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3D Tutorials: Rendering Human Hair with Maya

This tutorial is going to be a step by step guide to help 3D drafting beginners learn more about the processes involved in modeling a human hair, styling it and rendering human hair with the use of Maya. To begin this lesson, there are some basic terms and tools a beginner needs to understand and have in other to make his or her learning process a success. These basic terminologies are:-

  • Polygon Modeling—which is the use of Maya’s polygon feature to design models
  • Model simulation—which involves testing a design while the tools you need to have are
  • A complete Maya software application and
  • A workstation—personal computer with enough memory space

In this tutorial, we shall learn the following things:

  • How to create long Maya hair
  • Styling Human hair with Maya
  • Modifying hair attributes
  • Setting up hair shading  and
  • Rendering human hair with Maya.

    3D girl hair
    Image credit:dreamstime.com

Creating Human Hair with Maya

To begin this tutorial, you shall need a head model—which can be picked from Maya’s set templates. Select your head model by right clicking on it, which will cause some mark-ups to pop up; you should then proceed to selecting the face mode. The face mode allows for surface editing now, select the surfaces on your model where you plan to design your human hair by clicking on them. Next, go to the polygon menu, click on edit mesh>duplicate face menu to create a similar object of the surfaces you selected previously. Bo to the edit menu, select the group node and click on the ungroup option before naming your work as Maya_hair.

Adjusting the UV

To make the UV of your model non-overlapping in other for your model to respond correctly intuitively to create hair commands, select the Maya_hair model, click on create UVs and select automatic mapping from the polygon menu sets on display. This allows your model respond to automatic commands. 

young face beautiful 3d woman
image credit:dreamstime.com

Creating Maya Hair System:

Maya hair system is the feature that allows you create static and dynamic models of any hair type. The hair system also provides you with the opportunity to adjust your hair choice while working with the hair stimulator. To create a hair system navigate to the dynamic menu set and click on the Hair-Create hair dropdown menu which opens an option window for your hair settings. Change the default options to the following:

  • Output setting—change to Paint Effects
  • U count—set at 40
  • V count—set at 40
  • Collectively, the U and V settings determine the amount/number of hair curves within the range of each UV
  • Randomization value—set to 0.5 because a setting of 0 means no randomization while 1 means complete randomization of the hair placement on the model’s surface
  • Points per hair—should be set to 10, this represents the amount of segments per hair
  • Equalize option—click check this option to evenly distribute hair curves across the model’s surface
  • Create rest curve—should be checked off
  • Edge bounded option—should also be checked off

    image credit:dreamstime.com

Setting your Playback settings for the Model Simulation

Finally, we have come to the moment for animating the human hair. To get this done, you have to set an animation timeline by clicking on Window>settings/preferences>preferences which pops out a preference window. On this window, select the timeline menu and make the following changes:

  • Playback speed—set playback to play every frame
  • Playback end value—set to 1000

Play your simulation by clicking on the play button under your workspace. On playing your simulation, the hair falls down due to the default Maya settings or gravity. If you notice your simulation looking stiff, increase the number of hair segments or “points per hair” till you get the perfect simulation you require.

Maya is an advanced 3D modeling and animation software that gives you the ability to choose the exact hair style you want by using the hair style simulator. The hair style simulator allows the user accomplish any hair cut style you choose. The steps needed to use the hair style simulator will be discussed in the next tutorial, so play with the different features Maya provides for designing a human hair for as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Jacob Haney is an illustrator and writer at IndiaCADworks. He specializes in 3D modeling.  He loves sharing his knowledge with others.

About the author

Atish Ranjan

Atish Ranjan is an established and independent voice dedicated to providing you with unique, well-researched and original information from the field of technology, SEO, social media, and blogging. He has in-depth knowledge of computers and tech as he pursued computer science.


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  • That’s really interesting, let me try atish.Thank you for such an informative tutorial. 🙂

  • Clean and straightforward article. Well done. Just the two woman in the last picture are scary haha =p.
    I’ve always wanted to be able to shape 3d objects with any program but never got to it… But I hear the eyes and hair would be the most difficult.

  • Maya 3D animation software it’s very helpful for 3D designer students.Thanks for sharing this informative post………..

  • I only have minor experience with Maya but have worked wit C4D for years. Have you ever worked with the hair renderer in Cinema 4D? I have a blog where I post Cinema 4D tutorials and I’ve noticed that there’s striking similarities to setting up a hair system in Maya and Cinema 4D. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • People have been experimenting with their hair styles more in this modern era as compared to early times. They want great designs. Maya software can really help in giving everyone the best desired hair style.

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