Normally, I try to avoid getting into these types of discussion because they require reasoned thinking and clear writing.
I’m retired dammit!!! I don’t want to spend my time creating a reasoned document and I certainly don’t want to spend time debating it!
However, I’m one of those people who owns both Garibaldi and LAMH and prefers Garibaldi. I also seem to be the only one who is prepared to speak for Garibaldi.
Be aware that the LAMH team has indicated that some (possibly all) of the reasons for my preference are going to be addressed in the update. If that happens, I may be persuaded to shift my preference. Until then, this is why I prefer Garibaldi…
- Marschner hair shader. This is what the big boys use - and its what Garibaldi uses.
- Garibaldi hair saves with the scene. In fact, once the hair is created, it can only be saved through the DS save menu. It can be saved as a supported asset, wearable preset, scene subset, etc. You can make metadata and have it appear in the smart content pane or just load it from the content library like any other hair prop.
- the plugin does not need to be open in order to render. As long as the plugin is valid you’re good to go. As mentioned above, once the hair is created, it is just another scene object and doesn’t require special handling to load, save or render.
- the hair has render percentage values. At 100%, the hair will render the amount specified when you created (or modified) it. In the parameters pane you can specify a lower render amount to get fewer/thicker hairs or a higher amount to get more/thinner hairs rendered without having to open the plugin to change the amount. The percentages can be changed on a per node basis.
- the plugin doesn’t change the mesh resolution. If you take a high resolution figure into Garibaldi, it remains a high resolution figure when you come back to DS.
- the only time I ever crashed Garibaldi/DS was during the beta run up to the version 1 release. Since then, I have not crashed - even when I make astoundingly stupid mistakes in Garibaldi. YMMV.
- Garibaldi feels like a DS plugin. LAMH feels like a bridge to an external app.
It should be noted that the Garibaldi author has said - several times - that his only interest is to make a ri-curves hair system for DS. Period. That could always change - but that’s the way I understand the situation at this time.
The LAMH team have made it clear that they intend to push the technology as far as they can. Even version 1 has the ability to replace rendered hair with instanced objects. That, alone, makes the 2 products very different beasts.
Some of the LAMH tools have a bit more functionality and some just work differently. Whether you like the differences is a matter of personal taste.
LAMH has the spherize tool. You can use the tool on one or more axes to control the shape. Garibaldi has a similar tool called curl but it only functions on the “Y” axis.
On the other hand, the Garibaldi comb tool can be stroked down the hair with one click and will influence every hair it touches. It acts like a real comb. In LAMH, the comb has to be touching hair when you click and will only influence the hair that was under the tool at the time of the click.
Both plugins will let you stack as many hair nodes (shave groups) as your system can handle in one hair style. Both will only let you work with one node at a time. LAMH will let you see all the nodes at once so you can see the relationship between all the nodes and how the changes on the node you are working on are affecting the overall style. Garibaldi will only let you see the node you are working on. You cannot see the overall relationship until you return to DS.
Both plugins are capable of .obj export. However, in Garibaldi this is an unsupported feature. The LAMH team is happy to support the feature.
The LAMH team - and users - are very active in the forums and there is a large and growing library of user made presets. Garibaldi - not so much. There were plans to create a user library similar to the LAMH one - but that hasn’t materialised yet.
Like all apps, each plugin has its pros and cons. Which one is right for you depends on your needs, preferences, and workflow.
So, that’s my comparison in broad strokes and my reasons for preferring Garibaldi.
Have at it.