Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day 129: Creating Prim Hair Part 1

Like Prim Shoes, Prim Hair is probably one of the most popular items that attach to your avatar. So I thought I might try my hand at making a set of prim hair and sharing my experience. This will be a multi-part tutorial. We will create a static prim hair in the first 2 parts, complete with hair texture. I will try to do more later with flexi and curls :)

Its one thing to create a hairstyle, and another to write a tutorial about creating a hairstyle. Unlike shoes, hairstyling is mostly an art. A lot of prim twisting and styling work goes into making a hairstyle look pretty. There are dozens of these artistic decisions involved in creating a complex set of hair (which is impractical to spell out in a step-by-step tutorial).

This tutorial is about creating a base set of prim hair that can be described in a step-by-step fashion. This is a base style for women's hair, but can be used for men with adjustments (it does have a Beatles look to it though :P).

Note that I am not in the business of making prim hair, so Im not an expert. The pros at Gurl6, Taunt, HCT, etc do this all day long and probably have their own secret techniques, scripts, and templates. What I can show you are the fundamentals of putting a set of prim hair together. The pros would start from a similar base and add/modify the base to create their wonderful hairstyles.

First, a quick overview. As you probably know by now, there are 2 ways to cover your AV's head in SL:

First is the SL Hair (Texture Hair, or "Grown" Hair). This is the hair you probably wore when you first came out of Orientation Island. Its the hair you can adjust using the Appearance... menu. You create hair textures for SL Hair much like you would do for a T-Shirt, but using a hair Texture Template. Then you upload the hair texture, and adjust the styling using the Appearance... menu.

Second is the Prim Hair. Prim Hair is just a linked set of prims attached to your Skull and gives the appearance of hair. Think of it as a wig in RL. If you rezzed a Box and attached it to your Skull, you have prim hair. Making a decent-looking set of prim hair is the goal of this tutorial.

There are 3 major components in a prim hair: the SL Hair Bald Base, the Hair Texture, and the Prim Hair.

The SL Hair Bald Base (which is created and modified in the "Appearance..." screen) makes your AV's head bald and prepares it for the Prim Hair.

The Hair Texture is a texture file that will be applied to the prims in the Prim Hair. There are some techniques involved in making a Hair Texture for SL. Unfortunately, since I only know Photoshop, I can only describe them for Photoshop. In case you dont have Photoshop, you can pick up the ready-to-use Prim Hair Texture for free from Sirena Hair.

The Prim Hair is a linked set of prims that looks like a wig. It could be a an updo, short, long, ponytail, or even specialty hair (for a mermaid, for instance :) ). The hair could be decorated with headbands, flowers, hat, or jewelry. You are only limited by your imagination and what you can do with prims.

You will need Photoshop to complete Part 1 of this tutorial. If you dont have Photoshop, you can pick up the Prim Hair Texture for free from Sirena Hair. The Prim Hair Texture contains a ready-to-use hair texture (so you wont need Photoshop). You can then skip Part 1 and proceed to Part 2.

You will need Ged Larsen's wonderful LoopRez Generator to complete Part 2 of the tutorial.

So lets start building the prim hair.

1. Creating the SL Hair Bald Base

We need to prepare your avatar's head to receive the prim hair. This is done via the Appearance... screen.

First, detach and take off any SL or prim hair you are wearing.

Click on the Inventory button at the bottom of your screen. Click on "Create" at the top of the Inventory window, select "New Body Parts >", and "New Hair. This creates a new SL Hair called "New Hair" in the Body Parts folder.

Right-click on "New Hair" and select Rename. Change the Name to "Bald Hair Base".

Right-click on "Bald Hair Base" and select Wear.

Right-click on yourself, and select "Appearance..." from the menu. Select the "Hair" tab. Then click on the Style button. Enter the following settings:

Hair Volume: 0

Click on the square above the word Texture. This will open up the "Pick: Texture" window. Click the Blank button, then click Select.

When you are all done, press the "Save All" button and the "Close" button.

