STAGE 1: PREPARATION
a) Start with an Editable Poly model (keep copies of your spline models!)
b) Checker Map: Create a checker material and apply to your model (can be a checkerletter map). Increase tiling (20x20 is often a good starting place).
c) Reference Mapping: Apply Unwrap UVW modifier. Hit [Open UV Editor] to view 2D UVW space. Hit Face Selection, go to Mapping/Flatten Mapping & hit [OK] for a quick, full unwrap. Select all UVs & scale down to a dot. Move out of the 0-to-1 square to fit into a white checker space for later reference.
STAGE 2: UNWRAPPING
a) Select map-able polygon area (for cylindrical, planar, or spherical map).
b) Apply UVW map and use the 5 steps:
- Activate the Gizmo sub-object level, to see the yellow and green lines.
- Make regular (hit spherical & planar). Choose final mapping type.
- Fix orientation (alignment + hand-rotation. Check all views)
- Check pupik & green line directions to place seams where you want.
- Scale (cylindrical maps are scaled to fix checker pattern stretching).
c) Apply Unwrap UVW, hit [Open UV Editor], select UVs & move out of 0-to-1 square.
d) Convert to Editable Poly and choose another area to map (step a).
Repeat until all parts are unwrapped. Confirm by applying Unwrap UVW with no particular area selected and check to be sure the entire Reference Map is gone!
STAGE 3: CLEAN UP
Apply Unwrap UVW at object level.
Hit [Open UV Editor] and put all elements in the 0-to-1 square with the following 4 critical considerations (ordered by importance):
a) Reduce Seams: Stitch together related parts like flesh on lower & upper arms. Different materials should NOT be stitched, like flesh to cloth.
b) Group by Color: Texture painting is easier if grouped by cloth, flesh, etc.
c) Prioritize: The most noticeable or detailed parts get more space. A face needs 1/5 the square, even though it is 1/20 the total surface area of a body. Feet bottoms can usually get less space, as they are less visible.
d) Optimize in the 0-to-1 square: Scale up parts & re-arrange for less wasted space. Mirrored parts can be stacked for less texturing work (symmetrical faces, right & left arms, etc). Leave at least 5 pixels gutter for normal mapping.
STAGE 4: EXPORT UVW COORDINATES
Apply UnwrapUVW, hit [Open UV Editor], and choose Tools/Render UVW Template.
Set size (512x512, 1024x1024, or 2048x2048) and hit Render UVW Template.
Save as a JPEG and open in Photoshop.
STAGE 5: PAINT IN PHOTOSHOP
Create a Photoshop file the same size as your UVW template.
Add at least four layers:
- TOP LAYER: UVs: Copy and paste the UVW template to the top layer: set to Multiply, 30-50% opacity, and locked.
- SECOND LAYER: Pallette: Find color references and color pick to make a Pallette (at least two shades per color).
- BOTTOM LAYER: BaseColors: Create a layer for Colors on the bottom. Fill with a medium-dark color from your pallette. use the marquee tool to block out all the major colors.
PRO TIP: Once you have major colors applied, hide the UV layer, save as a JPEG and apply to the model to view the colors in scene and make adjustments before adding details.
- MIDDLE LAYERS: Create layers in between for painting details, dirt, and Ambient Occlusion (shadows cast by the model onto itself). Consider painting with a solid brush, 40% opacity, and use your pallette to quickly pick colors.
Paint Color, Specular, Bump, and Opacity maps as needed. Save out as separate JPEG files, quality 10.
STEP 6: CREATE MAX MATERIAL
In 3ds max, select a Standard Material and name it.
Apply JPEGs to Maps Channels.
Apply the material to the model and render.