View Full Version : Hair like in "Shadow of the Colossus"?

12 December 2005, 07:54 AM
Does anyone know the proper way to create the hair effects in "Shadow of the Colossus"?
I assume its multi layered sets of polygon, but it looks very different from other hair effects I've seen. Or if anyone has any good links to hair creation for games would be helpfull as well.Thanks.

12 December 2005, 08:45 AM

12 December 2005, 08:47 AM
This link will be of helpful for you.
They used Sasquatch to make the texture.

12 December 2005, 09:09 AM
Wow, six layers to make that hair effect.Do all the extra polys make it an more rare effect, or is it just really difficult to make the required alpha maps? I have Shave&Haircut, so I could make some good hair textures if needed, but the alphas look like they change from layer to layer(maybe I'm wrong), how do they go about doing that for realistic hair(maybe adjusting the contrast or levels of the alpha in PS?)?
Thanks for the link though, the pictures were very helpful.

12 December 2005, 11:42 AM
that fuzzy hair type looks to be a shader to me.

12 December 2005, 11:47 AM
if only it wouldn´t be in japanese!
It looks extremely interesting..

12 December 2005, 12:37 PM
if only it wouldn´t be in japanese!
It looks extremely interesting..

Gotta aggree there :sad:

12 December 2005, 01:03 PM
I also agree, surely there is a kind person who can read that language who would be willing to give a quick shortened overview of whats said?

12 December 2005, 09:00 PM
google can translate it to a certain extent. Go to google language tools :

Then enter the page's url into the translator field and pick a language translation.

12 December 2005, 09:26 PM
better yet, visit this thread over at Gaming Age forums:
Its a break down, translated and links directly to images. The fur shading is not an actual shader. You can clearly see it is made of polygonal shells. I will post my work on my Klonoa model soon which uses the same technique.

12 December 2005, 09:44 PM
thats an incredibly cool and informative read there, thanks jfalconer.
And i cant wait to see yours too!

12 December 2005, 10:24 PM
Thanks for that link jfalconer.I saw your thread with klonoa, the model looks great.I'll post pics if I get any decent looking tests of making the fur.

12 December 2005, 11:47 PM

I modeled an arm, and set up some sections that will act as hair.I'm off to make a good texture of fur.

12 December 2005, 08:46 PM
You can look up the original NVidia Fur Papers from GDC 2 or 3 years ago. This Shell technique isn't new. I am guessing they wrote a custom script to convert or back the shells properly using Sas. The animation of the shells is best to be done procedurally too from what the Nvidia people told me a while back.

But it does look great in game. I am also super impressed that they used LW for the whole thing.

Wayne Adams
12 December 2005, 09:09 PM
Actually, those furs on the colossi are also used on the ground in the game as well. as grass, flowers and other foliage. Basically, you pull a face (or faces) off of the object you wish to be "furred" then in your texture editor i.e. photoshop, you make a texture in a series of dots, then produce an alpha channel in that texture to show only the dots. Then the face is duplicated anywhere from three to six or so times and that texture is applied to it. I tried it with grass when SOTC came out. It's a nice effect, but you have to play with the variables a little (amount of dots, amount of fur faces and the spacing between each of them.)

12 December 2005, 09:13 PM
been told its a very very old technique (i havn't been doing cg for long at all so i cant say)
its a nice one though

01 January 2006, 06:48 AM
Just a quick note: if you're using this technique for anything in unreal, make sure the material order of the "shells" is in the same order as their height, or it probably won't sort correctly with itself.

01 January 2006, 11:53 PM
I don't think this is how it was in Shadow of the Colossus, they use the same texture on all the layers, not dots, but they move the UVs of each shells a bit to create the effect of a line of hair. Otherwise you will always end up with pyramid-like effects. Regardless, I have not seen anyone pull it off properly compared to the game. It looks quite different, it would be nice if someone managed to pull it off as well.

01 January 2006, 05:34 AM
Making an alpha that looks good is the hard part so far.I am going to try to use some reference picks of bear or wolf fur.

