For Gmax and 3Ds Max
What the hell is UV Mapping?
UV mapping, or sometimes called meshing, stands for UV Texture coordinates. It's a way to represent your 3D model on a 2D texture so the computer can see where each polygon takes it's texture information. U, V are coordinates that tell the position of a vertex on that 2D texture. It's an important stage of the 3D model production because it will make your model "texturizable". A good UV is important and reflects the quality of your model. If it's all messed up, the texture will simply look horrible, just like the rest of your model. And you don't want that, do you?
OK dude, but how do I UV Map?
First of all, open 3Ds Max or Gmax. It's exactly the same process for both applications, since Gmax is has only the advanced features removed. Open your model, whatever it is. I'm going to teach you how you UV map a simple squary model, but you should understand and be able to make more compex models after, such as player models and other organic models. Ok, so there you have your model.
I know it's pretty crappy, but hey, this is only a tutorial. At least it's a bit more complex than a box. First thing to notice is to have your model converted as an Editable Mesh. I suggest you collaspe all the modifiers you could have applied to your model and make it a simple Editable Mesh. Then it's important to apply a checker map to your model. Open your Material Editor menu (default key is "M" ) then select a new material and in the Maps tab, click the rectangle next to Diffuse Color. In the list that appear, choose Checker. Set the Tiling to 15 x 15. Here's my model with the checker map applied.
You can't see the checker map correctly. That's because all the vertices are stuck to the (0,0) UV coordinates. That's normal, and that's why we need to UV map this model. Now open the Editable Mesh modifier by clicking the little + next to it. Select the Polygon subselection mode.
Now select some faces that are almost parallel. Like those:
I suggest you use the Ignore Backfacing feature, it prevents you from selecting faces you don't see. If when you select the faces they aren't fully red, press F2 and they should be (default key). Now let's apply a UVW Mapping modifier. Keep the Polygon subselection mode activated.
What the hell does that UVW Mapping modifier do?, you might ask (or simply WTF m8? ). Well, it's quite simple. The orange rectangle you see is a gizmo. It represents the texture map. You can set it's Lenght and Width manualy, I put 200 x 200 but that's temporary anyway because we may modify it further in the UVmapping process. It's important that you use the same size for all the UVW Mapping modifiers in the same model so all faces has the same pixel resolution. Note that it's square only if your texture is square (i.e. 512x512, 1024x1024 etc...). The little line that comes out of the square gizmo indicates the top of the texture. That means right now our texture is rotated 90 on the side for the polygons we've selected. But that's not important right now, here again we'll be able to modify that further in the UV mapping process. Notice the Alignment axis. Change the axis and see which fits best to the polygons you are currently UVing.
Now take a close look at the polygons we've selected earlier. We now clearly see the checker map on them. Notice that 2 of them have the checker map a bit stretched. We'll need to fix that in the next step of our job. For the other polygon we can see the squares of the checker map are perfectly squared, so that face is correctly UVed. Next step is to apply a UVW Unwrap modifier.
Click the Edit button. This will bring the Edit UVWs Screen ( I removed the checker map from that viewport so you can the lines ). Hey! That looks like the 3 polygon we've selected earlier! Well, it's them, but represented in a 2D view. Take a look at the tools that viewport has: Move tool, Rotate tool, Scale tool, Mirror tool.
I rotated the vertices so its correctly aligned on my texture. I also moved the vertices in the red boxes so the texture isn't stretched anymore. Look in my 3D viewport, now the checker map is squared! That's what we wanted. Now those polygons are correclty UVed and we are happy. Add a Edit Mesh modifier and redo the same process for all the polygons. Select the polygons -> UVW Mapping modifier -> UVW Unwrap modifier -> Edit Mesh modifier and so on. Don't worry if you have 45 modifiers applied to your object when your done, that's normal.
Now consider the model completly UVed. Apply a final Edit Mesh modifier, don't select anything, don't use the Polygon subselection mode, just add a final UVW Unwrap modifier to your object.
Here you can see my model is done UVed. All the black squares are perfectly squared, this means it's correctly UVed.
Here is my final UV of the model.
You can see all the faces of my model on this UV. It's important to squish them as much as possible without overlaping them and you need to leave a few pixels between the pieces so the skinners don't have a hard time making an accurate skin.
So now you're done UV Mapping! Good Job Soldier! I hope you understand this technique. If you have any questions, feel free to E-mail me. email@example.com I suggest you continue reading this tutorial, I'll explain how to UVmap a cylinder and show you some common errors not to do. Go visit the best HL² mod: http://www.resistanceandliberation.com/
The technique is the same, only something to change in the UVW Mapping modifier. Here I selected the side faces of my cylinder.
Simply add a UVW Mapping modifier. Instead of selecting Planar mapping, select Cylindrical mapping.
Don't change the Length and Width, we'll adjust only the Heigth for now. Apply your checker map and play with the Height value until you have a your checker map correctly align on the model (the black squares need to be perfectly squared). Like this:
Now you can edit your UVed cylinder in the UVW Unwrap modifier just like we did earlier. For the cylinder caps, use the technique you've just learned 5 minutes ago.
Here's some common errors people sometimes make.
Not an optimal UV!! Too much free space!!
Thank you for reading!