Though Photoshop's place at the center of the 3D artist's texture pipeline is ubiquitous, it's not a tool made for 3D artists. The industry standard way of working is to keep an entire texture set (diffuse, normals, specular, gloss, and so on) organized in a single PSD file, and save each off as needed. Whether you've taken to setting up actions, or have honed your texture saving speed to that of a cowboy's quick draw, saving maps can be tedious. Texture Exporter erases this grievance.
Over the years a few texture exporters have popped up around the web. Some have fallen into disrepair, their developers unable to keep up with the maintenance. I can't claim to have tried every Photoshop texture exporting plug-in, but of the ones I have tried, Unorthodox Entertainment's is my favorite, and I have no doubt it is among the most polished. I've been working with it in production for one year now, since its earliest incarnations, and now that we are nearing its 1.0 release, it stands battle-tested.
"The benefits of using this tool become particularly apparent when one needs to pack various maps into different channels"
After a breezy installation, setting up a PSD for texture exporting is as easy as clicking the 'Setup' button in the plug-in's small, fully dockable window. The user is then prompted to create a new scene or run the setup wizard on the current. New groups will be created automatically, with nice touches like placing a flat normal background under the Normal group, and placing a black-and-white adjustment layer in single channel groups. If any of the specified groups already exist, it will recognize that, and maintain that group structure, while adding ones it needs.
Maps are specified by the checkboxes. Custom maps provide the option to create groups for individual color channels
(Create RGB Groups).
The benefits of using this tool become particularly apparent when one needs to pack various maps into different channels. Gone are the days of merging a group and copy-pasting it into the alpha channel before saving a new texture, or having a layer of pure red with a mask set to linear dodge.
Texture groups are organized and color coded, which an optional group for UV template layers.
The export options window is straightforward and robust. Here you will find prefix and suffix fields to accommodate all your totally bizarre naming conventions. All the basic codecs are covered with TGA, PNG, JPG, TIF, and PSD. There is a drop-down to downsample to half size, with an optional sharpening filter that will run upon export. These settings are saved into the PSD itself, so once your texture is set up, you don't have to think about it anymore.
Export settings are specified per texture, and this data is saved into the PSD.
In addition to per-file options, there are global defaults, which simply serve as the defaults for any new PSDs you wish to set up. In practice, these fields can be set once, and any new files one creates from then on will adhere to those conventions. Even something as seemingly trivial as a default path can save a lot of time. A lovely touch is the ability to save and import these global defaults. This makes enforcing conventions between projects or team members very easy. If I'm pressed to find a weakness, I'd say opening the options windows can take longer than it should in this age where computers execute at the time scale of nanoseconds. On my medium spec system (Phenom II x4), opening the global options dialog can take 1-3 seconds. Considering how rarely I need to open this window, it ends up not being
a big issue.
Global Defaults can be set once for all future files. These settings can be saved and imported.
"The thing I love about this particular texture exporter is that it's as simple as
it is polished"
When it actually comes to exporting, the export buttons can be easily mapped to a hotkey, making iteration time between editing and viewing close to nil. There are two buttons; one to export all textures, and a 'quick export' that only exports the texture of the group you're currently working in (as determined by layer selection).
The thing I love about this particular texture exporter is that it's as simple as it is polished. It lacks some more involved features I've seen in other texture tools, such as a built-in 3D preview for viewing your textures. Something like this would be bloat to me, because I don't care how my textures look on a sample mesh in a Photoshop 3D preview. I care only how they look in the context I'm authoring for (in my case the game engine), and Texture Exporter seems focused on staying out of the way.
Texture Exporter has become an invaluable piece in my texturing pipeline.
In addition to simplifying the setup of texture files, Unorthodox Entertainment's Texture Exporter reduces the time between making edits and viewing those edits in context, and that's why it has become a staple in my workflow.
- Fast and automated exporting of texture maps
- Automated creation of texture groups in your PSD
- Supported file types TGA, PNG, TIF, JPG, or PSD
- Options for resizing, sharpening, and custom prefix/suffix naming rules