Jump to content
Official BF Editor Forums
Sign in to follow this  

Basic UVmapping guide

Recommended Posts

OK. First off this is not as much a tut as a guide for people who are learning how to uvmap. It assumes that you have a small amount of experience with using 3DSM8. Here goes. I did not spell sheck it or anything and i am a horrible typis so bit me if you are an english teacher. :P There are no pictures yet but I will be working on adding them. For now this is it.

First off here is a nice little tutorial for unwrapping. It doesnt help very much with weapons but it has alot of nice little tips that will help you understand how unwrapping works in general.


Now this is a general explination on how I usually unwrap a model. That doesnt mean that its the right way or the wrong way. That just means that this is how I do it. And I am by no means a master at this. LOL! So feel free to correct me wherever necisarry or offer suggestions or whatever.

Step 1: Setting the model up for unwrapping

First off I usually attach all of the parts of the weaponvehicle or whatever you are doing. You can un attach them when you are done and it will save all of your uv's so that you can still use one texture. This step is completely optional. I personally leave all the pieces un attached as if they were ready for export and unwrap them individually leaving canvas space for each piece. Then I paste all of the images ontop of eachother in photoshop allowing you to use the same texture. This is completely persoanl preference.

Step 2: Unwrapping the model

Now select the object and go to modifiers- uv coordinates- unwrap uvw. Now go to your modifiers list and extend the Unwrap UVW tab and click on face. Now go down to the selection peramiters and make sure the select by element checkbox is selected.

Now click on the Edit button in the peramiters section and this will bring up your Eidt UVW's window (duh!). Now in the Edit UVW's map click on mapping-flatten mapping and leave it at the defaults and click ok. Now what you will probably have is a few large pieces and a thousand small pieces. LOL! Dont worry this step was jsut so all of the pieces are not on top of eachother and you can see them all.

Step 3: Sorting all the pieces out.

Now either minimize the Edit UVW's window or move it out of the way and I usually select "Maximize viewport toggle" on perspective view. Now make sure Select object is selected and click on an element on the model.

Now if you did everything correctly all of the faces on the element should turn red. Open the Edit UVW's menu back up and you will see that all of the faces are red in this window too. Now click on the mapping menu again and click on normal mapping. There is a dropdown menu that gives you several options. I usually use Box mapping but mess with all of these to see how they work. As long as you dont unselect parts of the element you should be ok. All you have to do is click mapping- normal and select a new dropdown selsction and it will unwrap the element again. Also for cylinders I usually select "unfold mapping instead of normal mapping. Mess with this setting and see how it works for you When you get something that you are satisfied with shrink the piece down a bit and move it off of the canvas. Dont worry if its not perfect as we will be coming back later to clean it up before placing it back on the canvas. Now do this for all of the elements until you have no elements left on the canvas.


When you get down to the small pieces sometimes its hard to find where they go in the perspective view. So what I do is sometimes is select all of the pieces on the canvas in Edit UVW's window. Now minimize this window and see if you can find them in the perspective view. If not then click on maximize viewport toggle button again and see if you can see it in any of the other views. If not then click on the edge button in the edit uvw's rollout in the modifiers list and go back to the edit UVW's window and click on an edge. Now go back to the perspective view and you should see a red XYZ selector thingy (youll see what I mean.) Move the perspective view around until you see what element the edge is on and click back on face and select the element.

Also when placing the pieces off of the canvas try and place elemnetns that go near eachother on the actual model near eachother. Or if there are 2 pieces that are mirrored on the model you can place them near eachother also.

Step 4: Placing all of the pieces back onto the canvas in a sensible order.

What we are trying to accomplish in the end is covering as much of the canvas as possible and having the model covered with the checker pattern with as square of checkers as we can. But also we want to have as small an amount of Edges as possible. this will greatly ease the skinners job as he wont have to try and skin on stretcheddistorted uvmaps and also will have to match up as small an amount of edges as possible.

Now what I usually do at this point is in the Edit UVW's window I select the show map button if it already is not and select a checker pattern so that it shows up on your model. This will apply a checker pattern to the model so that when we resize edit each individual piece we can minimize stretching and make sure that all of the pieces are somewhat similar in their size in relation to eachother.

