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Step 11. Fur Coloring, Shading, and Shadowing

Another factor of paramount importance with fur is the color patterns of the fibers. This incorporates overall volume patterns (like stripes on a tiger) and also the coloring of fibers root to tip. Fur noticeably has great depth to it. Pulling off the illusion digitally calls for the same depth achieved through the software's best capabilities to emulate each fibers reaction to light and how they shadow one another.

Once you have an area's combing under control its a matter of getting the right texture appearance to the fibers. The following options (visible in Figure 14) allow you to enhance how a zone looks:

  • Box D allows you to set up the color attributes. Sasquatch had the versatility to use an actual image file for coloration. I opted for straight color control sliders. This wasn't because I was getting undesirable results with image maps, I just felt I was getting pleasing results without using any. This had a lot to do with the fact that most of the fibers were dark.

    Figure 14 The fur color and shading settings.

  • Box E shows the typical settings used in most of the fur zones, which controls any sheen and reaction to light.

  • Box F illustrates the shadowing options. This is where realism kicks in. Self shadowing can really turn computer generated fur into believable fur. I was happy to find there wasn't much need to play with the settings here. The options are there to crank up shadow map resolution, if you find yourself running into any unusual results. In most instances, I found pleasing results with the default settings, which is always a handy place to start.

    TIP

    Again, what you are looking for here is speed. You are bound to run off a number of renders as you fine-tune the look and feel. Try for the majority of the time to render without antialiasing. You can always run off a render with aliasing when you think the look and feel is coming closer to final.

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