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Virtual gardener
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#1 Old 15th Dec 2018 at 9:55 AM Last edited by Lyralei : 14th Jan 2019 at 10:56 AM.
Default How to make awesome textures by not opening Photoshop at all! Kinda! (TS3) - Blender
Aha, you heard it right! It's interesting, to me at least, that so many creators out there have this believe of "okay... if I make a mesh I have to draw the entire texture but I can't draw!!" And this either ends in bucketfilled textures or reusing textures that really don't look as great. Of course, then you got the masters of Photoshop and Photoshop the hell out of a texture and make it look believably good.

This tutorial, however, is for the people who think they suck at texturing but want to make an awesome texture for their mesh!


not-too important info

"So Lyra, where did you get all this information from?". Now I'm not a professional 3D modeller nor make moneys out of it, but I have done work in 3D engines and researched some workflow and watched a good 48 hours of interviews of game developers to have noticed their workflow of things. (yes I have no life :P) Now we don't have access to any other shiny thingies they have but the basics we creators, as well as game developers, do have access to and have in common!

Here is a great overview video of what we'll be learning in this thread:

I also used this workflow on my Kara project which you can view right HERE
As you can see here, it's fully textured, bump mapped, specular mapped. All the textures were baked and never ever opened in Photoshop

What do I need exactly?

  • A basic understanding of Blender (So how to rotate the camera, scale meshes, Sculpting, UV map, apply a texture )
  • Knowing how to make CASparts for the sims 3. (So, you know how to make Specular maps, normal maps, multiplier maps, etc. as well as extracting a mesh and work with TSRW)
  • Blender :P
  • The sims 3 (For testing)
Note: If you're a bit new to Blender, the shortcuts, or confused on what I mean, I made a guide riiight Here

Let's get started!
So for this tutorial, I'd like to do it more from a perspective where you can see how much you can do with this technique with limited "talent" really, so I opened up a random mesh from the game and will be using that. For you retextures out there this could be a pretty good example, but if you mesh your own content or use Marvelous designer, It's totally fine though to use your own mesh for this!

When you start making something from scratch with this method, you do want to use a reference of some sort. Here's the one I'm going to be using!:

But how do I easily export an EA mesh??? It's actually quite easy! If you use TSRW, just go to:
1. Create new project >
2. click a category >
3. Click a dress/shirt/pants/etc that works with your reference >
4. When it's loaded, go to mesh.
5. Click the export button.
6. Change "Wso" saving extension to ".OBJ" and save! And of course, then import it into ze Blender.

I do want to point out this, for the ones who exported a mesh and... it does things like that. You notice on my mesh that there are these hard lines right? Which, obviously, was EA making it so that dress was pretty and awesome but in our case we don't want this... but what do we do??

(if you don't have any funky lines and what-not, just skip to "Let's get detaily!")

1. Click on the mesh, and let's go into edit mode.

2. When you see the dots appearing on your mesh, Use the shortcut "a" and then "spacebar". Then, write "remove doubles" and press enter.

Now the mesh appears a bit... funky and if you're more experienced in meshing, you probably want to scream at me, but, believe me, we're going to fix and tidy it up later at the end of this tutorial!

Let's get detailey!

1. Click on the mesh in object mode
2. Ctrl+C , then Ctrl+V
3. rename the Duplicated one to "High Poly" And the other one to "Low poly". The sorting doesn't matter much right now, as long as one of them are called High poly and the other Low poly.
(To rename a mesh, just click on the "groupname" text in the list, Right click and then at the bottom of the list it should say "rename".)

4. Hide the Low Poly mesh and make it unselectable by clicking on the "eye" and "cursor" icons.

5. Go to the Modifyer tab.

6. Click Multires and ONLY click "Subdivide". Now you have a good base to start sculpting with

Let's sculpt those details!

Thing to know before we start is, do you know how to Sculpt in Blender? If not, here's an awesome tutorial!

If you watched the tutorial or you're just pretty similar to the whole sculpting progress then let's continue Let's first set it up for sculpting. These are usually the settings I use:

(I usually switch from Detail size: 12" to 7 or sometimes 3. Depending on what I'm drawing on.)

