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Low-Poly Character Modeling and Texturing

By Athey Nansel-Moravetz
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Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop

When a layer's mode is set to screen, you can paint with solid colors, and it makes it look more like you're using the dodge tool directly on the layer. The bonus is that you can use smudge, etc. on what you paint, without messing up your base texture. Screen brightens, multiply darkens. That's the basics. You paint with shades of grays/tinted grays to vary how dark or light it makes it. Pretty simple, and very useful.

473_tid_039_jeans8.jpg
I find it's best to have a reference when painting cloth wrinkles. You'll have a much better idea of what to aim for and where to put things if you have a real-life equivalent to look at as reference. I had this image (above) open on my secondary monitor while I painted the wrinkles in Photoshop.

473_tid_039_jeans7.jpg
I start out very messy. Scribbles to lay out my plans. You can also use this as a quick way to check to see if things are going to look correct in max. Get down the basic idea first, save, check 3dsmax and if something's not right, you haven't done too much work yet, so its not such a big deal to go back and change/fix anything.

Use darker tones (like a dark gray-blue) on your Shds (multiply) layer and be afraid to vary it some. Pick a lighter shade of dark blue-gray for some details, and add in darker shds in bigger wrinkles.

Then I go in with the Smooth tool and blend things together better. I smooth out the scribbles so that they look like actual clothing wrinkles, save it and preview it in 3dsmax.

473_tid_039_jeans9.jpg
So once I checked out my work in max, I found a couple areas I didn't like. I didn't like the wrinkles in the knees or the way the cloth looked on the thighs so I went back and fixed those up.

Then I moved onto the back of the legs. I use a different reference image (same model, just a rear view) so I'd get better cloth folds.

Again - messy quick strokes to lay out my plans and get things to a point where I can check in max to make sure they're lining up properly.

473_tid_039_jeans10.jpg 473_tid_039_jeans11.jpg

Smooth it out, check max, make any adjustments you need to make. I actually felt that it had slightly too much contrast so I reduced the opacity of the HLs and Shds layers. When you're good and done flatten the image (Image > Flatten Image), apply add sharpen to it (Filter > Sharpen) and save it as a .tga or similar format.

473_tid_039_jeans12.jpg

Moving onto the shoes

Open the UV Rendered texture for the shoes and set it up just like the others (set the UVs up on their own separate layer, rename it, and save the file as a PSD). Set up a material in max for it and assign it to the shoes.

Once again, the photo ref you can find will play a big role in getting a good result. With the shoes, I laid down a base from photo ref, but ended up painting over almost all of it, using the photo base as a reference and color palette.

473_tid_040_shoes2.jpg
Pretty basic idea - just copy the reference images, move, rotate and scale them so that they're located as close as possible to where they need to be.

473_tid_040_shoes1.jpg

Shoes are a prime example of Liquify being super-useful. Go to Filter > Liquify and nudge, push, and pull the shoe so that it more accurately matches the UVs. You'll need "Show Backdrop" checked, in order to see the UVs to match.

473_tid_040_shoes3.jpg
Copy the other parts of the shoe into place, use the clone stamp tool where needed and use Liquify to get things into place better.

Once you have the whole shoe covered in texture, check 3dsmax to see how things are lining up. Because of the way the UVs are setup you are going to have a very noticeable seam along one side of the top of the shoe. This is something you'll need to take into account as you continue to work, and when you're painting over the reference images. You'll have to make sure that the exposed edge of the top shoe UVs matches the side that's connected to the rest of the shoe.

473_tid_040_shoes4.jpg




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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 250088, pid: 0) Again on Thu, 06 February 2014 11:06pm
Best tutorial for unwrapping !!! lots of usefull tips !!!
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(ID: 205261, pid: 0) SEMO on Mon, 01 July 2013 10:14pm
great tutorial , can i make one by max scripts that include all process in order if i want to use this script in making human models ?
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(ID: 200880, pid: 0) Chris on Mon, 03 June 2013 12:59am
Nice tutorial, very informative! I recommended this to some fellow students for a project we are doing. Well done!
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(ID: 189928, pid: 0) Sudhir on Sun, 31 March 2013 3:39am
Very good tutorial for beginers I've made the same thing in 3ds max
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(ID: 97832, pid: 0) Kjuu on Sun, 25 March 2012 4:03pm
Great tutorial. I'm just starting with 3d graphic and that helped me alot. Thanks! PS. XellD, it's much easier to use planes and apply images on them. Then you can easily manage their size.
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(ID: 89163, pid: 0) Sizza on Mon, 27 February 2012 10:03am
A very in depth tutorial, just what I'm looking for, need to download 3DS MAX to try it! Thanks for your time making this.
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(ID: 88868, pid: 0) ErroR on Sat, 25 February 2012 3:27pm
Excellent tutorial. Covers everything in-depth while keeping it pretty simple. Will definitely try this soon. Thanks!
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(ID: 82242, pid: 0) Djcliverson on Thu, 26 January 2012 10:40pm
Great tutorial, these were my first few days of 3d graphics, and you teached me really a lot, easy and funny, thank you so much
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(ID: 79580, pid: 0) Tanbeen Amin on Tue, 17 January 2012 10:26am
Thank you very much for your tutorial... :) i needed this ..!
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(ID: 75265, pid: 0) XellD on Tue, 03 January 2012 12:08am
OK, i don't know if this is still recently read, but I got stuck already on the first page. When I add Backgrounds for front and left viewport (even if I take yours), they end up not being the same height for the feet (also both pictures have the same resolution and so on, as you mentioned). I found many people on forums having the same problem: the background image cannot be aligned inside of 3DS Max. What can I do about that?
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(ID: 72538, pid: 0) Krisu on Wed, 21 December 2011 4:32pm
That is what i was looking for, this kind of tutorials! Thanks you all so much! >_
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