The Blender Developers YouTube channel has just posted an impressive demo of the new principled hair shader implemented in the upcoming Blender 2.8.
The new shader, which was added as part of this year’s Google Summer of Code program, is based on techniques developed by Disney for movies like Zootopia.
Simple, physically plausible controls for hair glossiness and colour
Although Blender already has its own hair shader, the new Principled Hair BSDF is designed to make it simpler to achieve realistic results, exposing a small range of physically plausible parameters.
As with the hair shader in V-Ray Next, which is based on the same research, it provides settings to control how hairs scatter light, determining how glossy the hair looks, and to control its colour.
The latter replicate the pigmentation of human hair and animal fur, with an overall Melanin setting controlling its darkness, and one for the ratio of pheomelanin to eumelanin controlling its redness.
A separate Tint setting can be used to apply a separate colour after the melanin has been calculated, making it possible to ‘dye’ the virtual hair in crazy colours.
The new shader has been implemented into Cycles, Blender’s GPU-based offline renderer.
Parts may come to Eevee, Blender 2.8’s new real-time render engine, but as a path-tracing-based technique aimed at VFX work, it’s unlikely to be supported fully in Eevee.
Availability and system requirements
Test builds of Blender 2.8 are now available for download for 32- and 64-bit Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The release date for the stable build is still not fixed, but it’s expected later this year.