3DS Max: How to Draw the NURBS Curves for Hair

show more Drawing the NURBS curves for hair provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Ryan Kittleson as part of the Modeling a Character in 3ds Max show less
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Drawing the NURBS curves for hair

Hair is probably the part of a character that can be approached in the greatest number of different ways. First there's an infinite variety of hairstyles to choose from. And then there's all different types of hair systems to choose from, like dynamically simulated hair, textured planes, NURBS surfaces, polygons, et cetera. Every hairdo in 3D is a fresh challenge. This course has to focus somewhere, so I've given this character a hairstyle that is relatively common, and I am going to create it in a method that works for a fairly broad range of cartoony looks.

Since this is a modeling course and not a dynamics or effects course, I'll be making modeled hair. It's very much a different workflow from what we've been doing so far, so I'll take it slow, and I'll explain everything that you need to know. Once you get good at this technique, you'll find yourself using it to create all kinds of things, not just for hair. So let's look at the character's hair for a second in the concept art. You can see that it's kind of clumpy, and it's got all these different strands to it. There's lots of ways you could make this.

One tedious way would be to build all of these clumps out of polygon cubes and tweak their shapes one by one. But there is a way that's faster and more fun, and it can teach us some really powerful modeling tools along the way. What we're going to do is use NURBS curves to get the basic clump pattern drawn in really quickly. Some people get frightened by the complexity of NURBS, but not to worry; I'm only going to use their most simple functions for this. What we are going to do in this video is draw curves on the surface of the model.

Each curve is going to establish the shape and length of each hair clump. Let's set some of the Object Properties for Hank. He is frozen right now, so let's unfreeze him, and let's click on him and go to his Object Properties. We want to make him see-through, and then let's Freeze him again so it doesn't get in the way of what we are doing, okay. Okay, we are going to be using Snaps. Let's go up to Snaps and right-click. We want to build a snap to faces and polygons, so let's turn on Face. Also, let's look in the Options.

We want to make sure that we can snap to frozen objects. Okay, that should be good. Let's get Snaps turned on here. Now let's start making these NURBS curves. So let's go up to Create > NURBS, and pick CV Curve. Now I just want to test this out so it make sure it's working right. So I am just clicking on the Hank model--I am going to right-click to lock that in--and let's rotate around and see what happened. All right, looks like the curve is being created on the surface of the model; that's exactly what we want. I am just going to delete that. Okay, before we continue, let's get any unnecessary objects out of the way.

So I am just going to go into Move mode and select all of these objects here and let's right-click and go to Hide Selection. All right, let's get back into CV Curve mode, so let's click CV Curve. And I want to draw these curves from kind of the crown of the head and then have them all fanning out from there, so just click and just start creating these different points. I make roughly four to seven clips per hair clump. Then when you are done, just right-click to lock that in. And we are still in CV Curve mode, so you can just go ahead and create as many different clumps as you want.

You can always add more later, so don't worry about getting them exactly right, and you can always adjust your position and tweak them later. But I just want to kind of get a general sense of where these different hair clumps are going to be flowing. So after skipping ahead, you can see that we've got a bunch of hair curves here. I am going to right-click to lock that in and hit W so that I get out of CV Curve mode. So that's a start to our hair clumps. You'll find that there's lots of times when it's useful to snap curves on the surface of other objects. Not just to make cartoony hair; you could also make wires that wrap around a telephone pole or vines wrapping around a tree, or pretty much anything else you can imagine.

This technique can save hours of work that would otherwise be spent manually fitting curves to a surface.

Drawing the NURBS curves for hair
Video duration: 4m 11s 4h 31m Intermediate


Drawing the NURBS curves for hair provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Ryan Kittleson as part of the Modeling a Character in 3ds Max

3D + Animation
3ds Max
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