How to Create Fur in Unreal Engine (Using gFur Free Plugin)

Using the gFur Plugin in Unreal Engine 5 will allow you to easily create shell based fur grooming. This plugin is completely free and available for commercial use.

Here is an example of what you’ll learn in this tutorial:

Shell Fur Example in Unreal Engine

A better alternative, though often less performant, is to use the Groom and Alembic Groom Importer Plugins that come with Unreal Engine by default.

If you are creating fur for video games, using a shell-based approach is typically the best option. For cinematic projects requiring high-quality, detailed hair and fur, go for the alembic groom.

But for this tutorial, we will learn to use this plugin exclusively, as the documentation is not very extensive. If you keep reading, you’ll even find an option to combine both options and export the plugin results to an Alembic file.

So, first, download the gFur plugin from the Unreal Engine Marketplace, install it in the engine, and then open the project where you have an animal, material, or anything else where you want to create fur.

1. Enable the gFur Plugin

Inside Unreal Engine go to Settings -> Plugins -> GFur PRO.

Enable it and restart the engine.

gFur Pro Plugin

2. Add the gFur Component

For this step, I recommend using the mesh to which you intend to apply the fur within a blueprint actor, pawn, or character. Then simply add the GFur component.

Alternatively, you can drag and drop the mesh into the level and add the gFur component in the details panel.

Choose the method that best suits your needs.

For this tutorial, I am utilizing the Fox model from the free Animal Variety Pack available on the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Within this pack, you’ll also find an example of a shell-based material without the need for any additional plugins.

However, as shown in the screenshot below, I have chosen to remove it and instead applied the standard fox material twice. Therefore, I am not utilizing the shell-based material provided with the fox skeletal mesh.

Add gFur Component Unreal Engine

3. Select the Grow Mesh

Next, select the GFur component added in the previous step, and choose a “Skeletal Grow Mesh” in the Details Panel.

You can select the same skeletal mesh or static mesh that you are currently using. At least for now, I recommend using the same skeleton for testing the process the first time and checking that everything works fine.

This mesh is used to define the areas where hair will appear on the mesh. This means that if you want, you can export the skeletal mesh now and remove in Blender or any other 3D software the areas of the model that should not have fur. For example, eyes, nose, horns, mouth or claws. Then, import the skeletal mesh into Unreal Engine and use it within the GFur component.

When you are finished, compile the Blueprint so that you can apply the Grow Mesh material in the next step.

GFur Skeletal Mesh UE5

4. Apply the GFur Material

Once you have compiled the Blueprint, the materials should appear in the Details Panel.

Now, you need to select any of the GFur materials available in the Plugin.

Simply search for “GFur_” to see the full list.

Feel free to experiment with the different materials. For this tutorial, I chose the “GFur_Advanced_v2_Material“.

To make sure that everything is working fine, you can also experiment with the “Fur Length” and other parameters.

5. Customize the GFur Material

As we don’t want our fox to be white, we need to adjust the material instance slightly.

This process is quite simple. Just click on the folder icon below the material name to navigate to the folder where the material is located. It should be inside “Engine -> Plugins -> GFur PRO Content -> gFur Shaders”.

Tip: If it doesn’t work, make sure to press the “Settings” button in the Content Browser and enable “Show Engine Content” and “Show Plugin Content”.

Next, duplicate the Material Instance and move the duplicated file outside the plugins folder, for example, to the fox materials folder. Now, we can change everything we want in the material instance without modifying or breaking the original plugin file.

Then you just need to change the Base Texture from the default white to the texture you want to apply to the fur.

In the Material Instance, you’ll also be able to add a normal map and change the fur pattern, as well as adjust the fur pattern tiling. Feel free to experiment as much as you want.

Editing a Material Instance Texture in UE5

6. GFur Guides Fur Splines

To finish setting up the plugin, simply click the “New Splines” button in the “G Fur Guides” parameters and save the fur splines file.

Feel free to adjust the spline length and control points if desired.

The splines file is optional, but you will need it if you want to groom the fur in the next step. With the file, you will be able to change the length in different areas, remove or add splines, and bend or curl the hair, among other options.

Tip: If you click “Export Splines” instead, you will be able to export the splines in an Alembic format for use with the Unreal Engine hair system. You can learn more in the documentation.

Unreal Engine Plugin Fur New Splines

7. How to Groom Fur in Unreal Engine

Before starting to groom the fur of the mesh, I recommend you remove any enabled animations.

Another tip is to navigate to the details panel of the GFur component and go to the “G Fur Physics” parameters. Here, disable “Physics Enabled” or lower the physics values.

After you finish grooming, you can re-enable the animations and physics and start tweaking the values.

To begin working on the hair of the model, change the working mode to “gFur Mode” in the top bar of the viewport.

You’ll see a new set of tools on the left side of the screen. Use these tools to adjust the splines length, bend, clump, twist, noise, curl, relax, and add or remove splines.

Grooming fur with gFur PRO in Unreal Engine

In the GFur documentation, you will find explanations for all these options and tools. Also don’t forget that there also a lot of parameters in the material instance.

This process will take time depending on the quality and detail of the fur you wish to achieve. Take your time, and you should get a good result.

8. Fur Optimization in Unreal Engine

If your game frames are dropping and you need to improve game performance in Unreal Engine, you can add noise.

The “Noise Strength” parameter in the “G Fur Shell Settings” of the details panel will add noise to the shell effect.

I also recommend playing with the “Shell Bias” to find a good balance between making it work and not using too much noise.

Achieving a good result can be a tough process, and even studios can’t always achieve the most realistic results. Remember Sif from Dark Souls and don’t get discouraged, it’s all practice and patience.

Dark Souls Great Grey Wolf Sif Shell Based Fur
Game: Dark Souls Remastered

Hope this helps! Keep on creating!

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