Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 2

Mar 11, 2020 at 02:00 pm by nemirc

In the previous part of this tutorial, I showed you how I create hair using curves. Now we are ready to send the hair to UE4. However, before I do that, I just want to show you some final adjustments I made to the hair. First, I created and adjusted the braid. First I made the braid using curves (and yes, it’s built like an actual regular braid, with three strands), and then I created the second description just like the previous one (except that I specified that this second description had to be added to the already-created collection from the previous part).

Then, I added some short hairs along the edge of the hairdo, to simulate “loose hairs” that were not caught in the braid. I added some longer ones near the ears, to make it look nicer. Lastly, I created more guides around the root of the braid, and deformed them to simulate a “circle” around that root, to more or less simulate a “knot” that would grab the hair before the actual braid.

Now that everything is ready, you need to convert the hair to an “Interactive Groom” for export (the export only supports this type of XGen hair). To do this, you just go to the Generate menu and then “Convert to Interactive Groom…”(note, if you have more than one description, just select all of them and do it). Then, select the newly-created Interactive Groom objects, and go to Generate/Cache/Export Cache to export the hair as an Alembic .ABC file.

RELATED: Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 1
RELATED: Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 3
RELATED: Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 4
RELATED: Creating hair in Maya and Unreal Engine 4: part 5

Open Unreal Engine 4.24 (or later, since previous versions don’t support hair import) and create a new project (or use an existing project, if you want to try it on an existing project). Before you use hair, there are a few things you need to do. First, you need to open the Project Settings and change these two settings: Support Compute Skincache = true; Tick Animation on Skeletal Mesh Init = false. Then, open the Plugins manager and activate these: Alembic Groom Importer, Groom, Niagara, Niagara Extras.

If you now click the big Import button in the Content Browser, you can import your hair. Right now you can leave the default options and just import. If you drag the hair object onto your viewport, it may come up in a weird position (for example, facing down on the floor). This happens because Maya and UE4 have different axis orientations. In Maya, up is the Y axis while in UE4 the up axis is Z. If you right click on the hair and select “Reimport” you will see the import dialog again. Just adjust the mode’s rotations to fit your needs (in my case, the rotations I use are X = 90 and Y = 180, but your case may be different depending on your Maya axis orientations).

UE4 already includes a default hair material. However, will surely want to use your own, so you can create one from scratch. There are two things you need to do to make sure the material works with your hair, though: first, set the material’s Shading Model to “hair” and second, check the “Used with Hair Strands” checkbox (both options are found in the “Details” pane in the Material editor). There are other things you can do to make a fancy hair, but I am not familiar enough with the Material editor to give you advice on that (hopefully in the future I can come back to this).

Now, you can apply your new material to your hair. If your hair is already on the scene, you can apply this material to that object. This is how it looks on my end (I am remaking Amelia from “Just Let Me Go” on UE4 as part of my exercise creating hair).

I think the game looks fine, overall, but there are a couple of things I don’t like. First, I think I need to decrease the “shine” on the hair because it makes it look like metal or latex (like those black latex pants). Second, I think it looks too flat so it ends up looking like a “hair cap” rather than actual hairs. We can see how to fix those issues in the next part.

You can also check tips from experts in hair design in San Bernardino.


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