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Hair simulation types

There are various ways in which hair can be simulated using a physics engine.

Next I am going to present 3 of them. For these simulations I used CS for rendering, and for physics the Bullet plugin, that as of recently supports soft bodies, thanks to my mentor Christian Van Brussel.

  • Solid geometry

Perhaps the easiest way to simulate hair is as standard collision objects, such as spheres or cylinders. Although this representation has the best performance, it only covers some particular types of hair like the one below:

  • Soft Body Dynamics

Another approach is to use soft body dynamics, and represent the hair as a … cloth. A larger number of hair styles can be simulated using this method and it also looks more convincing. You can see in the next video both Krystal’s (that’s the model’s name BTW) hair and her skirt represented as soft bodies (drawn in green):

  • Ropes

This is probably the best and somehow the most intuitive way to simulate hair: as ropes. But, as you already know, there are way to much (i.e. millions) hair strands to be simulated individually as physics objects. So the trick here is to choose (either random or better yet using a density map) lets say a hundred hair strands to be guide hairs, represented as ropes. And for the rest of the hair strands just interpolate. You can see these guide hairs (hopefully) in black:

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