Create Pine Needle Cover On Model
I'm modeling the shape of a character that I want to be covered in pine needles in order to make it look as if it's made of said needles (and some other random litter, but that's outside the scope of this post). The needles will need to range in their state of decay and not just be a uniform color.
I was thinking of making a high point density polygonal model of the character and writing a mel script to make a copy of a low poly needle at the position of each point with a random orientation and with one of several needle shaders. I have a few issues with this which are as follows...
1. Is this the best way to get these needles in the shape of the model?
2. I'm familiar with C and scripting languages, but have never written anything in mel and don't know where to begin to spawn an object on a per-point basis, or if the coordinates for each point of an object is even available to script against (although I'm pretty sure it is).
2. I'm going to have a few close up shots of this character, which is why I want geometry and not just a displacement map, however I realize no matter how conservative with the needles, they're going to add up to be a whole lot of polys. It needs to be geometry at render time or it'll never look right when the camera's up close, but is there a better way to do this?
I'm going to be looking for reference materials to solve this, especially problem 2, but finding that sort of exact information's hard, so I'd appreciate any help, tugs in the right direction, code snippets you can spare. Thanks, guys.