According to this article on ScienceDaily, researchers at MIT and the University pierre et Marie Curie in Paris provide the first detailed model for the 3-D shape of a strand of curly hair.
This work could have applications in the computer animation film industry, but it also could be used by engineers to predict the curve that long steel pipes, tubing, and cable develop after being coiled around a spool for transport. In the field, these materials often act like a stubborn garden hose whose intrinsic curves make it behave in unpredictable ways. In engineering terminology, these items — and hair — are all examples of a slender, flexible rod.
“Our work doesn’t deal with the collisions of all the hairs on a head, which is a very important effect for animators to control a hairstyle,” Reis says. “But it characterizes all the different degrees of curliness of a hair and describes mathematically how the properties of the curl change along the arc length of a hair.”
Representation is important. It’s a shame when people can’t watch animated movies or shows that have characters that look like them. I hope this work can help even smaller animation studios make works with unique characters like Merida!