Tips to Push Your Textures to the Next Level
3D texturing is a vital part of any pipeline. You might have a fantastic model, but if the textures don't look correct then it can cause the entire model or scene to suffer. To give your 3D models the amazing textures they need, start implementing these tips for your next project and push your textures to the next level!
Create a Great UV Layout
This tip should probably go without saying, but still should be mentioned. A great UV layout is vital for establishing a rock-solid texture for your 3D model. Whether it's a simple object or a complex character, in order to properly place the texture the UVs need to be mapped effectively. This process is often times tedious and not a very exciting one, but like it or not it's got to be done. Without a good UV map, the textures can become distorted or stretched. There are some great applications out there that can make this process easier. For instance, UVLayout is a great software designed for the sole purpose of laying out your UVs. It's also important that you find and fix any overlapping UVs. This can be done relatively easily using your 3D application. Overlapping UVs can cause some unwanted results later on down the road, especially if you need to apply any normal maps. To get your UV layout set up the way you want, check out these UV mapping tutorials:
Utilize a 3D Texture Painting Application
Creating realistic textures can be a difficult thing to master, but with the help of some very powerful applications it will become easier. The process of hand painting textures is extremely important, especially when creating textures for characters or creatures. Photoshop has the capabilities of importing 3D meshes onto the canvas so you can paint your textures directly on your 3D model without having to try and make sense of how your UV layout corresponds to your model. Sculpting applications like ZBrush and Mudbox also have powerful painting features that allow you to paint textures straight onto your model. The development of MARI and its painting features has led to a breakthrough in how efficiently texturing can be done for your 3D models. While painting textures can be a very difficult thing to tackle, these applications help you to quickly master this process, and start you on the track to creating great textures. To learn more about how to use these applications to your advantage take a look at these tutorials:
- Introduction to MARI 2.0
- 3D Texturing Overview in Photoshop
- Texture Painting in ZBrush
- Painting Workflows in Mudbox
Add Aging to Your Textures
To help sell your textures and increase the realism, you can find places to incorporate wear and tear into your textures. Your first instinct may be to have your textures perfect and clean. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you are creating textures where this pristine look is important, such as product visualization. More often than not, objects will have some type of worn and weathered look to them, whether it’s dust, scratches or rust, even if it's extremely subtle. These small details really help to increase the realism of your textures. For example, maybe the texture for your character's jeans have small fading around the seams and stitching, or maybe the buttons have a slight discoloration and scratched look to them. It's also important that you think logically when creating this wear and tear to your textures. It can be easy to overdo it and suddenly your texture looks like a mess of scratches, rust, etc., with no real intent. A good place for incorporating aging into your textures would be the railing on a flight of stairs. Think about where a person would most likely place their hand for support, and how over a period of time that spot on the railing would start to wear down from excessive use. Check out this great Aging Wood and Metal Textures in Photoshop tutorial to get a crash course in aging your textures.
Find and Create Photographic Textures
Photographs are a great way to quickly create believable textures for your characters or objects. You can use them on their own or in conjunction with your painted textures to improve them even more. For example, by overlaying a photograph on your texture, you can create those wear and tear details fairly quickly. You can find textures on the internet, but it's also a great idea to build up your own texture library by going outside and taking photographs of anything and everything you find interesting. If you need textures for an animal or creature model, go to your zoo and take as many photographs as possible. Having a large texture library is vital for creating believable textures. No matter what you're texturing, remember that creating great textures isn't always about any single thing and, depending on your project, it may not be something that requires all of the tips mentioned here. Pushing your textures to the next level can be a combination of a clean UV layout and some great photographs. Or maybe your texturing workflow needs that extra push that only a dedicated 3D painting application can offer. Next time you're working on a texturing project, try out one or more of these tips and see what improvements it has on your work. Keep learning with more 3D texturing tutorials and even go back to the basics with a post on understanding UVs.