Realistic Fur Pipeline

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  04 April 2009
Realistic Fur Pipeline


I guess this is not a new discussion, but I couldn't find any about this exact matter.

What is your fur pipeline for animation? I mean, software, renderer, etc.

Me and my work mates have been looking for a solved pipeline to make fur for a long time, but haven't found any yet. At least, haven't found any that don't need patches.

We work with maya, tried shave and haircut and maya fur, but none of them did the job very well. (I guess its because we don't know very well how to use them, yet we've tested them a lot!).

This is the last animal we did. We used Maya Fur and Mental Ray. We were not satisfied, and it gave a lot of problems because of the FG, it flickers... so we had to render it lets say every 20 frames to freeze and then rebuild the FG map. As I said, that is a patch, and I've seen a lot of fur in a lot of movies, shorts and ads, and I wonder how they do all that fur. Some people say the have their own fur system, but I think there must be some standard for it.

Many people say Renderman is the solution, but we are a very small studio. We've tried RFM but no luck... The furry sphere works great, but when it comes the time to make something practical, it looks weird, even with the AO on. It down't give that kind of radiosity.

I've found some renders with Modo and look very nice... but I haven't tried it yet. Looks interesting.

So I ask again, what is your realistic fur workaround?? I would be very glad if you can share it.


sorry for my english ;O

Last edited by jtvergarav : 04 April 2009 at 05:52 PM.
  04 April 2009
I'd say your asking a lot to get fur to render with FG or GI especially
for animation.

I can't see many big shops doing advanced rendering with fur.
Renderman renders fur extremely efficiently and it's deep shadows
are second to none I see no reson to use AO as deep shadows
work very well.

Even to get fur into a scene is a tough job. So i would say you
are asking a bit much of the medium. That may not help much
but I would say it's the reality of it.

Gelato does a good job of rendering fur. Not as good as PRman though.

Neither will do a good job of it with GI etc though.
  04 April 2009
Actually prman does a very good job of rendering fur with gi. You just have to know how to get it to play nice

You can have your characters photoreal, fast or cheap. Pick two.
  04 April 2009
How do you get them to play nice.

Any tips?

Fur has always been tough for me in production.
Especially with limited rendering facilities.

Last edited by art_3d : 04 April 2009 at 08:10 PM.
  04 April 2009
I can't really add to this thread, because Rhythm and Hue's rendering software is proprietary, but good thread
  04 April 2009
Originally Posted by playmesumch00ns: Actually prman does a very good job of rendering fur with gi. You just have to know how to get it to play nice

hehe, I think that's where I'm lost. I'm not sure how to use it, and I don't think we can afford prenderman :(

and well, I haven't seen any deep shadows good result in integration other than using an sphere.

The Gelato alternative sounds interesting... but couldn't find many examples on the net.

ha! rhythm & hues... yea. I don't know why I think there's a lot of post processing involved in rendering fur, passes and stuff. Still, haven't find a way to render passes very well. I've tried with shaders_p, made by Puppet, they are verey nice, but haven't been able to make them work properly for this purpose...

Last edited by jtvergarav : 04 April 2009 at 09:06 PM.
  04 April 2009
only tip i can give you is use renderman, and render it all with deep shadows.

Dont even bother with FG, its an interpolated Gi solution, so with something like fur it'll go mental. Occlusion would be cool, but i find it freaks out with small details (like hair).

There is a production focus on the fur renders in King Kong in the Escape Render Man course ware, ive got it work, should probably read that myself
  04 April 2009
This day i was doing some test for fur pipline...
I was tray with Maya, 3delight and shave and haircut...
This was some of the test for density and time

This is test with IBL, for HDRImap and doom light with deepshadow...
i read this for Siggrpah papers for narnia for Alsan. This is first try.

I try also point cloud for hair for occlusion but for high density is havy render to much time

Still in testing...
  04 April 2009
FiberFX in Lightwave 9.6 will fix all your problems it's definitely the way to go for fur.(Sarcastic)

  04 April 2009

I've tried rendering with deep shadows, but I'm not getting the desired results, just in spheres as I told you, but not in animals... I guess you have to know how, but I can't find anywhere a How to, or a paper or something about that. Just read a paper some time ago about ratatouille, but was very brief.


Your tests look very nice... I think I'll try that out, Im very interested in your technique

too bad I can't find those papers ;O
  04 April 2009
We got some good looking fur out of muhHair. It's not the easiest thing to get going by any means, but it give you a fair amount of control that the base mayaFur shader cannot. I specifically liked the extra control I could get in the spec. The guys here at Zoic managed to take it much farther on a recent sequence.

This is something I got with very little effort back in 2005 on a test scene on my laptop:

The archived thread can be found here:

Definitely worth checking out if you have a day or 2 to get it working and to R&D.
Mike Rhone
-VFX Artist-

Dust Rig - tutorial for Maya

Tonga the Fox - Free cartoony rig for Maya!
  04 April 2009
It seems like someone took the muhHair to the next level with p_hairTK


Maya thread:

Shader download:
Mike Rhone
-VFX Artist-

Dust Rig - tutorial for Maya

Tonga the Fox - Free cartoony rig for Maya!
  04 April 2009
Shave and haircut with mental ray should be good enough to get u decent results .... I dnt really think FG is practical way to go for fur since , fur already is a very expensive thing to use....
I have been using shave at work since 3 yrs now on animals and has its bugs and limitations but there are work arounds for that ....

the reason you are getting flickers and jitters is because your fur is probably very thin.. as a result mental ray isnt able to calculate the anit aliasing....or if you are getting shadow flickers is because your light settings are not set well.. try playing with resolution and samples.
i have also used RFM with shave , but I would recommend RFM only if you are using deep shadows.....if you just use depth map shadows in RFM, its not really worth it....coz mental ray will give u better look and feel with lower rendering times...

Rendering passes is the best way to go about it in production...ppl would have diff,key,rim and fake AO passes......mental ray supports rendering in layers for shave...
Character FX TD
  04 April 2009

Some months ago I tried muhHair, but never made it to work. At least not in maya 2008 or 2009.

Now I tried again and couldn't figure out how to install it, even getting the dll and mi files, and getting into maya.rayrc and adding those link lines... the example scene doesn't work for me, it doesn't even render something, just aborts the render.

I also tried p_hairTK some time ago. Couldn't get realistic results, but I guess is the lighting and render settings I'm using. I will give it a shot again, I guess I've learned some stuff since then.
Have you made or seen another render with p_hairTK that isn't an sphere? or with muhHair
not saying that there aren't, but just haven't seen.


do you have any example of an animation you've done with shave?
I haven't yet seen any realistic animation made with it. Other than King kong, I have no other good reference :(
  04 April 2009
For lighting, faking the look of Gi just with some clever placed spotlights and deep shadows is definetly faster than struggeling with bad FG artefacts and long rendertimes.

I don't use Mental Ray anymore but I suggest the following:
Switch to the Rasterizer. This way you get flickerfree AA and motion blur with cool rendertimes. Make a high quality testrendering with GI and try to match the look with some spots. Use always Detail Shadow Maps (Deep Shadows) for fur.

In a proper pipeline you can bake occlusion in the hair geometry. I think Pixar had used this for Ratatouille and ILM on the Wookies in ep3.
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