01 January 2006, 06:25 AM
Heres what I'm using it for.. to create some grass. Not 100% sure if I'm going to keep it though. Anyway, for anyone else wanting to try this out in unreal, you can use oscillators that move slightly less each layer down to create a swaying effect.

01 January 2006, 06:41 AM
The fur effect may have not been completely original, but the use of it in this game is very creative considering the PS2 is not capable of this on it's own. All of the effects in this game pushed the PS2 to the wall, I love to see that. Their use of all of these strategies created some of the best outdoor scenes I've seen on any platform.

01 January 2006, 06:35 AM
Nice grass, does it use an alpha that tiles?

I wonder if the same can be done with fur/hair. In some of the "making of" pics it almost looks that way.So far all my attempts to make a fur looked butt ugly.... :banghead:

01 January 2006, 04:02 PM
It uses 5 256x256 tiling alpha textures :D

01 January 2006, 02:05 AM
The fur effect may have not been completely original, but the use of it in this game is very creative considering the PS2 is not capable of this on it's own
Hu? It's just polygons with alpha-test :hmm:

01 January 2006, 02:17 AM
If I remember correctly I saw a similar fur effect on the ati rendermonkey tool shown as examples.

01 January 2006, 03:30 AM
Hu? It's just polygons with alpha-test :hmm:

Have you ever seen studios try so hard to create such effects? Like the HDR in this game, they are cheating the hardware creatively.

01 January 2006, 08:34 AM
After i saw this thread, I got interest in see how this fur was on game.
But I didn`t have playstation at home, so I bought one and the game.

The thing that I was most impressed was the diference on furs tons, exactly like animal fur, where is dirty is more darker ,where is clean more lighter.
Let say if they use a texture that is made by alpha channel in whatever small dots or thin short lines, still needs to duplicate the size of the texture apllied to the model to get those thin small hairs.
In this case will duplicate also the color, what will leave with similar sequence of color pattern.

I`m really sorry for my explanation, I`m really awful in explain.:rolleyes:

So let me continue.

In the Colossus number 13 or 14 I belive, he has kind of gray lookinf fur, and that makes more easy to see that he doesn`t have those kind of color flipping over and over.
so how they made it???:shrug:
Ok and see that they are using vertex lighting, but I belive this is not enough.

And like in the image i posted, you can see the `hair` are pointed...
Well if they use polygons to make this effect, so when turn the camera and see it from side you probably will see a flat end on those hairs.

But in this case you see a pointed hairs....once more HOW THEY MADE IT?:shrug:

For me who found this method of fur creation it is a ALIEN...

Can some `Alien` help me out with this?:thumbsup:

01 January 2006, 01:51 PM
I don't make game models (though mine are often low poly enough) but I'd have to say the "layering" had something to do with the pointy look from multiple angles. :)

01 January 2006, 01:39 AM
I tried to just paint the fur out instead of using dots.It still needs some work/perfecting.I think if I flare the polys near the fur edges it might look more wispy too maybe.C&C welcomed or any comments to help improve it.

01 January 2006, 02:11 AM
Stormgetto: its still shells the same way, just that instead of random dots they are more in lines like brush strokes, but still dots. and i think a few normal plane method is thrown in randomly to break it up. that way you get them like that.

01 January 2006, 07:42 AM

One more guess.

I did a small test....just with a simply sphere, with 180 tri and with all the extra poly I got 1028 just to make this fur effect.
So I wonder, how many polygons has a complex model like colossus with the fur?

And also I`d used just 4 layers for the fur, the colossus as I saw they use 5.

Teyon: your guardian is cool, I really like the front legs with looks like spiders leg.
so I still can`t figure it out how to make those pointy hairs just layering the polygons.
I tried quite a lot with all kind of textures, but I still can`t make it.

milesbaskett: your arms looks nice, but how many layers have you got there? and if you going to near the polys to make the edges, how many poly you are thinking in use to make those edges?