Now, you're probably wondering "Why did we duplicate the mesh?". The Highpoly mesh is going to be the mesh we'll be sculpting on. this will basically be the "Baking" mesh later where we then apply all our textures onto the Low poly mesh. You'll see what I mean after we're done sculpting

Sculpting can take a while if you're as perfectionistic as I am The kara coat I showed you took me a week to finish, so sometimes it requires a lot of energy and such. Let's cover some important details here:

What can't I sculpt?
To get the most out of the sculpting your textures bit is you need to understand a few things that could be problematic if done wrong:
  • Don't sculpt patterns like tartar patterns, or zebra patterns or any kind of pattern like that. What you can sculpt (but isn't exactly recommended because of CASting) is, say, knitting patterns and fabric-like patterns.
  • Don't add more details to the sim body itself. Mainly because it will feel so out of place with the in-game's textures and skin. The skin is however going to be the part we won't use eventually. So it would be kind of a waste of time :/
  • Don't be too hard on yourself if it doens't work out as well. Why? Because if this is your first time, it willl take a few tries till you totally get it but never give up!! As Bob ross says, "they're not mistakes, just happy little accidents"
  • Sculpting bows or attached thingies that really jump out are usually better off meshed. Else you kinda get that "skinned texture" effect going on... unless that's what you're into, then go for it! :D
  • We're sculpting details! Which means, we're sculpting: seams, gathers, pleats, pockets, buttons, seams, laces, hems, and anything along those lines.

Now that we've got that covered, let's get started! The brush that I usually start with when outlining is "Claystripes". You don't want to make it too harsh or too big since we'll start with the "outlining" first. I usually make a reference here to make it a little easier, like so:

You don't have to do this though if you want to just go with looking at the reference picture of course but I'll explain what is what and why:
  • green: Outlining the shirt and dress so we know what to do on the sim's body.
  • Red: Searching for the seams to draw on the mesh and where exactly they are.
  • Blue: What needs to be more "outstanding" So in this case, it's basically the wrinkles and the gathers.
I also kept the original image so I can see how hard the brush at those areas should be

Looks a little rough but we can fix that! With the flat brush as well as the Sculpt draw (but using the sculpt draw to go inwards so specific places are looking a tad better and more prominent) Or crease you can clean this up a bit. Remember, it doesn't need to look awesome yet! you do want to smooth the hell out of it.

Tada! Looks a bit better, doesn't it? Now we want to add seams. for that, you can either use the SculptDraw brush and go inwards, or the Crease brush. I'd recommend the Crease brush though and then later on go over it with the SculptDraw for smoothing

For drawing seams, make sure you're making small lines. See how the big line is a huge seam? I've never seen a seam like that ever in my life so the smaller the brush the better!

And now we have our seams! All we gotta do now is to add some wrinkles and such till we can bake everything

For adding wrinkles, it does require some energy, as well as a lot of falling and getting up again but that's okay! for the wrinkles either SculptDraw or claystripes would be the most recommended ones to use You also might want to turn off the symmetry for this.

(To turn this off, just go to "Symmetry/Lock" and click on the X. it shouldn't be dark gray now and you'll be able to not draw all symmetrized)

And Tada! There we have something with wrinkles :D. It's... not perfect but since I'm also not exactly amazing at them I still think it's passable.

"lyra, what will we be doing with the skirt???"
Well... we have a choice here actually. either we improvise a little and make it a tad different, or we are deciding to mesh it in. now, in a way it's still possible to create something as the skirt in the reference but there is a change that this won't go as great. So it really is just making choices here. I'll try sculpting it though and improvising a little.

If you are thinking of going with meshing, Cloth similator is probably your best shot here!

The skirt's mesh could look a bit interesting as it does here but that really isn't too big of an issue. you might want to edit it a little though but that's easy

Once you've done the back of your mesh (unless you already did this )
Virtual gardener
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Original Poster
#2 Old 6th Jan 2019 at 4:42 PM Last edited by Lyralei : 12th Jan 2019 at 1:14 PM.
Default Let's bake the multiplier!
Ready to bake the Mutliplier!

