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Disney Magic: 3-D Printed Figurines Gain Realistic-Looking Hair

A new technique lets 3-D printed replicas of ourselves sport realistic hairstyles instead of chunky blobs.

A small but growing number of people have had a 3-D figurine printed of themselves, and many have likely noticed that while the general shape and coloring is pretty good, the hair isn't particularly faithful to the original. This limitation in the reproduction process has been largely overcome by a team at Disney Research, an informal collaboration of the Walt Disney Co. with various labs. They've demonstrated a new method that results in highly realistic 3-D hair reproduction.

The team, based in Zurich, Switzerland, took inspiration from the old masters — sculptors like Michelangelo who used a stylizing technique to create amazingly realistic hair on their statues. The algorithms governing the technique aren't easy to describe, but the results speak for themselves. In the paper, published in the Association for Computing Machinery journal, numerous faces and dozens of hairstyles are shown, each rendered quite satisfactorily. This more realistic hair printing isn't going to save the world or anything, but chances are it's going to make more than a few kids' days at Disneyland.



-Devin Coldewey, NBC News