if I set the decent resolution, it should be easy to draw out snakehook sculpted hair, then see how that can be converted, but the mesh needs to be seperated from the main cap mesh, so I would probably need to add a new mesh, or paint a mask and extract mesh from that in blender.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prometheus View Post

    One thing I need to try in blender, that is using dynatopo sculpt and the snake hook, if I set the decent resolution, it should be easy to draw out snakehook sculpted hair, then see how that can be converted, but the mesh needs to be seperated from the main cap mesh, so I would probably need to add a new mesh, or paint a mask and extract mesh from that in blender.
    Well that will not work..to sculpt with dynatopo and snake hook, hairnet needs the same guide length and is probably being screwed up with such kind of meshes.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    To note, I do not think hairnet is ideal, you can use lightwave converted to strands and in blender use fibers to create blender hair, the otherway around to use it as a sculpt tool, a bit limited I think, not sure..but I think you can only use sheets, flat planes and convert, and also add single vertices and extend and use fibers in hairnet to create fuller hairstrands, perhaps the hairtool is better suited, but hairtool generates polyshapes from larger surfaces, and not particle hair, so you would have to try hairnet on that.

    I am still not comfortable with basic creation of paths and nurb cures in blender, I actually prefer laying them out as drawing with splines in lightwave, then again you can if you use grease pencil probably get similar, then convert that to curves or mesh and use with hairnet.

    Hairtool..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXjBCxesA_I

    Hairnet
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luZW8Zkg-gc
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXjBCxesA_I

    Be patient with me though I am posting some blender stuff here, should perhaps be transfered to 1000 ways to use Lightwave and blender together, If..If I got the time, I will try and record the process of making guides in Lightwave and send to blender for hairnet conversion, and vice versa.

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    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Hi Prometheus,

    Thanks for looking into this. No rush, though; for now I'm just curious the workflow for Blender guides to LW for future reference.

    Keep us informed with your progress and experiments.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenlaw View Post
    Hi Prometheus,

    Thanks for looking into this. No rush, though; for now I'm just curious the workflow for Blender guides to LW for future reference.

    Keep us informed with your progress and experiments.
    I am on the opposite interest, more of getting guides in to blender and render, mostly.
    If I got the time ..and the mood is right, I may be able to focus on hair in lightwave and blender for a couple of weeks, and hopefully get back.

    I most say thoug, I really like the hair child styling twisting and curling, works nicely also on imported strands from lightwave, but it takes a bit of learning, usually right now I just draw a spline and spin it in lightwave modeler,adjust with magnet tool, and final adjust with strand tool and all nots while still using splines (yes..that works on splines as well without having to convert to polychains) but of course, then I run it through strandmaker and delete the splines.
    Once converted with hairnet, One should lower child display amount to zero, so that only so many particle hair is created as you have made splines in lightwave, after that ..increase it, but the radius of children around parents needs adjustment, as well as display steps, Initially though, One need to make sure that you use ctrl a and set scale rotation and location for the strands imported from lightwave in blender..before making the hair with hairnet, you do not need to create a seem when it is just fiber strands unlike if you extend geometry.

    For the other way around, you just need to know how to convert particle hair in blender, which is a matter of first go to the modifier tab (the wrench icon) and convert.
    Save out as obj, once in lightwave in Edge mode select them all as edges and copy, you can then delete the polystrands directly..and then in another layer paste in the edges, it will still be in memory even if you deleted the polystrands.
    Q to resurface the strands, that should be it.

    Using the hairnet to actually sculpt design the hair, I am not that well versed in that yet, will see, but otherwise the hair style tools is nice I think in blender, especially the combing a the main strands, you can also check children (under particle edit draw.,,and actually see how the child strands is affected by the particle comb edit....make sure to set equal step to what you have in particle hair emitter to match what you see in display and render when particle edit is off.

    Particle edit works on strands imported from Lightwave as well...once they are converted to particle hair with the hairnet tool that is.

    All this is also pretty essential when you in the end want to convert to lightwave.

