I shave my head about once a month, which means that my fine, straight hair cycles between essentially nonexistent and, at max, an inch long. Much to my irritation, I have not been able to find a digital representation of my even-all-over buzz cut.
Enter Age of Armour and DimensionTheory’s Grass Shader for Daz Studio, a recently released procedural shader. The average shader depends on various maps in jpg or png [transparency, bump, specular, normal, etc.], from which it then generates texture effects on a digital model. By contrast, a procedural shader like the AoA/DT Grass Shader relies on a scripting language to calculate its effects. Maps may be used optionally to fine-tune the results of a procedural shader, but they are not necessary.
The Grass Shader works by creating actual 3D grass blades [as opposed to a displacement effect on a flat surface]. Controllable effects include blade thickness, blade length, base color, tip color and clumping. Of course, I read the product description and immediately leapt to the conclusion that the Grass Shader would work equally well as a specialized type of hair shader, specifically for short and spiky ‘dos. At last — a buzz cut maker!
To replicate my favorite hairstyle in digital, I started with a universal skull cap from PhilC’s Hair Designer. I morphed it and tweaked it until it fit the default G2F model. I planned to use the Grass Shader on the skullcap, so I ensured that it fit G2F’s head closely. I wanted to create a realistic semblance of hair growing directly out of her scalp.
I then experimented with the shader settings to approximate my actual hair. I had little trouble determining an appropriate blade length, blade thickness and clumping strength, but I spent hours fiddling with diffuse color and translucency. At first I tried making the base colors brown and the tip colors blond, as this is how my hair appears with light shining through it, but I eventually realized that the translucency strength controls this effect, and there’s no need to make the diffuse channel do the work. I ended up making all base and tip colors the same flat brown that my hair appears when it’s lying on the floor after I’ve shaved it, and that achieved a more realistic result.
I also experienced some difficulty in making the hair cover the model’s head. Yes, I know — a quick glance in the mirror clearly demonstrates that my scalp remains highly visible when my hair is buzzed quite short and, yes, it does look like I’m kind of bald. I wanted the effect of a full head of hair, however, so I made some geoshells of the skullcap and shaded them with the same settings as the original skullcap.
Behold — my digital buzz cut! The first render shows only one layer of shader hair: the skullcap. The second shows the skullcap + a geoshell layer of hair. The third shows the skullcap + 2 geoshell layers of hair.