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Sketchbook: thomasp

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  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks guys, much appreciated!

    Justo: i indeed use polypaint in zbrush for these since you can paint in it without having to worry about paint & projection artifacts. great for doing translucency e.g. on fingers or ears. <3




  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    done with this guy:






    the raindrops are just there for the pose really. they are done like hair cards and skinwrapped to the character mesh.
  • Stirls
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    Stirls polycounter lvl 5
    That's goddamn juicy, chief. What was your process for hair? Are all those cards hand-placed?
  • Oqtopus
    amazing work! he reminds me of Steven Strait in the expense.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks guys!

    i actually started with chris pine as a reference. :) the headshape is still in there but the rest changed over time (deliberately).

    Stirls: I use a mix of spraying them on with an object painter script and deforming longer elements along splines. but that only gets you to about 80%, the rest is all manual. you can massage the overall shape pretty well in zbrush when you mask off the roots though.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth polycounter lvl 16
    Saw the Chris Pine ref right away. Awesome work duder. :-)
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks man. long time!

  • MmAaXx
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    MmAaXx polycounter lvl 7
    wohooo, I see really cool stuff here :)
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master


    i revived this head to play around with some more automated hair generation techniques using fibermesh. it leads to a quick start with a full head of hair in the shape and volume i was after - and endless grueling cleanup of the generated f$%!!king mess. still a good way from completion.
  • Brandon.LaFrance
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    Brandon.LaFrance Polycount Sponsor
    Hi, Thomas! The hair looks great already. I'd love to see a process breakdown.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master



    refined it some more and rounded off most of the kinks. painful! is there a function to only subdivide & smooth in X or Y across a surface? (blender or 3ds max preferably).

    still looks better with toolbags subdivision toggled on :) will probably use that for final renders then.
    ninja-edit: vertex-colors!
  • Eric Chadwick
    I think the only way in Max is to subdivide, then remove the loops you don't want. Pretty fast though.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    yeah that's how i did it. bit painful for when you only want to subdivide part of a mesh and have to clean up all the terminators for the additional loops you don't want.
  • sr3d
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    sr3d polycounter lvl 2
    I've been struggling with putting textures (albedo, mask) onto hair cards.  Specifically the shape and how much transparency there should be.

    Thomasp, is there a tutorial that you did that paved the way for your beautiful looking hair cards?
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    hey, there are no tutorials (for now, anyway). the shape of hair elements depends mostly on the kind of hair you're building. short works better with wide elements, long with narrow ones in my experience. curly needs tiled textures to work. and element does not mean just a single strip of polygons. you can model and texture a few thick and thin strands and attach them together in various combinations and shapes to create visual variety without requiring lots of texture space.

    the transparency is engine dependent. i'm using marmoset which has some nice dithering technique going on. i'm not aware that any openly available tech out there currently does this as well. looking forward to that new unreal shader though. if you're dealing with cutout alpha then you need to up the contrast for the transparency to pick up finer strands.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Marmoset uses something called "Alpha to Coverage" I think. Some info here about how that works. http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/Transparency_map#Alpha_To_Coverage We have some more hair tutorials here. http://wiki.polycount.com/wiki/HairTechnique
    Sorry to derail the thread though. :(
    Your work is looking great thomasp!
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    cheers eric.

    yes, alpha to coverage is the tech term i knew it under. haven't heard that one used since the PS3 era however. only time outside marmoset i encountered this was in inhouse engines and not quite with that quality but it seems unreal will now receive it too. but it's not like cutout is totally unsuited either. i have cases where it actually looks better.
  • polygunz
    Dude, love your subjects. Very playfull!
    thanks for the breakdown. man
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks man.

    i put some more hours into this. found out that i'm under half the polycount than what is listed for FF15 :) screw it, time to put some more strands into this then... in the current version shadowcasting is a bit messed up since i changed approach, it ruins the hairline but is a quick fix i'll hold off on till the hairmesh is complete.
    i finished a rig+skin for body+hair too and am in the process of developing an outfit that should be about as whacky as the duct tape one.



  • lildragn
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    lildragn polycounter lvl 13
    This is great man, you seem to have a real handle on hair! Not without it's pain but still it's pretty kick ass.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    i've made some progress on an outfit and a first test bake on unfinished geometry. retopo is killing me on this one.



    to be recycled...
  • Eric Chadwick
    Very interesting material she's wearing! Kudos for non-traditional. What's the intention though? Looks like a cross between garbage bag and vinyl, but also has a little vacuum-packed food ration.

    Pokemon looks great. Jacket could use a little more reflected/bounce color from it and the bright strap.

    Can you show a closeup of the watch?
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    cheers eric,

    apparently i'm going for a sins-of-the-90's look. tamagotchi's, g-shock watches and a yet to be done kind of shoes that gave me the creeps back then. all to be neatly disposed of in that garbage bag after the night out. the little pockets are what happens when you section-off parts of a garbage bag to make it more body hugging. i did a mockup with double-sided tape here. ;)
  • Pedro Amorim
    Thomas, this is beautiful dude! Awesome work man.
  • acronid
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    acronid polycounter lvl 5
    What a beautiful girl, man! Really love the hair.
    Keep it up!
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks guys, working on updates!
  • Sabotage
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    Sabotage polycounter lvl 7
    incredible work, following for sure.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master



    2 months later, different materials, fresh vertexcolors and a bunch of extra hairplanes... on the upside i moved my entire workflow from max to blender which included a fair deal of time spent on customization alone.
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    yer mi idol thomas. They day in which you post a blender or max breakdown of your workflow for the hair will be a glorious glorious day :B 
  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 greentooth
    very cool man!
  • Aga22
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    Aga22 polycounter lvl 8
    that's goddamn awesome
  • bkost
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    bkost greentooth
    That is some lovely hair! I would be grateful if you talked about how you went about creating it.

