Replies: 11 (Who?), Viewed: 260 times.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#1 Old 11th Apr 2021 at 1:23 PM
Default About meshing, maps and shading objects
I've done a fair amount of meshing, but I still struggle with mapping, particularly on adding shading and other elements for a more realistic look. It's a matter of not knowing how to map the objects so I know exactly where to place the shading, if that makes sense? For example, I have made a basic patio set with cushions, but am unsure how to map them so I can place the texture with the right shading in the right places (you can click the image for full size):



Any advice would be most welcome.

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Mad Poster
#2 Old 11th Apr 2021 at 2:38 PM Last edited by simmer22 : 12th Apr 2021 at 11:17 PM.
You'll want to make sure you know which parts are up and down, that nothing is mirrored/flipped, overlapped, sideways or upside down unless it's supposed to be (it can save UV space).

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Which program did you use for meshing? Just asking because it matters for which program you'll want to use for the UVmapping.

Milkshape is horrible for UVmapping, but you can use other UVmapper tools.

Blender has a UVmapping tool that works quite well, but it takes some learning to use it right (don't just click "UVmap" and be done with it, because that often gives you a 1000-piece puzzle, which isn't fun to recolor). You can even make the shading map directly in Blender if you want (I do strongly advise to only make the shadow overlay, even if you can also make the entire texture in Blender. It opens up for using patterns from outside Blender, and you can add the shading map for recolor purposes if you want to upload the items, or use it later). The shadow overlay can be made via Ambient Occlusion (I think?) and is automated. You can also paint it directly on the model.

(Search string in front. I haven't searched for a particular Blender version here, but if you add the version number to a search, you get that too)
"blender ambient occlusion bake"
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M6QBCLP04M
"blender uv mapping tutorial"
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTd8NBg8EZU
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeBUfMKKZDo
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scPSP_U858k
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPoxqOcUzNQ
(There's a lot of other Youtube tutorials on how to do this, and probably a lot of written tutorials too. Keep in mind, some of the tutorials you find over at Youtube are not optimized for game meshing, like high-poly meshing and making advanced materials - they're more meant for rendering projects).

You can do shading by hand in a photo/painting program. That's probably the hardest one to do, though (needs some practice). Essentially you paint shadows and highlights with black and white, or lighter and darker versions of the original colors, and occasionally contrasting colors (depends a bit on the effect and base colors - there's several ways to do it).

You can search up the program you want to use and a few key words and find tutorials for pretty much any program.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#3 Old 11th Apr 2021 at 4:21 PM
Thanks for your reply. I should have mentioned which programs I use, sorry. I actually use Wings 3D for creating the mesh, but I use UVMapper Pro for the mapping. It's easy and I can add my texture as I go so it gives an accurate preview. I just haven't got the hang of placing all the bits!

I can do the shading using Gimp, it's just the actual mapping I'm having issues with.

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Mad Poster
#4 Old 11th Apr 2021 at 4:50 PM
You can UVmap in Wings, and check the position of the UVs, etc. Haven't used it in a while, but if I remember correctly, it's not too difficult to use. It's got more UVmapping tools than Milkshape, but fewer than Blender.
Lab Assistant
#5 Old 12th Apr 2021 at 7:02 PM
I don't really get your question because for me the shading is added when you paint the texture? Do you mean the most efficient layout of the pieces on the map?
Maybe if you show the UV map for your seat we can help you to improve it

Here is what I usually do (I do all the modelling and mapping in Wings3D): I "cut" the map pieces so that they lay out as flat as possible, an it's also easier if there aren't too many different pieces to reduce mismatched seams. I make the pieces as big as I can, but leaving enough of a gap between pieces so that texturing is not too fiddly. I try to have all pieces at the same proportions so that the texture is at the same scale on all parts. As simmer22 said it's also important to pay attention to the orientation (for example if it needs to follow the direction of a wood grain). I align the pieces that are identical on top of each other
Then in Gimp I import the UV map as a layer to have a reference to work with and know where to place the shading and details

I'm not an expert in texturing though and it's really a process of trial and error until I get a result I'm satisfied with!
What you can do too is look at the texture and mapping of some objects you like to understand how it was made (wouldn't recommend Maxis objects though... they're optimized for small texture sizes but horrible to work with imo)
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#6 Old 15th Apr 2021 at 6:53 PM
Sorry for the delay in responding, I'm not getting notified of new replies, for some reason.

