Playing with Blender's New Hair Improvements
Earlier this week on Blender Today Live, it was revealed that there has been some work done in the Blender master (version 2.79.2 find the latest builds here).
These new improvements pertain to the children particles, in which you can now play with a new parameter under 'Simple' called Twist. It does what you would think, it twists the hair particles; almost too easily. It's a nice addition to have, especially when I was working on the 'fuzz' for this tennis ball. My earlier attempts struggled to get the right amount of volume, the twist parameter helped spiral fibers quite easily, AND, you can control which direction the strands are spiraling via texture mapping! So cool!
You can find that video by Pablo Vazquez here (you'll want to skip 30 mins in to find the related parts)
To be quite honest, I didn't even know about the new hair improvements until I saw the video, but I had already begun working on the tennis ball, as it was my second installment of the 'sports series' I am working on for my daily passion projects. The tennis ball just so happened to be a lucky coincidence. Either way, you can see how successful it was. Here you can swipe between the non-hair version and the hair version...obviously just to show how robust that type of effect can be for realism.
The model and the hair was done in Blender of course, but I rendered these in Keyshot, my go to engine. I am pleasantly surprised by the result, the render times were way below what I expected considering the geometry was insane. 17.6 million triangles in this single subject (of course, that is counting the tons of fibers on the backside of the ball not seen in the initial shot.
I mentioned the 'Sports Series' above; it's just a passion project at the moment, I am using it as a challenge for myself to learn how to model and texture the many variations you find in sporting equipment. Of course most subjects are a simple ball, but the seams and the textures can get quiet complex. Here's the first part of the series, a basketball, modeled in Blender, rendered in Keyshot 7, and I custom made the texture maps in Adobe Photoshop.