Was having some problems with my bakes, and I came across this video that has some good information on UVs, vert-counts, smoothing groups, and normals.
A Mini-Guide to Maps For Modeling
When you’re making an asset for a game, it’s important to know all of the different kinds of maps one can use to make an asset look better. I’ve compiled a little quick reference guide to just a few of the different maps and what they do, so you too can understand the technical jargon used by artists in the game industry!
[EDIT: There are SO many different kinds of maps, so I’m just going to cover the most basic of maps, the very first ones I learned. If you’re looking to find out more about these or other kinds of maps and their uses, a great guide can be found here on Polycount.]
UV Map - Before trying to create any of the other maps, you first must create a UV. This is a good example of what a UV would look like for a box. If you were to cut this image out of paper and fold it up, you would get a box! This is exactly what a UV does for your model. The UV acts as a blueprint for the other maps. You can color in between the lines, and when you apply it to your model (aka cut-it-out-and-fold-it-up), the pretty picture you created will show up on the model.
ALL of the following maps use the UV map as a blueprint:
Diffuse Map - This is what most people refer to when they say “texture” map. This map is used to place the color on the model.
Normal Map - This map is extra-special. You can use a normal map to add extra detail to a model without using geometry. This is a pretty good example of what a normal map can do. See how the squid on the right has much more detail than the squid on the left? Well, all of that detail is fake! It has not been modeled at all. This map uses RGB information to tell light “hey, this is how you’re going to bounce off this flat polygon ‘cause we’re gonna pretend that this surface is totally bumpy”.
Specular Map - This map is used to convey “shine”. If you have ever walked down a street in Call of Duty and noticed how everything is super shiny, that is what a specular map does. It is a great tool for helping to convey materials. For example, chrome will be super shiny, while suede fabric will not be shiny. It doesn’t have to be black and white, but the lighter the value the shinier that portion of the model will be. The darker the value, the less shiny it’ll be. You can get creative with specular maps by adding dark areas/light areas to subtly convey scuffs and scratches on a surface. It gives your piece and extra level of dimension and really pushes the detail.
Glow Map - A glow map can be used to make a part of your model glow. (You don’t say!) The same rules from the specular map apply to the glow map: lighter values make things glow, while darker values make sure they don’t glow.
Great tutorial on how to make spot-on alphas. It even shows how to turn the whole process into an action in Photoshop so you’ll never waste time again.
Courtesy of Bill Kladis from imbueFX
Maya: Modeling Tips and Tricks 2
Today our professor basically showed us the secret of how to be awesome at Maya. There are so many little tips, tricks, & tools that do so many useful things, but are hidden in plain sight. The entire class was moaning & groaning as we were shown obnoxiously easy ways to do things we had previously been slaving over. It’s like wizardry, it’s that simple.
So, for anyone struggling with the simple, here is a list of dark magic:
- Here’s an easy way to pull up a reference image. Hit space to go switch to a front view. Go to View > Image Plane > Import Image and it will project that image in the background so you can model on top of it.
- Want to just make a polygon in 3D space? Mesh > Create Polygon Tool and then click where you want your points.
- Maybe you want to stick another polygon onto the one you just made. Edit Mesh > Append Polygon will allow you to click on the edge where you want to stick your polygon, and then click to add the other points.
- Make a tree trunk in 10 seconds: Create > Polygon Primitives > Cylinder. Switch to a front-view. Create > CV Curve and start clicking some points in a gentle zig-zag pattern starting from the top of your cylinder. You’ll notice this makes a curve. Hit Enter. Now switch to perspective view and click on the cylinder. Right Click > Face and select all of the faces on the top on the cylinder. Hold Shift and click on the curve (which will turn green). Go to Edit Mesh > Extrude but click on the little square next to Extrude to bring up the options. Under “Settings” move the slider for “Divisions” up to 8 or 10 or so. Under “Curve Settings” check the “Selected” box. Click Extrude. Your pivot point just changed to a big, complicated-looking one. Grab the center scale square and drag it inwards. The whole thing should start to taper to look like a tree trunk. Bam.
- Let’s delete that curve. Go to Right Click > Object Mode and move your tree trunk over so you can see the curve. Delete it.
- Want to turn a hole in your model into a face?
My CMPA 110 professor told me this wasn’t possible.No problem. Select either the vertices or the edges of the hole, and go to Mesh > Fill Hole.
- Have two edges you want to sew together? Select the vertices and go to Edit Mesh > Merge and click on the box to pull up the options. Adjusting the “Threshold” slider will make different things happen. A lower threshold will turn 2 vertices into one, while a higher threshold will pull lots of vertices together. CTRL+Z and do it again if you mess up.
I feel enlightened.
Make a PDF with multiple pages!
For my online math class, I’ve decided to submit handwritten exercises instead of trying to figure out how to type out math equations on my laptop. I just scanned in the pages for Unit 1, and for the life of me could not figure out how to just combine the images into one PDF file. You know— a two-page document instead of two separate image files. Welp, I finally figured it out with a nifty little program called Automator.
I feel successful.
If anyone else using a Mac has ever had this issue, read more and I will explain how to create a super nifty little application that creates a PDF packet!
How to make a PDF-creating application:
- Open Automator. It should be in your applications folder.
- Do not be intimidated. (It looks scary, but it’s not!)
- Choose Application as the “type” for your document.
- In the leftmost sidebar, under where it says “Library”, select Files & Folders. Double-click on Ask for Finder Items.
- Next, in the leftmost sidebar under “Library”, click on PDFs. Then double-click on Combine PDF Pages.
- Go back to Files & Folders. Double-click Open Finder Items.
- On the right, where the action appeared in the workflow area, there is an “Open with” option. Instead of Default Application, scroll down and select Preview.
- Now, you’re done! It’s time to save your Application. Go to File > Save
- Save your application as “Create PDF Packet” (or something similar) so you’ll know what it does.
- Save it in the “Applications” folder. (If you’re running OSX Lion, the application will show up in the Launchpad.)
Ta-da! You’re all done! Congratulations, you’ve just made your life easier and successfully used the Automator without dying a horrible, confusing death.
Modeling/UVing/Texturing Tips & Tricks.
Freelance Artist Alan Van Ryzin was invited to SCAD a couple of weeks ago by the Game Design department to give a class on modeling and texturing. The whole class ate up an entire Saturday— 10AM-3:30PM —but it was well worth it. The class was full of useful information and great tips on modeling/texturing for games.
For anyone interested in the notes from the class, you can download them in .pdf format here.
Alan Van Ryzin has made props for titles such as Homefront, F.E.A.R 3, and Mass Effect 2 & 3.
Why did nobody tell me about this palette?!
I felt this had to be shared. If you’re any sort of Photoshop user that searches online for color palettes, then your life will be enlightened. Much, much love to whoever discovered this!
In at least Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CS5 (maybe other programs/versions too), if you go to Window > Extensions > Kuler, you get a palette with preset color palettes that compliment each other, as well as a tool to help you make new ones. Then you can save it to the Kuler list, or to your Swatches palette.
Maya: Modeling Tips and Tricks
Last week I went to a seminar on modeling in Maya. Being completely new to modeling, I found their tips extremely useful. I thought I’d share them with the world for anyone else who might need a hand.
Read more to check it out!