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Sci-Fi Spaceship w/tileable texture elements workflow


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I just finished up a project for uni this week that used a texture and UV workflow I've never used before. My teacher said they used this kind of workflow for most of the vehicles in Avatar: The Game which he worked on.

The exercise consisted on creating futuristic/industrial type models that would use one tileable 1024 texture. This means that the map has different elements that are tiled horizontally or vertically or even tiled in stacks, depending on what you want.

It was a great learning experience and I wanted share the results with everyone and so that you could understand the workflow as well. It's rendered in 3DS Max with the Xoliul shader (btw, this was my first big model in 3DS Max, before 3DS, I was using Maya):

Final Result:




The same texture can be used for different models:



The texture maps with tileable elements horizontally with specific details on bottom of map:


As you can imagine, with this technique, UVs and their placement is definitely the longest part and aren't what you're used to, they're placed everywhere and can be stacked since the texture is tiled:


As a whole, I proceeded the following way for this workflow:

- Modeled the ship model

- Created the tileable texture normal map (high-poly bakes on a plane can be used, I elected to do everything by hand with CrazyBump and PS given what my details were)

- Unwrap the UVs of ship according to tileable normal map to see any issues with it and change as needed

- Model other objects and unwrap according to texture again

- Once the normal map seems sound, create the diffuse, spec and gloss maps.

- Bring any adjustments to UVs after all the maps are applied, issues you didn't see with the normal map can show up

- Since you now have everything, you can even cut in additional details in the geometry and create interesting combinations with the maps to make some places less uniform and such

Wokflow pros/cons:

+ Texture resolution holds up really well given the tileable elements, something big like this unwrapped normally wouldn't have as much resolution, even in a 2048 map.

+ UVs can be done after the texture map has been created and can be moved around anytime and create interesting combinations. It is a very modular way of working

+ Texture maps can be re-used for other objects

- AO or high-poly version of the whole model can't be baked given how UVs are placed

- this type of workflow can only work on specific type of objects, something with too many specific details can't really be done

- a good amount of planning has to be done for how the texture will be arranged and an appropriated model has to be chosen

Long post! So yeah, I would love to get everyone's feedback and my model and textures before I post it up on my portfolio. Also, has anyone ever used this workflow before? What do you think of it? I haven't gotten around to checking the Fountain tutorial on Eat3D, but now that I think about it, is it a similar workflow?


Shoutout to PhilipK! Your brick texture tutorial helped me lots to get a nice variation with the metal plating :).

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No, the fountain DVD is more of your standard UV workflow for unique unwraps with some tips and tricks on things like overlapping UVs.

The same type of technique is used in this tutorial though:

http://www.game-artist.net/forums/spotl ... oshop.html

I would personally come up with a little environment scene like the one in the above tutorial for a folio if you wanted to show that you could use the technique. Your current pieces look like they've been created to test the UV technique out rather than pieces built specifically for a portfolio.

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Tiling textures ftw!

Some things you can do to improve your model:

- Bake AO to vertex colors or to a separate map using the 2nd uv channel

- Use vertex colors for color variation

- You could add some trims here and there because it looks rather obvious where the tiling texture ends in some places, specially in the inner part of the ship

- Create a second texture for decals. Stuff as signs, texts or maybe even windows with an emissive map to add that extra layer of detail

- Texture maps could use some polish. The edges are too bright on the diffuse, the specular has way too much contrast and the glossiness too much variation. That doesnt make much sense, since every metal tile is supposed to be made from the same type of metal so more uniform spec/gloss maps are expected.

Here's some good reference on the same subject.

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Thanks for the tips mino, I'm having trouble with baking vertex color to AO in max though, couldn't find how to do it and it seems that in hardware map display, vertex colors don't display or am I doing something wrong? Would need a bit of a crash course in vertex coloring in max hehe.

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