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Creating Facial Hair with FiberMesh

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Date Added: 19th June 2014
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Tip of the day by Gavin Goulden! Follow these simple steps to gain a basic understanding of the FiberMesh tool in ZBrush and see the potential that FiberMesh can have in your projects


Almost every character artist has struggled with hair in one way or another. Either rendering difficulties in games, technical limitations, or just feeling like it's plain, tedious work.

ZBrush's FiberMesh feature gives artists a quick and easy way to place hair on their characters without the need to manage planes, sculpt out wigs, or hand crafting splines. Similar to spline-based hair plug-ins in your favorite 3D program, FiberMesh is a great solution for quick hair and fur.

In this tutorial I will give you a quick look at how FiberMesh works and, hopefully, give you ideas for what you can do with your next character...

 FiberMesh is a quick and easy solution for hair geometry, that can be altered and rendered after its creation

Creating FiberMesh hair by mask

Mask out the area on your character that you would like to grow hair from. In this case, I will be creating a beard, but you can apply the same ideas to any part of your model. Once your mask has been created, navigate to the FiberMesh panel within ZBrush and click on LightBox > Fibers. This will bring up a panel that will let you select from a series of presets that are available by default with ZBrush. After clicking on one of these presets, you should see it automatically applied to your model.

 Mask out the areas you wish to apply hair to on your model, growing hair is as easy as finding a preset in ZBrush

Pro tip 1: Making adjustments to FiberMesh

Once you have a preset selected and are happy with how the strands behave, you can begin tweaking the fibers to better match the hair you had in mind. Most of the settings within the FiberMesh panel (after a preset is loaded) are pretty straight forward. You can adjust the beginning length and density of your hair, the root/strand color, and the effect gravity has on the strands. Once you are happy with your adjustments, and think that it is a good starting point for your hair, click Accept. This will retain your render preview settings, but you can also keep adjusting your render settings for BPR.

 After selecting a preset, you can make further adjustments within the FiberMesh panel

Pro tip 2: Using hair groom tools

After you have accepted your FiberMesh settings, a SubTool will be created with geometry that just makes up those hairs you have created. You can keep adjusting your model with regular ZBrush brushes, but also have access to the Groom brushes which will allow you to twist, lengthen, and crop your hair strands.

 Once your hair SubTool has been created, you can keep manipulating your hair/fur with ZBrush's Groom tools and regular brushes

Related links:

Check out Gavin Goulden's portfolio
Follow Gavin Goulden on Twitter
Discover more free tutorials!
Create believable fabric folds in ZBrush
Learn how to define seams with Polygroups
Learn how to use masks for fine details
To see more by Gavin Goulden, check out 3D Masterclass: The Swordmaster in 3ds Max and ZBrush

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