2. Creating the Hair Texture (or, like, How do I become a blonde? :P)

Ever walk down the drug store isles and stared at the rows and rows of hair colors? Theres brown, dark brown, reddish brown, auburn, and Shimmery Seduction. And they all look the same! :P

Well, we are about to make a reddish brown Hair Texture. That means you get to play with hair colors and texture. Thats right, its your turn to create Shimmery Seduction! :P

You will need Photoshop to complete this step (unless you know how to do the equivalent steps in your graphics program). If you dont have Photoshop, you can skip this step by picking up the Prim Hair Texture for free from Sirena Hair, which has a ready-to-use Hair Texture.

I originally learned how to make Hair Textures from an excellent video at, by the owner of Taunt Hair! Ive adapted the technique here slightly, mainly due to personal preference. Remember, this is mainly an art, so feel free to play with the settings!

Start with a New document in Photoshop. Set it to 256 by 256 pixels. You actually dont want hair texture to be too high in resolution, because it will become a dizzying mass of lines on your head. 256 pixels is a good compromise.

We will use the darkest color in the texture as the base. So make it dark. For our tutorial, we are going to use a very dark red.

Click on the foreground color tile and enter these numbers into the Color Picker window:

     Red = 50
     Green = 0
     Blue = 0

Select the Paint Bucket tool and click on the document to fill Layer 1 with the dark red.

Now, change your foreground color to bright yellow.

     Red = 255
     Green = 255
     Blue = 0

Click on the Brush tool and select the soft 65 pixel brush (Hardness = 0).

Draw a yellow line across the top. The colors will be blended together, so the line doesnt have to be perfectly straight.

Now, change your foreground color to bright red.

     Red = 255
     Green = 0
     Blue = 0

And draw a line across the bottom.

Select Filter from the top menu bar, Noise >, and the "Add Noise..." filter. Set the "Amount:" to 15%. Click the "Uniform" button next to Distribution. And make sure the checkbox next to Monochromatic is checked. (Again, you can adjust these settings based on personal preference; I prefer less dark streaks, so I prefer Uniform)

Select Filter from the top menu bar, Blur >, and the "Motion Blur..." filter. Set the "Angle:" to 90 degrees. Set the "Distance:" to 999 pixels.

And you have a reddish brown hair texture!

Next, we are going to add some highlights to this texture.

Add a new layer by clicking on the "Create a new layer" button at the bottom of the Layer Palette.

Select a pure white foreground color.

Make sure that Layer 2 is selected in the Layer Palette. Select the Brush tool. Draw 2 white lines across the document. The first one should be about 1/3 of the way from the top. The second one should be near the bottom.

In the Layer palette, change the Blend Mode from "Normal" to "Overlay". Change the Opacity to 75%.

That's it! Heres our Shimmery Seduction hair texture, complete with highlights (thats the shimmery part :P).

One last thing: Be sure you click on File, "Save for Web...", and save it as a ".jpg" file. Choose a name like "Tutorial Hair Texture". Then upload this file to Second Life, so we can apply it to the prim hair.

If you want to play with the colors, try different combinations of base colors and colored stripes. You can also use different colors for highlighting instead of white. For example, you can use pink as a highlight for platnium blonde hair.

We will be building the prim hair and fitting it in Part 2 of the tutorial. I will be posting Part 2 in a couple days. You dont want me to go too long without a change of clothes, do you? :P

numly esn 95307-071006-870201-65

© 2007 All Rights Reserved.


Ekio Locatiare said...

You are always so helpful! I have been trying different ways to make hair textures in photoshop for weeks and though I tried lines, I did not try it that way ^-^

Alrighty off to try this out. I am so in on learing how to make my own hair. Not that I dont already have way to many styles, lol.

Taimi Valeeva said...

Natalia: you are so much smarterer then the rest of us(and that why we hang around with you!)

Kisses Taimi

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your tutorial. It was a great help for me!

Lauralee said...

Thanks for the tutorial! So far I can even follow!

Pyxel Courier said...