This is the part where we'll be first starting to bake our Multiplier map. Most people would think you need to UV map the high poly version of the dress but that's really not needed! Especially since the Low Poly is already UV mapped! (if you haven't yet done that on your own meshed mesh, please do so before we proceed With EA's you don't have to worry about this.)

So this is what we'll be doing basically! But I just translated it to the sims:

1. Unhide the Low Poly one and make it selectable

2. Click the corner of the view to drag another view. This will be our Texture baking bit!

3. Change the view to UV/Image editor.

4. Create a new image. (Image> new Image) Now I like to bake things 4k to scale it down easier, but if your computer isn't exactly great, I'd recommend staying with 1024.

TIP: You can let Blender do maths! just write down "1024*4" and it converts it to 4096px!

5. Call it "multiplier" so we don't get confused when baking the other stuff

6. Go to the render tab, and scroll allll the way till you see "bake"

7. First, let's set the bake mode to "Ambient Occlusion"

8. Tick "Selected to Active" (This setting will make it so we can bake our high poly shadows and such onto the low poly mesh!)

9. Tick the "Clear" Button, mainly this is for if you need to rebake, you don't end up with this weird hybrid image of your previous image.

10. Change margin to 3px or maybe even 5px, though don't go higher than that because it will make the sides overlap each other and losing the details we created.

11. We make sure that we FIRST select the HIGHPOLY MESH. THEN the LOWPOLYMESH (!important!!!)

12. Let's click on "Bake!"

Now the rendering time can change from just a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how well your computer's CPU is. So if your computer is like before 2013 (or even 2010), that could mean it renders slowly. It's kinda like playing the latest game on a potato computer, it would run worse than on a latest computer


13 To save it, we just click on "Image" and "Save as image". Then you just locate it to your workfolder and you just successfully made the first texture!

What to do if...

It's pixelated!!!
I made a tutorial on this riiight here: How to bake your multiplier less pixelated! (Blender)

Why is it showing pink/green/a different colour than gray??
Usually this could mean 2 things. Either your Graphics card or some component that we need for rendering is busted. OR your CPU/GPU isn't Blender supported. This usually happens if you have a very old model.

Why is yours darker than mine??

This could happen if you accidentally baked everything on "Cycle render" mode rather than "Blender render".
(For the ones saying that baking on Cycle Render is better, I agree but for multiplier maps for the sims 3 it's not exactly as required. It also comes out less plastic-y looking? And more EA-ish )

Virtual gardener
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Original Poster
#3 Old 12th Jan 2019 at 1:59 PM Last edited by Lyralei : 12th Jan 2019 at 2:13 PM.
Default Let's bake the Normal map!
Now it's time to make the Normal map! Which is just as easy and pretty much the same as the Multiplier map.

1. Let's create a new "Layer". So first we click "image" again and then "New image"

2. Then we basically do as we did before, but this time we're calling our image "Normal" (or "normals", "Bump map" anything that helps you understand the difference between the multiplier map and the normal map)

3. Now we go back to the render menu (if that wasn't open yet) And scroll to bake again.

4. Change Bake mode to "normals".

5. tick the "Selected to Active again, and also "clear" then, set the Margin to 3px or 5px or so.

6. This is more of a note but do NOT change the Normal space to "World" or "object". We want it to be set on "tangent." Else you'll have a invalid Normals map for our Sims 3 game!! And, as cool and awesome as it sounds, it will turn it into a rainbow :P

Now, this is a weird step but Blender will else bake the normals on our Multiplier which is something we don't want! But due to it's caching system it would if we wouldn't do this...