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    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAUROCOR View Post
    I donīt feel confortable myself talking about blender here once this thread was created to talk about LW FiberFX...

    Hi Maurocor,

    I can understand your feelings on this. I too would prefer to do it all within LightWave's environment. As a matter of fact, there are compelling reasons for keeping it all inside LightWave, like the automatic generation of UV maps and weights in the guides.

    But to me, if there are ways to create guides for FiberFX using other tools (like ZBrush, for example,) it's all relevant. I don't have any real experience with Blender to LightWave so I'm mostly just curious about it right now. I generally like using FiberFX and I'm all for anything that makes it easier and faster to use in production.

    That said, I don't wish to hi-jack your thread either and I'll try to keep future posts here to discussing native FiberFX tools and related LightWave plugins. There's plenty to talk about there too.

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    Registered User Oldcode's Avatar
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    Hey Prometheus,

    I've had some success in creating hair guides in Blender and importing them into Lightwave. I find Blender's hair creation tools, pre 2.8, to be far superior to the hair guides in both Modeler and Layout. The biggest problem for me is creating the weight maps and other things you need to use the hair guides with Bullet.

    Is there some tutorial out there to create the maps to anchor the hair at the scalp and have it more free the as you move up to hair shaft to the tips? I've looked, but have not been able to find one yet.

    Thanks,

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Moved posts to their own thread.
    Excellent..
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldcode View Post
    Hey Prometheus,

    I've had some success in creating hair guides in Blender and importing them into Lightwave. I find Blender's hair creation tools, pre 2.8, to be far superior to the hair guides in both Modeler and Layout. The biggest problem for me is creating the weight maps and other things you need to use the hair guides with Bullet.

    Is there some tutorial out there to create the maps to anchor the hair at the scalp and have it more free the as you move up to hair shaft to the tips? I've looked, but have not been able to find one yet.

    Thanks,
    We can discuss that in the other thread, I do not fully understand you though, but I am a bit of in a rush, have to get my grocery, will look in to it later if I get the time.

    Ops..I thought I wrote this in the other thread...my fault.

    do you mean weight maps? that is easy as a pie, just enter weight paint, but before you do..on the right menu, go to the data tab, itīs the triangle icon with vertices on to the right of the wrench icon.
    once ..in the scroll menus you have vertex group, by default empty, as soon as you start painting it will add a vertex group automaticly...which you can double click on and rename from group to hair density etc.
    When you add a particle emitter, change from emmitter to hair, then in the middle somewhere between all menus, you will have Vertex groups, there you will find among others ..Density, that is empty ..but once you click on it..you will see your weight painted vertex group.

    In lightwave layout we now can use metamorphic and weight paint, but in all honestly..even though it is overcoming the fact that you couldnīt weight paint before, using the weight paint Acessing it and have itīs weight paint displayed is very bad compared to blenders, and layout weight paint is badly displayed compared to Lightwave modelers display..for that reason I really do not use it, they need to adress that ASAP.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    And now..just to be a pain in the...
    Letīs hijack this thread from blender to houdini
    Was just reflecting over what erikals menitoned

    Quote..
    "so far found LightWave to be very good, especilly for artistic style hair, long hair or very short hair.

    figuring out the best hair-sculpt solutions in LW however, not that fun."


    Yes ..lightwave and modeling guides can be nice if you know the tools and stick to them for a while..not perfect, but itīs the same for creating guides in blender as well..currently I prefer drawing splines in Lightwave, but I need more
    practice with grease pencil and paths in blender, and perhaps additional addon before I can evaluate it all properly.
    Otherwise I loved how you just click and draw with a free hand a set of hair clusters in Houdini, unfortunately I havenīt managed to export it out back to lightwave, not sure how it was from Houdini to blender, will have
    to check again, I also think it may be a case of sidefx starting to limiting export options even more now with the apprentice version, I may look in to the indie version.

