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Level Up Your Skills As A Grooming Artist

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As a beginner to intermediate artist in the video game design space, there’s usually one thing that you may find difficult: creating realistic-appearing hair. This is truly a skill that takes time to develop, but there are some tips and tricks that you may pick up along the way. If you’re looking to become a professional grooming artist (or uplevel your skills), then here is what you need to know.


Why is Hair Design Difficult?

Designing realistic hair can be difficult, even for more experienced artists. The common joke in the video game design space is that characters are bald because they “just can’t get the hair right.” The truth is, hair design in a game is pretty complicated.

The hair is the extension of the characters, which have become increasingly realistic over time. One of the reasons that the realistic appearance of hair is hard to achieve is because hair is not a static object. It must reflect the movement of the character in real-time, along with being affected by the environment. Wind, water, light, and more affect how hair moves!

For this reason, characters that are bald or wear some type of head covering are common in older games. These types of characters are easier to render, unless a character has a hairstyle that stays flat against their head. With modern advances in technology, surely this would get easier, right? Yes and no. There are some skills that you’ll need to develop as a grooming artist before you might consider it “easier.”


Skills to Develop as a Grooming Artist

While you may want a specific checklist of skills to work on, it’s more important that you have a basic understanding of the process. As a novice artist, you’ll need to be able to understand the basics of shapes and textures of fur or hair.

As you continue to advance, it will be crucial for you to understand how to read details. This means knowing how to read the size and variations of hair clumps, flow of the hair, manage the length and density, and more. If you cannot follow the references correctly, then your images won’t render properly. If you take away anything from this article, just know that having a solid foundation of education is crucial!


Video Game Arts Grooming Basics

The basics of grooming can be broken up into three categories: shape, layers, and clumps. Shape is the overall base layer of hair that you’ll be starting with. This gives you your foundational shape that you’ll be working with.

Next you’ll need to master the art of layers. Hair is created in layers to “break up” the opaque appearance of the base layer. This will later allow for better flow and movement in the final stages of the design.

Lastly, you’ll want to learn how to create realistic hair by working in “clumps.” Individual cards are combined and set up as hair clumps, which consist of 2-3 cards each. This will allow you to completely cover the scalp of your character without affecting your base layers. With each clump added, they’ll be less opaque and give the appearance of hair volume and thickness. In the final layer, you’ll mostly use stray hairs and flyaways.


Does Software Knowledge Matter?

Along with having a solid foundation of knowledge, you may be wondering if part of that knowledge should include understanding different types of software. Understanding your software will definitely decrease the difficulty and improve the workflow of your hair design process.

It’s easy to want to try to learn all of the different software for possible job opportunities, but this can lead to more confusion. Start by learning the basics of the process, then move on to becoming proficient in one software. Once you have a great understanding of these, then you can move onto learning other softwares to improve your hiring potential! Once you “get the hang of” the first one, learning others should be simple!


Enhancing Skills with Grooming Courses Online

While learning the basics of grooming and the software behind it is essential for “leveling up” your skills as an artist, one of the biggest tips that professionals will give you is to seek a mentor. Slowing down and having someone walk you through step-by-step how to achieve professional results will often be far more beneficial than self teaching.

With Grooming for Games Bootcamp, you’ll be able to create a real world design from start to finish. This includes learning texture creation, hair card placement, rendering in real time, and more all taught by some of the top professionals in the industry.

If you’re serious about getting a job in the industry, then you’ll save time and money long-term while learning the skills you need for the field. This course is designed for inexperienced artists, as well as professionals that want to continue to improve their hair art.

While hair art is very complex, this course is broken down into a simple, repeatable, step-by-step process that will give you great results every time. By the end, you’ll learn:

  • Hair theory and anatomy
  • How to create professional quality textures that are performant and reusable
  • How to assemble a master scene for endless hairstyles with just one texture
  • How to place your hair cards fast, efficiently, and in a non-destructive manner
  • How to render them in Marmoset Toolbag


Course Overview

If you’re interested in learning from some of the best in the industry, here is what you can expect:

  • Module One: Hair Fundamentals
  • Module Two: Hair Texture Creation
  • Module Three: Master Scene Setup and Real Time Integration
  • Module Four: Creating Base Layer
  • Module Five: Creating Second Layer
  • Module Six: Creating Third Layer and Flyaways


Click here to learn more about Grooming for Games Bootcamp.

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