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Using Textures to Create the Illusion of Detail

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Date Added: 15th October 2009
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Software Used: 3ds Max and Total Textures

This particular scene was designed to utilize a recent upgrade to the Total Textures product range, namely V19 - "Destroyed and Damaged".

As this collection focuses on numerous incarnations of man-made damage, much of which has been caused by ammunition of one sort or another, I felt that a war related scene was fitting. This would enable me to use a number of the textures on offer and take full advantage of the library.

As is the usual approach for this type of project, I needed to restrict the geometric detail in order to emphasize the textures, and thought that a cliff top bunker would make a good topic. Firstly it could be made very simply and due to its function would not require any elaborate detail, and secondly it would naturally be the target of attack and hence be peppered with shell and bullet damage - the perfect criteria for my cause!

In Fig.01 you can see the base meshes used to build the scene with the three principle components that make up the actual bunker itself: the three support struts and the building to the right.

Fig. 01

I normally establish my camera early on so I know which areas to focus on with regards to texturing. In this example there is only really one side of the distant building that concerns me, and because the key light will be above the buildings, the underside of the bunker itself will be in shadow and so not require as much attention on the texture.

During this tutorial I will show you how I have combined various photos to create detail in specific areas, and how generic textures and alpha maps can be used on less prominent sections to create the impression of detail and save time.

Texturing can be a time consuming process, especially when you take into account mapping and unwrapping, but by considering the camera angle and lighting one can minimize the time spent in this phase.

Support Struts

You can see from Fig.01 that the right half of each of these will be almost completely hidden from view, and so once they have been unwrapped we need only concentrate on the left side.

Fig.02 shows the base texture for the supports which, apart from the window, is made up mainly from the four images on the left. These have been color corrected to maintain a consistency. The areas outlined in green constitute the visible areas on the supports that run between the uprights above the rock. Those parts hidden by the rock are crossed in yellow and are unnecessary, hence the blank areas. These in fact could have been omitted from the template if any more texture space was required, but as this was not an issue I left them in.

Fig. 02

In order to combine the different images it is important to first color correct them using a combination of Curves, Levels, Hue/Saturation and Color Balance.

In Fig.03 you can see the image of a worn metal that has been pasted into a wall texture. This has been adjusted using the above tools so that it roughly matches. In order to blend it in successfully choose a textured Eraser, such as the one shown, and start to reveal the texture beneath. The areas ringed in red are quite close so only need a slight adjustment, but the crossed sections need to be deleted to disguise the seam. The textured eraser avoids the trace any straight lines which are more conspicuous. I also use the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush tools to duplicate sections of the texture, both of which are useful in this instance and can add random patterns to assist the blending.

Fig. 03

Two remaining textures that were used can be seen on the left in Fig.04. Again, these have been color corrected to match, and using the Clone Stamp and Eraser tools have been integrated with the base layer.

Fig. 04

The two areas highlighted in red represent the facing sides of two of the supports and hence is where most of the damage and detail is focused. I have not attempted to blend in the opposite sides as these will be hidden from view, hence the seam lines.

As this scene was reasonably low poly I wanted to ensure that the bunker looked as though it was built into the rock face, reason being that any post production could reveal more of the underside, despite it being in shadow.

To avoid adding more geometry I pasted in part of the rock texture along the visible edge of the supporting wall, which you can see in Fig.05. I also added some bullet holes on the right section of the texture.

Fig. 05

continued on next page >

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