sitemap Unwrapping something of a dubious nature - A 3d studio max tutorial by Tabun

Unwrapping something of a dubious nature

A 3d Studio Max (4.2) tutorial by Tabun

What you need:


First I would like to mention that this tutorial will be pretty exhaustive, and you will probably sigh and roll your eyes a lot - if so: good for you! :]
Still, this tutorial assumes you have a tad of experience working with meshes & 3d studio max or similar tools.

Next, I'd like you to meet Captain Dubious, the booblike grenade thingamajig:

Captain Dubious, the booblike grenade thingamajig

fig.01 - Captain Dubious

As you can see he's quite a weird little model-fellow, but nothing fancy going on here. I made him by creating a cylinder, converting it to editable poly and playing about with the move, scale modifiers. Also I used inset & extrude to make the little.. well.. nipplenose type thing on it.
If you prefer, you can use editable mesh (it's easier to see all the triangles and a must for extensive edge-turning - but since we're not focusing on that now, I'm sticking with poly (gets a nicer look to the unwrapped image). If you've imported the 3ds I provided, don't forget to convert to editable poly.

Check it with checkers

get it? checkers.. * tab laughs himself to tears

Since it's hard to see if the UVW map you're making works for you (and doesn't stretch or skew the texture bitmap), we're going to apply a checker texture.
Select the entire object, and open the material editor (it's the button in your toolbar with the four spheres on it - yes, to the right).
On the material editor, expand the part that says 'maps' and click on the button next to 'diffuse map'.

A window pops up, in which you will select 'checker' - and you'll return to the material editor, which now presents you with the properties for map #1.

Playing a game of checkers

fig.02 - Playing a game of checkers

Select some nice darkish colours (but make sure there's still enough contrast) and stay away from the bright white. (D)
Adjust the tiling to 10 * 10 (C).
Then, click 'apply material to selection' (A) and make sure the 'show texture in viewport' button is depressed (B).

Close the material editor when you are done.
If you did everything right, you'll see the model (or at least the selected bits) has changed in the viewport. Ofcourse, you'll see no checkers yet - but that's what making the UVW map is all about, right? :]

Unwrapping a bit

Here, the real work starts.

Enter the face subobject mode (if you weren't in it already - it's the red square next to the red box when you've got 'editable poly' selected.).
Select the a nice big face of Captain Dubious, like shown in fig.03.
Remember, if you're having trouble selecting the right faces, 'ignore backfacing' might help - so you'll only pick faces you can see.
Try pressing F2 (or whatever shortcut you have set for 'shade selected faces toggle'), to get a clearer view on what you've got selected. It comes in handy every now and then - I prefer it enabled.

Selecting an ass

fig.03 - Selecting a face

Now select the UVW Map modifier, from the drop down list:
Location of UVW modifiers

fig.04 - Location of UVW modifiers

Yup, there it is - note that the UVW unwrap modifier is right below it. And yes, I know the unwrap, and not the map modifier is selected in the pic, I was just too lazy to change that later - you need the map mod.
Once you click it, the side menu shows some interesting new options, and the modifier can be seen in the mod. list.
Figure 05 shows em. Note how the modifier is expanded in the list (at the top), to reveal the 'gizmo'. It has also been selected.

UVW Map parameters

fig.05 - UVW Map parameters

Note the changes selecting the gizmo made in the viewport. What you see is actually how the selected faces are projected on the UVW map area.
The gizmo represents the entire texture map area. The little handle (A) indicates the top of the UVW map. The green line (B) indicates the right hand edge of the UVW Map area - not much use now, but more on that later.

The UVW Map modifier is in planar mode (by default). We'll leave it at that for simplicity's sake for now.

While you have the gizmo selected, you can edit it like any other object. Use Move, Scale, Rotate or whatever else does the job. Try scaling the gizmo up. Now click the 'Fit' button on the right. This'll make more sense later, if you don't see the point right now.
If you have a shaded selection (like i have in figure 05, unshade it (F2).
Whaddayaknow - there's them checkers already!

If you messed the gizmo up bad, and want to go back to its initial state, remember that you can rightclick the UVW Map modifier, and select 'cut' from the menu. Just re-select the modifier from the drop down list, and you're all set.
When you're done playing about with the gizmo and it isn't too hideously malformed, we're ready to check the unwrapped map.
Select the UVW Unwrap modifier from the drop down list shown in fig. 04.
Yet more options unroll in the rightside menu. Of these, you only need the topmost button, labelled 'edit'. This will open a new window:

UVW Unwrap window & options

fig.06 - UVW Unwrap window & options

Remember the suggestion I made about the colours of the checker-tiles? If you'd used black & white - you'd have had a little trouble seeing the vertices and edges in the map (ofcourse, you can also edit the way those look - but that's more work, a thing we will gladly avoid at any time)

Ok back to business.
The first thing you want to do after opening the unwrap window for the first time (in every project), is adjust some settings. Rightclick anywhere in the window's main area, and select 'unwrap options' from the menu.
Adjust the settings so that 'Constant update in viewports' and 'Show selected vertices in viewports' are enabled. In case you're suffering from a mild concussion and get it right - it should look like this (fig. 07).

Now, you may notice that the checkers aren't quite.. square on the model in the viewport - this is because the map stretches the texture - which is what we want to avoid almost as thoroughly as bad seams.
To achieve a better map, you can edit the vertices in the map with tools very similar to the normal mesh editing stuff you use. The toolbar shows buttons for move, rotate, scale, mirror, split and weld, as well as some other nifty functions to do things more smoothly (which you will have to familiarize yourself with later).
move has two alternate modes (which you can enable by leftclicking, and holding, your mousecursor on the move toolbar-button) - namely, restricted move vertically & horizontally. The same goes for scale mode. These come in handy a LOT.
Then there's mirror vertically & horizontally, aswell as two flips - they all work instantaneously on the selected vertices. As do split and weld (except for the target weld mode).
It's all pretty self-explanatory, so I won't waste any more time on that.

