I'm self taught and working on hair for a 5-6k poly character. Well... he has dreadlocks, which puts me in a bit of a bind. One, I'm not too good with hair in the first place, and two, I'm sortof winging it with nothing but my reference pics and my sketches.
So I brazenly decided to start a sculpt, and figured that the good people here might lend their expertise and tell me how off-base I am later.
Here's the rough, unsmoothed sculpt. I did two layers of dreads, the inner one to bulk up the empty space, and all together it comes up to 570 polys. (Good? Bad? I have no idea.)
Here's the hair with the model (still a WIP) attached:
Usually, I see hair feathered with alpha channels, but aside from wispy ends, I don't see that happening here. On my own novice judgment, I'm thinking normal maps and materials will have to do the work. I just noticed that the second layer of 'hair' is peeking out behind that ear-- I'll move that shortly.