Advance Unwrapping Techniques:
 
  Help in arranging UVW’s
 
  Now a trick in figuring out on how to arrange your UVW is to use a scaleable texture. Now most people will end up using the standard procedural texture bitmap of checker. However, I don’t like checker as you can’t see how font will look on the model and position stuff to match things up with a smooth edge of a pixel box. So I created a UVW unwrap tester texture. This texture is a 32x 32-pixel texture with a clearly marked repeatable texture on it that allows you to view the relative pixels on the shape.
 
figure 5-01
  To the left is a 32x 32 pixel with two different colored circles with a font character to show how font will read on it and acts as a positional marker. The capital letters X, K, R, G, and B work well for this. The pixilated circle helps mark where the pixels will be positioned on the model, as a flat side pixel box will hide the position.

  The reason why its 32x in size is because that is the smallest texture size you normally will be working with. Then everything is based on that number. So the normal texture size you will see for a game are 32x, 64x, 128x, 256x, 512x, 1024x, and 2048x. Notice that they are multiples much like your Ram size steps up at.

  So in Max go to your Material Editor. Apply Bitmap material to the diffuse channel and target the UVW unwrap tester image. Assign the texture and turn on the "Show Map in Viewport" and you will see what the shape will look with that texture size on it.

  Once the material slot is assigned the material you can now adjust its attributes. Under the Coordinates roll-out is the options called Tiling. It has two entry positions with a U dialogue and a V dialogue, they both currently says 1.0. This means it applies 1 32 by 32 texture. If you change both 1.0 in to 2.0 it will multiply it by 2 making the texture repeat making it 64 by 64. The number 4 means it’s 128 by 128. See where this is going, 8 would mean its 256x 256. Remember it doubles the current number.

 
figure 5-02

    1       32
    2       64
    4       128
    8       256
    16     512
    32     1024
    64     2048

 
  You can now look at the object and place it in a relative environment and get the idea at what size of color map you will need in order for it not to appear pixelated. Plus it gives you the opportunity to set the color map scale based on the other color map size for the other models in the scene. This will allow for the right amount of detail early on before you commit to painting the color map.
 

 
  Thirding UVW’s
 
  This is a trick that most Environment artist will use in order to decrease there pixel size of there color map but utilize the UVW to the most efficiency they can. With this technique you would have a two or four areas that would have repeating space but the advantage is extreme.
 
figure 5-03
  You have 3 sections. In the color map you have an two area’s of unique pixel information at the top and bottom. In the area in the center it will have generic information that can tile without much uniqueness. In the image to the right you have a sample of a wall, with its basic unwrap setup and what it would look like when textured. With this setup the texture will be of lower quality, appear blurry and pixilated.
 
figure 5-04
  Below that is the same wall that has been third. The area marked in green is the top, in yellow is the center, and in blue is the bottom. The area marked in red is the area that is overlapping where repeating and seams can occur. But to fix this you will have to fix this area do some good pixel painting here to match everything up. But now there is more pixels being assign to the polygon face hence the wall will look high in detail even though the color map could be a smaller size.
 
 

 
  Fixing model once Unwrapping started
 
  If your working on a unwrap and find hidden, face to face, and irregular geometry you can get rid of it or fix it. Plus this can also let you add without losing or completely messing up your unwrap you done so far. Convert the model back in to its shape. If it’s a Editable mesh convert it back to a editable mesh. This is referred to as “Collapsing the Stack”.

Collapsing the Stack

  Step 1: Locate the offending geometry in the UVW Editor on the actual model. Use the ‘Select Surface’ tool in the Unwrap UVW to help you out if you need to.

 
figure 5-05
  Step 2: Right click on the model and go to Convert To>Editable Polygon or Mesh and click on either or. With the UVW information is now applied to the model regardless what you do to the model. You just can’t edit the UVW only at this time which is what you want as now they are no longer independent but will change based on what you do now.

  Step 3: Now find the annoying geometry and delete, weld it out, or add to it to fix the model to get it to what you want or need.

  Step 4: Convert the model for a second time in to a Editable polygon or Mesh to make sure any changes are set and permanent.

