Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Nausicaa Project: Tackling Hair

This week I'm going to explain how I went about making Nausicaa's wig, which was my first experiment in wig making. I spent quite a bit of time prior to this looking for good tutorials and thinking about how I could apply different elements to building Nausicaa's hair up. Transposing the design of her hair shape from 2D to 3D was another challenge to consider - how would I emulate the hand drawn look in a physical model?

I began with the most obvious stage - making a wig cap to build the hair up on. It's a couple of layers of a stretch mesh fabric, sewn together with invisible thread. The elasticity gives it a nice stretch so it fits well on her head with no slippage. 

My initial decision for hair build up was to make wefts of hair which would be attached to the wig cap in layers. This involved spreading hair across a strip of mesh material and glueing it down with Gorilla Glue. By the way, the hair I'm using for Nausicaa is Saran, bought from I managed to find a great colour match.

I made multiple wefts, which were then glued to the wig cap in layers, starting at the bottom.

The problem is that the hair slipped when I glued it to the wig, and also the stiffness of the Gorilla Glue once the wefts had set made it hard to shape around the skull. So instead I tried glueing the hair in sections, directly onto the wig cap. I tried using a different glue as well - Aleene's Tacky Glue. It's very strong but not as industrial as gorilla glue, and dries clear as well. I stuck sections down, coated them in glue with a tooth pick and then trimmed the edges straight.

I kept building up the hair until I began to reach the centre of the skull.

I then cut a fringe across the front of her head to the rough length the final hair would be. It was immediately evident that her hair was very flat on top of her head though - Nausicaa has a big mass of hair on top of her skull, so it didn't look right. 

I tried building it up with multiple layers to get the desired but this didn't work well, so I ended up making an upholstery foam former on top of her skull, with hair lying over it, to get the look I wanted.

As you can see, this made a huge difference to the volume of hair on the top of her head. The former also helped me to make a neat hairline - I made a slit in the upholstery foam so I could fold the hair in and under, making what looks like quite a natural hairline, free from glue marks.

So the final stage was to cut and style the hair. Cutting hair is something else I've never really done before (and it's harder than it looks, trust me!), so I just had to take it slowly and try to work out how to achieved the shape. I layered the bottom to get that curved bob shape Nausicaa has.

Once the shape was mostly right, I had to work out a way to style is and get that clean, graphic look. I experimented with a few things, but in the end a varnish - 'Future Floor Polish', worked amazingly at holding the shape of the hair without making it look too rigid or ruining the finish of the saran.

It meant that I was able to give the fringe more definition, and also taper the ends of hair in places to give it that anime look.

The wig isn't completely finished - I'd like to taper the hair in at the skull more so it flares out at the bottom. There are some other little tweaks I could make to help it match the artwork more accurately. But it's a good start, and for my first attempt at wig making I'm quite happy with the results!

Thank you for keeping up to date with this project, and check back next Sunday for my next post, which will be about how I made Kai's saddle.

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