OK. Now that we have a checker pattern shown on the model in the perspective view its time to start finishing this puppy up. Make sure that face is still selected in the UVW's rollout in the modifiers list and select an element. I usually start with the larger elements (buttstock of the gun, etc.....) Now what I usually do is click on select by element in the selection modes in the edit UVW's window and make sure that none of the faces are overlapping as sometimes they are when you use certain unwrapping modes. Move all of the faces so that they are not on top of eachother.

Now unclick select by element in the edit UVW's window and click on Edge in the UVW's rollout in the modifiers list. Now select a yellow edge and you will see that thre edge that should normally be attached to it will turn blue. If you right click and select "stitch selected" it should attach those two pieces and that yellow line will now turn white. This means that it it no longer an outside edge on the textureuvmap. Select all of the deges you want to stitch and stitch them all together in the sense that you think works the best. Sometimes one element will end up having a few pieces instead of one. this is especially true on larger pieces that dont have alot of straight edges of are cylindrical in shape. Thats fine as we want to eliminate distortion. this part is tough because its up to you to find the happy medium. Razz

Now place the element on the canvas and resize it how you think it should be. In the end you may take up not all of the canvas or you may flow over the edges but thats not important. Just make sure that all of the pieces are generally placed to form a square as a whole. This way we can select all of the faces on the objcet and scale them down ALL at once and move them onto the canvas. Repeat this step for all of the parts.


If you select a face in the edit UVW's window you can right click it and select (break) it will unstitch all of the edges which will allow you to move the face away from the element. This will come in handy at times durrin g this step.

When placing the pieces on the canvas try and keep some sense to the placement of the elements. For instance- If you are unwrapping a tank, place the top of the main body somewhat in the middle of the canvas and place the right side next to the corrisponding edge where it would match up and tec for the left front and back pieces. Or if you say have the back mostly to the right of the canvas and there are small pieces like lights, towhooks, ets on the back that are separate elements I will usually try and place those small pieces near the back end of the tank. This allows the skinner to easier identify where the pieces go and match color dirt amount etc easier.

Some pieces can be placed ontop of identical pieces (you may have to mirror the uvmap and rotate itresize it to make it fit properly.) Like lets say you have 4 wheels. All 4 of these wheels should technically have the same general UVmap as they are all the same shape. So you can take all 4 of these pieces of the UVmap and place them ontop of eachother so that all 4 wheels share one texture. This helps the texturer speed up his job and also allows for more canvas for other pieces of the model which provides more detail with less canvas space. This is handy but can create bad looking textures if done too much. Make sure not to use this tequnique too much. As a general rule of thumb I usually only use this for pieces that are either small and dont carry alot of detail and or will not be seen at the same time. Also this is not a good idea that carry specific detail such as writing, etc.....

Step 5: Touching up the UVmap.

Are you tired of this siht yet? Are you ready to smash your PC from utter menotiny and unrewarding frustration? Then you are probably doing a good job and are well on your way to being a good uvmapper. Razz

Trust me it gets ALOT easier with each model you do.

Now make sure that the entire UVmap is on the canvas but is also as close to the edges as you can possibly have it without going over. Minimize the edit UVmap window and take a look at the model with the applied checker pattern. All of the chers should be about even in size and shoulnt look stretched or distorted in places. If you see any distortion I would go back and edit that part of the uvmap until you are satisfied. You r most popular method of editing the uvmaps will most likely be by moving the verteces. You may also find that you have to break apart faces and restitch the edges to eliminate some distortion. Or you may find that you can stitch together edges that you didnt stitch before without causing much distortion.

