Simulating Multiple Scattering in Hair Using a Photon Mapping Approach

Jonathan T. Moon and Stephen R. Marschner.

In Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 2006. Held in Boston, Massachusetts, July 2006.

A rendered ponytail. Left: single scattering; right: multiple scattering.


Simulating multiple scattering correctly is important for accurate rendering of hair. However, a volume of hair is a difficult scene to simulate because scattering from an individual fiber is very structured and forward directed, and because the radiance distributions that arise from many such scattering events remain quite directional. For these reasons, previous methods cannot compute accurate images substantially faster than Monte Carlo path tracing.

This paper proposes a new physically accurate method for rendering hair that is based on previous volumetric photon mapping methods. The first pass generates a photon map by tracing particles through the hair geometry, depositing them along paths rather than at scattering events. The second pass ray traces the hair, computing direct illumination and looking up indirect radiance in the photon map. Photons are stored and looked up in 5D position-direction space to allow for the very directional radiance distributions that occur in hair. Together with a new radiance caching method for fibers, our method simulates difficult scattering problems in hair efficiently and with low noise.

The new algorithm is validated against path tracing and also compared with a photograph of light scattering in real hair.


This paper is available as a 3.6M PDF file or as a 583K PDF file.

Steve Marschner