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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

473_tid_029_unwrap1.jpg If you're still in Face select mode under the Unwrap VW modifier, switch to Vertices now. I started out by selecting each part by element and separating them in the window space so I could sort them out. Then I turned off select by element.

I moved, rotated, and scaled (I used the freeform tool) the cylindrically unwrapped heel so that it lined up with the side unwrap of the main shoe. I used Target Weld (Ctrl + T or Tools > Target Weld) to connect the edges together.

I also freeform moved the top of the shoe so that it lined up with the side of the shoe.

Since I have no need for the heel to be totally unwrapped like that, I'm going to select half it (the part circled in red) and detach it from the rest of the heel (Ctrl+D or Tools > Detach Edge Verts) and then Flip it horizontally and move it over top of the other half of the heel.

473_tid_029_unwrap2.jpg
Using Target Weld (Ctrl+T) I attach all verts together that are close and should share UV space. This helps me line up seams in the texture later, as well as keeping my UVs clean.

473_tid_029_unwrap3.jpg
Once I've got all the pieces cleaned up and welded together the way I want, I move, rotate and scale all of the pieces into the bold square. This is the space that will make up the actual unwrap, so everything needs to be inside this square.

Now all that's left is to render out the UV Template to an image so that you can open it in Photoshop. To do that, go to: Tools > Render UVW Template

A Render UV's window will pop up. Change the Width and Height to whatever size you want (The textures should be twice that of the res you intend to use in the end. Since I plan for my final texture for the shoes to be 128x128, I made it render the UVs at 256x256.

I also changed the color for the Seam Edges to white (it defaults to neon green).

Click the Render UV Template button and the Render Map window will pop up. Click the little Save icon (looks like a floppy disc) and choose where you want to save it, name it, and pick a file format. We always use TGA files since you can save an alpha channel in them, so that's what I'm using here (32 bit means it's saving an alpha channel).

473_tid_029_unwrap4.jpg
Once you've done this, you are finished unwrapping the foot so you can close the edit window. Click on Unwrap UVW so you're on the top of the stack and from the Modifier List scroll towards the bottom and find Symmetry. Choose the correct axis to mirror from and once the shoes are mirrored properly right-click on the modifier Symmetry in the modifier stack and choose Collapse All from the drop-down.

473_tid_030_collapse.jpg
Next let's select the Leg. With Editable Poly selected (but none of it's sub-selection types, and not the symmetry modifier on top) add a Unwrap UVW Modifier to it, but UNDER the symmetry modifier.

Click the + button next to Unwrap UVW and select Face selection mode. Select the entire leg and click the cylindrical button.

473_tid_031_unwrap1.jpg
While the Cylindrical button is still active, move, rotate, and scale the projection gizmo so that it matches the leg better. Make sure it's tilted well from both front and side angles.

Also make sure to check whether or not the checker texture looks square. With a leg you will always get a little distortion variation but try to get it so at least most of it looks fairly square.


473_tid_031_unwrap2.jpg
Now Click the Edit button to open the Edit UVs window and switch to Vertices select mode under the Unwrap UVW Modifier.

Chances are you've got some tags sticking out on one side or the other of the unwrap. The goal is to have the seam going down the inner side of the leg, and have no little bits sticking out. Select any tags and detach them (Ctrl+D) and move them to the other side and weld them in (Ctrl+W).

Also, if the place where the seam is from the start, is somewhere other then the inner leg edge, select the row of faces and move it to the other side so that the seam is moved. When you're done it should look something like the image below.

473_tid_031_unwrap3.jpg
Again, Render a UV Template and save the file. Close the edit window, and right-click on the Symmetry modifier and choose Collapse All.





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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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