Paige Two, Learning Character Rigging, Animation, and more

portfolio thumbnail

. . . . . .
Since I can no longer select an image to be the portfolio thumbnail maybe the first one in the thread will be a default … yes, this worked and it works in a details block.

. . . . . .

This project is a remake of Portrait of Paige Turner (Original at bottom). It is also for me to learn about many aspects of creating, rendering, and animating characters in Blender.

Comments, critiques, and advice are welcome and appreciated.

The right (character’s right) eyebrow is particle hair emitted from a vertex group. The left brow is part of the texture. I’ll use a no brow texture later. I found child hairs difficult to control so there are about 180 parent hairs and child hairs number of 2 or 3. For precise brows I think using only parent hairs would work.

The character mesh is imported from Daz Studio as an obj. I will use Auto Rig Pro to rig it.

Is there a way I can copy and mirror the right eyebrow particle system to the left?
(edit) there is a mirror function somewhere in Particle Edit that does this.

What do you think about the hairline? Something should be different but what?
(edit) See later images.


Observations and Lessons Learned

I’ll continually edit this post to collect things I learn from this project.

I made eyebrows and eyelashes with particle hair. I tried for a mostly natural no makeup look. A few wild hairs, less groomed and less symmetry would help with that.

One vertex group for the main hair, one for the brows, one for upper and one for lower lashes.

Main Hair 500 parents, 200 interpolated children = 100,000 hairs. I read that a human has 85K to 115K hairs.
Brows 3000 parent hairs, no child hairs.
Upper Lashes 657 parent hairs, 1 simple child hair each, 0.322 clumping.
Lower Lashes 400 parent hairs, 1 simple child hair each, 0.356 clumping.

Using many parent hairs with 1 child hair overcame the problem with distribution of child hairs while gaining their styling abilities.

These renders are 1000 samples, adaptive sampling, scaled from 1440p, subsurface scattering. The brunette hair renders faster than the blonde hair with principled hair shader. 4:53 versus 9:17 minutes.

Image searches for natural eyelashes produce much makeup and few with no makeup.

Q: How to improve the lower lashes? (They haven’t been shaped on the character’s left.)
Q: Should the eyebrows be less flat, more fluffy, out from the face more?
Q: Should natural eyelashes have fewer hairs?

Comments, critiques, and advice welcome.

some issues with eyelashes I noticed:
-to many and too thin. Should be thicker and less of them (upper and lover)
-also keep in mind every hair is thicker at the root and then thins out
-lower eyelashes have too wide of a band of placement, they should be more more less just on the edge of eyelid
-should gradually reduce the number of particles (and their length) while traveling from center to the nose bridge

If you don’t really need a super closeup, you could just create planes with textures on them (for eyelashes). It would be a quite easier solution (similar to what you exported from daz I assume)

hope any of this helps

Thanks @JRupar

Too many. Yes! Photos show fewer lashes and brow hairs. Thicker might be good for a makeup look or false lashes but these are already unnaturally thick. This hair has a taper from root to end and the ends closed. More taper could be good. Shorter towards the inner corner, good, will do.

Lashes in too wide a band. Good advice. That is what is worst about my previous pictures. Upper lashes too. I’ll post again soon about trouble making a narrow band of lashes.

Right now I’m trying to put all the hair, brows, lashes directly on the mesh. I’m seeing an advantage though in using separate meshes for brows and lashes and fitting them to a character. No repetition of work. Make a library of them to copy and fit to characters. Easy to share with other artists too.

Eyelash planes. Maybe I’ll stop deleting the eyelash objects from Daz character imports. Use both and change visibility as needed.

Searching for “eyelashes no makeup” produced more usable results than “natural eyelashes” though still not many. I’ll use these for reference.
no makeup eyelash reference image 1
no makeup eyelash reference image 3

Some success. Pic C is acceptable for lower lashes and will be fine for upper ones. Some grooming and this should work.

For that I made the vertex group in Pic A which created the weight in Pic B. None of that was useful. All attempts to spread parent hairs with the Emission and Source panels spread them too far. The parent hair spread or distribution covers the weight paint area which is too thick. Child hairs ignore the vertex group and weight paint.

I deleted the generated parent hair in Particle Edit and manually one-at-a-time added some hairs in a semi-random line along the eyelid.

Then I applied child hairs as in Pic C. 1, 2, or 3 children produced reasonable numbers of lashes. It is important to use a small radius for the simple children. This one has 0.00167ft radius.

It can’t be “spray painted” on in particle edit with the Add function because the result is Pic D. A wall of trillions of particles is created no matter what I do.

Advice is always welcome.

= Set Particles per Face to a high number. This is the number of places on a face that can emit particles.
= Save time by creating and editing hair on one side of the face then use Particle Edit -> Particle -> Mirror to copy that to the other side.
= Interpolated child hair does not recognize manually added hair as parents. Simple child hair does.

