Creating Long Dreadlocks in Maya & Marmoset Toolbag

Guellor Maweja shared the workflow behind the female long dreadlocks, explained how FiberShop was used for making hair textures, and discussed the principles they follow to find appeal in a hairstyle.

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Hi everyone, my name is Guellor Maweja. I am a 3D artist working at Share Creators. I specialize in creating real-time hair for games at work and occasionally on different aspects from character art, texturing, and props. So far in my career, I have worked on IPs such as Diablo, Call Of Duty, and many more.

It is really great to be back and make another one of these breakdowns for a newer portfolio piece. In this article, I will take you through what my goals were and how I went about achieving them for the female long dreads project. I will also be going through some important philosophies I have when I create real-time hair.

The initial idea was that I wanted to make a challenging hairstyle that was complex and had a lot of elements to it. so, I decided to work on relatively straight hair that is mixed with longer dreads. A project that inspired me was a similar one that was done by my brother Eric Maweja.

One of the biggest things about art and portfolio pieces is that you always aim to do the best that you can although I feel that so much can be done to make this a better piece, but I am also satisfied with the results I got. One of the goals I had in mind was to make a standout portfolio piece that would display my abilities in real-time hair creation. Another goal was to make a portfolio piece good enough that I could get to do another breakdown for 80 Level and share some more knowledge with the art community.

This hairstyle is one that I would consider complex and just like my previous breakdown of the afro female hairstyle, I will go over my approach and some tips and tricks for creating this type of hairstyle.

Real-Time Female Long Dreads

With this hairstyle, I knew I wanted to make another dreads hairstyle after making the one before and having so much fun with it, but having already done one I had to get creative and make a different hairstyle that does not resemble the previous hairstyle. So I decided to make one that was mixed with a different type of hair texture.

First things first, you need to gather a lot of references. When it comes to hair references for hairstyles, I usually decide what type of hairstyle I would like to make, then I look for all types of references pertaining to this look, not just one but different styles just in case I want to go into a different direction in the middle of the project or if I want to mix in different parts. In doing so you get to pick up on different details that are interesting and that you can add to your project.

The tools I used for this project were mainly FiberShop for hair texture creation, GS CurveTools for hair placement, and Marmoset Toolbag 3 for rendering.


Lately, I have been using FiberShop for creating my textures. It is fast and easy and gives you a lot of room for iteration so you get quick results. I went into some detail about using the tool in another breakdown I did for 80 Level, so if you are interested, be sure to check it out. Now, I would like to explain how I approach making actual textures.

I always like to make my textures pretty simple and have them convey hair in general, so the idea is for it to have similar attributes to the type of hair I want it to be, and for the dreads, I wanted them to be loose and messy and made sure to have different versions. Even if I end up not using them, I get to try them out and see what works best for the situation, and it would also help if I were to use them in a different project.

There are three main pillars I like to follow for my hair textures. Number one is I keep it simple because I want to not be very limited when I start placing cards for the hairstyle. Number two is a lot of negative spaces in my textures because that adds a lot of detail to the hairstyle; in fact, that is where a lot of detail comes from. Number three is I have different density states of the hair, from dense to sparse, this is also something that adds a lot of detail to your hairstyle. When you combine the two pillars of negative spaces and different densities, it comes together to help make your hair really pop. I will also explain in more detail how all of this helps when you start preparing to place your cards.

GS CurveTools

GS CurveTools is the main tool I use for hand-placing my haircards. I also use different tools if needed for work, but when it comes to personal work, I use GS CurveTools. As I said in my previous breakdown, I cannot praise this tool enough for streamlining my workflow and being a good addition to the pipeline. It helped make real-time hair creation very fun and iterative, it's nondestructive, very orderly, and helps you make changes to your projects very fast. 

Hair Creation

Let me go through some of my thoughts on the creation of this hairstyle and share some behind-the-scenes of the hair creation process. I will also be breaking down some very important aspects that help make real-time hair look good.

Here is a GIF of all the layers that make up the hair, I always like to break up my projects into a few layers. The biggest reason for doing so is the organization, it is very important to have sections of the hairstyle isolated so that if you ever want to focus on just one specific area, you can do so with ease.

Here are the different hair card types I use throughout the creation process. The ones at the bottom are clumps I created, they are used to add depth to the hair and are usually made up of three cards in a triangle shape. I am sure some people would find interest in seeing the wireframe of how the dreads look on the hairstyle, so I took a few screenshots to display. 

When I started the hairstyle, one important thing was to start testing out the textures I created with some quick haircards. This helps me get an idea for the project while I am still finalizing my textures. My initial idea and the final hair are a bit different, and that is why early testing is very important. Here are some more before and after images of the hair.

Finding Appeal

When it came to finding appeal for this hairstyle, I followed three different principles, the first being good shape language. I was actively looking for interesting shapes in the hairstyle and one thing I did was introduce some stylization to the design of the hair. Although I was going for a realistic look, in my opinion adding stylized aspects to a realistic design makes it look more interesting and more appealing. Here are some side-by-side examples.

The other two principles I followed were negative spaces and layering. Negative spaces are the areas around the hair that are occluded, they are usually gaps in the hair that can be small or big in shape. These negative spaces really help your hair pop and add a lot of appeal to the hairstyle. Negative spaces are usually found in hair that is not flat so adding some to your hair helps you create a hairstyle with volume.

Layering is a process in which you add different levels of height and where you don't have all your clumps start and end at the same length. This process helps give more volume to the hair and makes a lot of hairstyles look more appealing.

Both negative spaces and layering add a lot to the volume of a hairstyle. The reverse of that is if you want to create a flat hairstyle, you would try and avoid a lot of negative spaces and layering. Below are some breakdown examples of both negative spaces and layering of the hair. 


I hope this helped someone out there. When it comes to real-time hair creation, my approach is to always look for appeal, I always want to create something that looks good and that is why I usually apply some stylization to my work. Not everything realistic is appealing, so you always have to find that common ground by adding just enough stylization that will help make your work pop and add more interest to it. Another point I would like to bring up is to always polish your work and have a look at it to add some more details that you think will push it that much further.

Looking back, there is still a lot of work that can be done on this, but I hope this breakdown helped you learn something. I do plan on doing some tutorials in the future that will go into more detail. I want to create a very detailed and high-quality tutorial that can help artists out there.

You can contact me on Instagram, ArtStation, or via email.

Guellor Maweja, 3D Artist

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