7. Click the LOW POLY mesh and then "TAB" (or well, edit mode :P)

8. When in edit mode, Change the layer to normals.

9. Exit out of edit mode.

10. Select the HIGH POLY mesh first. THEN the LOW POLY mesh.

11. Back in the Render menu we click "bake" anndddd there's a normals map for you!

12. Save it like we did with the multiplier. (Image> Save as image > Save to your workfolder)
Virtual gardener
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Original Poster
#4 Old 12th Jan 2019 at 2:26 PM Last edited by Lyralei : 13th Jan 2019 at 4:59 PM.
Default Let's bake the Specular map!
The specular map is actually a tad trickier than the Multiplier and Normals map. This is mainly because we want to catch the shininess so to speak, and with the multiplier map and normals it really is just the shadows and highlights.

A few resources that we need:

A HDRI map . (You can always make your own of course: Here!)

Setting it up

First thing we want to switch to is from "Blender Render" to "cycles Render". This is because Blender render is a very literal rendering method, whereas Cycles renders is very gentle and takes in account lights, the world and what not

1. Click on "Use nodes". This will make it possible to make a material out of this later!

2. Click on the small Dot next to "Color". This is important because it took me a few tries to find this when I first did this :P

3. Then select the "Enviorment Texture"

4. Now under the blue highlighted "Enviorment texure" there should be a "open" button. Click that.

5. Locate to your HDRI file. i'm going to use the Studio24 one

Now all we want to do to make it less dark-y is to change the "Strenght" To something like 3.3

6. If we switch to the Rendering Viewport (The ball-like icon next to "objectmode", you can switch it to that) you should now see it has a background!

7. Hide the High poly mesh

8. Make sure you've got the Low poly selected, go to the material tab and click "New material".

"But my render view looks very pixelwixy! What do I do??"

It's kinda this hidden secret that all Blendereres know about, but it's pretty easy to set! Let's go to the render tab.

9. Now all we need to do is set "Device" to "GPU Compute" And under samples you set "Render" to 1000.

10. Under "Surface" We're going to change the Surface from Diffuse to Glossy.

If your mesh turned all glossy, then great! That's exactly what we need! If it didn't, I'd check if in the preview the sphere looks like this:

Also make sure you're not in "Blender render" If not, double check if you didn't press the + sign. Or if you forgot to change the DIffuse to Glossy

11. On the top of the page you'll see a small icon, from there we can easily switch to the Composition (aka rendering/shadering) workbench!

12. First, make sure these are your exact settings, and that you're seeing the "Glossy BSDF" shader as well as the "Material Output"

13. Let's set this up! You can use this reference first. If you wanna easily track down the shaders, just go to "Add" at the bottom and then "Search".

14. Now we want to load the right textures that we just baked. Make sure that the "Image texture" shader that is connected to the Normal map shader has the Normal map we baked, the other Image texture that is directly connected to Glossy BSDF is the Multiplier!

Note: The way to load the images into the shader is just by clicking the "Open" button as we have done before

15. Now we should have something like this! What we want to do now is to play around with the "Roughness" value of the "glossy BDSF". The value you're using really depends on what the fabric is supposed to be. For example, a raincoat will have more shininess on it than a dress.

What values should I use for what?
For latex-ish outfits, 0.020 is your friend!
For the raincoat-type rubbery CASparts I'd recommend something around 0.100~
For normal fabric, 0.200-0.300 usually does the job

16. Change the Normal map's texture "Color data" to "Non-color data" This is because Normal maps are more like technical shadows and not like a multiplier or a regular texture that would show colours and what not.

NOTE: if your normal map is showing up a bit weird or super harsh onto the mesh after switching to "non-color data" then what might help is change the "Strenght" value in the Normal map shader to, say, 0.500 or lower

17. Now it's time to render! make sure to change the settings to "Glossy" (which is Cycles render's way of saying Specular!) Make sure that you hid the HIGH POLY mesh again, unticked "Selected to active" And change the margin to 3px-5px

18. Then, we simply click Bake!

My cycles takes aaaaaages to generate a map! It's been x hours!
For me, baking the specular itself took 15 min... which actually was due to the Lights. Believe it or not, the lighting is usually the reason why rendering could take ages to render and this is annoying. but there's a few things you could try!

