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Perfect UVs by Pelt Mapping in 3ds Max

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Date Added: 6th January 2010
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UVs are the key to taking full advantage of 3D software. In fact, you can't do much without a good UV set. Many Important functions such as Displacement concept and Texturing are directly depended on an object's UVW mapping. So I've decided to show you how to create qualified UVs inside 3ds Max.

The UVW Unwrap modifier has a function named Pelt Mapping, which is a perfect tool for creating UVs for objects. I think in most cases, you don't need anything else for mapping objects. The Pelt Mapping method gives you sufficient ability to do most of the mapping job without even hand editing UVs. It works well for organic and inorganic objects.

Firstly you should have a clean mesh, meaning that it is better if your mesh has been created with all quadrangular faces, and has no extra vertices or any such cases. When you've got the mesh correct, then you are ready for the next step. So open up your object scene, select your object, navigate to the Modify panel/modifier list and apply a UVW Unwrap modifier from the list. Pelt function needs you to define the Pelt Seams on your mesh, so it can pull out the mesh using those seams. Thus it's very important that you place your seams carefully. In my case I was working on a head mesh and I so defined the seams as shown in Fig.01 & Fig.02.

Fig. 01
Fig. 02

Notice the blue lines which indicate the pelt seams? To define edges as pelt seams you can select the desired edges in the edge sub object level of the UVW Unwrap modifier and then in the Map parameters rollout click "Edge Sel to Seams". You can also quickly adjust the pelt seams by using the "Edit Seams" and "Point to Point Seams" options. If you select some faces or a part of the mesh and click "Pelt", the borders of the selected region will become pelt seams automatically.

When you have defined the seams then go to the face sub object level of the UVW Unwrap modifier and select part or all of your mesh and hit the Pelt button. As soon as you click, a window will appear and should show something like this (Fig.03).

Fig. 03

The circle around the mesh, which is called "Stretcher", will pull out the mesh on the surface. The lines connect the circle's points to the seam's points of the mesh.
In the Pelt map dialog window, in the Pelt options rollout, under the Springs section, you can increase four spinner numbers, which will totally increase the pulling effect. Just make sure that "Lock Open Edges" is checked. Select the entire mesh by checking the "Select Element" check box and scale it down to a little size. This will give the stretcher more space to work. Then click the "Start Pelt" button and let the stretcher do its work. It will flatten out the mesh and in my case it turned to this (Fig.04).

Fig. 04

It's something like a ghost! OK, now click "Commit" to apply the operation. In the Edit UVWs window navigate to Tools > Relax. You can also just right click and select the rectangle next to the Relax option from the menu to bring up the Relax Tool dialog window (Fig.05).

Fig. 05

From the drop down menu, select "Relax By Face Angles" which is the best option to use if you want to get the correct results. Increase the "Iterations" and "Amount" values and this will increase the pulling effect. The Stretch value is better left at a low number. Now click "Start Relax" and let it get to work. When you feel it has finished, click "Stop Relax".  In the Selection Modes section, check the "Select Element" option to select the entire mesh and then use the Scale and Move tools to scale down and place your mesh inside the dark blue rectangle (Fig.06).

Fig. 06

continued on next page >

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