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nambo

UV mapping, (Tell me it isn't so)

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I'm trying to learn 3ds max (I use max 7, old i know).So far I have mostly done simple environments and various static objects. While I do like modelling there is this one aspect which I have avoided like a plague and that is UV mapping. A long time ago I built maps for 3d games with programs like GTK Radiant etc, which allowed me to just assign the textures on the fly. I have been using materials in a similar way in 3ds max up until now, just applying different materials to different parts of the model. Then I found out that this way I'm probalby using too many materials for each model and that I should arrange the textures so that I'm only using one material per model. I read some tutorials and even watched some videos but I just don't get it. What kind of a human being could spend his time adjusting the vertexes of the UV maps, and then exporting the uvs and paint textures on them? I mean with complicated models the uv mapping and texturing must be pure Hell with the seams and not actually seeing the texture on a model while painting it. Please tell me that I have somehow misunderstood this workflow completely and that it really is somehow tolerable. Perhaps there's software to automate the worst parts of it?

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I know that in blender you can paint onto the model, but the results are quite rough, not suitable for in-game use. Then you can export what you painted as a texture, clean it up, and re-import it. (The type of person who does really detailed work on a uv unwrap is a digital painter. I've done two sets of humanoid clothing textures like this. And yes, it's brain-melting.) If you are using applied textures and just want to squish them into a single texture, perhaps this exporting what's currently on the model and reimporting would work for that.

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Hi,
Try 3Dcoat. It's a cheap sculpting/painting app similar to Zbrush.
I use Zbrush and Photoshop for texturing but if you are on a budget 3dcoat will be more than enough. In some areas it excels Zbrush. Like superb retopo tool, voxel scuplting blabla...
http://www.3d-coat.com/texture-painting/

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Modern versions of good modeling packages allow you to "bake" multiple textures (with multiple texcoord sets) into one texture. In Blender, this is quite easy.

Regarding the unwrapping: You do need to set up the seams yourself, but this isn't so bad a task if you consider carefully which edges are the least visible. Also, mastering selection techniques like chain or loop selection will greatly simplify the process of defining the seams. Again using Blender as an example, the unwrapper automatically considers seams so all you need to do after is some fine tuning.

I haven't used Max for a while, but it does have good unwrapping tools built in. In Max 7, the unwrapper wasn't nearly as robust as it is nowadays in Blender, though.

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Also, the "fine tuning" I mentioned usually consists of minimizing coordinate stretch (for as even uv space division as possible), matching seams (for continuous appearance of textures across seams) and optimizing relative uv sizes (to allocate more uv resolution to geometry that has higher-density texture data).

Software can correct uniform stretching for you to a degree but the other two are subjective and require understanding of where and how the model is actually going to be used.

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Good workflow:


When uvmapping you'll want to figure out where you'll want to have your seams, since that is the place where you'll need to split up the map, and the other is that you'll want to minimize stretching.

There are many tools that'll handle the unwrapping for you, but you'll still need the knowledge of where to put the best seams, like where the arm connects to the torso, the neck, and how to best hide them, like placing them just where the belt starts.

This process will always take a little while, and it takes some technical/artistic knowledge to get a good optimized uw-map, this is something you'll have to practice.
After this you'll be exporting a rendered out wireframe on an image to paint the texture on, or you can use a program that supports projection painting and paint directly on the mesh, but it is best to use both, they're both good at doing different things.

Learning how to avoid visual seams is mostly about learning the tricks on how to best look like they connect properly, such as placing the seam where you'd have a natural seam on the thing you create, such as the edge of a belt, where you would have a seam in reallife too, or where the boot starts after the leg, since you wouldn't have to worry about painting a proper connection there.

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UV Mapping is like any other part of making a nice 3d model. It takes work, and it's a skill set you have to develop.

The UV Editing in old level editors isn't applicable to things at the object level. That was tiling based on world coordinates for environment scaled objects.

If you plan your seams ahead of time, you can almost automatically get through the layout of the UVs on the texture sheet, with some minor adjustments. Then you just have to draw on your texture sheet, using your uv lines as a guide.

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Quote:
Original post by Daaark
UV Mapping is like any other part of making a nice 3d model. It takes work, and it's a skill set you have to develop.


QFT

Also, I think it's worth noting that even professionals aren't particularly fans of UV mapping...I've read before that it's often part of the "bitch work" assignment for new recruits in art departments of studios. (Apologies if I managed to offend anyone there)

Programs like Deep Paint are starting to improve the workflow, however I think that still requires a pre-mapped UV set. Like others have mentioned, placing seams well can handle a lot of the work for you. If I get the seams placed well I find most of my time is spent tweaking individual verts where I come across texture warping.

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Hi,
check this out:
http://www.pixologic.com/zbrush/features/UV-Master/
this could ease your pain.
Using Zbrush you can do everything inside one app, more or less, and this automatic UV mapper thing they added just recently is superb.

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Well my experience has been good from non-professionally trained.

Do you plan on using normal maps or not?

If not, then you can get away with easier unwrapping methods as you don't have to worry much about things you will learn later with normal mapping.

You should really learn by uv-mapping something easy like a box. You can do a projection from each face that fits a whole map. Projecting UV's is really the easiest way to do a lot of simple texturing.

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Quote:
Original post by BCullis
Also, I think it's worth noting that even professionals aren't particularly fans of UV mapping...I've read before that it's often part of the "bitch work" assignment for new recruits in art departments of studios.
Yeah but if you get a newbie to do the UV mapping, then the texturing on the end result won't look as good.
If this is the case, you'd at least want a senior to look over the end result and tell them to re-do it if it's wrong.

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Quote:
Original post by BCullis
Also, I think it's worth noting that even professionals aren't particularly fans of UV mapping...I've read before that it's often part of the "bitch work" assignment for new recruits in art departments of studios. (Apologies if I managed to offend anyone there)


Some artists don't enjoy UV unwrapping, but myself... I find it therapeutic. I spend most of my time playing race-to-deadline, meeting with producers, writing reports, rapid firing work off all over the place... it's hectic.

I actually enjoy putting on my "Do not disturb: Busy" face, a good CD, and totally zoning out for a few hours while I unwrap a mesh with muscle memory.

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Quote:
Original post by BCullis
Quote:
Original post by Daaark
UV Mapping is like any other part of making a nice 3d model. It takes work, and it's a skill set you have to develop.


QFT

Also, I think it's worth noting that even professionals aren't particularly fans of UV mapping...I've read before that it's often part of the "bitch work" assignment for new recruits in art departments of studios. (Apologies if I managed to offend anyone there)

Programs like Deep Paint are starting to improve the workflow, however I think that still requires a pre-mapped UV set. Like others have mentioned, placing seams well can handle a lot of the work for you. If I get the seams placed well I find most of my time is spent tweaking individual verts where I come across texture warping.


I think that "bitch work" mainly applies to unwrapping a shitton of small filler props like debris, small meshed out rocks, and apply some premade texture to them.

But otherwise at any studio a good unwrap is required and thus most artists will be doing it on their own, nobody wants to paint on a bad unwrap.

Some artists dont like to draw, others dont enjoy modelling but just texturing, and then there's some that have problems with unwrapping.

Finding a good set of tools, now thats important, even a high end tool such as 3dsmax does have some of the shittiest uv-mapping tools available in the market out of the box, it takes some plugins and scripts to fix that up.

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Checked out that UV master on Zbrush... Yah its like amazing *nods* painting in your suggested UV seams means you always get the seams where you want >..> and no matter how complex the mesh, it takes seconds.

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