Content Dev:CTA Hair

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Main article: CTA Asset.

In the past, the hair existed alongside with the body in the form of front and back side pieces. Thus, there was a limitation in the way that the back hair piece would intercept into the character's body, particularly, if it was lengthy. In response, the CTA3 Power Tools 4 and 5 Hair and Beard systems introduce the new extrapolated composite accessories with the following features:

  • No structural limitation.
  • Dynamic motion support.
  • Supports anchor points.
  • User can recombine the pieces.
Basic structure for the hair accessory.

Primer

Basic Workflow

Steps:

  1. Structure the design and overall project.
  2. Prepare the artwork for the hair pieces.
  3. Import the pieces into CTA.
  4. Create the animations for the individual pieces.
  5. Save the motions in the Action menu.
  6. Set individual Color IDs.
  7. Save the parts as (*.ctProp) - the hair components are now complete.
  8. Assemble the hair.
  9. Set the anchor points.
  10. Save the hair as (*.ctAcc) - the hair is now complete.

Introduction to the Tools

Software Version Range of Use
Adobe Illustrator CC and up Primary drawing application.
Animate CC - Conversion of images to (*.swf) format.
CTA 3 3.2 and up Creation of dynamic composite props.
Setting Accessory location points.

Sample Files

Download a collection of hair assets for your reference (*.ctProp and *.ctAcc).

Hair Sample Files

Source Material Creation

Precautions for Source Image Creation

  • Plan out the assembly of the overall image structure. Pay attention to its feasibility and re-usability and test regularly during the creation process
  • Consider the feasibility of combining individual moving pieces. Reserve image portions for motion and fixed areas. Test often as you go.
  • Determine the overall style and color scheme.
  • If one wishes to set the Render Style for the final stage, try to combine the pieces of the same color by using the Pathfinder or Shape Builder Tool to avoid potential problems.

Animations for Composite Hair

The Action Menu for composite props takes all of the motions with same names and combines them together to trigger simultaneously. Therefore, one must pay special attention with the Motion Clip on a per part basis:

  1. Make sure that the motions that belong together have the same name.
  2. Make sure the combined motions match in size and scale.
  3. Make sure the combined motions match in length, otherwise parts of the same motion will have pauses during playback.
  4. Individual motions will be listed on the bottom column and can freely play on its own.

The following table is the motion specification for Reallustion Power Tools 4 & 5.
You can apply the naming convention and animation lengths listed below.

Reallusion Power Tools 4 & 5 Motion Specification
Motion Name Frames Motion Name Frames
Walking 19 Breeze 20
Running 20 Frustration_Start 16
StrongWind_Start 10 Frustration_End 16
StrongWind_Loop 10 Exclamation_Start 14
StrongWind_End 10 Exclamation_End 12

Hair Attachment Points

Different types of component parts need to attach to their respective places:

Accessory Type Fixed Position Note
Hair Face Need to be attached to the image and not to the bone so that will move with the face while puppeteering.
Mustache Nose First attach to the nose then attach to the parent for proper puppeteering.
Beard Mouth First attach to the mouth then attach to the parent for proper puppeteering.

Asset Creation Workflow

Component Creation

Composite Accessories can have many components and the drawing of the components happen on a piece by piece level. Therefore, it is wise to test out the composition of the pieces during the drawing process to prevent unforeseen issues.

Structural Design

  • The user can change the structure or add extraneous items such as jewelry if desired.
  • Pay attention to the feasibility and re-usability of the structure.
  • It is recommended to perform assembling testing in the drawing stage to avoid potential issues.
Reallusion Power Tools 4 & 5 hair structure

Component Creation

  • Make sure that the style and linework are complementary when the components are put together.

Avoid oversimplification because the parts will tend to merge into a blob. Avoid too much detail, otherwise the final assembly may become too complicated and messy. You should test as you draw.

  • ✘ Wrong: Too much detail can complicate the final composition.
  • ✘ Wrong: Too little detail can merge the pieces indistinguishably.
  • ✔ Right: Strive to achieve the right amount of detail.
  • Make sure that the lighting is suitable for different angles, scaling, and other types of manipulation during the assembly process.
  • Make sure to reserve part(s) of the component for animation and static parts for connecting to the overall assembly. As in the illustration below, the hair loops, bangs, and side strands all have static attachment points to facilitate the assembly process.
  • CTA Composer does not have mirroring function, therefore symmetrical components will need to drawn separately. As in the illustration below, the hair loops and side strands need to be separated into separate props.
CTA asset hair wind.gif


Importing the Components into CTA

The import process for the artwork for the hair is the same as for the prop:

Article: CTA Prop

Basic summary of the workflow:

  1. Move the drawings into Flash and export a (*.swf) file.
  2. Import the (*.swf) file into CTA.
  3. Set the location of the image at (0,0,0).
  4. Save the image as a Prop.

