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Lifelike 3D Hair with Xgen

Learn how to create realistic 3D hair using Xgen in this tutorial.

Follow along as the instructor demonstrates how to place and shape hair guides, apply modifiers, and use region maps to achieve natural-looking hair.

The tutorial also covers creating a ponytail and adding finishing touches.

- Workflow

  • Today we’ll be working with Region Maps to help us make realistic hair on a head mesh.

  • Add a sphere in the scene and create a Description and a Collection if you don’t already have one set up.

  • Always make sure you have Placing and Shaping Guides selected before creating the Description.

  • Once we’ve made the description, use the Add Guides tool to add a couple of guides on the sphere.

  • Use the scale tool to scale them up to be longer.

  • After adding the guides, use the Sculpting Guieds tool to curve them.

  • To mirror one set of guides to the opposite side of an object or a mesh, select all the guides then click on the Mirror Guieds tool in the XGen tool.

  • When we click the preview button we can see how the hair will spawn on the sphere with the placed guides.

  • To make the hair look tidy and give it a hairline we need to create a Region Map.

  • Scroll down in the Primitives settings til you find the Region Control settings.

  • Here, in the Region Map options there is a small arrow pointing down at the very end, click it and then click on the Create Map.

  • A small window will show up, for now just click Create.

  • A window will open up, similar to the one we used to make the Denstiy Mask, here we will click on the Color option and pick out a very saturated color to help us see where we are placing the Region Map.

  • Start coloring with the blue color on one half of the sphere.

  • After you’re done coloring, click on the save button in the Region Map settings to save the map on the sphere.

  • At first, it will look like nothing has happened but that is because we haven’t set up the value for the Region Mask.

  • Add in 1 and click save again to see the difference.

  • We can see that the hair is in a way split into two parts and they’re not fully meeting in the middle.

  • That is because the Region Map is preventing the hairs from the other guides to mesh with the hairs on the Region Map.

  • Another useful tool to know when using XGen is the Rebuild option.

  • To show an example of what that does, add a new guide to the sphere and curve it with the Shaping Guieds tool.

  • As the guide is selected, click on the Rebuild button in Primitive Attributes. A new window will show up asking for a value input, the higher the value the better the result.

  • In this case, we’ll be adding a value of 8, after pressing the Ok button we can see that we have more points to our guide, and can be easier to bend with the Shaping Guieds tool.

  • Now that we went through some of the basic tools in XGen, we can move on to the head mesh.

  • Select the faces where the hairline and hair will grow out of from the model.

  • After having the faces selected, click on the Create New Description button. In the new window that will open, write the name of the description and select the PLacing and shaping Guieds option at the end before clicking on the Create button.

  • Add your first guides in the middle of the head above the forehead, scale, and rotate it before using the SHaping Guieds tool.

  • Shape the guide to flow back onto the head.

  • If you’re not satisfied with how little the guide is bending, you can use the Rebuild tool to add more points to the guide.

  • We’re going to make a half-ponytail hairstyle on the mesh.

  • The first image shows where the guides are going to flow and how the Region Maps will be distributed to better separate the patches of hair.

  • Continue building and adding guides to the head.

  • Check how the hair looks by turning on the preview/eye icon.

  • To add more hair, increase the hair Density value.

  • Add some more hair in the back of the scalp, and make sure the guides don’t just come out of the top of the head but also below the head since hair grows from all around the hair and not just from one point.

  • After adding the guides, select all of them and click the Mirror Guides tool to mirror the guides on the other side of the head.

  • Make sure you add more guides in the middle of the head if there aren’t enough guides even after the mirror.

  • Add guides on the front of the head to make the bangs.

  • We can see there is some hair going down the forehead, to fix this add a Density Mask.

  • Change the brush type to a harder brush and mark out the front of the head to prevent hair strands from appearing on the front of the forehead.

  • To make the hair look better start adding Modifiers.

  • The first one is a Clumping Modifier.

  • Click on the Setup Maps to Generate Guides on the mesh, and Save the changes.

  • Add a Noise Modifier to make the hair look more natural.

  • Change the Magnitude to add more variety in the Noise modifier.

  • Add a Coil Modifier to curl up the strands, and change the setting on the Coil to fix the curliness on the roots and tips of the strands.

  • Add a Cut Modifier to shorten some of the strands.

  • To do this, add two values in the Amount section.

  • Add another Clump Modifier, like before, click on Setup Maps, and Generate some guides before saving the changes.

  • Adjust the Clump Scale and the Clump value.

  • The next thing we’ll do is add Region Maps to control the positioning of the strands.

  • In the Region Control settings, open the arrow at the Region Map section and click the Create Map button.

  • Select a harder brush in the brush settings and a saturated color.

  • Mark out the top half of the head, with a different color mark the back of the head, then with two other colors mark the guides from the bangs.

  • Add some more guides at the back of the hair to make some strands for the ponytail.

  • Don’t make them too long since we will be making a new description separately for the ponytail.

  • Make the ponytail for the hair band, nothing too fancy, just something to be a placeholder for what the ponytail is being held by.

  • Select faces on the back of the head where the ponytail will be.

  • After selecting the faces, click the Description tab and select the Create Description button.

  • Add a new name for the description, make sure it will be in the correct Collection, and select the Placing and shaping Guieds.

  • Before adding the guides for the ponytail, make sure you are on the correct Description.

  • Add guides for the ponytail.

  • Like with the hair, we’re going to add modifiers to add the last touches to the ponytail to make it more natural.

  • Add a Clumping Modifier with a lower density and Generate guides before saving.

  • Add a second Clump Modifier but this time just click on the Guide button so the clumping happens on the Guides themselves.

  • Add a Noise Modifier and change the Magnitude Value.

  • Add a Coli Modifier, and change the Count value, Radius, and Radius Scale.

  • If some of the hairs are sticking out, change to the Hair Description, select the guides that are causing the issue, and scale them down or remove them altogether.

  • End Result.

Bonus - Hair Strays

  • To make our hair look more realistic and a bit messy we can add some strands of hair that stray away.

  • To do this, we’ll first add another Noise Modifier and change the Magnitude value to 10.

  • In the Primitives setting increase the Density value to 200 and the CV Count to 50.

  • In the Description tab, select the Set Stray Percentage option.

  • Add a value of 1.5 in the new window that will show up, this will determine how many strays will appear on the hair.

  • Back in the second Noise Modifier, type stray() in the Mask option, this will make the strays appear.

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