Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hair Simulation in Maya 2014

Rapunzel - great hair!
One of the best new features of Autodesk Maya 2014 is a big step forward in its hair simulation capabilities. The new tool is called XGen, and it comes free with Maya 2014. It was developed by Disney/Pixar and was used on their recent film Rapunzel, to generate the heroine's gorgeous, bouncing tresses.

At the BlueGFX Expo in London last month, Autodesk demonstrated their new hair simulation tool, giving us a step-by-step tutorial in how to go about creating great hair effects in Maya with this new instancing system. So how exactly does it work?

XGen is found under the Dynamics tab in Autodesk Maya. You go to Create/XGen/description, and give it a project name. Pick groomable splines/create to create your new hair map.  You can use the Density slider to add to or reduce the density of the follicles.

Using the brush tool you can paint the hairs to make them bigger or smaller. You can pose them too, grooming the hair to make it follow the contours of the body, growing out in different directions, just like real hair.

On a facial rig, you can add stubble, a moustache, a beard. You will generally do this on a separate mesh. Underneath the hair mesh will be the original mesh, which will have its own skin shader.

You can also use XGen to create other effects, such as long grass waving the wind. You can use the same system to propagate trees in a landscape, or grass over a field, or roof tiles on a roof.

So, next time you're working on a character rig, have a go at XGen and see what you can create.


For more about free online tutorials, see our post about Andy Sykes' excellent tutorials in Flash, and check out the free Maya tutorials at Animation Apprentice. Be sure to take advantage of free life drawing classes at For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days,  take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK. Find out why we're giving free laptops to all our students, and why we give all our students free access to videos at Also, see what financial assistance might be available to you. Learn which is better for animation, a PC or a Mac? Get hold of a copy of a map so you can find your way around campus, and learn about motion capture at Bucks. And find out about how our online video tutorials work.


  1. is there a recording of the presentation that disney gave on x gen?

  2. Hello. Is there a way to use this with the educational version of Maya 2014? Thanks for the introduction!

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