GLandolina: I will try after as you are saying, like strokes...but those normal planes..can you explain me better?:)

01 January 2006, 08:19 AM
I was looking at those snap from the game and I would like to know what your guys think about it.

only on those pointy hairs the texture pixels looks more small, it has a diference between the area that looks layered and those part where you can see pointy hairs.

Are they diferent texture and polygons?

01 January 2006, 08:20 AM
this is the snap.

01 January 2006, 05:43 PM
I think thats all they are really doing.Using the layered shells(like in the sotc screen shots),as well as some polys with the spikey looking fur.Just like you pointed out in your picture that you posted.
For the arm that I did I have 6 layers, although 5 would probably do.I used only one tiling alpha map for that test.What makes it seen to have more volume is how its colored.Basicly the bottom layer(closer to the skin) is darkest, and the color gets lighter the further outside from the skin.
This is what my alpha map looks like pattern wise,I lifted it directly of the collossus texures they used.Needs work though.

01 January 2006, 07:44 PM
There's some info from the Devs of SOTC:

01 January 2006, 06:19 AM
While the making-of article makes it clear that they used layer alphas, it does not explain IMO how they managed to produce strands of hair rather than hair spikes like everyone has so far produced (as far as I know). I really wonder if they simply moved the UVs of each layer to produce a hair strand effect, or if there is more complexity in that regard. If I had the time I'd give it a shot!:)

01 January 2006, 11:10 AM

i could have sworn that someone had already posted this link but perhaps it was on another forum. anyway, check it out. loads of useful info on the hair thing and also loads of other subjects too.
from the quick skim that i've had through it this is what i understand.....(probably wrong)

they get the hair texture from a hair plug-in. so actual geometry i guess.
the shells or maybe uv's are somehow offset depending on camera angle (not sure about that bit)
fins are used but they fade-in to view only when they are near the silhoutte of the model. again i guess this would depend on the angle of the plane to the camera.
anyway, check it out. the results seem quite good.
it's the .pdf document you want though it seems to be a little corrupt or perhaps it's just my works computer. here goes....


01 January 2006, 01:50 PM
Phil "Osirus", Stormgetto et al,
i think they are using both layered and fanned polys to create the grass, the layered gives a good effect while the main mesh is perpendiculr, while the fanned out polys with alphas give a good effect when adjacent.

01 January 2006, 08:38 PM
Thanks for the link to the English summary, very helpful.

I saved MS' bunny demo exe from Jed Lengyel's website, but now that MS has removed it, they won't let me share it with anyone else. :( I asked, but the EULA forbids redistribution. Pisses me off, but I'm not going to risk MS legal action by posting it somewhere. Don't PM me for it. Maybe petition MS, it's a really cool demo. Sorry to dangle this in front of you, but if there was some way I could share it without legal hassles, I'd do it.

Anyhow, if you can find it online somewhere, it's a great way to see fins-n-shells fur in action. It has a number of interactive controls to examine the effect in detail. Also includes the textures they used on the bunny.

Apparently ATI's Rendermonkey includes a tool to generate the fin/shell textures for you, from a volumetric procedural texture. Might help.

A couple links to chew on.

Jed's PDF in html format (to see the pictures follow the top link)

NVIDIA's paper on fur.

NVIDIA's Wolfman demo and a making-of interview...

ATI's bear demo...

The Furrier demo includes the original bunny textures...

01 January 2006, 08:49 PM
OK, the "furrier" demo actually works, showing most what the bunny demo did, except the fins are not very apparent. In fact, I couldn't see them at all. Anyhow, you really should play with "furrier" to get a sense of how Shadows of the Colossus was made.

