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TUTORIAL • March 1999


Shag: Fur for 3D Studio MAX.

by Michele Bousquet

See the finished animation

After modeling the Chia Head® covered in the March 1999 issue of 3D Design magazine (Plugged-In column: "Making Faces with daVinci3D," by Michele Bousquet, p. 21), using Digimation’s daVinci3D plug-in for 3D Studio MAX, it occurred to me that no Chia Head is complete without its own fuzzy head of green hair. With this in mind, I turned to the Shag: Fur plug-in from Digimation. This plug-in is designed to make short strands of fur or grass. (Although the current version of Shag: Fur is unable to achieve the knobby, sprout-like quality of the Chia herb, the next release should include this capability. For now, we'll make do with grass.)

Much to my delight, I found Shag: Fur extremely easy to use. First, I used the Mesh Select modifier to select the faces that would receive the hair, then assigned Material ID 2 to them.

Next was the setup of the hair itself. Shag: Fur is set up under the Rendering/Environment menu option. Click Add to choose it from the effects list. There are two effects that need to be chosen for Shag: Fur to work: the Shag: Fur effect and the Shag:Render effect.

Under the Shag: Fur selection, several parameters appear for setting various aspects of the hair, such as thickness, color, and density. There are also options for "leaning" the hairs (making them grow at an angle to the object), which will effectively simulate animal hair. To add to the realism, each parameter can be randomized to a large or small degree.

Once you’ve selected the object to receive the hair, a few scraggly whiskers on the object’s surface are displayed in viewports to let you know Shag: Fur is working. To see the real head of hair, however, you have to render the scene.

A portion of the Shag: Fur dialog under the Rendering/Environment menu option.

Shag: Fur has some strict rules that must be adhered to. For example, you must render a camera view, not an orthographic or Perspective view. If you want hairs to cast shadows, you have to use special hair-enabled lights that come with the plug-in. However, these rules are all laid out very clearly in the manual.

Shag: Fur is pretty straightforward--within 20 minutes of using the plug-in for the first time, I had a beautiful mane of green hair on my little Chia Head. This is a substantial improvement over real Chia seeds, which take three to six weeks to grow in fully.

For more information on Shag: Fur or any of the other 3D Studio MAX plug-ins from Digimation, visit the Digimation web site at www.digimation.com

To check out the growing family of Chia Pet® and Chia Head® products, visit www.chia.com Permission for using the name and likeness of Chia and Chia Head is from Joseph Enterprises Inc., San Francisco, CA.

Michele Bousquet currently teaches classes on character animation with 3D Studio MAX in Boston, MA. Her most recent book is The 3D Studio MAX R2 Quick Reference. Visit her website at www.maxhelp.com.