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Tutorial: Creating Custom Fuse Hair

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Creating Alpha Hair

Polygon Strip/Alpha hair is a mesh consisting of numerous strips of polygons laid over each other to create a layered effect. The texture is based off the Allegorithmic hair substance which has dynamic parameters for changing color and highlight position. Only the alpha/transparency is created by the artists for the hair Detail Diffuse map. Artists then need to create a variety of polygon planes to place all over the character's heads to create hairstyles. While more difficult to create, polygon strip hair used with transparency can create a more realistic representation of actual hair.

 

Start from a base character.

Hair is modeled onto a base character.  You can use either the MaleFitA and FemaleFitA provided in the Content Creator Pack or you can model your clothing to fit onto a custom body you have created.  In order to use the hair in Fuse you must import the custom body first.

Create the hair.

Create simple polygon planes of varying lengths and widths. These will be duplicated many times to make the hairstyles and it's important to create them first so their UVs will be consistent and easily modifiable.


Assign a texture version of the Fuse hair substance as a texture to preview the length and appearance of the hair on the planes and adjust your UV mapping.  You can find the default substance texture in the Content Creator Pack (AlphaHair_DIFF.psd).


Open the texture in an editing software such as Photoshop and paint various hair strands by using a layer mask for transparency.  Save the image as a .png with transparency.

 

Assign a material to the polygon planes in your 3D program and name it 'hair'. The transparency should automatically be connected to the material so the hair should show up in the viewer.

 

Layer the polygon planes on the head to build up volume and the style. The planes should not intersect each other or the head of the character. Try to keep a small amount of space between the planes and the head if possible.

Combine the geometry by selecting the inner most planes to the outer most for correct transparency sorting.  Objects selected first will be rendered 'behind', while objects selected last will be rendered 'in front'.

 

Extract your maps.

Map sizes should all be 2048 x 2048 dimensions.

All maps should be 8 bit RGB .pngs

Naming the maps correctly will speed up the import process; they will be automatically linked.  The file naming structure for imported Fuse hair is

Category_CharacterModeledOn_NameofItem_NameofMap

Example:  Hair_FemaleFitA_SidePonyTailAlpha_AO.png

 

Alpha Switch (recommended)

The alpha switch map enables the transparency of the Detail Diffuse map.  For hair that is entirely 'alpha' the map should be entirely black.

 

Detail Diffuse Map (recommended)

A PNG texture map of hair strokes with transparency.

 

Gather your final files for import.

With the example of a mesh called Hair_FemaleFitA_SidePonyTailAlpha.obj the recommended file names for importing into Fuse are the following:

  • Your hair geometry:  Hair_FemaleFitA_SidePonyTailAlpha.obj
  • Alpha Switch Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_AlphaSwitch.png
  • Detail Diffuse Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_DetailDiff.png

Note:  The naming is not strict, but following this format has helped us to stay organized.

 

Import your hair into Fuse.

Within Fuse choose the File > Import > Import Clothing option.  The import wizard will open and guide you through the import process.  After importing use the texture mode to adjust the texture as you want the hair to appear by default and use the "Set Default" button to save it.  Whenever you apply the hair it will use the new default substance setting.

 

 

Creating Mesh Hair

Sculpted Hair textures are a bit different than clothing in that they will need to be hand-painted.  A user will be able to change the base hair color, so this will be a very similar process to the Fuse body textures where only the variation from that base color is painted.

 

Start from a base character.

Hair is modeled onto a base character.  You can use either the MaleFitA and FemaleFitA provided in the Content Creator Pack or you can model your clothing to fit onto a custom body you have created.  In order to use the hair in Fuse you must import the custom body first.

Focus on the sculpt.

Like the characters, the quality of the sculpt is very important to a good mesh hair asset.

 

 

Create a low resolution mesh.

Where the body has specific UV requirements, mesh hair does not, so create whatever topology and UV layout you'd like.

Considerations:

  • should have a single UV layout per item.
  • should not extend beyond the 0-1 UV space.
  • should not overlap
  • should not be flipped
  • try to place UV seams where they won't be seen.

Average Triangle Count:

  • Alpha Hair:  4,000
  • Mesh Hair: 1,000

 

Extract your maps.

Map sizes should all be 2048 x 2048 dimensions.