01 January 2006, 02:33 AM
this is some of the coolest info out there on this subject. i have to try it out sometime

01 January 2006, 07:22 AM

the more i think bout it, the more redundant shells become.
i think it had a place in SOTC. but on your average character model, it really doesn't seem to have the benefit.

the reason i say this is because... this technique is all about getting the fur effect when the camera is face-on to the "shells". but in most cases this doesn't happen with game characters. and even this "new" technique relies on alpha fins to provide the silhoette, which all good games artists have been doing for ages. i admit, i was strung in and was trying to get a good result for this "fur" thing. but there are many examples out tere of fur done on game characters that looks just as good, by using alpha "fins". i can only really imagine this tech being used for stuff like grss etc from now on. sorry about the spelling, just got a new keyboard that's not veru user friendlt :)

flame me if you think i'm wrong. but i think it really is a fad. (nothing wrong with that though)
good luck to you guys trying to get the "fur". (have you checked out the link i posted? good info in there) it's a couple of posts up. loads of interesting stuff on that site :)


01 January 2006, 06:57 PM
ya know rob I agree with you on most points, the shell technique does have a pretty limited ammount of instances where it works really well as far as creating hair/fur styles. But it does work great for characters with shorter hair or fur. Such as an army guy with a crew cut. But hey that's me, someone else out there would probably think it looks like crap :P

01 January 2006, 10:40 PM
Thanks for the links ROB_BEDDALL.I think I have it figured out now, thanks for all the help and info guys.I am going to add some fins with fur textures to see what that looks like as well.Here's what I got, as well as the 128x128 alpha tile.

01 January 2006, 02:11 PM

thta's looking pretty damn cool at the minute.
i think you will have nailed it once you get some fins on there.
what i found though is that the fins only seem to work when viewed face on to the camera.
they mess up the shell effect when viewed at close angles to the camera. so now we just need to fins a way to make them have more opacity for the close angles and we'll have a result.


01 January 2006, 11:26 PM
I just saw some review from the game and the fur looks quite simple to me. The thing is to use a different texture for each layer, which is propably done by a plugin or rendered from hq fur.

in other words...
make pretty fur, then render 5 times from the top and increase camera clipping each time.

01 January 2006, 11:48 PM
An environment artist I worked with used shell technique for grass on terrain ...worked nicely.

In really distant shots for RTS games ive seen multiple quads sandwiched close together with alpha wagon wheels textures.... gives an illusion of thickness to spokes and tread.

THos technique is a good one to keep in the back of your head it comes in handy sometimes.

a lot of really good info in this thread don't limit yourself to just thinking about fur and hair

01 January 2006, 01:22 AM
i've used it for grass also... and a tennis ball that needed to be seen close up aswell as other things.

01 January 2006, 02:26 PM
XAQT has the right approach. Lengyel and Hoppe mention in their research paper that they used a particle-generation approach to creating the shell and fin textures, so the shells actually get continuity.

milesbaskett, you're not really getting that connectivity between your shells, and I think your effect would be much stronger if you did, especially if you added fins, since these should use the same hair style as the shells, for the best effect.

01 January 2006, 01:22 PM

would it be possible to use the hair tools with max to create these "staged" renders?
i've never used it so i have no idea if the camera clipping thing would work or not.
if you don't think that would work then do you have any other suggestions that i could try?


01 January 2006, 02:22 PM
It might work, try it. You'll want to generate the hair on a flat plane, and you'll want to arrange the hairs somehow so they'll tile at the edges of the plane.

In the past, I used ( particle systems to generate a looped volume texture, by moving the camera clipping plane further for each slice. Worked great, and is similar to the hair idea, except the hairs don't need to loop. You still need to tile the particles though, which could be done this way ( after you render each slice (which you could think of as an animated texture).

I also tried using a 3D procedural texture to generate a 4D volume texture (the 4th being time), so instead of using clipping planes, I just moved through its Z axis taking snapshots as I went. Worked kind of OK, except the loop is a bit rough.

Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.

01 January 2006, 02:28 PM
Oh yeah, someone found a full English translation of the SOTC article. Very informative.

01 January 2006, 04:16 AM

There is a 50+ page pdf at the link on realtime fur creation, including the coding on making a few creation and viewer apps.Very interesting.I guess its somebodys thesis for school.Still very cool though.

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