Like clothes, hair has been a challenge for 3D designers to work on because of its very delicate appearance. This problem has been a reoccurring obstacle back when CGI was positively primitive; due to how limited 3D designing software was made at the time, character hair tended to look very smooth or polygonal. Now that a lot of technological improvements have been made over time, realistic appearances, smoother graphics, and a great attention to detail have been added into the mix.
Adding Realism to Characters
There have been many animators that have made their own stamp on adding realism to their characters, such as Jensen when he created the texture of Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and Sadeghi, who was involved with the animation of Rapunzel’s hair in the Disney adaptation of Tangled.
Both animators have had their own share of experience with the way CGI is made, and the kind of work that Sadeghi made with the hair Rapunzel had will be the main subject for the tutorial below. Creating hair as well as tuning it to look realistic may seem to be a challenge at first, but as long as 3D designers follow along with their resources and the steps it takes to work with the process, then the end results will pay off very well.
To begin with the process of making realistic, designers should start with having the base shape of the hairstyle, whether it’d be short, long, masculine, or effeminate. Parts of the hair should be placed however works, such as if the hair would be a spiky mohawk, dreadlocks, or if the model’s long hair would be over the shoulders. Designers should also keep where the ears are if they want to create any hair on the sides of the heads unless they cover them up with long hair. After the shape is done, designers should then focus on making the base of the hair smoother, as well as create any small strands to give the hair a more realistic appearance.
Once that is all set in stone, designers should then create strands over the preexisting areas so the hair can look more layered, which is common for a lot of hairstyles. Once the specific hairstyle is made for the character and the hair color is finally chosen, designers can have the choice of making specific ways of how the hair changes, from a comb moving the hair around to the model moving its hair in a slow-motion reel.