All maps should be 8 bit RGB .pngs

Naming the maps correctly will speed up the import process; they will be automatically linked.  The file naming structure for imported Fuse hair is

Category_CharacterModeledOn_NameofItem_NameofMap

Example:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_NM.png

 

Normal Map (recommended)

You can extract the normal map from your sculpting program.  This is where much of the detail of your hair comes from.

 

Detail Diffuse Map (recommended)

Mesh hair, unlike other assets in Fuse, has a diffuse texture that should have hand painted hair strokes.  The strokes should be painted over transparency or saved at 50% transparency as shown.

 

 

 

Ambient Occlusion Map (recommended)

The ambient occlusion map is very important to generating the diffuse color map in Fuse. It can be created in xNormal by emxporting the high-res sculpt as an .obj and using it as both the source and target mesh. I highly recommend a program called Knald which uses the normal map and low-res base mesh as inputs to generate the AO map. You can also export a cavity map and multiply it on top of the ambient occlusion to further define the sculpted detail.

 

 

Detail Extra Diffuse (optional)

If your hair has extra details like hair bands you can choose to create a detail overlay or detail extra map.  The detail extra map will be overlaid on top of the hair textures and can have it's hue and a few other settings adjusted.

 

Alpha Switch (optional)

The alpha switch map enables the transparency of the Detail Diffuse map.  For hair that is entirely 'mesh' the map should be entirely white.  Since the default for Fuse is 'mesh' hair, this map is optional for mesh hair.

 

Occlusion Mask (recommended)

The occlusion mask is unique to clothing and hair.  It is painted on the character the hair is fitted over.  The occlusion mask will remove body geometry that is covered by the hair.  With the hair item placed over the character, paint the polygons that are to be deleted in black.  The rest should be white, and will be preserved.

 

Gather your final files for import.

With the example of a mesh called Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh.obj the recommended file names for importing into Fuse are the following:

  • Your hair geometry:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh.obj
  • Normal Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_NM.png
  • Occlusion Mask:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_OccMask.png
  • Ambient Occlusion Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_AO.png
  • Detail Diffuse Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_DetailDiff.png
  • Detail Extra Map:  Hair_FemaleFitA_ShortCroppedMesh_DetailExtra.png

Note:  The naming is not strict, but following this format has helped us to stay organized.

 

Import your hair into Fuse.

Within Fuse choose the File > Import > Import Clothing option.  The import wizard will open and guide you through the import process.  After importing use the texture mode to adjust the texture as you want the hair to appear by default and use the "Set Default" button to save it.  Whenever you apply the hair it will use the new default substance setting.

 

 

Combining Alpha and Mesh Hair

Sometimes you may want to create hair that has both mesh and alpha styles such as a bun or braid with realistic bangs or stray hairs.  You can do this by combining the techniques above.  First start by sculpting the mesh sections of the hair.  After your sculpt is done, create the low poly and add on the polygon strips.

 

 

 

Alpha Switch (required)

To have proper alpha and non-alpha sections you will need to create an alpha switch map.  Where an alpha hairstyle is completely black and a mesh hairstyle is completely white, the alpha switch map for an alpha mesh hair should have both sections - white for mesh, black for alpha.  The UV shells for each type should be completely masked - not the strands of the alpha hair.

 

Normal (recommended)

The mesh sections of your hair should have a normal map while the alpha regions do not need one.  The normal map for the alpha sections will be controlled by the Fuse hair substance.

 

Detail Diffuse (optional)

The detail diffuse should be painted based on the 2 techniques and correlate to the alpha switch

Occlusion/AO (recommended)

It is recommended to create Occlusion and Ambient Occlusion maps as normal with mesh hair.

 

Gather your final files for import.

With the example of a mesh called Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid.obj the recommended file names for importing into Fuse are the following:

  • Your hair geometry:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid.obj
  • Normal Map:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_NM.png
  • Occlusion Mask:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_OccMask.png
  • Ambient Occlusion Map:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_AO.png
  • Detail Diffuse Map:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_DetailDiff.png
  • Alpha Switch Map:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_AlphaSwitch.png
  • Detail Extra Map:  Hair_MaleFitA_VikingBraid_DetailExtra.png

Note:  The naming is not strict, but following this format has helped us to stay organized.

Import your hair into Fuse.

Within Fuse choose the File > Import > Import Clothing option.  The import wizard will open and guide you through the import process.  After importing use the texture mode to adjust the texture as you want the hair to appear by default and use the "Set Default" button to save it.  Whenever you apply the hair it will use the new default substance setting.

 

 

 

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