UV Master in production - Case Study with Josh Tiefer
Character Modeler at Namco/Bandai Games
With this case study Josh demonstrates how UV Master has been used to produce the UVs for the Hoo Hoo Man character. Josh credits the original inspiration of the character as having been "designed in Crayon by my friend's 4 year old son.”
A short bio of Josh Tiefer: “At age thirteen, 25 viewings of Jurassic Park sent me on my way to get involved in CG and I've loved creating art ever since! I'm currently a character artist at Namco/Bandai games in Santa Clara, CA.”
Josh Tiefer website : http://tempsketches.blogspot.com and at ZBrushCentral:
From the original to final result
On the right I used Pixologic's Decimation Master to cut my 2 million poly ZTool down to 325K, so that I could open it in Maya.
Later I built the low res version on the left out of 3500 polys and generated a normal map for it. After applying a 1024 map to my 3.5K mesh and a mid res 15K mesh, I can see most of my detail from the original has been retained and can be used in game.
With UV Master, you can produce Normal Maps with improved UV seam placements, which will help the generation of better maps and reduce the visibility of the seams on the final model.
Polygroups for more UVs islands and an optimized UV space
While its probably faster to let UV Master unwrap a model into a single pelt; if you need a game resolution texture and more 0 to 1 coverage you might need to break the UVs into several Islands.
Just assign polygroups and then activate the 'polygroups' button in UVMaster. It's also a way to get predictable seams.
You can use the ZBrush features to quickly create polygroups or use imported polygroups from another 3D package to split each one into a different UV island.
Control Maps for controlling the seams placement and the UVs density
On the left you can see the painted 'density map'. I love this feature because the gradient visualization is so much faster for defining resolution variation of the UVs. With traditional scaling of UVs -- even with a falloff -- it can be a disconnected and slow process.
In the center is the 'Protect/Attract' map. Instead of manually selecting seams, you define regions of the mesh that you wish to protect from seams (shown in red) and regions that you'd like to attract seams (blue). I used the 'Attract from Ambient Occlusion' function to start with. It can be a quick way to get into crevice regions that might be good seam candidates.
On the right, UV Master lets you view the model's seams by clicking the 'check seams' button. It draws them in orange.
The UV Master Control painting tools provide an artist-friendly system for more control over the plug-in's automatic seams placement through a few paint strokes.
Flatten mode to visualize and modify your UVs in ZBrush
Here I can see my model flattened into a representation of my UV layout (on the left above). It makes this transition in a single click and you watch it unfold.
You can also see the UVs layed out in Maya (on the right). I'm glad to have a layout generated so quickly that I can use to paint on in Photoshop.
While I work, I use the various checker patterns that came with the plug-in. It's just a quick way to see the effects of my control painting and unwrapping (shown in the center).
Flatten mode actually allows you to visualize your UV islands as a 3D model. This means that you can edit them with ZBrush tools like TransPose or the 3D brushes. It’s also a good way to preview your UVs before exporting the model to your 3D package of choice.
The Final UVs and UV Master thoughts
I was pleased to see my density map pay off in this image. I assigned higher values for the hands, neck and face. This seemed to retain most the detail from my high resolution mesh while still using a 1024 map. Don't mind the funny pose, he actually has a cat (well sort of a cat) in his lap.
I didn't need to go outside of ZBrush to edit the UVs, and I'm glad to see they are pretty clean with no artifacts, seams or overlapping.
I've always disliked the task of UV layout as it has been done traditionally. It's just completely tedious and boring, to be honest. This plug-in is just like a gift from above; it really does speed the process up by getting the artist out of the 2D layout puzzle that is so counter-intuitive to wrap our minds around. Lame multi-step procedures go out the window now that I can just hit unwrap and use painting to do most the fine tuning of my UVs.