Hair Composition and Settings

Basic Steps

  1. Create Motions.
  2. Save as Motion Clips.
  3. Save to the Action Menu.
Example of all the hair pieces in motion.

Simple Tutorial Video

Motion Creation (Limitations & Specification)

  • Currently, scaling a prop does not influence its translation. Therefore, it is best to avoid using translation to prevent unforeseen issues with scaling. Use the move and rotate deform tool instead.
  • CTA Composer does not support mirroring. Symmetrical object must be made for both sides.
  • The composite Action Menu combines all the of the motions with the same names to fire them off simultaneously. Motions names must match exactly alphanumerically and in capitalization in order to be considered the same.
  • The length of the simultaneous motions clips should be the same.
CTA asset creation hair animation 01.jpg

Motion Creation Suggestions

  • Avoid animating the fixation points of the individual components, otherwise, separations may occur.
  • Make sure the motions are insync -in the same directions according to the situation at hand.
  • Pay special attention to the rhythm of the motions. It is recommended to keep the motions timed differently so as to look more natural -especially for small objects which can carry more atypical animations.
CTA asset example hair wind.gif

Hair Composition and Settings

Composing the Hair

There are too ways to compose the hair, via the:

  1. Actor Composer
  2. Prop Composer

Using the Actor Composer

Steps:

  1. Open a character inside the Composer and take out its hair.
  2. Drag and parent a scalp to its head.
  3. Drag other items to the head, set the positioning, adjust the layers, etc.
  4. Attach all of the items to the scalp.
  5. After assembly, go to Content Manager > Actor > Accessory and save the hair file.
CTA asset composition and settings 01.gif

Using the Prop Composer

  1. Drag a scalp onto the Stage and enter the Composer.
  2. Add in other components, adjust the positioning and sizes.
  3. Once the assembly is complete, save your work as a Prop and return to the Stage.
  4. Open a character and enter the Composer and remove its hair.
  5. Set the attachment point for the previously made prop, adjust its size, positioning, etc.
  6. Save the file under Content Manager > Actor > Accessory.
CTA asset composition and settings 02.gif

Submission and Verification

Standard Submission File Formats

Backup File Overview

Asset creators need to save files in the following formats to expedite future modifications and facilitate file backup.

Saved Project Description File Format
Source Artwork The final work file for the artwork. *.ai
Flash File The Flash file used to export the artwork in (*.swf) format. *.fla
Artwork File The final verified and exported artwork. *.swf
Motion prop The file used to create the motion -containing animation keys. *.ctProject
Motion Clip Motion clip file for every single animation. *.ctAnim
Component Prop The final component prop file(s). *ctProp
Accessory The final accessory file with (with attachment points set) *ctAcc

Naming Conventions

First character of the file names are always capitalized.

Description File Name Example

Props that are symmetrical.
(From the character's point of view)

  • Use the suffix "_L" for left side.
  • Use the suffix "_R" for right side.
CTA asset creation hair naming convention 01.jpg

Props that are symmetrical
and front-facing side.

  • Use the suffix "_L" & "_R" for the sides.
  • Use the suffix "_L_Side" & "_R_Side" for each side view.
CTA asset creation hair naming convention 02.jpg

Verification Process and Checklist

Verification Process

The verification has two phases:

  1. Artwork quality check.
  2. Motion quality check.

Verification Checklist

  1. Whether or not the shapes and colors of the source images are consistent.
  2. Is the rhythm of motion on par with standards?
  3. Whether or not there is something odd after the components are assembled together.
  4. Make sure that the Action Menu is organized correctly.
  5. Check if the animated props still carry motion keys.
  6. Check if all of the items in the Action Menu are capitalized.
  7. Naming of the prop and accessory should be identical in the Stage, Composer, and Scene Manager.
  8. Verify that the positioning is at (0,0,0) and scale is set to 100.
CTA asset hair standard animation.gif