When many artists think about the process of creating a UV layout, they flinch or groan. The reality is the process of laying out your UV’s so textures can be painted isn’t one many people enjoy or appreciate. The mentality is often that the quicker we get this done, the better.
If this is you, then this article is going to challenge your thinking and hopefully change your mentality when it comes to creating UVs. To do this, let's explore a multi-tile UV layout and how MARI can take full advantage of this type of layout.
A multi-tile UV layout is one where the various UVs have been laid out in such a way that they're spread out over more than one 0-1 UV space. If you're asking yourself, why anyone would ever do this, keep reading. This article is for you. As a matter of fact, you may want to watch this Multi-Tile Texture Workflows tutorial. This tutorial will provide you with insight from multiple applications on how you can implement a multi-tile workflow.
As you can see in the image above, the UV’s for our game character have been separated onto two different 0-1 spaces. MARI refers to these as patches. In this case, the reason this was done was to provide higher resolution textures for important details on the characters head without increasing the size of a single map.
So, with this it should be evident that using a multi-tile workflow can be used to prioritize areas in the textures and give them more resolution than others. This isn’t the only reason though.
In MARI not only can you paint across multiple texture patches but we can also make selections based on them using the Select Items Tool in Patch Mode. This means you can quickly select and hide various pieces of a model based on the way the UVs have been laid out. If you don’t immediately see the value in this, here's and example that will change your mind.
Let's say this character has multiple outfits that he changes into in the game he’s intended for. If we put all of the clothing on one patch and all of the skin onto another, it would be really easy to swap the textures for his clothing but repurpose the texture map for his skin an hair.
There is another very cool feature in MARI that isn’t available to you if you're only using a single 0-1 UV space. Within MARI’s Patches Palette you have the ability to link patches together. When patches are linked together and laid out in an identical fashion, the textures painted onto one patch are applied to the other.
Think of patch linking like this, say you want some of the textures you paint to be able to be symmetrical like those that could be achieved with overlapping UVs, but you wanted to break the symmetry so textures don’t look mirrored from one side of the model to the other.
In this image, the two patches are linked together to begin painting the arm textures. You’ll notice the purple background, this indicates the linkage. Now because these patches are linked together, the same tattoo has appeared on both arms only flipped. The flipping of the tattoo occurred because some of the UV shells had to be flipped in order to create two identical patches.
In this case, you could link the patches to paint the base skin textures. Things like skin variation, blemishes, and fingernails. These types of details can be symmetrical and it will likely not be noticed. For the tattoos however, the link between the two arms could be broken so unique markings could be painted on each arm creating asymmetry.
The next time you sit down to create a UV layout for an asset don’t just rush through it so you can begin texturing. Think about the needs of the asset. How is it going to be utilized and do certain areas on the asset need more resolution than others? Are overlapping UVs appropriate for the asset or would a multi-tile layout that utilizes patch linking give you more flexibility in painting your textures? After answering these questions you should be equipped with knowledge that will allow you to create a better UV layout.
If you’d like to learn more about using a multi-tile UV layout in a variety of software, make sure and check out our Multi-Tile Texturing Workflows tutorial. If you're interested in learning more about MARI and how you can use it to paint really amazing textures for your assets, a good place to start would be with the Introduction to MARI tutorial.