I've been waiting for this!
Thanks, Nat! And thanks for the link to! What a great site!

- Pyx

SLNatalia said...

Ekio, good luck with this texture! It works pretty well, and you can get just about any color combination you want.

Taimi, I learned this from! I just tweaked the settings to what I like. Really, the genius is at Taunt :)

Cocky, you are welcome. I hope you find the next part useful as well :)

Lauralee, you will be a hair pro in no time :) Let me know if the next part makes any sense!

Pyxel, isnt great? He has so many cool video tutorials :)

Beliria said...

:) thank you for the pointers on how to make a hair texture. Did mine in Gimp so had to tweak some of the %'s to get it looking a bit corser at 15% the hair was very very fine grained. Also might beable to get away without doing the shimmer stage, seems to add a gloss effect when motion blurred.

SLNatalia said...

Beliria, I agree with you! Hair textures are probably the hardest part of making hair. And unfortunately, it needs to be done up front!

I got my start from the excellent tutorial at I just tweaked it a bit for personal preference.

Miraren Firefly said...

Genius, i say! Utter genius. Thank you for the tutorial. :)

One modification i've been making is to do a 20-pixel gaussian blur on the white highlights layer, to make the highlights a bit softer and more diffuse.

i'm working on a bunch of hair for my new store, so maybe i'll IM you when i've got something to show! :D

SLNatalia said...

Miraren, I am so glad you have a chance to play with diff settings!

This is just a tutorial to get started making the texture. So theres a lot more work that goes into making quality textures. Good luck with your hair project! :)

SecondLife Pius Noel said...

Great tutorial, Natalia! Never expected to find myself in a SL hair shop, but I did :-)

I'm currently trying to do things in cheaper or free design tools, like Paint Shop Pro and Gimp or Blender and Wings on the 3D side.

While I succeeded in making the hair texture following your tutorial and using my fantasy in Gimp I didn't yet find a way to achieve acceptable results with my outdated version of Paint Shop Pro 7 (which I personally like more than the newer Corel versions). I've got the best results by first adding a Jalousie effect which gives something like rather stiff hair. Later I tried to add various filters and effects to achive more naturally and not so stiff looking results. So far I didn't yet find anything that comes close to your Photoshop examples or what can be done with the current version of Gimp.

Btw, I'm wondering why there are only a few men hair styles available in your Sirena shop and others. Even from different vendors end creators most men hair styles are looking the same. The same is true for men's wear.

SLNatalia said...

Pius, from what I understand, you can do similar things in GIMP (unfortunately, Im not good enough in GIMP to know how). This is really just using different filters. There should be a filter like this for GIMP...

Lol as for men's hair, I have fewer of them for a couple reasons: First, they are actually harder for me to make. Since I dont read men's fashion magazines, I just dont see different styles as often. Also unfortunately, men's hair does not sell nearly as well as women's hair. So I wanted to build up a selection of women's hair first. I do have ideas for a couple other men's hairs, so there are a couple others coming :)

Ayame said...

I'm a total newb! I'm only I think like 6 or 7 days old. I found you through a search on prims I think, and WOW! I can't believe how much I've learned just by cruising through your posts. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU for being so cool and taking the time to share all the neat stuff you have learned. I hope someday to be able to do the same for future newbs. Keep it up girl. You are a definite asset to the SL community!

SLNatalia said...

Ayame, thank you so much :) I hope you found the info useful! Have fun in SL and good luck with your projects :)

HR Lightning said...

Hi, i have used your blog as a resourse for info in the past, since it is one of the best online currently. Props! Anyways, I have been making hair for a bit, and have just started to sell on SLX. I decided that i would perfer to have my own hair textures for the business. I learned how to by the taunt site, which i noticed you have as a source as well. The only issue i have been having is with the lighter colours, like blonde, my highlights are not coming out right. I have tried all sorts of things, but alas to no availe. Would you be willing to help me out?

SLNatalia said...