    Keep it up!
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    thanks guys!

    as for the process it is a tricky one since it relies so much on iteration and these are lengthy tasks. i looked into the possibility of doing a writeup or a video but for that to make sense i'd have to basically record everything from the outset and cut it down to a digestible format when it's all done. i don't work structured like that on personal stuff. :)

  • liplop
    I'll second BKOST's request. Especially if you're now working in Blender. I've searched high and low for any pointers on quality hair work for Blender, and there really aren't any. Anyway, great work and bookmarked!
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    liplop said:
    I'll second BKOST's request. Especially if you're now working in Blender. I've searched high and low for any pointers on quality hair work for Blender, and there really aren't any. Anyway, great work and bookmarked!
    i think for the start all that is needed is the ability to spray-paint objects onto surfaces (in blender that would be the domain of 'draw clones' from mifth-tools) and spline -> geometry conversion which is standard in 3ds max and blender. then any tutorial should fly really.

    you'll of course find some info about converting hair systems like ornatrix or hair-net and the like but i have never dabbled much in those. my tests with hair & fur in max weren't looking great enough to make this look like an avenue worth exploring properly for realtime hair.

    anyway, to warm up for an upcoming gig i did a lunchtime stylized hair thingy to see how long this type of stuff would take. zbrush -> instant meshes -> xnormal -> blender (unwrap) in about an afternoon. the goal was to not rely on normal maps too much to define shapes, else it could have been a lot lower res. plonked it on an unrelated head i had set up in marmoset.


  • fdfxd2
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    fdfxd2 greentooth
    Nice gallery
    I don't know why you aren't more recognized in the blender community.

    You should post your work in Blender nation
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    cheers, i don't really post at software specific sites (or rather - i only do so to complain about the app ;) ). i'm also a recent blender convert, so it's nothing unexpected.
  • Melazee
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    Melazee polycounter lvl 8
    Wow, I'm glad I checked this thread out. Loving your stuff! Massive fan of the purple hair :) 
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    some fallout from recent discussions with a friend about realtime hair. still using some of his tools from the PS3 era. heads are stand-ins from older projects -

    hair colored via vertex colors. makes it possible to have uniquely colored hairstrands despite excessive hair texture reusal, in this case on a tiling texture.


    output from fibermesh curves to blender and conversion to mesh. it's full of errors, doesn't have a hairline and i exported about twice the required curves and didn't work very organised but still, would not have been possible to do in an afternoon by any other method. the painted texture took longer than the mesh in this case. will refine the whole thing a bit more.
    end goal is to have a scripted tool/workflow at some point to speed up the bulk of fleshing out these hairstyles.

  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master

    something fresh out of the oven (toolbag 3 baker). still a few areas that need attention before i can start some actual texturing - i keep finding fresh and conflicting reference for this thing all the time.
  • Ged
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    Ged interpolator
    wow what a thread! amazing character work! :)
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    i seem can't get finished with these little buggers.

    never seen one up close so a few areas are just guess work/not entirely done for now. i'm working on variations at the moment. did briefly consider picking one up as reference from ebay. very briefly...







    these poses are just to play with the rig, it's intended for something other than pure ball games. i'm afraid the real thing is not half as lively.

  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    B-but where's the hair thomas? No thousands of hair cards for the doggies???? Seriously though, make a course for something like that, I'll be there. 

    About your latest work...what's your opinion on TB3, specially using it for bakes? Also, maybe this is obvious info I'm asking, but whenever you make hair using hair cards in Toolbag, are you always using 32-bit depth alphas?
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    @Justo
    coming from xnormal i've been using TB3 for bakes for the last few months. i haven't looked around much at alternatives but the combination of great viewport preview and fast bakes with the ability to paint the cage and have an almost live preview for the end result i find hard to beat.

    i don't know what 32 bit depth alphas are though :) you mean 8 bit per channel, RGBA images? then sure, most of the time.

    anyway, i snuck in a few alphas here - it's all part of the plan - although i was more curious about GI this time around:

    next up is a camera move through the mayhem to see if it flickers.
    updated the image with the GI from the most recent TB3 release. looking softer now, nice!
  • Justo
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    Justo interpolator
    Oh God haha, amazing update! The gold and dark bring much more variety, plus all that posing, beautiful shot. 

    About the alphas, I might be in the wrong here, but I thought that one should always save stuff like hair texture as 32-bit TGAs, at least for best results inside Marmoset. I'm not saying switching your PSD (for example) to 32 bit mode, but saving it as 32 once you hit Save As and the prompt asks you if you want to do it. Specially talking about opacity maps here, since 32 would give tons more values. I also read some file format importers of Marmoset being broken, like 16-bit+ PNGs, but I do not know whether that was later fixed (or in TB3). Don't know, probably a bunch of outdated stuff I've read.
  • thomasp
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    a little refinement + facial hair added. there's still some polygons left in the hair budget for extra strands and to remove noticeable kinks - but that's for post x-mas!
    thinking of making it all longer down the neck, for extra 80's style points.



  • nbac
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    nbac polycounter lvl 9
    wow this attention to the hair in all of your works ... how do you achieve such quality in lowpoly hair!? is the base a highres hairsystem?
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    hey thanks, in this case of rather short-ish hair i used fibermesh curves as a starting point. that's all the hairsystem i can manage. ;) the usual ones in max, maya et al just drive me mad with their bazillion of sliders and insufficient preview. for long hair i would simply resort to creating hair curves manually, e.g. by drawing them onto geometry or the view plane and duplicating and reshaping them around the head.

    in all cases these curves then have to be converted to or used as guides for geometry to be useful.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp ngon master
    doodle over old asset for this january's project. time to use an offline renderer again for a change.

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