Hair for animated character

I have been experimenting with various hair systems for the past couple of weeks, off and on. I tried particle hair and textured card hair, and, although they look good, both techniques absolutely kill render times: a minute and a half to two minutes for just a head with some hair on it. I tried shaping a plane with a simple texture on it, which rendered quickly, but looked a lot like the character just had a piece of cloth draped over her skull. I finally came up with a compromise: A stucci texture with a small noise size, Map input of UV with a high sizeX to get it all streaky, Map To Col and Nor, with the Nor slider turned way up. Here’s a couple of renders, front and back.

I’ve got two questions, formost, how do you think it looks? Second, any advice for improving the look or decreasing the render time would be helpful as well.


PS: these looked so bright on my laptop, I turned one of the lights down. Now that it’s on my old Compaq CRT, the thumbnails are really dark! What a difference.

Not that I could do better, but it doesn’t look that great to me, especially if it’s going to be animated. The particle hair may be worth the extra render time. Sorry, but you asked for my opinion.:smiley:

LOL, you consider ~90-120 seconds a “long render” ?

Professional (Pixar / Dreamworks etc) renders typically are 1 hour / frame … or more. ED were apparently 15-20 minutes / frame.

In the “realistic girl” thread in the Off topic section it took ~15 hours to render one frame.

Hair, water, and other “goodies” are going to take render time. If you’re getting good results from particles at 1-2 minutes a frame (can you post a render?), I think that’s actually pretty fast.

What are your system specs ?


Yes, a minute isn’t bad at all… I consider a bad render time for a frame to be about an hour- if you want to hear about some really long render times, check out “The IT department” in the gallery (108 hours!)

Particle hair is most definitely better.

extra note to pixar render times, have you seen the size of their render farms!!! it would take literaly hundereds of years(they calculated it in one of their special features from memory) for someone to render one frame on the average home computer.

1-2 minutes is no reason to abandon particles in my opinion.


I think that rather that colour mapping, you should instead try using it as a specularity map. Look at some real hair; you hardly see any changes in colour (unless they’ve dyed it); you just see a mass of dark with a whole load of individual strands on the outside highlighted - a specularity map could achieve this effect.

About the model; since you refer to it as ‘her’, I assume it is meant to be a woman, however I did think at first that it was supposed to be a man. The jawline is very masculine and the great big sideys don’t really help.

I agree with Paul J, the face is too maskulin.
Chin should be softer/smaller.
zygomatic bones are to pronounced

Paul J: Yeah, that jawline, chin, mouth has been bugging me for a while. After playing with the jawline without any improvement, I made some modifications to the corners of the mouth (pushed them back). And I put some more flesh on top of those zygomatic arches. I also switched the Map To from col and nor to nor and spec, but it doesn’t seem to have the effect of highlighting individual strands.

Mike_S: perhaps I should have gone into more detail. With only a few small meshes emitting particle hair on one side of the face, as a test, the render times increased from around 15-20 sec to almost two minutes. Extrapolating to a full head of hair, I’d guess they’d be up to 20 minutes to half an hour. For one character, without a body, without clothing, without background, without fancy lighting and shadows, etc, etc, etc. Of course my system specs suck, but that’s what I’ve got. I don’t particularly want to spend 100 years, or even one year, rendering a ten minute animated short, if I can possibly avoid it.

And another update. Lots of work on the face.

C&C always welcome.