HR, theres not that much of a secret to getting the colors right...its just trial-and-error. It took me about 2 months to do all the textures... Unfortunately, I barely have time to make hair and keep the blog going atm. Perhaps you can get someone to help via the Classifieds...

Anonymous said...

Im having this weird problem with my hair making. Im making a ponytail and when i stand slightly back it looks like I have bald patches. The textures change but up close its perfect. Im not using alpha textures so its not that switching prob that you get with those.
Ive used torus prims all over the head like the hair being pulled up into a pony. Cant figure out why this is happening, any clues?

SLNatalia said...

Dear Anonymous, I get that problem too. It happens when the hair prim is too close to the AV's scalp. I dont exactly know what causes it (thats a question for the experts in the SL forums).

But I know how to get around it: make the hair prims a bit thicker and move them away from the scalp. In other words, you need a little poof in the hair :)

I constantly check to make sure a hair doesnt have this problem. You can pull the SL camera away, then zoom in quickly.

Hope that helps...

Blazorax said...

The problem is caused by what we game developers call Level of Detail or LOD. Prims you see in SL rapidly loses their polygons as the camera pulls away, in an effort to improve framerates.

You can see an example of this when you rez a large Cylinder far away and suddenly pull the camera close. You'll find that the cylindar is briefly an octagon, before it transforms "magically" into a proper high-poly cylinder.

SLNatalia said...

Blazorax, thank you so much for the explanation :) Heehee no idea what you are talking about, but it sounds cool ;P

Anonymous said...

Hey Natalia

I've used this entery in the past to make my hair textures, but I'm getting to the stage now where I need a texture with a transparent bit at the end for effectively hair ends. I know that it sounds like it should be simple to do, but I'm finding it really difficult! Can you help me please?

Also, love the new colours for your hairs :)

SLNatalia said...

Dear Anonymous, flexi textures are in Part 4 of this tutorial series :)

Anonymous said...

O sorry, I suppose I really should look before opening my mouth...or pressing the keyboard :D

SLNatalia said...

Dear Anonymous, lol I should have mentioned something in the post...sorry, I got lazy with the links :P

Misae Silverfall said...

"Note that I am not in the business of making prim hair, so Im not an expert."

So, now that it's coming up on three years later, do you still feel this way? ;)

(And yes, I'm once again referencing your tutorials.)

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Misae, did I say that? Wow, seems like a whole lifetime ago!

Haha thanks for reminding me...I totally forgot about that.

But honestly, when I start a hair on the posestand with a bald head, it's like the scariest thing. And it feels like that statement isnt far from the truth :)

Misae Silverfall said...

I get that feeling anytime I start a new piece of art. Blank paper staring back at me, and sometimes I wonder how the heck I'm going to make something.

Even if I wear other hair, I always default back to yours, so you're doing fine. :)

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Misae, haha thank you so much! And have fun with the tutorial (BTW, that's why I used LoopRez here, so people dont have to start with a bald head ;P)

Sarah-Nicole Somersley said...

A couple updates: It seems taht SL is now rotation the hair texture so should you rotate it before uploading? Also no longer exists. Do you know where it moved to?

Scarlet said...

I am new at making hair and your tutorials are very helpful, thank you so much. I found some hair brushes online. They look like pictures of braids and hair sections. They are in black and white. I downloaded and installed them in Gimp. But,Ido not know exactly what to do with them. I've seen hair in-world made using the box build and then actual hair strands as the texture. I can't find anything online that explains this. It looks like another way of making hair. Can you enlighten me on this please?

Thank you...Scarlet

Chazza said...

Hi, I love your tutorial it's really helped me heaps. I have made two hairs but the second one looks kinda bad when I wear it, I made it to fit my head but when i wear it I can see bald spots and even when I re size and move it. When I rez it it looks fine. Do you know why this is?

Elisabel said...

where do i get LoopRez?? i cant find it anywhere! do you recomend some other program?its really frustrating to search and dont find answers to your questions when you dont know anything eather.
Thanks for your tutorials. i cant go much further 'cause i dont have LoopRez. i already install photoshop!