With this project I found that the best way to control hair is to shorten it drastically and get rid of all the randomizing parameters at the beginning. Here are the steps of how to do this:
- Go to Frizz Parameters and reduce the Frizz Root and Frizz Tip values to zero
- Choose Style Hair and increase the brush size so that it covers the whole model
- Remove the Distance Fade option; pick the Scale option and drag-and-click to the left over your model, until the hair guides are really short
- In the Utilities box, click on the Recomb button so that the hair falls along the surface
- After, you can choose the Stand option inside the Styling box, and drag-and-click to the right slightly over your model to raise the hair guides a little
- This should give you a good starting point. After that, grow and comb the guides in small areas at a time, hiding the rest of the guides
It is a work of patience ... lots of it!
Another thing I learned during this project was the obvious fact that fur adds volume to the character (Duh!). All of a sudden, the nice sculpting details were covered by a thick layer of hair. I had to invest a lot of time combing the guides to make the fur flow along the skin's surface and keep a sharp silhouette. Fig.11 shows the evolution of the combing, as well as the lighting.
It also came as a problem that the hair didn't look the same when rendered at different resolutions; it was very difficult to spot mistakes and make decisions on the correct density at low resolution renders. In order to be able to test the hair correctly, I created a test scene with a single light, without any shadows or GI, and just a simple diffuse material for the skin mesh. Most of my hair render tests were made in this scene at about 3,000 pixels, and with render times of around 2 minutes.
After having reached the conclusion that I needed a hair count of about 2,700,000 hairs (!), another problem came up: I just couldn't render anything larger than the 1,500 by 3,000 pixels in resolution. I used the "hair buffer" method for hair rendering ("mrprim" and "geometry" couldn't handle this amount of hair), and at the time of rendering only two-thirds of the hair showed up. Later, I discovered that there is a 70MB buffer to write the hair to, and at higher resolutions this buffer value is not sufficient. In order to fix this, go to Effects > Hair and Fur; inside the Buffer Rendering Options increase the Tile Memory Usage, and that should solve the problem. The bigger the resolution, the bigger the buffer! It sounds simple when you know what to do...
In Fig.12 you can see the three different base meshes I used to grow hair on the body, snout and tail, as well as the hair count for each. The hair guides are represented in yellow.
In Fig.13 I have compiled all the numbers used to generate the final hair. For the Tip Color and Root Color I used textures with a brownish tone - brighter for the tip and slightly darker for the root. Don't forget that the color swatches for the Tip and Root multiply by the texture color, so change the swatches to white or else it will affect the texture color.
Fig.14 shows the hair resulting from the guides and settings previously described.