Tiles be square!

fig.08 - Tiles be square!

Select all vertices and rescale them in either single direction, till the checkers stretch no more. If you can't see it properly in the viewport, scale the whole thing down so you can get a better look at the shape of the tiles. Don't worry if that feels kind of awkward, and relax; it's not a brain tumor.
You should have something like fig.08 shows when you're done with it.

Place the bit outside of the main map area

fig.09 - Place the bit outside of the main map area

When you're done, place the edited vertices outside of the main UVW map area, as shown in fig.09. Remember where you placed them, too.
This way, as you unwrap more bits of the model, the unwrapped sections won't overlap (which in most cases would give you a severe headache, unless you were well prepared for it).

You're actually done unwrapping and adjusting a face! Amazing work - Capt. Dubious is proud of you. Get a drink, sit back and relax for a bit.
Or wait - there's still one more important step to take.
Rightclick the topmost modifier in the modifier-list (in this case, it should be UVW unwrap), and select 'collapse all' (or 'collapse to') from the menu. This will convert the list of modifications to a single state object again, safe for you to play around with once more.
If you fail to do this after every bit you've unwrapped, you're bound to crash studio max. That's a no-no.
So keep this in mind :]

Unwrapping some more faces

Alright, you've unwrapped one face of Capt. Dubious... big deal.
While unwrapping, basically you always take the same steps as mentioned above. Basically.
Now for some new tricks to speed things up.

Select the faces that make up the 'hull' of the main cylinder shape of the captain (if you could follow me there, you've got 24 faces selected - if you couldn't, just hang in there, it'll all become clear soon).
Apply the UVW Map again, but select 'cylindrical' instead of planar. you can see the gizmo's changed in the viewport.
Select the gizmo if you haven't already (if you've forgotten how, re-read the stuff above, you bastard).
Note the re-appearance of the indicator for the top of the UVW Map, aswell as the green edge-indicator. The latter now shows you where the seam will be made on the map.

Cylindrical UVW Map projection

fig.10 - Cylindrical UVW Map projection

Enter rotate-mode, and rotate the gizmo along the Y-axis, until the green edge is underneath the model (you want the seam to be in the least visible spot, and we assume no-one will want to check Captain Dubious' sex).
Apply the UVW Unwrap modifier and click the 'Edit' button again.

Cylindrical UVW Map projection - unwrapped

fig.11 - Cylindrical UVW Map projection - unwrapped

You'll see a nice big rectangle made out of 24 faces like in fig.11 (if it looks messed up, 'cut' the unwrap modifier, play with the UVW Map gizmo and try again).
Fix the stretching by selecting horizontal rows of vertices, and moving them vertically. Check to viewport to see how you're doing. We're not going to bother getting the stretching minimal - that'd be a pain in the backside and usually isn't the best solution for a cylinder like shape anyway.

Cylindrical UVW Map projection - unwrapped and fixed

fig.12 - Cylindrical UVW Map projection - unwrapped and fixed

Fig.12 shows what you're supposed to end up with. It isn't perfect, but it's the principle that counts here, and it could sport a nice enough skin.
You can leave the vertices where they are - you're not going to be bothered by that in the next step this time.

But please do collapse the modifiers.

Rounding it up and calling it a day

Now we've got two bits that we'd like to weld together. Otherwise, we'd be stuck with a seam that isn't absolutely necessary (in cases like this, it isn't always a good idea to weld, but I feel this should be included in the tutorial).

Select all faces you've previously unwrapped (which means you just have to add the 'first' face to the selection).
Now, select the UVW unwrap modifier (not the Map this time - that'd screw things up again). Click 'Edit'.
You'll see the two parts both sitting there looking pretty:

Two bits of the map

fig.13 - Two bits of the map

By dragging vertices about and checking the result in the viewports, you can detect which vertices on the map coorespond to which on the model - ctrl-z - and you're back in business. In my case, I had to flip the single frame vertically, and scale it up a bit, before I could place it onto the cylindrically-unwrapped bit like in fig.14:
Two bits of the map - sitting in a tree - K.I.S.S.I.N.Gee that's a bad joke.

fig.14 - Two bits of the map - sitting in a tree

Weld the vertices that are lying on top of eachother with the weld tools. Remember, where selecting & clicking weld doesn't seem to work, weld target mode will always do the trick.
Collapse the modifier when you are done.

To be done with this quickly, i've selected the remaining faces and done a simple planar map unwrap on them.
After a bit of tweaking this results in an near-acceptable mess - which you will ofcourse forgive me, considering the circumstances. Normally, nipple-like things get a lot more attention from me, you'll understand.

Zee end resoolt!

fig.15 - The end result!

And there it is folks, a fully unwrapped and semi-de-seamed UVW Map for Captain Dubious!
Congratulations and all that bollocks!


Ok, to recap what I've shown so far, here are the basic steps that you'll keep repeating: After you've done a few rounds of this, you can weld bits together and kill some seams. Remember to select and unwrap only the faces you need for this, to prevent clutter. Usually fun starts here, since there'll be a few seam-or-stretch decisions you'll have to make. Usually I favor a bit of stretching, but all within reason, ofcourse.
When you've unwrapped all faces of the model, you can scale & move the pieces around and into the main map area. The trick is to keep the vertices a tiny bit from the edges, and keep wasted space down to an absolute minimum.

That's it. Hope it made some sense to you, and that you enjoyed it.