    Currently my focus is on Lightwave, blender, and Houdini...
    Maya, 3dmax, cinema4d...and Modo is sort of out of the question for a long time until I see something drastic change there...but those three will keep me busy, I also got fusion, krita, inkscape, davinci resolve, premiere, after effects and photoshop to continue to follow and work on, where the paid versions is what I used to use, but I am now mostly using the open source programs..but if you want to be matching in future job department, it isnīt much of the open source solutions they have in their job requirements.

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    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Stay tuned, I will try and record something for getting the blender hair to lightwave, and for getting Lightwave hair guides to blender..two way interaction.
    If I am not on it within a week, you got to poke on me making sure I am just resting..and not dead.

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    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldcode View Post
    ...The biggest problem for me is creating the weight maps and other things you need to use the hair guides with Bullet....Is there some tutorial out there to create the maps to anchor the hair at the scalp and have it more free the as you move up to hair shaft to the tips? I've looked, but have not been able to find one yet.
    Hi Oldcode,

    I've been meaning to make a video on this topic forever but that project kept getting pushed back and forgotten. Lately, however, I've been making videos for a 2D animation program I use, and since I now have a workflow in place for making videos, I'll think about adding some episodes for LightWave and FiberFX to my topic list.

    In the meantime, here's what I've done when using ZBrush FiberMesh guides in LightWave, which I think will work for Blender guides too:

    After importing the guides, I use a vmap transferring plugin to project the UV and weight coordinates between the character's 'skin' and the imported guides. This requires that the character's 'skin' have a UV map and weights applied. Just so you know, LightWave can't easily do this natively but there are a few third party plugins available that can.

    Back in my early 'Brudders' stuff, I used a Modeler plugin called DrainBGVmap. It's how I was able to use the character's skin texture maps to color the FiberFX fibers growing along the ZBrush FiberMesh guides. It's also how I'm able to bind the guides more tightly to the skin geo for bones and morph deformation. For the 'long hair' example you give, it's how I'm able to bind the roots of 'Sister's' hair for the Bullet sim. DrainBGVmap worked well in LightWave 11.x but only for x32 Modeler. The downside with x32 was that it limited the memory available for the number guide's Modeler could process. The Brudders characters, for example, pretty much maxed out what I could do on the computer I had at the time. The original developer doesn't support DrainBGVmap anymore but if you're still using LightWave 11.x, you can download it from Mike 'Dodgy' Green's website.

    More recent versions of LightWave should use Weighter 2 from Liberty3D or Transfer Maps from Origami Digital. Both are x64 plugins so they don't have the memory limitation of DrainBGVmap.

    Weighter 2 should work but for some reason the plugin broke for me when I switched to Windows 10 a few years ago. Kat says it really should work in Windows 10 so maybe I need to give it another chance.

    Transfer Maps is part of OD Tools. I haven't used this tool for a full production-ready character yet but it worked well for me in basic FiberFX tests when Oliver told me about it.

    All of these plugins kind of work the same way but I'm a little fuzzy about the details at the moment.

    Ok, this gives me a reason to finally make that video. Will let you know here how it's going.

  15. #15
    Registered User Oldcode's Avatar
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    Hey GreenLaw,

    Thanks! It would be absolutely awesome if you could make a tutorial for this. I finished my last big project back in the summer of 2016. After it was completed, I dedicated myself to trying to figure out dynamic hair, especially on pre-animated MDD characters without any bones. That's how I get Poser figures and animation into Lightwave. Poser Pro 11 has FBX export, but it does not work very well.

    I wanted to figure this out before I started my next big project.

    I have made a lot of progress getting over many of the hurdles for this problem, and as I said, the last big one is the Weight Map problem to anchor the hairs to the head. I've been giving this so much thought, I even considered doing my own tutorial for all the steps needed to give animated Poser figures hair in Lightwave, and I still might. With short hair styles, its very easy, but with long hair its much more difficult. Your tutorial would be like putting that last key stone in the arch!

    I've admired all the videos you're done especially Brudders so any video on this subject from you I know would be amazing! I shall await it patiently.

    Thanks again,

    Cheers!

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