Yes, it's laying out the parts on the map. For instance, when I'm making a new chair, I'm mapping the cushion as a 'box', but placing them and resizing them I find quite difficult when I want to add the shading on the textures. I've tried downloading similar items and having a look, but I can't get mine the same. I do lay identical parts on top of another, but there still never seems to be enough space for everything!

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Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#7 Old 15th Apr 2021 at 7:05 PM
I don't know if it would help, but here is the mesh I'm trying to map:
https://angeljs.livedrive.com/item/...21fb3e022cc26b2

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Mad Poster
#8 Old 15th Apr 2021 at 7:43 PM Last edited by simmer22 : 15th Apr 2021 at 8:05 PM.
A very useful tip is to make sure to only keep parts of the mesh you can see (unless there's good reasons why you have to keep them). This saves a lot of space and time spent on the UVmapping.

For instance, on your mesh 3 out of 6 sides on the bottom cube are entirely hidden, so you can remove them from the mesh, both saving on polys - which is always a good thing even if yours is about as low-poly as it can get already - and saving on the space you need for UVmapping (and I'm not counting the underside, because that one can be nice to keep filled in for the sake of playing around with OMSPs or things like that).

The cube under the pillows - remove the sides (hidden by the arms) and the back (hidden by the back), and if there's a hole or something like that, move the back slightly out a bit to cover it up. This saves you three large chunks of "dead space" in the UVmap, and the chair looks pretty much identical.
Lab Assistant
#9 Old 15th Apr 2021 at 9:17 PM
Laying out the pieces in an efficient way is definitely not easy and there's no single recipe, every object is different and it's always kind of a puzzle! But what I would recommend is first identifying the biggest pieces: you know they can't be larger than the width of the map so you have an upper limit for the scaling. you can place these first on the maps and then fill in with the smaller pieces. If it really doesnt fit, then you either need to scale down everything a bit, or cut the biggest pieces into smaller ones, or layer more pieces on the same part of the map (which means less unique details on each piece, so it's a balance to find between texture size optimization and detailing)

another thing to consider is whether your object will have a single subset or separate subsets for the cushion and rattan parts: in this case you can map them separately.

I don't know anything about UVMapper pro so I can't help you with specific commands, but if you're willing to give Wings 3D a try here is a tutorial that greatly helped me to improve my UV maps (especially when dealing with curved objects):
part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrV_YFnOGzU
part 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToU-2A5mjXk
Mad Poster
#10 Old 15th Apr 2021 at 11:47 PM
It's absolutely better to work on the UVmap in the 3D program if you can, because you're better able to sort out issues with the mesh or the UVmap as you go along. You can also more easily test out a texture and even UVmap using that texture as the base.

Square boxes with just 6 sides are pretty much the "easiest" items you can UVmap, as long as you manage to keep track of the directions. Using a helper ABC map like the one shown in the tutorial can be helpful, because it shows the direction of the items, and whether something is mirrored or upside down.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#11 Old 16th Apr 2021 at 3:45 PM
These are all really helpful suggestions, thank you very much! It actually never occurred to me to delete parts of the mesh that can't be seen, or to use two texture maps instead of just one. I'm going to give this another go!

Thank you for those Wings 3D tutorials, I'll have a look at those.

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Mad Poster
#12 Old 16th Apr 2021 at 4:38 PM
Another thing you can do for the more hidden parts, like the underside of the chair or the part mostly hidden by the cushion (if you intend to have those mostly hidden in shadow anyway) is to make those smaller in the UVmap with a darker texture, also to save on space. This can sometimes work fine, other times be a bit of a hindrance/annoyance for how the texture turns out, but I guess it depends on the detail work.

You can map the parts so they are together as a whole (works very well for cloth textures and anything that's wrapped around an item, anywhere the texture is the "same"), or you can map them separate but in line with whatever texture you intend to use (wood, or anything that's different on each side, often best for directional textures). You can also mix the two methods - whatever works best.
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