  Step 5: Reapply the Unwrap UVW and reopen the Editor and your UVW should change based on what you did to the model. You might have a little clean up to do depending on what you did but at least you don’t have to start Unwrapping all over again or messed up the UVW face ID’s.

 

Weird warping in unwrap

  Now this is not a promise but can help fix if a weird issue pops in to the UVW’s or color map application to the model. Sometimes a unexplainable warping or wave appears that wasn’t there before. This strange stretching is a result of not using enough right triangles or straight edges, but still this might not be the case. The only trick that might help is Reset the XForm.

 
figure 5-06
  Step 1: Collapse the Stack

  Step 2: In the Command Panel go to the Utilities tab (the hammer icon). Under this menu should be a list of tools. One of them should be “Reset XForm”. If it is not there click on the More… Button to open up all the Utilities list and it should be listed there in alphabetical order. Click on Reset XForm to turn on the tool.

  Step 3: When the tool options open up, select the object that you had issue with and then click on ‘Reset Selected’ button. Now this should add on a modifier called XForm on the stack.

  Step 4: This modify has a toolset under it called Gizmo and Center. You can manipulate this like you could like Bend or Noise. But it should automatically correct hopeful what is wrong at first. If it did that Collapse the Stack to set the changes. If it doesn’t you can adjust the Gizmo position or this will not fix it and you have a issue that is even weirder than I can figure out.

 
 

 
  More than 1 Material on Model
 
  I’ll show you how to create more than 1 material on a model in 3ds Max. Why? Not just because you can do it, but also this allows you to have the model (especial a character) have two different materials. This is effective if you just want to swap lets say the team color body suit, or you want to swap the outfit with another design without having to repeat the same texture for the face. Believe it or not, three 512 textures saves more space than two 1024.
 
  Understanding Size Between Two 512s and 1024
 
figure 5-07
  Okay the samples being shown where converted in to a .dds format to save space in the pack file. The four texture files are 342 KB a piece in size for a total of 1.33MB. They are 512x 512, a light wood frame, dark wood frame, Girl in blue, Girl in burnt sienna. This set allows me to swap the textures to get four possibilities. If the painted image and frame texture were on the same 512x 512. They would only be 171 KB for a total of 683 KB. But I'm giving up pixels since each painted image is the full size it can be 512x 400 something and the frame uses the whole 512x 512.
 
figure 5-08
  Nevertheless lets say these are first person shooter character textures. The frames are the team colors (red or blue) while the painting content is the skin (which means the same model can be a white or a black guy). So I would recommend you use four 512 to define them, but the other answer in order to get an equivalent of pixel information you need to double the 512. In steps the next size which is double the size 1024. On the 1024 your painting in Team colors as well as the skin tone for the model has only one unwrap for one texture instead of two. Now reach skin tone needs both team colors to get the same diversity as the two separate 512 do. So this means four different textures at the same amount of pixel information at 1024x 1024. The .dds files would be 683 KB in size for a total of 2.66 MB. Do you see the difference? No matter what you do you still need Four textures.

    Four 512x 512 = 1.33MB
    Four 1024x 1024 = 2.66MB

  So why care about the size right? Your Hard Drive is big enough to hold that size. You’re not thinking in the right location. Textures need to be loaded in to the RAM, more specifically in the Graphics card RAM. Also your models’ texture is not the only texture being loaded. Hell, even 1.33MB for four static models at this time is too big. Then we need to talk about Consoles that have even less space then a PC and Consoles users can’t upgrade their ram. Now size has come important!

 
 
  Making 2 Unwraps on the same Model
 
  To do this we use the Material ID related functions. I’ll show you a better way than what I was taught by UAT.
 
figure 5-09
  Step 1: Go to the Editable object's polygon (Face) mode. Select the Faces you wish to assign to a different texture map. This would be like the skin texture such as hands, face, or any exposed flesh.