Pic A

Pic B

Pic C

Pic D

Blender 2.83.0

I was able to restrain the spread of the eyelash hairs by by adding edges to the mesh. I don’t like that. It embeds the hair location in the geometry, changes a potentially meticulously crafted mesh, and could have a bad influence on animation. Also creating edges on the model is not so different than emitting from separate objects … which is looking like a better option for brows and lashes.

This hair must be styled in particle edit to curve the lashes and change the length and density as JRupar suggested. It must cover only thin strips along the eyelids. This presents problems.

  • Weight painting is applied to vertices and spreads to the nearest vertices. Pic E.
  • The polygons are larger that the desired spread of the hair.
  • I would prefer to use a few parent hairs with child hairs that remain in the vertex group.
    – Simple children ignore the weight/group and spread anywhere.
    – Interpolated children don’t recognize hair added in particle edit as parents.

To keep the lashes within a narrow strip I created new edges on the eyelids as in the lower part of Pic E. In both cases only the central line of vertices is part of the vertex group.

Pic E

Preliminary result before styling and fine tuning in Pic F.

Pic F

Some Questions

Q: How can I make the hair smooth? See Pic G. Note the grain or coarseness. This happens with cycles rendering with principled hair bsdf, hair bsdf, principled bsdf, diffuse bsdf. Eevee makes smoother hair.

Q: How can I use the Add function in particle edit to spray paint particles in reasonable controllable numbers and not in a precise line? Problem shown in Pic D previous post.

Q: Materials question. This Daz character has many materials in various areas. Face, arms, head, etc. Can I change specific characteristics for multiple materials at once? Daz Studio has this ability: select multiple materials (surfaces), change things like specularity and it applies to all the select ones.

Pic G

Comments, critiques, advice always welcome.

I have found no solution or even a mention of this problem on the web. This makes adding parent hairs in particle edit useless for interpolated children. I think it is a bug. I’ll do the eyelashes and eyebrows without particle->mirror but it would be a time saver if it worked.

No solution for the coarse render of hair with cycles either. Looks ok if not close but this should be fixed.

maybe something about your particles Qs:
-coarse hair in your situation is I think because “Hair shape in particles”. Try playing with settings to see if better result (use cycles not Eevee for this). I advise you set Tip=0 and CloseTip=true.
-eyelashes on a thin line - just make a thin mesh for hair container, that always works for me. You can always hide the mesh with mask so only hair is shown.
-inherited materials - no such thing in blender as far as I know, but you can make a group and use that. Everything you change in group used in multiple materials effects all materials
-interpolated hair has a mind of its own, I am sure it has its uses, but for me it causes more problems than anything.

as for what I see, maybe add some randomization or kink to hair (not lashes :smiley: ) for more realism.

here is a sample image with closing and non closing hair tip

Coarse hair problem semi-solved. In the blend file for the interpolated children ignoring new parents problem (link in earlier reply, thank you @CGHUMAN for the solution to particle edit->particle->mirror + interpolated children) I saw that the hair was smooth. So some setting in my Paige project caused the coarseness.

I made a new blend file and appended the character from the first one. The hair rendered smooth. It did not have the coarseness in Pic G. Coarse is not the default behavior.

Cycles. Blender 2.83.

Fully solved would be knowing what caused the problem. I might append things from the first file until the problem happens to try to discover the cause but probably proceed with the new file and if it happens again look for the cause in recent actions.

Test image just for smoothness.

Thanks @JRupar.
The earlier pictures have some curl. Doesn’t matter for tests. All my pictures in this topic have close tip, tip=0, or both. I’m exploring putting the hair directly on the mesh now so separate meshes are counter productive to that but I’ll probably use separate hair meshes. I see several advantages for that method.

What do you mean “group used in multiple materials”? How do I make such a group?

1 Like

It is called Node Groups:

hair looks much better now, you are on the right track

Node groups. Thanks JRupar.

I appended world, scene, workspace, objects, camera, lights … into the new file and still no coarse hair. The cause of that remains a mystery but, if it happens, a work-around is to append it all into a new scene.

Playing with hair styling and accidentally made DNA dreadlocks. Dread-oxy-ribonucleic acid.

Critique this. What can be improved? What is done right?

Blender 2.90, cycles, 1500 samples, auto sampling, 1440p.

I read that Europeans have 0.04mm to 0.1mm thick hair. Generally lighter hair is thinner and more numerous while darker hair is thicker with fewer hairs. She has 85K 0.1mm thick hairs. 90K would be more realistic. Eyebrows and eyelashes a little thicker.

The model is Genesis 2 transferred from Daz as are the textures. I applied the textures Blender style and used particles for hair, brows, and lashes.

For the no makeup look I used the appropriate Daz textures, natural eyelashes, and lower skin roughness for sheen. The eyebrows need a few scattered hairs to look more natural. I ran the dynamic hair simulation for a few frames so it looks more realistic.

The finished portrait remake will be very similar to the original linked in the first post. Blender/Cycles instead of Daz/Iray. That will be after rigging for posing and facial expressions.

Next I’ll learn about rigging, animation, and using mocap. I’ve done beginner things with that. Now to increase my skills.

Comments, critiques, advice always welcome.

I am quite impressed with the progress, as always some comments from me.

