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When Firewatch creator Campo Santo revealed its second title In the Valley of Gods in December last year, people instantly picked up on the design of co-lead character Zora.
They were particularly impressed with the intrepid explorer's naturally kinky barnet, and now the studio's lead artist Jane Ng has posted an fascinating, in-depth blog explaining how Campo Santo realized that look -- and why it was critically important to do so.
"As an immigrant woman of Chinese descent with atypically frizzy wavy hair, my hair is, to an extent, an outward expression of my struggle with who I am and where I belong (or don’t). I want to love my hair the way it naturally is, but it’s never quite simple as that," writes Ng, explaining why studio is determined to give Zora "the hair she loves."
Despite still being a work in progress, the positive fan reaction suggests the team is already on the path to achieving that goal, and one of the biggest challenges they faced along the way was getting Zora's unique hairstyle to play well with light.
"Part of the challenge of all this is that not only are we making Type 4 hair, we are making stylized Type 4 hair that evokes Claire's (Campo Santo's art director) distinct style. It became clear very early that the way Zora’s hair interacts with light would be a key part of the shader work," continues Ng.
"We ended up adding individual controls for each type of lighting we wanted the hair to respond to, based on Claire's specific concept art: for instance, light striking from the back, from the side, ambiently, and so on. This got finicky, but taught us a lot and provided enough variation to create the trailer."
Ng says it'll take a lot more experimentation and iteration for Zora's hair to behave exactly as intended, but the journey so far has already taught the Campo crew a lot. You can read more about the process by checking out the full blog, and we recommend you do because it's chock full of useful insights and tidbits.