An investigation of hair modelling and rendering techniques with emphasis on African hairstyles

by Patrick, Deborah Michelle

Abstract (Summary)
Many computer graphics applications make use of virtual humans. Methods for modelling and rendering hair are needed so that hairstyles can be added to the virtual humans. Modelling and rendering hair is challenging due to the large number of hair strands and their geometric properties, the complex lighting effects that occur among the strands of hair, and the complexity and large variation of human hairstyles. While methods have been developed for generating hair, no methods exist for generating African hair, which differs from hair of other ethnic groups.

This thesis presents methods for modelling and rendering African hair. Existing hair modelling and rendering techniques are investigated, and the knowledge gained from the investigation is used to develop or enhance hair modelling and rendering techniques to produce three different forms of hair commonly found in African hairstyles. The different forms of hair identified are natural curly hair, straightened hair, and braids or twists of hair.

The hair modelling techniques developed are implemented as plug-ins for the graphics program LightWave 3D. The plug-ins developed not only model the three identified forms of hair, but also add the modelled hair to a model of a head, and can be used to create a variety of African hairstyles. The plug-ins significantly reduce the time spent on hair modelling. Tests performed show that increasing the number of polygons used to model hair increases the quality of the hair produced, but also increases the rendering time. However, there is usually an upper bound to the number of polygons needed to produce a reasonable hairstyle, making it feasible to add African hairstyles to virtual humans. The rendering aspects investigated include hair illumination, texturing, shadowing and antialiasing. An anisotropic illumination model is developed that considers the properties of African hair, including the colouring, opacity and narrow width of the hair strands. Texturing is used in several instances to create the effect of individual strands of hair. Results show that texturing is useful for representing many hair strands because the density of the hair in a texture map does not have an effect on the rendering time. The importance of including a shadowing technique and applying an anti-aliasing method when rendering hair is demonstrated. The rendering techniques are implemented using the RenderMan Interface and Shading Language. A number of complete African hairstyles are shown, demonstrating that the techniques can be used to model and render African hair successfully.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:computer science


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.