  With the faces selected in the command panel roll all the way down to the ‘Surface Properties’ section. If its not expanded, expand it and locate the section ‘Material’. Change the ‘Set ID’ to 2 by either typing it in or by the arrows. Select the other faces and make sure they are set to “Set ID” 1. To do this quickly (Ctrl+I should work but mine doesn’t) go to the Main Menu and click on ‘Edit’. Then click on ‘Select Invert’, it should be the ninth option down from the top. Then Set the ID to 1. To make sure it took you can click on the button ‘Select ID’ back over under Surface Properties/Material and based on the number represented, it should select all the polygon faces assigned to that material ID.

 
figure 5-10
  Step 2: Off select from the face mode and apply a ‘Unwrap UVW’. Click on the drop expansion plus sign to turn on ‘Select Face’ by highlighting it in yellow and click on the ‘Edit’ button to open the UVW Editor.

  Step 3: Now you should see the normal blob of vertices and edges. This is not what we want to edit. At the bottom is a drop down menu, click on it. It should be between the ‘Filter Selected Faces’ triangle icon and the Pan hand icon. Mine are already named through the Material Editor but yours should say All ID’s, 2, and 1. Select 1 or 2 and only the vertices, faces, and edges associated to that Material ID should appear.

 
  Step 4: Select all the faces being displayed in one of the Material ID’s. Don’t worry if the face is assigned to another ID it wont let you manipulate it. Then go to Tools and use the ‘Break’ command. Then move everything away from the main texture space. Then repeat for the other Material ID number. This should isolate the Materials so you shouldn't get echoes from the other one that you can’t do anything with.

  Now you can edit away as simple as that. Just a warning, if you get one lone triangle that you can not manipulate you might want to check to see what Material ID its assign too. You shouldn’t have a polygon assigned to more than one ID or assign to an ID that your not using. If for some reason you get more than 2 Material ID (beside the All ID’s) in the UVW Editor window. Then you need to fix this before editing.

 
 
  Assign Multiple textures
 
  If you plan to use two (or more) material maps and are scratching your head on "how do I see that on my model in 3ds Max?" I'll show you real quick how to do this.

  Step 1: Open the Material Editor (shortcut: m). Select a Material sample sphere.

 
figure 5-11
  Step 2: Click on the ‘Standard’ button located near the bottom of the sample sphere box area just above the Shader Basic Parameters. A new window opens called ‘Material/Map Browser’.

  Step 3: Select the type ‘Multi/Sub-Object’. The types are in the scroll down box with little blue dots next too them. Then with it highlighted click ‘OK’ or double click on it. A window opens asking to Replace Material, Discard Old or Keep as sub-Material. It doesn’t matter which option just pick one and click OK.

 
figure 5-12
  Step 4: The Shader Basic Parameters rollout got replaced with a Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout. Click on ‘Set Number’ button near the top of this new rollout. A new window appears asking to ‘Set Number of Materials’. Change 10 in to a 2 by either typing it in or using the arrows. Then Click ‘OK’ to set this.

  Step 5: Now you can rename the Material ID to help you identify what each Material number does. In the Boxes next to Name are the Sub-Material. This is where you’re Shader Basic Parameters went. Now normally assign you Bitmap. Say your one texture is the skin one. Then assign it to UVW ID that you set as you skin and assign your team colors/outfit to the other UVW ID.

  Step 6: Don’t forget to assign the texture. I assume you already know how to use the basics of 3ds Max’s Material Editor.

 
 

 
  Exporting UVW’s out of Max
 
  So you need to export your UVW’s so you can paint on the color. But with all of Discreet’s wisdom, they don’t have a tool for that in a nice incorporated way in the UVW Editor. I have heard that Max 8 has that feature finally built in to it now. But however this doesn’t help the rest of us if we don’t have that version. So I have listed out below three types of methods available to work around this flaw in Max.

Screen snapshot

  This is a quick and dirty way of doing it. The reason why I say dirty is that it can come out inaccurate if your not careful. The other drawback is that you are limited by your resolution. If the maximum that you can run at is 1024x 768 then this will only work if your texture size is going to be 256 or smaller, but you might be able to squeeze out a 512.

 
figure 5-13
  Step 1: With the UVW Editor open, reposition the window as high as you can and resize the window so that you can get as much of the UVW Editor as big as you can get it in your monitors screen.

