Spaceships! UVs! (part 2)

Yesterday and today in class, we were tasked with finishing off unwrapping our UVs and then to begin texturing/painting the file in Photoshop. I had already done most of the work to unwrap my UVs at home, therefore I could jump right into exporting them into Photoshop and decide what kind of design I wanted to paint them with.




I did find the “trick” of colour coding the parts we were unwrapping extremely useful (as I’ve explained in a previous post) and felt like the actual unwrapping took far less time than it could have.







To the right are my finished UVs, reorganised with a little help from Maya’s Optimise UV tool to make sure they lined up nicely within the square.

I did end up moving some of the UVs after I took this screenshot, which is why they’ll look a bit different later on in the post.


Following the UV export, I was able to paint in Photoshop. I’m actually not the best painter, so I thought I’d actually apply some material textures to the UVs instead of hand-painting anything just yet. Once I had my base UVs, I could go back and adjust them as I saw fit if I remembered to save the .psd file along the way (so the image wouldn’t flatten).

The textures above gave a sort of “forest camo” look to the Normandy – not exactly what I had in mind when I initially started out! I can see that every step of modelling (from planning to designing, unwrapping to texturing) is so important and extremely tied together. You really do have to think about the stretching of the textures you’re using, or where you’re placing the lines in you flat 2D texture and how it will work on the 3D model. I did have a lot of trouble with that kind of visualisation, so I think more practice is the only way to get better.

We continued to learn about shaders and what the different ones can do or represent when we use them with our textures. We were asked to create a couple different spheres and test out the different kinds of shaders we’ll use most of the time in Maya.


This sort of exercise clearly showed us the differences, which is really helpful to keep as a reference and important to keep in mind when planning our the textures of our UVs. The one on the furthest left is the lambert, and looks sort of like a fabric ball, while the ones next to it look more metallic. The purple one resembles a shiny plastic, while the last one could be a dull pearl or glass ball. Once I was done texturing my UVs, I was really to bring them back into Maya.






Here is the shader I used for the first textures I made in Photoshop; I decided to go with a phong, since I thought it would make the textures look more metallic and reflect more light.







You start by creating a new shader from the many choices, depending on what kind of material you’re trying to recreate:

  • Blinn: good for some light (materials like plastic)
  • Phong or Phong E: good for more light (materials like metals and glass)
  • Lambert: good for flat-shaded light (materials like fabric)

We learned that things like reflection, light refraction, etc. can be set within the shaders, depending what you’re applying them to. Things like glass will have higher refraction, but possibly not as high reflection as something like metal.

I used the site to see if I could find any metallic textures to use on the spaceship. I picked a few copper and metal-looking ones to mix and match, just to see how the texturing would work as a whole. I think it was good to go through that first, to sort of understand how the textures could stretch or warp, before I tried painting on the UVs instead.

Along the way, I had some issues with transparency on my shader after importing the UV texture file to the colour property. I asked Matt about it and he said sometimes Maya thinks the background of your file is actually transparent and applies the setting for you, even though it could be a solid colour (like mine was).

You had to look for the link from your shader that was connected to the transparency, which you then have to delete. It’s a simple fix ,but important to keep in mind because it happened a couple more times along the way.

I changed my mind about the textures and today I decided to try painting something more stylised and applying it to the ship, just to see what it would look like.


I think I liked the look of this a lot better and will continue to work with this texture, possibly editing and adding more detail to it as I go. However, as we were introduced to lighting and rendering towards latter half of the class, I just decided to press ahead as it was.

You can get light/render in various types of engines, but you’ll have more control over it in Maya. There are also a few types of free software that Matt suggested if we wanted to take it a step outside Maya (Mentalray and Arnold).


Overall, I found this the hardest part of this whole endeavour…

No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get the lighting to look right. We’re going to get more time in the next lesson to look into the lighting in rendering, so I’d like to test more at home in case I have more problems and really try to get the lighting to look right.

After setting up my lights, I think I chose the colours a bit poorly and need to fuss with them more. I’ll upload better shots once I’ve sorted that out. The render also came out way too dark, which Matt said could happen.


The Normandy ended up looking too yellow and washed out, so there may be different ways to adjust the light (maybe use more of a soft white rather than a yellow?) and perhaps fiddle with the phong shader. Lighting and rendering has been the biggest struggle for me, but I plan to keep practising and read up on how other people light their renders in Maya, so I can get a clearer idea of settings I could be using instead of what I’ve applied.

I’ll post again once I’ve worked more on the process!

Posted in 3D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s