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UV Mapping Techniques and Workflow

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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There are some areas that need adjusting on the mandible. I mainly use UVLayout as a tool to make UV shells; I do all my relaxing and adjusting back in Maya. This is shown in Fig.08 - 10. My technique for relaxing UVs in Maya is to use the Unfold UVs tool. I've found the best way to use this tool is too use its Unfold Constraints function. This means that when I relax the UVs, it only allows them to move either vertically or horizontally. When I use this tool without Unfold Constraints, I sometimes get undesired effects. I unfold vertically and then unfold horizontally.

Fig. 08

Fig. 09

Fig. 10

As you can see in Fig.10, the Unfold UVs tool has performed perfectly at eliminating any UV 'weirdness' on the mandible.
The next places to fix are the orbital sockets, shown in Fig.11. Areas like this can be very tricky to unwrap if only a single planar projection is used. I found the best way to improve upon this area was to use two planar projections on the Y-axis.

Fig. 11

Fig.12 shows what I mean, it effectively turns UV-ing a bowl shape into UV-ing something less rounded, which will have less distortions. For some shapes, though, it's just not possible to get an absolutely perfect UV space distribution without lots of seams.

Fig. 12

As you can see in Fig.13, I welded together part of the seams on the orbital sockets, this makes it a little easier to texture if only Photoshop is being used, but luckily these days 3D projection painting in applications like BodyPaint are used to paint over seams. I also like to make the UVs resemble the model as much as possible; this makes it so much easier to make textures for it.

Fig. 13

As you can see, the UVs for the orbital sockets have been improved quite a bit (Fig.14). We're almost done now with the general editing and relaxing of all the shells; I went through all of them and used the Unfold UVs tool. I needed to quickly put it back into UVLayout and edit the main skull UV shell with the overlapping parts (Fig.15).

Fig. 14

Fig. 15

It normally doesn't take me long to make these adjustments. After a lot of practice at UV-ing things, I get an idea in my head of what probably needs to be done to fix any issues - there isn't really a huge variation of UV problems, and if you can fix one thing it's pretty easy to fix another.

Now, the final step is to arrange all the UV shells into the UV grid so that they can be exported and the texturing can begin. Maya has a fantastic tool called the Layout tool. This takes the UVs of an object or many objects and arranges them in a tidy way (Fig.16). It also scales all the shells in relation to each other. This is important because it means the UVs for the orbital sockets won't get more UV space than the mandible - everything gets an equal amount of UV space for its size in the3D world.

Fig. 16

The layout tool did a great job of scaling everything and making it fit within the UV grid, but doesn't always arrange the shells in a good way for texturing. I always go in afterwards and arrange them the way I want; this makes texturing easier if everything is arranged in a logical manner (Fig.17). I also added the teeth UVs to this, as well. They were very simple to unwrap; I simply put them into UVLayout all as one object, and then split them up. I gave them quite a bit of UV space for their size, in relation to the rest of the model. Teeth are something that people like to make detailed, so it's good to provide them with enough UV space.

Fig. 17

I hope you have learnt something from this tutorial. If you have any questions about this tutorial, please don't hesitate to email me at:. Thanks for reading!

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