  Step 2: Zoom in as much as possible so the thicker line blue box (UVW space) takes up all the available space in the window without any parts of it being hidden. Then switch to the highest resolution your monitor and graphic card can support.

  Step 3: Take a screen shot by hitting the key on your keyboard (Print Scrn /SysRq). It should be above the text key like Insert, Home, Page up keys and next to Scroll Lock and Pause/Break keys.

  Step 4: Open a photo editor like Photoshop, Corel Painter, or Paintshop Pro and create a new image or file inside the program you just opened. It should open a file that is your current screen resolution, if it doesn't then make the change.

  Step 5: With the new file opened hit Ctrl + V to paste from the clipboard. And the image of what your monitor was displaying when you hit Print Scrn should appear in the window.

  Step 6: Now you have to crop down to the blue box area in the snapshot of the UVW Editor window. Be as accurate as possible. If you cut the blue box just to far in or not enough your color information will be off in the unwrap resulting in the actual faces getting the wrong color information. This is why it’s dirty as you can crop the size inaccurately and now your unwrap is off.

  Step 7: Now by using your photo editing program to shrink the size of the image to the resolution you want the texture to be at. Like 256x 256 or 128x 128.

 

 

Using a Plugin

  You can download a plugin that exports the Unwrap as a file like a bitmap. This is the method I prefer as I don't need to do extra stuff like the print screen or the other method below. Though there are a lot of texture exporters out there and certain ones work better than others (meaning they crash Max far less then others). All you need is to get the edges into a file that photoshop like program can read, and being able to set pixel scale to either 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, and 2048 squared. Now make sure you read the texture exporters directions carefully.

  Since this is plugin you will need to read up on how to load plugin's. You should find this related subject under the Max's Help file. Below is a link to the plugin I use.

 
      Download: unwrapUtilV6.zip
      Download: texporter_v3.4.6.6.zip
 

 

Render to Texture through Max

  The last method I know of is very obscured and is through the Render to Texture tool and a lot of annoying preparation and time consuming steps. If you use a plugin you can get the same results just a lot faster. But if you can’t use your plugin or don’t trust them then you only have two options. So in the following steps I have outlined the process of accurately exporting the UVW out of max for a 2d Application. If its not closed, close the UVW Editor window you wont need it open anymore.

 
figure 5-14
  Step 1: Select the object and open the Material Editor by hitting ‘M’.

  Step 2: Select a material sample and under Shader Basic Parameters switch it to Wire and 2-Sided by placing a checkmark in the box next to the option. Switching it to Wire will texture only the edges showing you what you saw in the UVW Editor and checking the 2-Sided makes all the edges show up crisper than half faded. Keep the Shader type as Blinn.

  Now under the Blinn Basic Parameters setting set the Self Illumination to 100 and change the Diffuse color to something other than black. By cracking up the Self Illumination we eliminate the need for a light source.

  Step 3: Close the Material editor and now go to Max's top menu and select ‘Rendering/Render To Texture’ and the Render to Texture window pops up.

 
figure 5-15
  Step 4: First thing first, Discreet likes to move stuff around and changes things from version to version. What we need to do is turn off the Automatic unwrap or we will lose all the work we did unwrapping this. What’s wrong with Automatic unwrap. Its like the initial Flatten in the UVW Editor, based off greater than a certain degree and arranges the shapes creating wasted space.

  In Max 6 you can turn Automatic unwrap off in the General Settings. Uncheck the On option that might look like On Map Channel. This misunderstanding is caused by bad placement of options in the window. When Automatic Unwrapping is off all its options are grayed out.

 
figure 5-16
  In Max 7 it’s called something slightly different and is in a different location than Max 6. In the ‘Objects to Bake’ roll out is a submenu called ‘Mapping Coordinates’. Switch the selected Object button from 'Use Automatic unwrap' to 'Use Existing Channel'. Then set the Channel to the appropriate channel number.
 
figure 5-17
  Step 5: Now to something they didn’t change the 'Output' roll out. Scroll down in the Render to Texture window and note is the graph like list. This shows what will be rendered by listing out type of texture element, name of file, file type, and size. Below this graph list is the Add button, click on it.

