How to Create Natural Animated Hair in 2D

Hair animation remains one of the most difficult areas of character creation. Watch how to create beautiful and easy 2D hair animations using Creature.

Animation by Tom Mirades. Artwork by Maciej Kuciara.

Hair animation remains one of the most difficult areas of character creation. Mimicking the collective, but not altogether uniform, motion of thousands of flexible, wispy strands is a task that even expert animators find daunting. Lifelike hair animation can elevate an otherwise dull animation, or even be a central aspect of a character’s personality. Claudia Chung, the simulation supervisor on the 3D animated film, Brave, told Inside Science the great lengths her team went to perfect Merida’s famous, red locks, saying, “it took us almost three years to get the final look for her hair and we spent two months working on the scene where Merida removes her hood and you see the full volume of her hair."

Achieving beautiful secondary motion for materials like hair and cloth provides similar artistic challenges in both 3D and 2D—keyframe animation for hair can be time consuming and complex, while creating uniform hair can look unnatural and flat. With Creature 2D, animators can rely on physics simulation to achieve fast and natural hair animations—from dynamic bouncing as a character moves, to creating blowing hair in powerful winds. DeepMotion physics engineer, Tom Mirades, reveals his process for animating hair using Creature in the video above. Watch his process as he uses Photoshop to create hair sections from a 2D image, rigs and weights his 2D mesh, and adds physics/force motors to finally animate his character’s hair. Tom used an artwork by Maciej Kuciara for this animation.

Tom also recreated his hair animation in Spine 2D. See the Creature verses Spine time-lapse comparison below.

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