A great article about this here:

**All of these tips are done in the Render tab!

- Under sampling, lower the "Render" from our 1000 to something, say, 500.
- Under Light paths, change the "Bounces" to Max: 2 and Min:0
- Under Light Paths, turn "Reflective Caustics" off
- Not sure if this helps much but also under Light paths, changing both max and min of the Transparency to 0
- Switch the "Device" under render (not the tab but the actual setting :P) To "CPU"

19. When baked, let's save it like the old way.

20. Click on "Image>Save as Image"

21. Done!
Virtual gardener
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Original Poster
#5 Old 13th Jan 2019 at 5:00 PM Last edited by Lyralei : 13th Jan 2019 at 8:39 PM.
Default Let's tune 'em up!
Now, one would think we're done, but that wouldn't explain why "Kinda" would be in the title! I'm expecting that you've made CASparts enough to understand what I'd say when we're talking about "Multiplier, mask, Alpha channel, specular map, normal map" and how to make this yourself.

I'll be using Photoshop for this, mainly because art student use photoshop, therefore art student create texture in Photoshop. However, I won't go into the details on how textures are made as well as how specific settings are done. Just some small tips! So this should be pretty easy for GIMP users' too or some other 2D program you use yourself

Clearing the Body's texture from our maps

So these are our maps! Look how pretty they are! :D

"But Lyra!! The body is wrong! What about thights??? My sims can't wear lovely tiger patterned thights now!!"

That's something we wanna fix of course! , I'll load in the Multiplier first.

If we look at our reference, we actually have a pretty easy task! As you can see, the lines are already sort of drawn onto the multiplier so we know where the sleeves stop at the arms and where the collar stops as well. I did draw everything red because... I figured it would give a good idea of what needs removing :P

Now... your first thought would probably be "ugh I have to do this for every single damn map?" Actually nope! If we have one selection going on then we can easily set those selections on the other maps!

1. First, we outline the bits that needs removing, which I did with the lasso tool. Of course you could use other preffered selection tools if you need to as long as it's not the retangular selection... please :P

2. Then we go to the Channels tab.

3. We create a new Alpha channel.

4. With the selection that we have we paint everything white!

5. We click on the RGB one so we can easily switch back to the "Layers" tab. However, keep in mind that your Selection still needs to be active.

6. Delete that f-word-er! :D

7. We go back to the Channels tab and now use the Rectangular tool to select the ENTIRE thing. Then, CTRL+C

8. Open one of your other maps, I'll be doing the Normals map.

9. Go to the Channels tab again, create a new Alpha channel and Paste (CTRL+V) our other Alpha channel onto the normal map's alpha.

10. Now we've got our selection back but for the normal map! Now, click on the RGB channel again and go back to "Layers".

11. Delete the section and tada!

Repeat step 7- 11 again for your remaining map. And tada! now it's ready for it to be 'sim-ified'. Which I hope you know how to do

A few things...

For the normal map, just colour drop the blueish colour that appears the most on flat-ish areas and bucketfill that for the background. That way you have a good way of turning the Normal map into something great (Here is a Hex code for it: #827fff )

For the Specular map just create a pure black background. I would recommend testing the blender's generated specular map first, however if it appears to shiny, feel free to tweak the shadows and such! I also attached my specular map for my Kara project, just so you know it's okay to go darker

For the Multiplier map, Feel free to tweak the hell out of it, like the highlights and what not. I felt like the skirt needed a little redoing so tht's what I did. And the straps at the back needed some more hardness. You can even add some more seams, fix some seams, whatever suits your style!

For the image Size, please change them back to either 1024x1024... especially if you're sharing them with people. Mainly, because low-end PC users will get their PCs friend if you don't... so please, The Low-end PC people are begging you!

For the Alpha Channel, Make sure to delete them all when you're done. Else it will think that your mesh has transparency in such a way that it's not true

For people who have no idea how to easily alter their highlights and such, a great tutorial right here!:

My result!

I'd love to see your result as well! Just to see what awesome stuff you guys might have made out of it! If you want to share any tips as well that weren't covered at all here, then that's totally fine to share!
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