  Step 6: The Add Texture Element window pops up. Select Diffuse and click on the Add Element button. The Complete map adds in everything in one including the specular, shadow, diffuse, and other mapping types thats why we don't want that one. And the others are useful but not what we want at this time. Close the Add Texture Element window if it’s still open.

  Step 7: Select the Element object in the Output window (you just created it and should have a gray background behind it to indicate its been selected) and now you can change its setting by changing the information below in the Select Element File Name and Type (may appear on screen like ‘le Name and Type’) and size by clicking on one of the size buttons. Make sure you click on the '...' button, this allows you to change the name of the file, file type, and where its saving it too. Double check that you're saving it to a location you can and can later retrieve it from. This is very important.

  Step 8: One last thing to do before you can export the unwrap, You need to set the line width. Under the 'Objects to Bake' roll out is the number entry called 'Padding'. The higher the padding the thicker the lines, so we need to set this to 0. The lines will still draw but they wont have all the extra pixels to the lines.

  Step 9: Now at the very bottom of the window is the button Render, now click it and it will render your unwrap. Now if you get an error complaining about you didn’t specify a target this doesn’t matter, as this is just trying to apply the render unwrap to the model. The main thing is the file was saved and it did what you needed it to do. Now locate the file in the folder you saved it to.

  Painful yes. Time consuming, yes. But it works never the less.

 
 

 
  Unwrap Secret #1
 
  Unwrapping Secret #1 is for 3D Studio Max version 6-7.1 (I don't have anything higher than that, so I didn't test it) only, sorry Maya users. Turbo Unwrap is the Holy Grail of game artist, Max unwrappers wet dream, this is the what the UVW Editor should have been. It gives you a side menu for easy clicking and Turbo Unwarp will help speed up the process of unwrapping with a little more accurate UVW’s.

It has such abilities as: export the uvw in to a bitmap from the window. It aligns selected vertices perfectly vertically or horizontally. Perfectly rotate selected shape -45, -90, -180, +45, +90, +180. Mirror across vertically or horizontally while staying in Freeform mode. The edge tool window allows you to roll down to more option where there is a Turbo Relax (that uses a different relaxing algorithm than Discreet, its not perfect but it does a better job). Plus it forces the options that are part of the Editor that appear sometimes to always appear like the icons Break Selected Vertices, Target Weld, Weld Selected, Lock selected Vertices, and Filtered Selected Faces.

Now if your thinking this is a cheat out of work as a automatic unwrapper then let me point you back to my Tutorial 4: Unwrap Theory & Technique. Why would you want to automatic unwrap, its like automatic model or automatic texture. If automatic stuff is the type of stuff your down with as an artist, then you might want to start from scratch and let me point you to Tutorial 1: Basic Modeling Theory and Technique.

 
figure 5-18
  If your not convinced, use it for a few minutes on a model. Then on the next model you unwrap you'll wonder why would anyone unwrap in any other way.

  Now I don't have permission to host this file yet. So I'll provide you with the link to the main site, which is hard to read and find the link your looking for. Its about a quarter the way down in green text with a little zip icon next to it, above the dates 30/10/3 (Oct. 30, 2003). Now STOP before you do this and close out this site thinking your set. There is no text file that comes with it telling you what you need to do in order to run it, read on or go to his site and read it from there.

 
    http://www.chuggnut.com/home/home.php
 
  Once you downloaded it and are ready to place the files. Wherever your copy of 3ds Max is at place the files as indicated. This plugin works for Max 6, Max 7, and Max 7.1 or maybe for later versions.

  TurboUvwUnwrap.dlm   >  3ds Max/plugins/
  TurboUnwrapUI.mcr      >  3ds Max/UI/MacroScripts/
  uvtools_24i.tga               >  3ds Max/UI/Icons/
  uvtools_16i.tga               >  3ds Max/UI/Icons/

  To access Chuggnut's plugin in instead of apply a Unwrap UVW modifier your are applying a TurboUnwrap UVW modifier. No loading of the plugin required.

 
 
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