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Maya PaintFX Hair: Getting Started

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Date Added: 16th June 2009
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Hi all, as I see everyday a lot of people asking how to make hair or what's the best way for creating hair, etc... Just here I will show a little steps how I'm creating hair in Maya using PaintFX. This tutorial contains three parts, first understanding hair elements, second working with complete hair and third setup hair strokes.

Part 1: Understanding Hair Elements

Picture 1: Hair Heart and Hair Path

To create hair in Maya using paintFX, you need three things, first (as I named) Hair Heart, second Hair Path, and finally Hair Stroke, from these three elements you can create good paintFX hair...

What I mean by these elements?

Hair Heart: I mean from where the hair will grow/born (come from), it's simply a curve, which you will attach the hair brush with it, you can make it shape as you like, I used to make it circle, but it depends how is your hair design will be.

Hair Path: It's your hair design, which you will animate in the future; you will make it from curves.

Hair Stroke: It's the hair look and how it will be, here is the real work on the hair will start.

Now I will start making a single hair group, it's just a way to make you start. Let's start step by step...

You should start with your hair design by making the hair curves (hair paths), in this test I have made a single path, single path don't mean one hair (you will control the number of hair from your hair stroke).

Take care when you are building your curves, put in mind that a lot of spans will make it hard to fix the hair design in the future, by usual I rebuild my curves in 7-9 spans.

You can use Modeling/Edit Curves/Rebuild Curve option to fix your curves spans number.

Then make your hair heart, in this test I have made it shape circle, but remember you can make any shape, it's depends how your hair will born/grow. And remember you can use one Hair Heart for many Hair Paths, so don't think you make for example 5 hair paths that you need 5 hair hearts! Look at Picture 1 to know how the Hair Heart and Hair path looking for single hair...

Now it's the time to start working on your hair stroke, the hair stroke it's like a brush, and how your hair will look, now I will show you how to connect the hair stroke with your hair heart and hair curves, then I will show you some hair attributes which will help in creating the hair.

How to connect the Hair Stroke with Hair Heart and Hair Path?You have two functions in Maya you will use for this "Attach Brush to Curves" and "Set Stroke Control Curves".

Attach Brush to Curves: You will use this function to connect your hair stroke with your hair heart, and that after choosing your brush from Rendering/Paint Effects/Get Brush... You have a good hair brushes in Maya Visor/hair, in this test I have choose "hairRed1.mel".

You can find this function from Rendering/Paint Effects/Curve Utilities/Attach Brush to Curves.

After this step the hair stroke has been created, and you can see it from the outliner.

Set Stroke Control Curves: We use this function to make the hair stroke walk with hair path, so select your hair strokes (from the outliner) then select your hair path, and click the function, you can find it here Rendering/Paint Effects/Curve Utilities/Set Stroke Control Curves.

Now this step complete and we are ready to start working into hair stroke attributes.

Look at Picture 2 to see what I got.

Picture 2: Hair Stroke connected with Hair Heart and Path


Select your stroke from the outliner and open it attribute, I will not show you all hair attributes, but I will tell you the most important.

Global Scale: This is the first value you should edit after setting stroke control curves, from this you can control you brush scale size.

Display Quality: When you are making the hair, you should change this value always, as you know paintFX is a bit slow.

Sample Density: It's the samples points on the stroke, which paint your hair.

Seed: This option sets the sequence of random numbers used for brush attributes that are randomized.

Smoothing: I used this a lot when I'm creating soft hair.

Tubes Per Step: It's simply the number of hair per point.

Tube Rand: The random places for the hair in the point.

Segments: Defines the maximum number of segments a tube can have, control the stroke ability to walk with curve.

Picture 3 shows what I got from changing some of these values.

Picture 3: The render after changing some values

This is simple steps to start working on paintFX hair, and remember you have a lot of attributes you should test, and your way in paintFX is very long.

continued on next page >

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