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Lifelike Beards and Hair Strands in ZBrush!

In this tutorial, learn how to create sculpted hair using various techniques in ZBrush.

Follow along as the instructor demonstrates making a beard using sculpting brushes, refining the beard with clumps and details, and using fiber mesh to create realistic hair strands.

The tutorial covers tools, settings, and methods for achieving natural-looking hair effects.

- Workflow

  • We’ll be working on the male base mesh model from the ZBrush projects for today.

  • The same principles we’ll learn today can be applied to your own personal models.

  • Append a sphere and use the Move brush to create a basic beard shape.

  • Symmetry helps a lot so don’t forget to turn it on by pressing X.

  • Dynamesh the beard on a low resolution to fix up the topology and still be able to easily manipulate the shape.

  • With a smaller Move brush, drag out some spikes from the beard.

  • This is one way of sculpting a bear/hair, there are many different ways this can be done.

  • For this class, we’ll do it fast and easy.

  • After making the spikes, Dynamesh the beard on a slightly higher resolution.

  • Make a duplicate of the beard and ZRemesh the duplicate on Adapt to have a better topology before we start going into details.

  • After ZRemeshing it, add the same or more amount of topology, using divisions, on the duplicate to match or exceed the original’s active points count.

  • Once we’ve added our divisions, go into the Subtool menu and Project the details from the original onto the duplicate with divisions.

  • To do this, make sure the layer for the original beard is on top of the duplicates, and also have the duplicate selected while using the Project tool.

  • Another important not to keep in mind is to hide the body or any other object that is visible in the workspace to prevent them from projecting onto the duplicate when using the project tool.

  • Use the DamStandard brush + Alt to create lines that will stick out to define the shape of the bear some more.

  • With the same brush, this time without holding Alt, make some brush strokes at the beginning of the beard.

  • With the provided hair brushes, make brush strokes along the beard.

  • Make some brush strokes on the face as well with the same brush.

  • Make a duplicate of the body and hide the original, we will need this to create the top hair of the character.

  • On the duplicate, go down to 3 Sub Divisions, click the Del Higher button to delete the other two divisions, then click on the Del Lower button to delete the other lower divisions and keep the 3rd one.

  • We’re going to use the MAg_Hair_Clump brush to start making the patches of hair. Since this brush is a curve brush we can control the curve settings inside the Stroke tab to help us manipulate the shapes better.

  • Dock the Stroke tab on the side of your workspace by clicking the small button on the top left corner when you open the tab.

  • In the Curve section, disable Snap and turn on Lock Start.

  • Doing this will keep the beginning of the curve stable and prevent the brush from snapping on the mesh.

  • Begin adding small strokes of hair on the mesh, you can shape the curve line to bend the strokes of hair.

  • Do this till you have a nice patch of her on the top back of the head.

  • Once you are done with the patch, turn on the line frame, Ctrl + Shift click on the body twice to hide it, then click on the Split Hidden option in the Subtool menu to split the body and the patch of hair.

  • Duplicate the patch and use it to create more hair on the bottom of the original patch, use the gizmo and Move brush to scale and shape it.

  • Lift up the front of the patches more so that it has room to add more hair to it.

  • With the same brush make a new patch on the back, use that patch to duplicate, and place it on the rest of the head to save you the time and effort to make the rest of the hair.

  • For the front make new brush strokes with the same curve brush to finish the top of the hair.


  • In this class, we’ll learn about the hair tool ins ZBrush called FiberMesh.

  • We’ll use a sphere to see the various tools FiberMesh has to offer.

  • Mask half of the sphere and smooth out the masking till it forms a gradient.

  • Look for the FiberMesh menu on the right side of the workspace and activate the Preview.

  • We can see a patch of hair appearing on the masked part of the sphere.

  • MaxFibers is the number of hairs generated by FiberMesh.

  • The Length controls the length of each hair.

  • If we click on the Length Profile, a curve will appear that shows the length of the root and tip of each hair.

  • The left side is for the root while, the right side is for the tip and the middle part controls the size between the root and tip.

  • We can control the sizes by moving the dots on the curve up and down.

  • Up to make it longer, down to make it shorter.

  • We can also add more points to the curve by clicking and dragging on the curve where there isn’t a point.

  • If we want to remove a point, simply grab it and move it out of the curve graph.

  • The Width Profile is also a curve graph that controls the width of the root and tip.

  • It functions the same way as the Length Profile graph.

  • Coverage controls how much surface the hair covers.

  • There are different sliders for the Root and Tip of the hair for the Coverage.

  • The Gravity will always be at 0.5 by default.

  • It is the simulation of the gravity for the hair.

  • If we increase the value to 1, gravity will have a greater impact on the hairs.

  • If we turn it off all the way to 0, the hairs will stand up as if there are in space.

  • Below Color Profile we can change the color of the Base and Tip of each hair.

  • Clicking the base or the tip button will open up a color square where we can choose separate colors for the root and tip of the hair.

  • There is also another interesting thing we can do with the Color of the hair.

  • Turn off the preview on the FiberMesh, turn on the RGB, and fill the sphere with a flat white color in the Color tab.

  • Afterward, use the Paint Brush to add 3 different colors on top of the sphere.

  • Mask the top where you’ve placed the colors and smooth out the mask.

  • Turn on FiberMesh Preview again, in the color options if your Base and Tip color are at a low value, the hairs will take up the color that you’ve placed on the sphere.

  • Here is an example of how we can add hair on an ape.

  • Mask out the body except for the parts we don’t want to have hair like the hands, feet, and face,

  • Smooth out the masking and activate the FiberMesh Preview.

  • Then adjust the MaxFibers, Length, and Gravity to fix the fur.

  • Once you are satisfied with the results, click Accept in the FiberMesh options to finalize the fur.

  • A new subtool will appear with the FiberMesh fur.

  • We can use the Groom brushes by pressing BG and picking any of them to brush out the fur.

  • If you want to add more detail to the previous hair we’ve made, group up some of the duplicates together and make sure you have the MAg_Hair_Detail brush on with the Thin2 selected.

  • Open the Stroke tab, and in the Curve Functions only have Polygroups turned on before clicking the Frame Mesh button.

  • This will turn all the different polygroups into their own curve.

  • Make the red brush smaller and click on the patch of hair.

  • Now we’ll have more curves inside each strand.

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