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Wow, the YouTube video was released in November. How have I never seen it before? I've probably watched it three times in the past hour. It's an absolutely amazing production. What was the budget for this?
Animator and 3d artist Michael Cauchi shared a lot of cool content with the community in the past. Most recently, he did a very nice tutorial on using XGen in your pipeline.
XGen is a geometry instancer that lets you populate the surface of polygon meshes with an arbitrary number of primitives either randomly or uniformly placed. In simple English, XGen is great for procedural hair, fur and feathers. It could also be used for large-scale environments when you need to cover them with grass or rocks.
Michael’s tutorial mostly centers on character hair. Here’s a little abstract from the post.
Starting your groom
It’s time to create our grooms 😀
First you will need to load your XGen plugin if you have not done so already, then open the XGen description editor.
This should now open a tab in the attribute editor, simply select your scalp geometry and click create new description, now set the name of your description and collection appropriately and turn on “placing and shaping guides”.
In terms of naming its entirely up to you as there is no “correct” way to name anything as long as it is clearly defined. For examples sake if I was making a moustache for my character Bob I would set the names as follows:
So now that we have our groom description set up it’s time to start placing our guides. One quick note with XGens guide system is that one nice little feature it has which is automatic interpolation for newly placed guides, I like to abuse this feature by having the first two guides I place be the two that are furthest apart. Doing this means that you will not have to do as much work when blocking out the primary guide positions since XGen will try to do this for you to a basic level, and it will only get more accurate as you place more guides 🙂
There’s really not too much I can say in text form to help in deciding to place guides but I should be making a short video series for this soon which will show the process in a little more detail. In the meantime I can say that there are a few key considerations when placing your guides:
– Try to keep their spacing as even as possible and avoid large areas on the scalp that don’t have guides.
– Depending on your groom it is normally good practice to place guides around the perimeter of the scalp, this will lead to better termination of the hair since XGen will have some extra guides to interpolate with.
– Keep track of the number of CVs on your guide curves, for short hair styles the default of 4 CVs is fine but for more complex shapes try increasing this number. (You can do this using the “rebuild” option in the guide tools section of the primitive tab).
Also, if you plan on simulating your groom, this CV count should be increased to give you more accurate simulated results 🙂
– Pay particular attention to the silhouette of your groom as well as the overall flow from region to region.
Important note: At the time of writing this tutorial this groom is more than half a year old and I have to say that the guides here are not really dense enough to give full control over the groom or any aspect of simulation (especially those brows!). However, it did get the job done.
Just keep in mind that the guides on display here are super minimal and are only suitable for student work.
Once you have your guides blocked out we need to start generating the hair, you can do this using the first button in the XGen interface.
Now you need to set your density, hair width and taper, the exact settings for which are incredibly dependent on scale and type of groom so you’ll have to tune these settings by eye.
Oh and make sure that the hair CV count is high enough for the hair to capture the shape you want. You can do this in the primitives tab, just scroll down until you find the primitive CV count and increase this number until the hair matches the guide shapes. This becomes more important once you start adding curl/noise modifiers.
You can find the full post, as long as other useful content over at Michael Cauchi official website. Also, if you like to work with hair, but you don’t have Maya, check out this amazing tool for Blender.