The good:
-face shading

The could be improved:

  1. natural female hairline does not go like this and looks fake, look here for some refs how it should look like
  2. your hair does not look right in harsh light, maybe another look at the material, or slight light change.
  3. eyebrows looks too jagged, maybe better if used longer thicker hair and styled.
  4. the hairstyle itself looks a bit unnatural, can’t really explain it, but I think hair is flowing a bit unnaturally.

Thanks @JRupar.

Updated Updated Image

  • changed hair style
  • posted hair settings

Updated Image

  • changed lighting
  • adjusted bump height
  • used Daz SSS map
  • eye sclera SSS
  • adjusted iris material
  • 90K hairs
  • shinier skin (no makeup) with more specular and less roughness
  • brow hairs longer (JRupar), added stray brow hairs, groomed
  • adjusted hair line and restyled hair (JRupar)


Hair Settings


  • The eyebrows are have a uniform distance from the face, This is usually not trouble but at a certain angle to light it creates a flat specular highlight that looks wrong.
  • Using 50 guide hairs and interpolated child hair with kink->wave etc. produces large sheets of hair. Using 200 guides produces small strips that can resemble fettuccine.

I found that adding small amounts of random roughness and end point roughness removed some of the fettuccine look.

The first pictures looked distorted with the default 35mm camera close to the face. I changed to 100mm and moved the camera back.

Brow hairs jagged. Remember that I’m going for a mostly natural no makeup look. These strands have realistic thickness but sometimes art is more real than reality* so even thicker might work. Maybe too much skin was visible through the brows. Made them longer.

Hairline. Individuals are different. While a smooth precise curve is the most common feminine hairline some deviate from that with a more squared appearance, widow’s peak, or other. The hairline I intended for “Paige” was somewhat squared with a subdued widow’s peak similar to the example below. My attempt to do that created the “area 1” effect instead of what I wanted. Changed it to the curve and kept the peak.

Woman with widow’s peak.

Blender 2.90, cycles, 2000 samples, adaptive sampling. 1440p.


Low strength weight painting can add stray hairs with interpolated children but there is little control over where they appear. Trial and error.

“Interpolated” child hair is not interpolated. It does not interpolate between guide hairs for placement of child hairs. It spreads the children over the designated area while sort of obeying weight paint. I found where someone looked at the code and verified that. The child paths do seem interpolated from nearby guide hair.

B2.90’s 3D curves hair method works well. Longer render time.

Filmic view transform false color. I’ll use this as art in a modern architectural setting sometime.

I am the world’s greatest hair stylist.

*I learned that from Marcel Delord’s designs where he uses his artistic abilities, non-GI renderers, fake caustics, fake GI, etc. to get a realistic look.

Nazar Noschenko has an excellent tutorial for natural-looking eyebrows. He uses it on stylized characters, but here I used it for one of my more realistic portraits: Screenshot 2020-09-12 124241


Thanks @MooKorea. I’ll look at that tutorial.

Meanwhile, I made new eyebrows using guide hair and a few simple child hairs. Interpolated children are hard to control and thwart some things that are needed for this. I intended to try using guide hair only but realized that child hair offers several benefits.

This will be the last portrait for a while as I move to improving my animation abilities.

Blender 2.90, cycles, 2000 samples, adaptive sampling, 1440p.

New eyebrows. Adjusted hair, ran dynamic hair simulation for a few frames. 96K hairs. @CGHUMAN shows hair material settings for a character on his artstation. I used similar but my roughness was too low. Adjusted rim light for subtle light on top.

Blonde. I saw that the hair is almost metallic so I made it less shiny for the dark hair picture. Brunette rendered in a bit under 7 minutes. Blonde a bit over 12 minutes. The melanin amount in Principled Hair BSDF shader has a big influence on render time.

Comments, critiques, advice always welcome.

Using Auto-Rig Pro add on to rig this character.

The shoulders are very sensitive to placement of the shoulder markers. Putting them as shown, a little inward, produced the best results so far. Other placements usually make enlarged shoulder muscles when posed. Any advice about rigging shoulders? Especially from ARP users.

The skinning attached two vertex groups to this area. That area moves inward inappropriately as shown. Weight painting to remove that influence had promising results. Is modifying the weight painting a correct way to do this? Are there other methods used?

This bulge appears when the arm is raised. I think weight painting could alter that but … would you change that or leave?

A corrective smooth modifier on the mesh improves the results.

I have an untested idea about the earlier problems with coarse hair, “spray painting” guide hair making walls, and eyes and mouth parts visible in view port through the outer mesh. I had set the Clip Start and End to tiny and huge amounts. I think 0.001 and 100000. I think that effected the accuracy of various data since bits or digits were used for large numbers instead of precision. The new blend file I appended everything into had the more sensible default settings and so those things didn’t happen.

1 Like

looking good mate just keep going, the blonde hair might get a little more natural if u make it a litte less dark… im having some issues with blonde hair aswell, dark is always simpler for some reason : ) cheers mate

Thanks @rybergs.

Reading about lighting and gave Film Noir a try.