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1.6.0 WIP: hair library and improved proxy system

22 June 2017

The first high quality hair 3D model specifically developed for ManuelbastioniLAB is just completed. It's one of the four base hairstyles that will be included in the library of lab 1.6.0:

  • Basic hair for female humanoid (suitable for humanoids only, realistic anime and fantasy characters)
  • Basic hair for male humanoid (suitable for humanoids only, realistic anime and fantasy characters)
  • Basic hair for female anime (suitable for anime only)
  • Basic hair for male anime (suitable for anime only)

Using the proxy system (that will be improved again in 1.6.0) the lab will provide an easily way to load and automatically fit the hair geometry directly from a blend file. According to the new philosophy in production pipeline, the loading of proxies will be moved to the "after-creation" tools, while the calibration will remain in the creation tools.

The challenge of polygonal hair

Some artists asked me why support 3D polygonal hair instead of the Blender particles hair. Well, the particles are cool, but they cannot be directly used in game engines external to Blender, also they are difficult to use for some complex hairstyles and often the rendering requires an high amount of RAM and CPU resources. On the contrary the polygonal hair are easy to import and export, are easy to rig and usually the rendering is less expensive than the particles one.

Anyway the polygonal hair are a challenge. Making high quality geometry, without messy and wild surfaces, easy to rig and to animate using clothes or soft body system, is not trivial. There are a lot of polygonal hair models on the web, but few of them fulfil the features listed above. I'm spending a lot of time researching the best pipeline to produce hair, in order to create high quality models, not only in terms of geometry, but also as Cycles shader and animation results.