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Marlon R. Nunez talked in details about fur production in Ornatrix: the tools for it, the difference between fur and hair, VRayHairNext material and more. He’s also released a tutorial Quick Fur in Ornatrix that is aimed at helping artists sort Ornatrix out in an easy way.
My last projects have been focused on learning new skills, from skin development to new hair workflows (real-time and offline). I have worked on a vast variety of projects, from 3D print to cinematics and video games, but the most influential ones have been the cinematic ones (such as Crossfire trailer), where I have learned new pipelines and improved my current workflow. I feel like a 3D artist career is a non-ending learning curve, as every new tool or pipeline get obsolete quite fast, so it is always important to practise and be open to new ways of development. In my opinion that is the most important point in my career: be always open!
Make sure to check our previous interview with Marlon:
Quick Fur in Ornatrix Tutorial
I created this tutorial in order to introduce artists to Ornatrix in an easy way. I felt that all the Ornatrix tutorials online were not completely practical, mostly explanations of what each button does. At the end of the day, you want to know the practical use of all of it and here is where this tutorial comes handy. I get to the point, omit what I think is irrelevant and aim at keeping moving towards a goal, in this case, fur. Fur can be very complicated sometimes, but this tutorial is great for a beginner artist or any artist that wants to understand hair workflow, so they can feel more confident to start their own fur projects.
Tools for Fur
When it comes to fur, I work with either 3ds Max/Ornatrix or Maya/XGen workflows. From my experience, Ornatrix is great specially for fur, ideally when you combine it with the Ox Surface Comb Modifier where you can set up a quick comb. In general, there are no better or worst hair plugins, as at the end of the day all of them work the same and you need to use a similar methodology to comb hair.
How Fur Workflow Differs from Hair
The difference between hair and fur comes mostly in how you read the hair flow, as you can work with similar methodology when combing hair. In general, fur creation is easier, as in most cases it tends to be shorter hair and setting different parameters like frizz or clumps to drive the fur by maps. It’s important to point out the difference in the material setup between hair and fur: the latter tends to have a softer glossiness and more opaque look. Here the new VRayHairNext material is very useful. The new melanin and pheomelanin parameters makes the job easier. Regarding limitations in Ornatrix, it mostly comes with interpolation, the plugin needs more support and you’ll need to help the comb either using ID groups or maps to make the interpolation work the way you want.
Setting Dynamic Fur
Ornatrix is very smart in the way you can set up modifiers. By general rule you should set up your main guides already thinking about how they will be animated and making sure you don’t over populate them, so play smart! You will need to set up an Ox Dynamics on top of your guides and set your parameters to drive them. Nevertheless, as a Character Artist, this is not exactly your job, the animator will make preparation and final tweaks.
Shaders for Fur & Hair
This year Chaos Group introduced VrayNext, which I felt in love with instantly because of the new VrayHairNext shader. The idea behind the shader is reproducing the same properties that real hair has. You can drive the amount of melanin for example to make it blonder or darker, or adjust the pheomelanin for the redness of the hair. Then you have excellent parameters to randomize certain elements, like gray hair.
One of the most relevant points in hair production is making sure you can always come back in history and adjust certain parameters, like guide length for example. In the tutorial, I explain a simple way of making sure you are working under a non-destructive workflow by simplifying the fur setup to the most relevant properties. All of this is very relevant, as once you add an Ox Edit Guides and start combing your hair manually you will no longer be able to come back and change certain guide properties. So make the most use of maps and modifiers before you need to jump into any manual comb.
Testing Hair & Fur
In general, for any LookDev including skin or hair, I always set up a HDRI with a low value and a direct light. It’s also handy to set up a back light so you can check how the speculars and translucency behave.
Advice for Learners
All my knowledge comes from the websites I listed below and practice. I recommend the artist to read the documentation and jump into a small project to give it a try. It’s easier than it looks.