Step 6: Saving the uvmaps as a texture that can be skinned

OK. Now that we have the uvmap just how we want it its time to save it as a texture. If you dont have the texporter plugin for 3dsm go google it now and apply it. I think it came with my 3dsm8 but I may be wrong. Anyways, after you are sure you have it close the edit UVW's window and above the modifiers list you will see the little icons for create, modify, etc....... Click on the hammer(utilities) which is all the way to the right. There should be a button that says more... Click on that and scroll all the way to the bottom and select texporter and his OK. Now change the peramiters to 2 proportionate #'s. I would suggest 512X512 or 1024X1024 or 2048X2048. Obvioulsy small static objects are not going to need a large canvas wheras large objects like tanks large helos will need something like 2048X2048. Now below the peramiters you will see a button that says "pick object." Select that and it should turn yellowish in color. Now simply click on your model and it should bring up a new window with your UVmap that looks probably all rainbow like colored. Click the disc looking button and save it in whatever format you want. I usually save it as something like myobject_c.dds as this will be the colormap and will also be the format that the final texture will be in. Now save it.


If you look down under the display options on the texporter you will should uncheck the box that says "mark overlaps" as this will make your texture look alot better and make the edges easier to distinguish.

Step 7: Applying the texture to the object.

Now if you want to see the texture (helps alot with skinning, lol) Either hit tab-M or bring up the materials editor. You will see probably 6 speres. These are your shader balls. Click on one of them and it should be highlighted around the edges in white. Now click on the button that says standard. If you have your BF2 tools installed you will see BF2bundlemesh and BF2staticmesh. This is pretty self explanitory. Weaponstankscars, ets you should select bundlemsh and statics you should select staticmesh.

Now for staticmesh you will select base and browse to the texture you just saved. Below the shader balls you should see a button with a box looking object with a checker pattern on it(Show map in viewport button). Click this button and make sure its yellow in color. Now simply Click and drag your shaderball onto your objcet in the perspective viewort. Your texture should show up on the object. Tada! Thats it.

Budlemesh is the same as above except you apply the texture to the color button instead of base.

Hope this helps. MAy god be with you if you are uvmapping. Razz


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
*thumbs up*

Maybe add some little tips for getting stuff together. Like the indispensible "Stitch Selected" tool.  

You can unwrap any model with "Flatten UVWs" and "Stitch Selected" alone.

Yeah. That is how I used to do it but I really like the results from the way in this tut. It may not be the quickest way butI have had some pretty good results from this way. I put a tip in there about the stitch tool didnt I?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take this the wrong way Shipwreck, and far be it for me to critisize anyone whos willing to write a technical tutorial, I appreciate what you have written....but I'm confused with this bit...

Step 1: Setting the model up for unwrapping

First off I usually attach all of the parts of the weaponvehicle or whatever you are doing...

Ok, so you attach them?

I personally leave all the pieces un attached as if they were ready for export and unwrap them individually leaving canvas space for each piece.

Ok, so you don't attach them?

Then I paste all of the images ontop of eachother in photoshop...

Er, I thought we were working with meshes in 3DSMAX? ....what are these images and why are we suddenly in Photoshop?

Could you please clarify this a bit please?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
That's to make the texture...

Very insightfull answer bountyhunterx...Bravo!

I'm saying that I persoanlly attach them. But for the tutorial I AM attaching them. Once you go through the tut with all of the objects attached you will understand what I mean.

OK. Lets say you have a gun model you are unwrapping. You will have your main mesh, your trigger, your clip and possibly your fire selector. Each one of those meshes will have its own UVmap but you want to use only 1 texture per weapon. So what this tutorial does is explains how to uvmap the entire weapon and then break it apart so that all uvmaps are on one texture. I was explaining that you can also uvmap all the parts seperately and then use the same texture sheet by taking each texported image and layering them on top of eachother in photoshop AFTER you have texported it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


I need to work on my posts... i think i was unclear.

I was just asking about texporter when used to export flat files of textures in max9 vs oder versions. I have since got it to work but not with a specific model... still not sure why that is. But it seems to be working on everything else i use it on.

The max bf toolkit i have been using just fine.

(yes Cat i have texporter working with Max9)

Edited by jackcrash

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

thats cool... i misunderstood...

and there is a built in uvw map save feature thats just like texporter... thats why i asked... ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

really? Whats that one called and how can i access it? I was unable to find it in max so i went searching for texporter.

-- EDIT --

Huh what do ya know... found it...

EDIT UVW's popup / Tools /Render UVW Template

lol thx for letting me know this existed!

-- /EDIT --

Edited by jackcrash

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this