Today in Concept Art we were shown a little more about texturing our Maya models, using both Photoshop and Mudbox. To begin with, Tony gave us a scene he’d quickly modelled that included a post with spikes on it – he’d pre-coloured and UV unwrapped it for us, since it’s something we’ve become quite familiar with in Matt’s class (and not the point of the lesson).
Firstly, Tony asked us to imagine this situation: a rock that has been painted orange is pushed down a hill. It hits a wooden post, rolls around on the ground, and comes to a stop in a ditch. Eventually, someone finds it after some time and chucks it away, rolling it further down the hill. Eventually it comes to a stop at the bottom of the hill, but how does it now look? What’s happened to it along its journey? If you were asked to texture the rock while it sits at the bottom of the hill, how would you go about doing it?
From there, we were let loose to start texturing the spiked post however we wanted, but while keeping the story of the rock in mind. I suppose, in a way, this is to help give character to our environments; every object has a background or a story, where scratches, gouges, rot, and rust will all be a part of it.
I started by opening the provided UV textures in Photoshop and filling in the vibrant colours with ones that will closer resemble the materials I wanted to emulate. I thought that the main bulk of the body would be wood with the spikes hammered into it, but perhaps the strip at the top would be a metal buffer or reinforcement. This meant filling in brown and steel blue before going to Textures.com and finding some textures I could use. I find using real-world textures much easier than painting textures free-hand. There are so many talented artists from games, including Overwatch, where Tony showed us some examples of textured/highly stylized environment design.
Picking some wood and galvanised steel, I tried to resize/rotate the textures so they would follow the grain of the post or build angles of the spikes. I think working with a model that has strong angles makes you think a little more about how the textures should be rotated or resized, in order to maintain a realistic look. After that, I found some detailed textures, such as scratches and rust, that I could add over top to provide some depth and detail to the otherwise flat wood/metal.
I think it turned out all right – I’d forgotten a few simple things over the holidays, so it’s nice to have some time to practice texturing again. I feel like that’s the part I struggled with the most in our modelling class as well as in the 3D room project.
After that, Tony showed us some extra painting skills in Mudbox, which I didn’t know it could be useful for! It’s a simple matter of exporting the object into Mudbox from Maya and having them “connect” the scenes. Using the paint brush tool and playing around with the colours, settings, and stamps, you could achieve some soft shadows or extra details you might not have been able to in a 2D texture. I actually MUCH prefer painting models in 3D rather than 2D; I just find it easier to see how a shadow would fall or where a detail should go when I can see the model in its full form. That’s why I really enjoyed playing about in Substance Painter.
Finally, it was painted up and ready to be brought back into Maya, where Tony showed us how to use Turtle to render. I’m not positive if I have this option in my copy of Maya at home, but I’m definitely going to look into it. I think it just shows the render in a softer light and makes the scene look less harsh. There was only one setting we had to change in the render window:
Otherwise, all you’ll see in the render is the UV unwrapped with the lighting/textures. Just for comparison, below is the difference between Turtle’s render (the the right) of the spiked post next to Maya’s built-in renderer (on the left). The only other render I’ve see used otherwise is in Substance Painter, which was when Marc installed Mental Ray on his computer and IRay was used. It seems that it’s going to be the default renderer in Substance Painter, whereas before it was using Arnold (what Maya uses).
Overall, I really enjoyed this task, since I could put more focus on the texturing than starting a model from scratch. I think sometimes it’s important to break your work up into segments: start with a model, then move on to texturing, while going back and forth between the two regularly so you don’t get too bored doing either of them. This may have been the problem with my 3D room project, where I bulk modelled everything, then unwrapped all of the UVs, and then left all the texturing to the very last.